“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” Confucius
One of the first things I heard my first mentor in recovery say that spoke to my soul was “a mother is only as happy as her saddest child.” I was the saddest child at the time. I was 29 when I heard that. I had just relocated to Florida after burning my life to the ground.
Addiction or alcoholism is not like other diseases. The suffer is contiguous and passes fear, resentment, and trauma to those closest to them. As has been said before this is the only disease where when the well part goes to help the sick party, the well party often gets sick before the sick party gets well. The healing must happen on both sides and although the process may have overlap they are different. Here are some tips for the family.
Tips for Healing the Family From Addiction & Alcoholism
1) Educate Yourself: Learn about addiction. If this was any other disease, we would learn what its treatments are. This is not different in that respect. The book “Alcoholic’s Anonymous” has a thorough understandable breakdown at the beginning of the book (“The Dr.’s Opinion”, “There is a Solution” and “More about Alcoholism”). There is an entire chapter devoted to family members and loved ones called “To the Wives” It is filled with practical information that can be applied immediately to those who have useful experience.
2)Professional Help: Many things will need repair as far as the family dynamic. Often times family counseling will be most helpful. Identifying defense mechanisms, setting boundaries and acquiring new coping skills will be helpful for the foundation of healing for all members of the family.
3)Peer Support: Often times the most powerful tool is a good example. People who have been through the same trauma and found a working solution to their problems is a gem of a resource. Often times this is an untapped avenue that leads to healing. Be open-minded and take action. Al-Anon is a great option for peer support groups.
4) Self Care: If we are drained mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually it is very difficult to be there for others. Self care has many different avenues. One major theme regardless of the individual chosen practice is kindness. Be kind to yourself. Whether its being kind to your body by eating well and exercising a little, being kind to your mind but learning a something, kind to your emotions by allowing for laughter and play or kind to your spirit by connecting to nature, filling your tank can only help.
The process of healing is not always graceful. Allow for backsliding, both yours and that of the addicted persons. Even in the darkest hours when is seems there is no hope leaning into the tips mentioned will allow for growth and continued stability. Stay the course cause you’re worth it.