Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How Addiction Has Changed Me

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?


mother of drug addict said...

It has changed me in ways I never thought it could.:
-I dont have the patience I once had,
-I dont believe as deeply as I once did,
-I am more apt to walk away than fight,
-I think more about what my life would have been like if I wasnt a mother of an addict,
-It has also brought me back to prayer.

Anonymous said...

Positive changes due to addiction:
- I have met new friends because of addiction who understand exactly what I am going through because they are also walking or have walked in my shoes.
- That a 12 Step program could be a program for anyone -not just addicts
- More compassion
- Not judging from outward appearances
- That every family in this world is dealing with an issue, ours just happens to be addiction - no family escapes hardship - theirs are just different.
- Giving up control - I have to remember it's not my will

I still ride the roller coaster of addiction with my son, but my lows are not as low and the highs are not as high and that comes from years of learning and experiencing addiction. No one in life wants to be an addict, and unfortunately I believe the only way you find out you are one is after you have used drugs or alcohol. My wish for all families of addicts is that our population be educated about addiction so they stop looking at it as a moral issue.

Syd said...

Alcoholism has changed me by getting me into a program of recovery because I was pretty sick also. By doing that I have learned to look at myself, get to know really who I am, what my motives are, and to realize that there is a power greater than me. I have learned to lower expectations, stop trying to control the lives of others, and have a good relationship with those I love. I have learned so much because of the disease. I am thankful for that.

A Mom's Serious Blunder said...

I agree 100% with everything you have fact I know we all say this but really, i could have written it myself, it is so dead on.

Jane said...

I also mirror all the things you said,but try as hard as I can, I can't remember what life was like it seems so long ago,and as much as I love him I still wonder why Im so so wrapped up in their world too,I Know I know he's my son and I love him, but honestly I've changed very much about the way I think and live as the years are ticking by so fast,yet as hard as I think we all try not to let all this drag us down ,I'm often amazed myself as why he's in my head practically all the time,when others who are important to me are not,but maybe should be. Hope this makes sense. Take care.

Bristolvol said...

I agree with everything you said. The most significant change I have experienced over the last six years is the realization that there is no time or place for arrogance in anybody's life. Life can change in the blink of an eye and not necessarily for the better. Arrogance comes before the fall. This realization has made me more humble and compassionate. Mother of a drug addicted daughter is by far the most difficult role I have had in my life, and believe me, I have had a few.

Anonymous said...

Dad said, "I’ve been trying to do some self reflection lately about these last few years."

Lucky Dad, I am midway through may second decade!!

You gave permission to point out "things" you have wrong (I'm not that brave). How fun Dad, Thanks.

I will keep it simple and just grade each statement.

Self reflection #1. A

Self Reflection #2. C-
(I will address this in my next post)

Self Reflection #3. B+
(Read "Crucial Conversations" & you get an "A")

Self Reflection #4. A

Self Reflection #5. A

Self Reflection #6. A

Self Reflection #7. A

Self Reflection #8. A

I read that there are three ways we see ourselves, (1) the way "we" see ourselves, (2) the way others see us and (3) the way we really are.

"The problem is your uninvestigated thinking." Byron Katie, Author, "The Work"

Anonymous said...

I learned a long time ago with my first alcoholic husband that I am responsible for my feelings, not anyone else. I can choose to get mad or sad or whatever - but it is MY choice. Now, almost 30 years later that lesson has kept me sane with my second alcoholic husband (yeah, I'm a really slow learner...)and my addict son. Also being a private person by nature, there is a part of me that they cannot touch no matter what. So, while life is certainly full of disappointments and heartache, I truly have a great life with many friends to help me through the rough patches.

Donna - Ct mom of a heroin addict

Fractalmom said...

oh my Ron LOL. what a can of worms!!

I am less accepting.
I do not trust easily.
I take care of my self more.
I am suspicious.
My sense of humor suffered.
I suppress emotions.
I tend to say "anyone can talk the talk. I wait till they can walk the walk.

Heather's Mom said...

It brought me back to Al-Anon (seriously this time) which has done so much for me. A big part of that is taking care of me.
In other ways my life has changed, many you or others above mentioned... I always thought I was humble, now I am Humble. I always thought I was trusting in God, now I am Trusting in Him. I always thought I was compassionate, now I am Compassionate. I always thought I was accepting, now I am Accepting. A biggie for me is (trying) to let go of control, but at least now realizing when I am doing it.
God bless you & Mom.

beachteacher said...

good question....hmmm
I am less judgmental of anyone...not that I was so much that way anyway...but much less so now.
I am much more aware of how many people go through significant pain, in various ways
I am more aware of how much my children are not "mine",...and never were, the big sense
I am more compassionate in general
I am much less trusting of what I'm being told, and of the motives of people
I am more confident of my ability to get through very difficult things
I am more aware of my right and need to take care of & nurture myself
Ironically....I'm more aware of myself having been a good mother

VJ said...

I have learned that everything I was told and didn't accept early on in my battle with my son's addiction came true. Therefore, I have learned to listen carefully to the knownledge & expereinces of wiser parents.

I have developed a much closer and intimate relationship with God, a trusting one.

Anonymous said...

I think I am a novice at this finding other parents of addicts and attempting to share my feelings. I have been actively living in hell for the past 2 years. Prior to my son's alcohol and prescription pill abuse, our family dealt with his kidney disease and learning disabilities so I was very empathetic to similar kinds of problems. Knowing that my husbands family was chockfull of alcoholism, drug addiction, arrests, mental illness, I tried very hard to educate both my kids to no avail. I used to think it was nurture that overcame nature. I now know i was wrong and that loving, caring parents can have drug addicted children. I used to think i had the power to prevent bad things from happening to my kids, now I know there is very little i can do to disuade my son from his decisions. I used to think chronic illness was hard to deal with but now i see how much harder emotionally it really can get. I used to be very optimistic and now i. Am more fatalistic. I used to be a hyper happy people person, now i am more subdued. I used to feel very blessed to have my children and was horrified when someone would say if they had to do it over again they wouldn't have kids. Now I understand that sentiment and it breaks my heart that the very same thought has crossed my mind more than once. I never had trouble falling asleep but now i worry if he is okay or if he is hurting himself or someone else while under the influence. I had always felt my house was my sanctuary but now feel scared in my own home with my mentally ill son. I used to feel in control but now I am floundering with a constant pit in my stomach worrying if he is going to survive this. I used to feel my kids were so lucky to have each other but now i see my daughter as an only child with a stranger who was once the brother who could make us all laugh really hard. I used to think i was lucky to have a large extended family but now realize how when i really needed them they weren't there. My friends were better family. I'm sure i could list more but the most important one Dad mentioned was being more non-judgmental now. I am now and now more compassionate with families of addicts as well as admiring of those who learn to beat it and then reach out to others to help.

Tori said...

That is so great that I am going to do it myself.

With the Books I am reading and Al-anon, I have realized I am not as perfect as I thought. I don't much like it this "self-reflection", but I need to work through it.

Erin said...

I am definitely less judgmental, I used to think that a heroin addict was someone you would see in an alley, not someone that would ever be a part of my world we were "above" that. Boy was that humbling. I am definitely less trusting in general, I struggle with depression now, I'm trying to be less controlling and obsessed. In many ways his addiction has consumed my life, but I'm learning to try and take care of myself and let go and let my son own his recovery. I am definitely grateful that I have found so many others in the blog world that are going through this it is a great resource and source of strength for me. I don't have any friends who have children with an addiction and many times I feel judged as a parent so I tend not to share much about my son at all. I also think about what my life would have been like if this problem wasn't in my life. I'm working on my relationship with God and trying to put my spiritual life back on the top of my list like it used to be.

Sober Move said...

Thanks for visiting my blog today! I feel as though I could have written the exact same post as you. I share many of your personality traits and have been able to realize what type of person I am, especially over the past few years and have been working hard to change the attributes I don't feel serve me well.

It's always hard to look in the mirror and admit that our way isn't necessarily the right way, so kudos to you for recognizing and making changes in your life. Change isn't always easy but it's necessary to move forward in life :)

Great post!

jackandaisy said...

addiction has taught me to be more compassionate and judge less.


The Interventionist said...

Thanks, Dad, for another great post. As a recovering person myself, with a lot of time clean & sober (over 30 years), I've learned that my addiction is of very limited value when dealing with a loved one's addiction. If anything, it makes me impatient and judgmental. My daughter's addiction has taught me that addiction is a disease, absolutely and without question.
It's taught me that relationships make or break someone's recovery.
It's taught me that 12 Step programs are great for helping someone put together clean time and pretty lousy at just about everything else.
It's taught me that treatment most certainly not a cure.
It's taught me that love does not conquer all, but it is a start.

Thanks for sharing!

Adamity_Bomb_Bomb said...

What was the question, again?

As a drunk....


And the cravings never stop. And it just gets worse.

Sorry to percipitate on the procession.

AA? Tons of meetings. Rehab? Three times.

I have learned that if one is not TRULY committed to change, the same ole shit'll keep happening. I am living (still) proof.

Godspeed and God's peace to all.

Anonymous said...

Adamity Bomb Bomb...I like your honest and accurate assessment of your own addiction. When you are good and ready, sobriety will happen- but wait, sounds like you already know this:)

Her Big Sad said...

I've learned a lot.... and changed a lot. A few things that come to mind at this moment are:

I know that: if nothing changes, nothing changes.

I am way more suspicious. But, I also am better at letting go of my suspicions because I know that the truth will become self evident and I can be busy with other things until it does.

I am more aware that "everyone is fighting some kind of battle" and I am more patient in line, in traffic, in various situations.

I am more aware of the brevity of our lives, and how precious our time is.

I'm more mindful of my personal environment and I go to great lengths to make my space more peaceful, etc. I stay away from the room where the TV blares bad news, I listen to music while sewing, and I put little positive signs or sayings up where I will see them.

I am more aware that everyone has some type of illness.... does that make sense? My husband has been told by professionals we met in family therapy, that he is OCD, I believe it. My daughters are both diagnosed bipolar. I have been diagnosed with depression. But, every single person I know has some sort of mental battle! They spend impulsively or they sleep around or they are controlling or judgemental or whatever! NO ONE IS PERFECT.

Therefore, I have learned to detach and love unconditionally. That is a huge change for me.

I am more likely now to notice something going right, and chirp "hey, there's a sparkle!" to my family.... meaning, there's a nice, shiny, happy little event in the day....

My family thinks I'm nuts.

they might be right.

And I don't care. Because I love them unconditionally and I'm way more content now, than I used to be when we first started this journey.

Wishing you a good day, Ron and Mom!