Ara's Blog- living with the sadness
Living with the sadness that your loved one is in addiction: A heavy burden
Being in relationship with someone who is dependent on a substance and coping with addiction can involve a grieving process.
The English word for grief comes from the French greve, meaning heavy burden.
Families will often speak of this burden: the person they married or raised is not the person they once knew- they miss them terribly. They talk of lost dreams and sadness for unfulfilled potential for their loved one and themselves. Furthermore they speak of the loss of friendships and social activities due to the shame and misunderstanding in their environments that leads them to isolate from support. Grief is very much alive and a reality for affected family members.
There are a number of grief models suggesting the stages of grief. Most agree on a variation of the following: shock; separation and pain; despair; acceptance; resolution and adjustment. Have you experienced any or all of these stages? All are wholly applicable to being in relationship with a loved one in addiction. It is also known that grief is a highly personal journey there is no pattern of grief that is identical and there are no time frames.
Loss is an inevitable part of life and grief is a part of the healing process that is unique to you. Below I have offered some suggestions to assist you in your journey through grief.
Buddha says, “Life is pain, not accepting that pain is suffering”. Acknowledge your pain, this does not mean that you agree that this is fair or right, it simply means that you are being honest with yourself, your feelings, and your situation.
Share your feelings of sadness and loss with others. The group I facilitate tells me they find great comfort and support in being able to share and empathize with each other. If this is something that you can not share at this time try writing down your feelings– it really does work.
Expressing your feelings is honoring yourself and will help you on this journey.
Identify your Feelings.
Identify what feelings are attached to the grief, anger, resentment, sadness, and hopelessness. Grief can give rise to many different feelings...some very intense. Again once these are identified and expressed it will help you heal.
Develop your own spiritual strengths
This maybe as simple as a daily mantra, a philosophy, religion, or daily mindfulness practice. Recognising what spirituality means to you and applying it to your own life can provide you with perspective and hope.
Be patient with yourself
Being in relationship with a loved one using substances can be exhausting. You are an ordinary person dealing with an extraordinary situation. It takes a lot of energy to feel so intensely. Take time to enjoy your life being unmindful of your worries.
I want to impart on you that it is okay to feel exactly what you feel. Acknowledging and communicating your heavy burden will offer you a sense of freedom and an opportunity to begin to recover.
Remember there is always HOPE
Many addicted people have endured extremely dire circumstances and emerged as strong, wise, and wonderful human beings. No situation, no mater how difficult, is hopeless. Nobody knows what joy is waiting just around the corner. (Beverly Conyers, Addict in the family , stories of loss, hope and recovery.)