Principle 3 – the Pivotal Principle Leading to Peace
The Great Misunderstanding That is Hurting Families and Individuals Who are Struggling
When I entered a family support group 39 years ago, I was in pain. My loved one was out of control and every moment of that struggle felt like it was ripping my heart out bit by bit.
I was afraid for him, afraid for me, and afraid for our family; yet many people in the support group said things like:
- Kick him out.
- You’re better than this.
- You’re better than him.
- How low is YOUR self esteem?
Needless to say, this kind of “help” was not very helpful.
I was told to “Let go and Let God” and I tried to, but at the time, God seemed rather slow and I just wanted to help, so I couldn’t seem to let go.
I was told to go into therapy, but at the time, the therapist just said “Leave” as well.
Me. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to listen to people telling me that the person I loved was defective. I didn’t want to give up.
So I didn’t.
- I studied
- I read
- I hovered
- I stepped back
- I spoke with people who understood how the kind of love I had for my struggling loved one wasn’t bad or sick. They understood that this kind of love was precious and that my loved one, struggling though he was, was precious and valuable, too.
At that time though, there were very few, if any, people who ‘got’ that there were ways to be very helpful to him in a pretty short amount of time.
Those who agreed that it was okay to stay explained that I just had to ‘adjust’ to the fact that this problem could go on very destructively for a very long time, and my only option if I stayed was to completely take my focus off of my suffering loved one and put it squarely on myself.
I saw their point but felt something was missing. The original Al-Anon wives (cuz most of them were wives), understood what I was talking about when they formed Al-Anon, so I read what they wrote. In fact, I developed a whole way of being based on a story from one of the original Al-Anon books. Read more about it HERE.
So, letting go, wasn’t always about leaving, ignoring, focusing only on one’s own recovery.
Sometimes it was learning skills that fit a situation perfectly.
BALM PRINCIPLE 3: A Shift in Loving
BALM Principle 3 opens the door to that kind of unconditional, helpful love when it states, “It’s important to let go without giving up or giving in.”
But what does that principle really mean?
In the BALM we define it as follows:
It’s important to let go means:
- Let go of your need to control the situation and your loved one.
- Let go of needing an assured outcome that fits your view of how things should resolve themselves.
- Let go of the obsessive thoughts that seem to have you by the throat such as:
- This stint in treatment better work
- He has given me enough grief. It’s time to get to work and stop using now
- I can only be happy and love her if she tows the line and stops this horrible behavior
- If this doesn’t work, I’ll die.
- I can’t take it anymore.
- I’m out of here
- This treatment center doesn’t know what they are doing. They don’t understand my son/daughter and can’t seem to get even the little things right (such as a working washing machine, a better roommate, etc.)
- Etc., etc., etc.
Without giving up means:
- Without giving up on your loved one’s potential to get well
- Without giving up on your own potential to get well
- Without giving up on your BALM studies and practices – it is as important for you to focus on your recovery as it is for your loved one to focus on theirs.
Without giving in means:
- Without giving into the manipulations of your loved one’s hijacked brain.
- The hijacked brain (as we call it) is what we call your loved one’s seeming inability to act like a person in recovery when they are using.
- When using, a person will continue using unless and until they (not you) shift into a non-using perspective.
- When using habitually, a person’s hijacked brain will keep them looking out for the needs of their addiction, not for your needs or anyone else’s.
These lessons must sometimes be learned over and over again for family members. The BALM repeats its ideas in 40 different ways, knowing that eventually one will sink in.
Which idea is sinking in for you today and how will it help you make a difference in your relationship with your loved one and yourself?
If you haven’t joined the BALM yet, now’s the time!
Give us a call at 1-888-998-BALM (2256) or send us an email requesting an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us help you free your mind from the extremes that sometimes personify being involved in a struggling person’s life. Most of the time, it is not necessary to leave. It is possible to learn a new way of being that will help you and can help your loved one!