+ What Does It Mean To Get Your Life Back? - BALM

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What Does It Mean To Get Your Life Back?

BALM | December 3, 2012

For family members, life with a family member with an active SUD or other addiction can be all consuming. There are the lies, the missing possessions, the unpredictable behaviors, the visits to bars, the searches through neighborhoods, the strange phone calls and hang ups. The requests for money, the ‘need’ to bail the addict out of jail, save her reputation, save his job, keep her in school, ‘get’ her to graduate.

So many things to do to keep the struggling loved one in line, to keep the family in-tact, to protect the younger children from the reality of the situation…

And when it all falls on you, the family member, you may feel like you have no time or energy for anything else. Your best thinking, your most energetic doing, your deepest savings, all of these are going to support a person who is falling off a cliff so steep that no amount of rope could reach them – Yet, you keep letting more rope out, trying as hard as you can to hold steady and keep them from letting go.

Your biggest fear is that the chafing on your hands will get so severe that you will  lose your grip and won’t be able to hold on any more. And, ironically, though your hands are beginning to bleed, you have no thought of the effect on you. Instead, you are trying to save the life of someone seemingly unconcerned about saving their own.

So, how do you know if and when to let go?

This is the dilemma of the family member.

For some, of course, it’s no dilemma at all. As soon as they see the problem evolving, they take their stand. They set down a boundary and let go. They disconnect, cut their losses, and simply detach, often physically as well as emotionally from their relative. “Clearly, he is killing himself,” you hear them say. “And he is not taking me with him.”

If you are that automatic detacher, we will discuss your particular challenges in an upcoming blog.

For today, let’s talk about what’s facing you if you are not one to just let go. You are the one holding on; trying everything you know how to do to save your loved one’s life. Heroically, you are pulling back at the rope, trying to wake up your loved one through screaming, crying, begging, as you do so. Giving money, time, energy, to the cause; all the while doing things for your loved one  that could be helping to kill them.

So, how do you know if, how, and when to let go?

This is the work ahead of you. To take your life back while being there in a way that is no longer detrimental. To learn new ways to communicate with your loved one while also repairing your broken relationships with yourself and others and healing your own tattered life.

To Be A Loving Mirror is to heal yourself and to heal the way you relate to your struggling loved one, yourself, and the rest of the world. It is not an event, but a process.

You become calm inside. You share what you see. You let go of results. You set boundaries that work for you.

It is a way of being and a skill simultaneously. Challenging, yet within reach.

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Coach Bev