I never planned to write about this so early on. However, I am finding as I really explore this "new world" that there is a certain freedom in blogging. Freedom for myself. Freedom for my thoughts. Freedom for my feelings. Writing has always been a source of expressing myself but the feeling of it seems a little different when I know someone else may potentially read what I put down on "paper". Jenni's prompt for today really had my mind in a battle over what approach to take. What is something I know a lot about? Or am "good" at? My plan for something I know a lot about had originally been to take a funny approach to being a "successful" housewife. With recent events in my life changing (oh I love that word) yet again, the topic of addiction has been heavy on my mind. Unfortunately, this is a topic I know a lot about. Not my own personal struggle but the struggle of caring for someone who suffers under the weight of it.
This is a weight that doesn't only fall on him. It is a weight that can also consume and devour those who love him. My brother has suffered with addiction for what seems like as long as I can remember (and he is younger than me). His dealing with his demons is his story. This is mine.
I am the sister of an addict. I don't think is something you can be good at but being a good sister is something I am working on being good at all the time.
Caring for someone who suffers from addiction takes on many faces.
- Anger; there
is was a lot of that
- Enabling; I have played my part
- Judgement; I still struggle to not throw stones
This list could go on...
However, there is also...
- Hope; even in the smallest of doses
- Hope; even in the smallest of doses
- Redemption; because sometimes even each week could mean turning a new page
- Grace; there has to be or the battle would have been lost long ago
This list is sometimes harder to find and harder to add to than the other but this list grows too.
Right now those faces change sometimes moment to moment. His most recent relapse began yet a new season in this journey but I think it was the most important lesson I have learned so far. For years I would step back from it, live my life and pretend that this was not something that defined me. While I still don't see it as a definition for my life it is something that has shaped me and defined who I have become. Addiction, even when it is not your own, changes you. I didn't use to fear change, until things changed with the speed of an oncoming train and kept changing with each passing car. I used to be a little more carefree, until I saw how riding that line can push you so far past it you can't find your way back.
Now though I am finding a new way to understand "knowing a lot" about addiction. Addiction is a disease, which is something I still have a hard time wrapping my head around. I have always called it selfish, but it is not something I struggle with and therefore can't truly understand. I have come to learn though that no matter how hard I may try it is not something I can fix. Sometimes there is nothing I can do but pray. He has to want to change. I can support him, when he is sober. I can be there to help, when he is willing to be active in recovery, but I can no longer intervene. It doesn't help and it doesn't do him, me or anyone any good. Trying to take it all on leads to damage, destruction and heartache.
As a hurt teen I was quick to anger, quick to hate addiction, quick to want to hate him. It's a strange feeling to have so much hatred for someone you also love so much. That anger comes up from time to time. That is the fear, that is the human reaction. Shooting jabs and lashing out on him for the pain it has caused me just precipitates more anger in the moment and leads to guilt later on. It's in those moments when I try to play the game at his level, "throwing punches" to save my own pride, that I really see the destructive pattern of it all. In order to help someone who sometimes can't even help themselves we can't crawl in at their level and hope to rescue them. We have to keep our hearts strong and offer the hand down because otherwise there would be no one to pull them up. In the same respect I am trying to learn that the greatest lesson of all is that the most I can be is a helping hand. I can not be his savior. So for now, I will continue to offer a hand when he is willing to take it. I won't pull him up with my own strength but with the strength that comes from knowing that there is a reason he is here, that there is more to his story (to the whole story) than just the seasons that he spends in the pit. God is not done yet.