There is a new movement going on about addiction – men and women who are in recovery are speaking out about their addiction. They are trying to break the stigma that addiction is a shameful disease and something we need to keep a secret. And I am so amazingly proud of all the ones who are brave enough to publicly declare their victory (or journey to victory) over addiction.
There are so many benefits to claiming your struggles and sharing with the world how you got better and found help.
But I am still worried. Because the ones that love them are still suffering in the backgrounds. We are in the shadows quietly waiting for our loved ones to recover. We’re hoping with every ounce of our being that one day all this pain, rejection, and suffering will bring us closer together with the ones we love. We want a happy ending just as much (and sometimes more than) the ones who are addicted.
So where is our moment of public victory?
Is it really our victory to claim? They are the ones who are not choosing to drink or use drugs anymore – how can we take any credit for that? And what about if they have no victory to claim? Will we always just be struggling in the shadows? Afraid to tell anyone what’s going on in our family?
For how long will we keep smiling when we feel like crying? How long will we act like we’re okay because they were sober two days this week?
It’s a tough place to be. We can’t control their sobriety, but we don’t feel it’s our place to share with others since it might shame them.
But here’s my truth (and you can decide for yourself): I know, for sure, that addiction thrives on secrecy.
If kept a secret, it always remains in control. And the ability for outside influences to help are very small.
If we keep this disease a secret, addiction wins.
The other fact that I feel comfortable claiming is that this disease is a family disease. It’s happening to us just as much as it’s happening to them. When they are trying to hang on for one more day, we can’t stop worrying while waiting to see if they’ll succeed.
We usually structure our lives around their addiction. Can’t go to that sports game because there will be beer there. He really doesn’t want to go to the movies at night since they won’t be serving alcohol, so we stay in a watch a movie. We are hoping the local bar closes down for business or the drug dealer gets put in jail. It feels like a full-time job to manage our lives around their addiction.
So with all the effort, the struggle, and the pain, why isn’t this our disease to share?
We’re in it too. And we need to stop being so darn worried about what other people will think of our marriages and share what’s really going on in our homes. It would be amazing if we all did this. How many women you know right now who will come forward and go, “I know exactly how you feel.”
And then think if all of us shared that we love someone who is struggling. Think of how powerless this disease would get. It would be destroyed because we would all be willing to share our stories, learn from one another, and grow together. We would share its secrets and its evil ways. If we dragged addiction out from the evil darkness and into the light – I am convinced together we would be stronger, wiser, and more courageous and we would beat addiction.
We can hold hands, form a circle, and teach each other by sharing, supporting, and offering suggestions. We can return to our homes armored and ready. Or we can leave if we need to or we can stay if we choose to. We will have freedom.
So, my wonderful and loving friends –
I know that sharing that your loved one is fighting for their life with addiction sounds terrifying. But today, just think of at least two people you know who you can share this with. And when you share, remember – you’re not looking for approval. You’re just serving others by letting them know things are not so perfect. And you’re serving yourself by giving yourself permission to no longer accept that shame is something you need to own. This disease is not your fault.
Looking for more support during this time where you’re going from holding this deep, dark secret to beginning to share it with others? Head over to MichelleLisaAnderson.com to learn more about the work-at-your-own-pace programs that I offer for women just like you.