I’ve been trying to do some self reflection lately about these last few years. That’s not fun because I much rather point out all the things wrong with you than look at myself.
When a loved one suffers from addiction I don’t see how it cannot help but change people close to them along with all the changes we see in the addicted as well. I admit some of the changes in me are what I see as good and some of them I am not particularly proud of admitting. Of course I spent less time on those.
I’m going to just start listing and commenting on the changes I have thought about and anyone that wants to point out things I am missing or just plain wrong about feel free.
- I have more patience with people suffering from addiction, alcoholism and mental illness. Shamefully, in the past I just looked at those people as being “weak of character.” I still struggle with addiction and alcoholism about “why do it the first time” question but I understand how it becomes the center of their being and why it is classified as a disease.
- I have less patience with people that claim to believe in absolutes. I often fell into that type of thinking. There are shades of gray and the truth is most of life is lived in varying shades of gray.
- I have always had a quick temper but it wasn’t a violent temper. I try hard to do that less, not successful most of the time but I am better. It was just a yell and scream then 10 minutes later I was like nothing ever happened and everyone else was still in shock. I try now to reserve those outbursts only to really egregious things in life like paraphernalia and drugs in my house or people talking and texting while driving.
- I have learned judging people as a group does me a disservice and I will jump at the chance learn from anyone that will take the time to teach me. I have seen some of the biggest, baddest looking bikers wearing leather, tattooed, scraggly beards and hair, arms the size of small barrels with a gut to match have the biggest hearts I have ever seen in a man. And I have seen church going, god fearing, holier than thou people that are the most selfish, judgmental and un-accepting people I have ever met. All bikers are not good and all churchy people are not bad, everyone deserves to be judged as a single person and I try to do that respectfully.
- I accept people that accept me. By nature I am more a “pleaser” personality. If someone didn’t like what I was, I spent time thinking about what is wrong with me or them. I now am a person that feels if you can’t accept me and my family with its addiction then I don’t have time for you either. I come with my baggage and if you can’t accept my baggage then life is too short.
- I do not like how I look at young people now. I look at teenage kids and see potential addicts. This is contradictory to what I said above. Most kids are great and do not become addicts and drugs are not the center of their life but my mind tells me constantly, “if it can happen to my son it can happen to anyone.” It just seems like every teenager is an addiction time bomb; that is wrong.
- I am a trusting person. I always thought of it this way, I am too lazy to not trust people because not trusting took so much energy. With my son I am distrustful to a level that is detrimental to him and me.
- I have always been fairly liberal in my thinking but when it came to law and order I was a straight down the line, lock’em up type guy. Lock’em up is not a generic solution to all of our crime and drug problems. Some people need to be locked up. Locking up addicts, alcoholics and the mentally ill solves no problems, not the person locked up or societies. I hate taxes as much as the next guy but I’d rather pay to try and fix a problem than to just shove it under a rug. “Out of sight out of mind” costs us more as a society, morally and financially than it would to build centers to help rather than to warehouse.
- I have a controlling personality. That serves me well in some areas of my life but I have learned there are times it is necessary to let go. It’s OK for others to do their thing their way, outcomes are more important than process. I allow others to learn their way and sometimes that involves them making mistakes I know that are going to happen but sometimes it is best to keep my mouth shut. In the past my mouth was not shut most of the time.
That is a start for me. How has addiction changed you?