As addicts and alcoholics, many of us are completely misunderstood by those closest to us. It is relatively impossible to convince someone that you love him or her dearly while stealing from them, lying to them, and promising to stop but never truly stopping. It seems, from the eyes of our close family and friends, that we are blatantly disregarding their wishes and almost making an active effort to hurt them. Of course, we as the afflicted know this is far from the truth – we know that if it was easy to stop, we would. We know that we have lost control over how much and how often we use, and even if our promises to stop using are sincere they are quickly overpowered by unmanageable cravings and physical discomforts. We know that we do not want to steal from our mother’s purse, or our father’s wallet, or take our grandparents’ pain pills – but we seem to have no say in the actions our bodies take when drugs and alcohol are concerned. Because of the confusion our intentions and actions cause our loved ones, it is easy to misinterpret their despair and bewilderment as hatred. Many of us will think to ourselves, “Well, my family hates me now and that is never going to change, so what’s the point of getting clean?”
The Distinction Between Hatred and Helplessness
It is important to understand the distinction between hatred and helplessness. There comes a certain point in active addiction when the family and close friends of an addict must remove themselves from the situation in order to preserve their own sanity. There are only so many steps our loved ones can take in attempt to help us until they throw up their hands in exasperation and begin to rapidly lose hope. In some cases, family members will seek counseling themselves, for the addiction that one is battling has the power to negatively affect many. Counselors may instruct family members to set up and maintain firm boundaries for the betterment of everyone involved. This may mean a complete lack of communication, absolutely no financial support, and an overall distancing until the afflicted agrees to receive professional treatment. If your family separates themselves from you, it is not because they hate you. Even if a loved one says that they hate you, it is not you they are really addressing – it is your disease. If your family distances themselves, it is because they love you and they have come to terms with the fact that they are helpless against getting you the treatment you need. It is a decision you will need to make on your own.
Regaining Back Your Family in Time
In recovery, miracles tend to happen for many on a daily basis. I have seen men estranged from their children for years due to their severe alcoholism or drug abuse be reunited after maintaining sobriety for an extended amount of time. I have seen young men and women who have not spoken to their parents or siblings in years be invited home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. No matter how much your family has been forced to distance themselves, familial love never dies. It will always be there, ready and waiting for the time you decide to take matters into your own hands and seek the help you need and deserve.