Sometimes as the loved ones of addicts, we have emotions surrounding them and their addictions that we don’t understand, that we can’t seem to come to terms with, accept or make peace with. Our resentment towards the addicts in our lives is one of these complicated emotions we struggle to make sense of. We’re filled with anger, spite, and bitterness. We resent the choices they’ve made. We resent them for the harm they’ve caused themselves and everyone else around them, including us. We resent the havoc and turmoil they’ve created in our lives. We resent how much we’ve had to worry about them, how many times we’ve had to rescue them, how much effort, time, work and money we’ve put into them, only to see them relapse and fail at their sobriety time and time again. We have a hard time forgiving our loved ones, in part because we don’t see their addictions as an illness. Sometimes we perceive addiction to be a choice, and we’re watching our loved ones consistently choose alcohol, drugs and addictive behaviors over themselves, over their safety, their health, and their well-being. We’re watching them choose their addictions over their families, over the people who love them most, over us. How do we stop feeling so much resentment towards the addicts in our lives?
Whether or not we choose to acknowledge that addiction is, in fact, an illness, we can nevertheless try to soften our view of the addicts in our lives and perceive them with more compassion and understanding. As much as they’ve caused us difficulty over the years, they have been suffering internally just as much, if not more. We can try to hold space for their pain. We can try to imagine what it must be like to be torn apart by addiction. We can try to put ourselves in their shoes and empathize with their struggles. We see them desperate to quit their addictions, trying unsuccessfully for years to get clean. We see them beg to be free of their suffering. We see them filled with embarrassment, disappointment, remorse, and shame every time they disappoint us. We can try to replace our resentment with empathy, even if we’re not ready to give them our forgiveness just yet. We can try to treat them with as much love as we would want to be treated if we ourselves were going through any kind of unbearable, inexplicable pain.
The more we soften our approach with our loved ones, the more we remember how much we love them, the more we can shed our resentment. This doesn’t mean we enable their addictive patterns, condone their behaviors, or make excuses for them. It just means we stop poisoning ourselves with the bitterness of resentment so that we too can be free from the pain we’ve been feeling for so long.
At Riverside Recovery, we understand all of the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and are here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.