I’ve always been amazed at the ebbs and flows of life. When I was going to 12-Step programs many years ago, one of my favourite sayings there was, “This too shall pass.” As time went on, I began to trust that if something I didn’t like was happening in my life, it would eventually shift and change—hopefully into something better, if I was willing to do the inner work to make that happen.
Of course, this was also true of the things that were happening that I did like—so I had to become willing to let go of those when they ran their course, even when I didn’t want to. Learning to develop that kind of trust and surrender to the rhythm of life has often proven quite beneficial for me, often in ways I could never predict.
For those of you who follow my Facebook page, Loving an Addict, Loving Yourself, you know that the past little while has been quite difficult for me health-wise, as I dealt with a very severe reaction to an otherwise routine pneumonia vaccination I received. As you’ve read, even though there was pain and high fever, the worst part for me was that I hadn’t been warned by my doctor that this could happen, even though there is quite a bit of information about the potential side effects on the internet, as I later discovered. But this too has passed, and I’m feeling a lot better two weeks later. I found myself holding on to that unseen “light at the end of the tunnel” many times during this latest ordeal, trusting the discomfort would indeed pass.
And then, a few days ago as I was just starting to emerge from that very tunnel, life ebbed and flowed again. I received an amazing email from internationally renowned Australian psychologist Clinton Power, informing me that I had been chosen as one of their 34 Best Bloggers—and my name and bio showed up on their webpage with the other bloggers they had chosen. Of course I was thrilled and honoured, and I really wanted to share this with all of you.
I remember years ago when I first heard the word “blogging”—to be honest, I had no idea what that was all about or whether I could ever write one myself. But along the way I received some wonderful encouragement and assistance—and I have now, to date, written and published approximately 75 blog posts since I began in 2010. I publish them on my own website and as newsletters to my subscribers. For the past two years they’ve been published on the Huffington Post as well.
Nearly every day, I get emails and comments on my blog posts from loved ones who are struggling with the addicts they care about so deeply. Many have read my book and most follow me on Facebook. As they tell me their stories, often asking for some much-needed assistance, I am reminded of how neglected this under-served population of people continues to be. There is now so much help available for those with addictions—but there remains so little out there for their friends and family members, who all too often struggle and suffer right along with them but who have no idea what to do—and not do.
My goal is to be able to offer guidance to these loved ones, many of whom have been unwittingly engaging in enabling behaviours. Even though it may feel like love, when we enable addicts, they often don’t reach whatever bottom they need to get to in order to make the decision to go into active recovery. And, as we all know, when addicts choose to remain in active addiction, everyone around them suffers.
The loved ones of addicts need to be taught the correct actions to choose for new behaviours to take shape. When this doesn’t happen, the addicts generally stay stuck where they are and everybody pays the price. Often, loved ones need to learn how to set—and how to maintain—healthy, appropriate boundaries, as well as how to come off that devastating roller coaster of chaos they’ve been riding with their addict. When that doesn’t happen, then everyone involved just continues to experience same old-same old dynamics.
Because—simply put—if nothing changes, nothing changes.
I love seeing that proverbial light bulb go on for the loved ones I work with—and seeing the difference in their families once they stop enabling and actually begin helping. I also find it very rewarding to train and supervise the counsellors and therapists who work with loved ones. They are the ones who see the immense need for services and who want to offer effective and compassionate assistance to those who so desperately need it. In general, for every one ‘addict’ (of any kind), there are at least 10-20 people affected in some way by that person’s addiction—and yet, there is still so little help available for them. We need to change this, and fast!
I enjoy receiving comments from you, my readers, even when you don’t agree with my viewpoints—as long as you are respectful in voicing your opinions, as most of you have been—and I especially appreciate hearing from those of you who tell me that what I’ve said has helped you in some way. When I was in the depths of my own active addiction with drugs and alcohol for so many years, before I made the choice to go into active recovery in 1987, it never occurred to me that I could ever do anything in my own life that could be even remotely helpful to anyone else. Such is the self-absorption of the practicing addict! Sometimes even now, 28 years later, I still shake my head when I receive any kind of awards or accolades—such as being chosen as a Best Blogger—not believing this could be happening to me. Thank you all for your comments and feedback—please know that I appreciate hearing from you.
If you’d like to read any of my past blog posts on my website—there is an archived list at the bottom left on that page. To read them on the Huff Post, you can find me here.
If you’d like to see the two Skype interviews I’ve done with Clinton Power, you can find them on my Media page. One is specifically geared to the loved ones of addicts and the other is more for the counsellors and therapists who work with loved ones as their clients. That being said, I encourage any of you to listen to both if you’d like to—there is some very good information there that could be of help to you, no matter what your situation currently is. I really enjoyed doing these with Clinton—he is a great interviewer, and I hope we can do more together in the future.
Also, here is the page on Clinton’s website that lists all of the choices for the 34 Best Bloggers—take a look, you might want to follow some of the others as well.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Clinton and his colleagues for thinking of me for this honour. If any of you think you’d like to start blogging yourselves, I encourage you to do so. You might just have some really important things to share with the world!
And if life is giving you lemons right now, please hang on, continue doing your all-important inner work, and know that this too shall pass. That’s the kind of faith that true lemonade is made of.