We don’t aspire to tell another they’ve got life wrong. We desperately hope they see what a mess they are making of their life—our life. We hint at them to reverse the wrongs. When we are finished hinting, we plead. Yet the words evaporate as we speak.
We turn the focus on self. How did we fail? What could we have done differently? Why aren’t we worth listening to? Don’t they see how much we love them? If only we could find the answer and give it to them. If only they would receive this beautiful answer and start living. If only …
And so it goes this way until something breaks. We’re never prepared for a breaking point and since life doesn’t come with a fast-forward preview we must deal with what is in front of us. We deal with life moment to moment, not even day to day. The answer for all of us is in this moment.
Who do I want to be in this moment? Whether I am the addict or the one who loves the addict the answers do not come quickly or easily. In many cases they never come at all.
So I am left to ponder this thought: If I can’t change them how do I change me? Who do I choose to be? If I do not know who I want to be, if I haven’t make a clear decision on how I want to respond it will be left to chance. It will be an auto- esponse based on nothing but past reaction—past programming. My best chance at my best now is to get to know me. Get to know me so well that no matter what happens, I have given those I love—given myself— my best.
I have been the one who pleaded. I have been the recipient of pleading. Neither has been pleasant. As both a recovered addict and a recovered co-dependent, this is what I have learned and these are the principles I teach.
Getting sober is easy. Most functioning addicts can do this for a little while. They can also do this repeatedly with little evidence of having learned anything. Staying sober is the issue. This requires continued effort at self-examination and willingness to apply new knowledge. Neither of these are hallmarks of an addict. Even when we want to change, it is difficult to call forth the fortitude to persevere through the pain of early sobriety. And it is incredibly painful.
The only thing that can make staying sober less painful is the knowledge of the pain of drinking again. When that pain has become bad enough, then we are willing to change our ways. We don’t want to be without alcohol, but we grudgingly try anyway. On a difficulty scale, drinking ranks 9.9 out of ten. Sobriety ranks 9.8 out of ten. Not any easy choice. Especially because we have to feel the pain of sobriety and we get to anesthetize when we drink. It is fair to say no addict wants sobriety, yet every addict that has achieved true sobriety wouldn’t give it up.
We get to face the fact that we are different. We will always be different and alcohol has no business being in our body. Yes, this is what addicts get to face. You can fight it all you want, but that won’t change it. The truth stands alone. The truth doesn’t need you to believe it. The truth doesn’t care if you believe it. In other words, truth isn’t determined by how many people notice you’re an addict. The truth just is.
Staying sober is about facing you. Looking at all the stuff you would rather not look at. Sobriety is about getting to know yourself. Getting to know yourself so well that you can go anywhere, do anything, and be with anyone. All of this you can do without a drink or a drug.
Staying sober is about listening, questioning, clarifying, journaling, sharing, and healing. None of us addicts wanted to do this work. It was absolutely the last thing on the to-do list of our lifetime. And yet it was what we had to do if we were to remain sober. This sobriety thing … a thing we weren’t even sure we wanted. This we had to embrace.
If you are the addict, here is the truth of what you can expect. Stop waiting for a good day to get sober. They are all good. Stop waiting for sobriety to be easy. It will never be easy. If it was easy you would have accomplished this feat already. It is difficult and painful and we face it anyway. It will be hard and you will wonder why you’re doing it. Be prepared for the long haul. Get a permanent sobriety date and stick to it.
Surround yourself with a fellowship. There are many local communities as well as online. Find a mentor. Addicts, you are not thinking clearly when you are new in sobriety. A trusted resource is your best chance at reprogramming the way you think and function. Don’t look for excuses to drink. You won’t have to look very far. You are programmed to drink and this is what you will do until you exercise your right to choose differently. Stop blaming everyone for your situation. Your situation The Truth is Relentless By Lisa Neuman is of your own creation. There is a solution. You just don’t like the solution and because you don’t like it, you feel you have the right to say there isn’t one. We have a solution and it begins with abstinence. We do not drink under any circumstances.
If you are the co-dependent this is what you can expect. Stop waiting for the day that your addict will get sober. They are addicted to alcohol; you’re addicted to them getting sober. Get on with your life. Any day is a good day to do this. If you have given your best love and effort, set them free to experience the consequences of their choices. It is not your job to fix them. It is not your job to make getting sober easy for them. It is their job to face the truth of what they have willingly created and find the courage to make some changes. They will not make changes as long as you keep them comfy. You have now become part of the problem if you are making them comfortable so they can get sober.
I am not suggesting you be unloving. I am suggesting you redefine your definition of love. Be prepared for the long haul, you will be growing too. To some degree you have become part of the problem (understandably so), nevertheless, your focus will need to shift. You must begin taking care of yourself. Surround yourself with fellowship. Again, there are many online and local communities that provide tremendous support. You are not alone. There is a solution for you to be happy. You may not like it, nevertheless it is a solution. You can want to change the addict all you want. It will never work. It needs to come from within them.
Until everyone in the dynamic faces themselves, the dynamic will not heal. Recovery isn’t from alcohol or drugs. Recovery is from our thinking. We need to recover from the way we think and function in our world.
If a truth in your life keeps relentlessly visiting you, why not stop and take a look. See what it might be saying or suggesting. Get your thoughts out of your head and onto a piece of paper. Be willing to take a look at a new truth about you—this moment.
Who knows, this may be the moment that changes your life forever.
Lisa Neumann is the author of Sober Identity: Tools for Reprogramming the Addictive Mind. She is a life skills recovery coach who works with individuals and families affected by addiction. Lisa is the creator of the recovery program SoberIDTM www.soberidentity.com or firstname.lastname@example.org