It’s New Year’s Eve and they’re the words you’ve been waiting to hear!
‘2017 is going to be different, this year I’m going to stop.’
Perhaps you heard these or similar words uttered recently by an addicted family member you’ve been hoping against all hope will come to the realisation that their substance use is problematic and needs to stop.
You’ve been sitting on the sidelines now for what seems like forever observing the blatantly obvious negative outcomes from your family member’s addiction manifest. You’ve witnessed costs to their health, the loss of employment opportunities, and addiction related legal issues arise. Trust and honest communication within your family have eroded to the point where these familial relationships seem broken beyond repair. And yet- in the face of all of this- the using continues unabated. And when confronted by the negative impact of their addiction, the ambivalence and denial your family member displays is confusing, infuriating, and downright heartbreaking. Then suddenly you hear those magic words and your heart rejoices because finally, things are going to change.
What if I was to tell you your happiness isn’t dependent on your family member’s recovery from addiction? What if I dared to suggest that you’ve been trying for so long now to do everything within your power to ‘fix’ your addicted family member that you’ve completely forgotten about meeting your own needs in the process? You may feel that putting yourself first is somehow selfish, that you’re not the one with the problem and that any of your needs are somehow secondary to those of your addicted family member.
The terrible truth of the matter is that no matter how hard you try, or how good your intentions are, you can’t control, cure, or fix your addicted family member! BUT- you can make the right decisions about looking after yourself. Through doing so you’ll become a healthier, happier person! And guess what? Positive emotions are contagious, so by taking care of yourself you may find you inadvertently influence your addicted family member in a way you’ve never been able to before. Have you ever been struggling with life and looked to someone who seemed happy as an example of ways in which you could make positive changes in your life? Perhaps by looking after yourself, the next time your family member suffers the negative consequences related to their addiction, you will become that influential person for them!
So if you’ve recently heard those words GREAT and by all means encourage and support your family member in their decision! However, perhaps you can make a New Year’s resolution for yourself. Perhaps in 2017, this is the year in which you make a decision that come what may, you are going to take your own needs seriously and do whatever it takes to look after yourself.