T.C. Asks: How do you stay firm in your decision to want out of a relationship with an addict who has an it’s-only-on-weekends-I-can-control-it attitude? I have been doing this for 27 years and I don’t know how to make this individual understand a weekend is not only a weekend, it’s sending them back into addiction. I have grown tired, and because this individual works every day and doesn’t spend money on their habits, I am supposed to ignore the concerns for their health, etc.
Although I had a little bit of trouble completely understanding your question, I’m glad you reached out. I think what you’re asking is about how to make a healthy, self-respecting decision and then stick to it. It sounds like you’ve kept going back to a relationship, for many years, that you knew wasn’t good for you, and you want to understand how to break that cycle.
It’s a great question—and I’m sure you’re not alone in asking it.
First of all, it will be important for you to not blame your addict for the choice you’re either making or not making. We live on a planet of free will, and we can all make the choice to be free or to keep ourselves stuck. It sounds like your partner is making the choice to stay stuck in active addiction and, unfortunately, no matter how you try you won’t be able to MAKE them stop their addictive behaviour. What you can do is to make it as uncomfortable as possible—from a place of love and concern—for them to keep using. That may help them make a different choice—and it may not. And that decision isn’t up to you, it’s entirely up to the addict in your life.
All any of us can change is ourselves—we are basically powerless over everybody else—and that’s because we all have free will. But in order to change ourselves, we must first become willing to go deeper until we understand why we’ve been hurting ourselves in the first place. It is only with increased self-awareness and self-respect that this understanding can come—and this is the work of ‘recovery.’ It sounds like you’ve been quite stuck in your own addictive behaviour of leaving and going back, leaving and going back. We often need some skilled help in overcoming our own particular brand of “Should I stay or should I go?” and if you would like to try some counselling to get yourself unstuck so you can make different, healthier choices for yourself, please feel free to connect with us at www.lovewithboundaries.com.
We need to learn how to love others in our lives with boundaries—and often we need to also love ourselves with the same sorts of boundaries. I hope you’ll decide to do the inner work it takes to finally understand why you’ve stayed in a relationship that has caused you so much pain. The choices that you’ve been making are definitely changeable—you can definitely heal from this. Good luck!