Loving someone who has a problem with addiction is never easy. Your whole life revolves around caring for them, trying to make sure they are okay, to keep them safe, to keep them alive. Constantly waiting for that phone call telling you they are in hospital, or worse. Co-dependency is a related condition – both to addiction and to love.
You Put Everything Else on Hold
The focus of your life has become caring for this person, this addict, who you love. You do everything you can to help them, to try and make them better, to keep them safe, but no matter what you do, you cannot fix them. But, because you love them, you keep on trying.
You put everything else aside for them – friends, hobbies, sometimes even work – because you love them. You stop caring for yourself properly because you are so tired, so exhausted, from looking after this person you love because they cannot look after themselves. So you have to.
This is the trap of co-dependency. You did not mean to end up here, but somehow it happened. And no matter what you do for the person you love, they stay on the path of destruction that their addiction has led them down.
Then It All Changes
But then, one day, it all changes. This broken mess of an addict that you have worked so hard to care for gets better. They start to go to meetings, to therapy, to get clean. And then, after a while, they begin to sort their life out. They finally recognise, and accept, the selfless love that you have been showing them. They make new friends, friends who care about them and support them in their new sobriety.
You should be so happy for them, right? Of course you should.
But you’re not. Because the bottom has fallen out of your world. The whole purpose of your existence, the one thing you have been doing for weeks, months, years, however long you have cared for your addict, has gone. Suddenly your life has no meaning, no purpose, and you have no idea what to do with yourself now.
Suddenly you have realised that you put so much time and effort into caring for your addict that you have forgotten how to look after yourself. This feeling that your life no longer has meaning is why you feel bad that your addict is recovering. This is why so many people in co-dependent relationships can actually encourage their partner, or sibling, or friend, or parent, to remain an addict. Caring for their addict is that which gives their life meaning.
What Do You Do Now?
Rather than thinking of yourself as without purpose, enjoy your new-found freedom. Now that you do not have to care for your partner/sibling/friend/parent, you have so much more free time. Time to yourself. Time to remember all the things that used to make you, well, you.
So take some time to remember how to look after yourself. Spend more time on, or more likely re-start, those hobbies that you have neglected. Push yourself a little, try new things, make new friends.
Co-dependency is now recognised as needing help and support just as much as addiction, and there are support groups and programmes out there to help you. There are twelve step programmes – just like for addiction – and having the support of people who have been through the same difficulties as you, and truly understand how you feel, can really help you to change your outlook.
You might be afraid of disappointing ‘your addict’ by thinking of yourself first for a change, but remember that while he or she was in the grips of their addiction, they most probably didn’t even realise that you were putting them and their needs before your own. Putting them first has been your habit for so long, and it can be a very difficult habit to break, but you can get there.
Look after yourself. Be kind to yourself. You are important, and you – and your needs – do matter.
Where to Find Help
If you think that you, or someone you care about, could be struggling with co-dependency, then we can help you. At Addiction Helper, we can give you advice and support on finding the best course of treatment for you to help you change the thinking and behaviour behind your co-dependency. With our support, you can regain a healthy outlook on your life, so please, call today.
Source: Relief when a Loved Person is Sober (Elite Daily)