We are "the ones who stayed." Stayed in the lives of our addicted partners, family or friends. Loving someone through addiction and recovery is not for the timid. You are part of an elite group of souls who chose to remain when others fled.
These articles are addressed to those of you who are without addictions, but love an addicted person and are committed to being a part of that person's life.
There are volumes upon volumes of published works on addictive behaviors, co-dependence, enabling and the like. This is not one. This work simply seeks to help those partners, friends, and family members of addicts who are navigating the treatment and recovery processes while trying to live their daily lives.
I didn’t like Alan. “Oily” would be the word I would use to describe him. He was a ex-con real estate broker, always out for the fast buck--an “ends justify the means” kind of guy. He defrauded his elderly parents to further his own wannabe-lavish lifestyle. He was manipulative and domineering with women. He hurt a woman I love very much with borderline stalker behavior. He dated one of my husband’s employee’s with similar results. I didn’t like Alan at all.
But I did love him.
Alan probably helped more people (including my husband) find their way in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous than any five other men put together. He was dedicated to carrying the message to the still suffering alcoholic. He sponsored countless others. For years he took a weekly AA meeting into the local detox center.
For those of you unfamiliar with a detox setting, it’s a room full of people trying to dry out from having ingested WAY too much alcohol or other substances. During an hour AA meeting at the detox center, the group is sweating and shaking; any number of people may be vomiting; there are sometimes people who go into alcohol or drug induced seizures; it’s never pretty. But Alan would be there faithfully every week to carry the message of hope to a group of people who were at their very lowest.
Alan trained my husband to run that meeting. Doing that “in the trenches” service work had an enormous effect on my husband’s ability to choose sobriety on a daily basis. You would be amazed at the number of people who made it back from depths of their addiction and on to a fully functioning and happy life, after being put on the path to Recovery as a result of hearing Alan share in that detox meeting; and I love him for that.
Alan was ten years sober when he died. Sobriety does not equal sainthood. As my husband often says, “Sober up a horse-thief and you’ve got a sober horse-thief.” In many respects, Alan was a sober horse-thief, but that fact never kept him from carrying that message of hope to those in need.
I didn’t like Alan, but I am very grateful that I knew him. Knowing Alan taught me in living color that love transcends everything.
Love is cool like that. Love doesn’t discriminate for past discretion. Love doesn’t judge. Love forms no opinion. Love never sees the ugliness, only the beauty. Love is perfectly happy for me to find that one shiny spot in the guy I couldn’t stand and focus there. Love will go wherever it is asked.
When you find yourselves, like me, faced with that person or situation that makes your skin crawl, invite love in and watch what happens. Love will always find you.