Addiction breeds isolation, misery, fear and low self-esteem on the part of those with addictions and those who love them. I knew I needed support but did not know where to find it.
I tried talking to people I trusted but they did not know how to help me and often would say things that hurt instead of relieving my pain. I began to feel that I must keep everything to myself and this increased my isolation. I feared that others would think badly of my loved one, of me and my family. When I found someone I could talk to I often would overwhelm them with all the negative emotions and happenings in my life.
When I found support groups I felt a great relief and weight off my shoulders. Finally I heard other people’s stories that I could relate to. It seemed that everything others said they were feeling and experiencing were my feelings and experiences. I cried all the way through my first meeting. In time I was also able to share my feelings and what was going on in my home. I slowly began to heal, to find peace and hope.
What have I learned during my journey? I have learned to love and trust support groups. They are confidential and have taught me about the atonement. A good therapist can really help. They will keep your conversations confidential and can help you heal. My bishop has been an invaluable source of support. He has given me wonderful blessings that have helped me to see God’s love for me and to see His tender mercies in my life. I have learned that it is best not to talk to others about my loved ones addictions and my pain unless I am prompted to do so.
All of us need love, support and help. Having a good support system can make the difference between misery, despair and isolation or a healthy thriving life.
I used to believe everything that my loved ones with addictions told me. I had very low self-esteem and was often in despair. I am learning to be a more spiritual person and to depend upon God for peace, guidance, love, and support. Best friends tell you the truth and stand up for you. They walk with you during the hard times and rejoice with you during the good times. God is my best friend.
- When my loved one tells me I’m a liar and cannot be trusted, God says to me “Ouch! I love you and trust you”.
- When my loved one doesn’t speak to me for days, God gives me peace and talks with me and says “It’s so nice outside! Let’s go out and take a walk.”.
- When my loved one misses my choir performance, God says “The music was so wonderful! Thank you!”.
- When my loved one smashes the bathroom door open or pours water on me, God tells me “That is unacceptable behavior, you need to get help.”.
- With my loved one says that I am fat and never tells me that I look nice, God tells me “You are beautiful!”.
- When my loved one embarrasses me in public by knocking things off the shelf at the store and says “That’s just too bad.”, God reminds me “This is not about you.”.
- When my loved one throws something on the floor and makes a mess and I want to clean it up, God says “Don’t do what they can do for themselves.”.
- When my loved one cheats on me, God says “Remember that you have choices.”.
- With my loved one quits his job and I don’t make enough money to pay the bills, God tells me “I’ll help you pay the mortgage. Everything is going to be OK.”.
- When my loved one refuses to get help for his addiction, God says “You’ve done what you can, it’s time to step back.”.
When something happens that hurts me and destroys my peace, my best friend is always nearby. He waits for me to turn to Him and ask for help, direction and guidance. When I turn to God peace returns to me.
My healing is never “done”.
I used to think that I would quickly go through the steps in my support group meetings and be done and healed and not need to ever return. But, I find that even though I attend my support meetings regularly, my bad habits of fear and anxiety, isolation and worry, feeling victimized and helpless often return when something “bad” happens.
I used to live with those negative feelings all the time, and when they return with a vengeance they surprise me and remind how miserable life used to be. My support meetings remind me of the atonement and how much the atonement has changed me and my life. Even though the people around me have not changed or chosen to find help and healing, and my circumstances have not changed, I have changed immensely.
I know that I can choose happiness and joy. I know now that I can feel my feelings, go through them and then choose to let them go. I know that I can choose to take care of myself and be kind to myself. I know I can be kind to those around me and let them live their life without trying to control them.
I choose now to attend support meetings, because I need the constant reminders to trust God and trust His plan for me. Without my support group, I quickly return to my old painful ways. But I know better now and I know how to regain my serenity – I attend a support meeting, and choose to give my negative feelings and my loved ones over to the care of my Savior and let Him take care of them and me. I’m learning that using the atonement and healing is never “done”, it is ongoing.
I used to feel so guilty about my past. I have made so many mistakes. I have let so many people down especially myself and my children. I thought of myself as weak and useless and sinful. I had low self-esteem and didn’t think of myself as a very good person. Writing was the start of my healing.
I wrote down all my resentments and everything I could remember in my life that was negative. I also wrote down all the positive things in my life that I could remember. After I finished writing everything down I shared it with someone I trusted. Amazingly, the person I shared it with didn’t hate me after I told them about my past. I was able to realize that I was doing the best that I could in my life at the time.
This exercise has been amazing and eye-opening. Writing has helped me to forgive myself and to not feel guilty about my past. As I forgave myself I began to accept and even love myself. I am able to see some of my good qualities. Peace and wellbeing are replacing the guilt and fear that used to be my constant companions. My self-confidence is growing.