“Because God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things. We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self-regard, creatures of unalloyed self-interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one.”
― Dean Koontz, The Darkest Evening of the Year
One of the worst things in the world is to watch someone with an addiction kill themselves because of that addiction. Whether a parent, a partner, a friend, a child or a spouse, it is heartbreaking and gut wrenching. The reason why it is so hard is that in addition to seeing the addict suffer emotionally and many times see their physical health decline, you also have to deal with them lashing out, lying and manipulating in order to maintain the substance abuse.
Taking care of someone with a substance abuse problem can be exhausting and alcoholism will destroy any relationship. It tears families, friends and lovers apart. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself, and the addict, is to walk away.
This is a painful lesson I had to learn with not only an ex boyfriend, but one of my best friends too. The ex was the most popular and best looking boy in high school, the one who all the girls had a crush on, including me. And he was very successful….but he was drinking himself the death.
Similar story with one of my besties, I had known since I was 18. She was one of the smartest and most talented people I have ever met. She could do anything she put her mind to, except quit. And when she met and fell in love with another addict, it just made the situation worse. The their relationship turned physically violent, but she always went back because he could give her the substances. And there was nothing to be done. So I had to walk away in order to save my own heart.
My friend had a wonderful life to live, her two adult children graduating with honors and starting their own brilliant lives, an amazing career she had worked hard for, and everything ahead of her and her empty nest. The ex has 4 children, an amazing career, a beautiful home, had a relationship with a wonderful woman (me), and many friends who loved him. We should all be so lucky and blessed and fortunate in our lives have so many reasons to live. And yet the only thing they wanted to do is be in the dark with the addictions. And so it will be until they hit rock bottom.
And my job now is to make sure I am not rock bottom. My job now is to love myself enough to walk away until they get help, each on e their own. And that is what you have to do with an addict. Because they won’t stop. You cannot help anyone who doesn’t want help. Until they hit rock bottom, their addiction will make them toxic to everything and everyone they touch.
Are they bad people? No. They are just lost and miserable. No one in that position is happy. So you must have compassion for them, without allowing yourself to be drawn in to the drama. Pray for them. Be nice to them. Even love them. But do it from a distance.
Life is short, choose your paths and your actions and those in your life wisely. We all need a little help and support sometimes, but there’s a difference between helping someone who wants help and who needs it, and wasting your precious time, you’re finite time, on someone who has no intentions of keeping their promises. Because sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is love and pray for them from a safe distance. Live your life to the fullest and leave the dysfunctional adults behind. If they are meant to be in your life, they will get their life together and catch up.