You learn what absolute denial feels like. You learn that this denial doesn’t go away no matter how clear the proof is. This absolute denial that leads you to rationalize every warning sign and constantly believe the lies.
You know what it’s like to be an enabler simply because you don’t realize the problem at hand. You have seen how not having any previous knowledge about addiction can lead to ignorance. You think back to all of the times that you didn’t think twice when you would be riding in the car with them and they had to pull over to puke. You know what it’s like to believe they had a really weak stomach. You know what it’s like to think they are constantly just “under the weather” or sick.
You know the blame that you feel when you realize you were once an enabler. You know what it’s like for that blame to eat at you every single day and keep you up at night thinking of every way you could’ve helped.
You know what it’s like to replay the first time you heard the word heroin and the person you love in the same sentence in your head over and over. You remember how foreign that word used to be to you. You know what it’s like to not know about addiction but love someone that is now labeled as “a heroin addict.” You know the powerful stigma behind that label and refuse to associate them with it.
You know what it’s like to fall to your knees in front of them crying and begging them to stop. You realize that the person you have loved and who has loved you back since the day you were born can watch you on the ground without a sign of emotion, or even a sign of life, in their eyes.
You know what it’s like to be standing in a room with them and feel so alone.
You know what it’s like to become a full detective trying to prevent them from being able to use. You watch the life being sucked out of your parents as they stop living their life, trying to fix his. The sound sleepers all of you once were disappear as you either wait up for them to come home or make sure you can watch their every move. The house you live in that was once felt like your safe place becomes the cause of your stress yet you never want to leave. You know what it’s like to realize some of your things slowly go missing. You know how it is to continue to be in denial even when the person that is supposed to love you sells your possessions to feed his addiction.
You know what it’s like to want so badly to hate someone, but yet be unable to walk away. You know what it’s like to cringe thinking about the monster living in your house, yet stay up all night praying for them.
You know what it’s like to constantly be subconsciously be waiting for that call or that knock on the door telling you that they’re really gone. You know what it’s like to realize that in reality the one that you love has been gone for a while now, but you are determined to get them back.
You know all of the phases that come along with your roller coaster of emotions. You know that you can go from crying in bed to screaming in their face to hugging them begging them to never let go.
You know what it’s like to look your brother in the eyes and see a stranger.
You know so much heartache and pain and you’ve seen some of your darkest days, but what you don’t know at the time is that you become an addict. You become addicted to trying to help the addict. While you try to get the addict back to being the one you know and love, you lose yourself. You won’t up on them or stop loving them so you try everything you can to gain control and fix someone that you can’t fix. You don’t realize that you are losing yourself because you are blind to everything except for your one focus.
I have learned that one of the hardest parts about loving an addict is not giving up.
I know all of these feelings too well. There were days that I thought that no one in my family would live to see the next day. We went from bad days to worse days and the same cycle went on for far too long. When I think about the journey of loving someone who is an addict, it’s hard not to just think about my darkest days, but after my brother left for a rehab in Utah I began my best to try to accept these hardships my family was facing and turn them into learning experiences.
Although my brother has been clean for a year and a half now, he is still an addict. He continues on this hard journey and we continue to follow. I can’t erase the pain, but I can look at life through a different lens.