1. You were too afraid to ever have friends over.
Coming home was like walking on eggshells. You had no idea who would greet you at the door. Was it your loving family member or was it their addiction that would say hello? Knowing if it was going to be a “good” day was a flip of the coin and there was no way you could put your friends through that risk too.
2. You spend your whole life thinking you’ll never be good enough.
You wasted days upon days trying to talk to your loved one, begging them to stop. You tried to distract them any way you could. You spent every waking moment with them because if they had you, then maybe they wouldn’t need to find comfort in anything else. You thought you would be a good enough reason for them to quit, that they could put you first. But they never did, and it hurt more than you’ll ever care to admit. You hold onto that insecurity wherever you go, and you think that no matter how much you try, you’ll always fall short.
3. You lied about your family life left, right and centre.
There were very few people, if any, that truly knew what your home situation was really like. In fact, there are still only a couple that know the whole story. You couldn’t bring yourself to tell many people because talking about it made it feel real. And you didn’t want it to be real. So, you denied it in the best way you could. You made up the life you always wanted but could never have.
4. You deal with everything by yourself.
From a young age, you learned that the only person you could ever count on was yourself. With everything around you being a chaotic mess, you vowed to be the constant you so desperately needed. You had to pick up the broken pieces every time, so you’ve become hesitant to let anyone else help. You don’t let others in easily because trust has always been a foreign concept to you.
5. You’re hypersensitive to addictions all around you.
You don’t want to be just another statistic. You can never let yourself end up like them, so you promise to avoid anything that reminds you of it like the plague. Whether it’s that drink your friend offers you at your first high school party or that invitation to smoke up, you’re resistant because you’ve seen how bad it can end up. And even though you think you are strong enough to never let it get to that point, your fears keep telling you that there’s always a chance it could.
6. You see your loved one in everyone else you have relationships with.
You can’t help but compare your friends or your significant other to them. You know you’re being unfair, but it’s something you do without even wanting to. They’ll never understand why you suddenly turned cold when they have a few drinks or why you’re “making a big deal” out of everything. But the truth is seeing them like that brings you back in time, to a place you’ve been trying to escape from your whole life.
7. You try to fix absolutely everyone.
Your childhood was dedicated to saving your loved one from their addiction. You spent hours trying to show them the goodness that lied within them. You tried to convince them to go get help and when they denied, you decided to be the help. You needed to be the one to help them find themselves again but lost yourself in the process. And now you do the exact same thing with everyone whose path you cross. There are pieces of you patched onto everyone you’ve ever loved, but the pieces you have left to give are far and few.
8. You try to control everything around you.
Eventually, you realized that nothing you did seemed to make the situation any better. You began to think that it was, and always would be, a hopeless cause. But, you couldn’t accept that everything else had to be like that too. You needed to find the sense of security you’d been longing for all along. So, you attempt to make sure you’re in control of every other aspect of your life, to compensate for feeling like a bystander in the past.
9. You can’t see things in black and white anymore.
One of the most important people in your life was a mixture of good and bad. There were times when helping them was the last thing on your mind. How many times would you have to bail them out? Why could they never stop repeating yesterday’s mistakes? But even though some days you felt nothing but disgust towards them, you loved them and you’ve never stopped. Deep down, you know that they are not defined by their addiction. They are human, just like the rest of us, and they are capable of so much. And because of this, you can’t help but see the good in everyone else too.
10. You are one of the strongest and most compassionate people you know.
If you haven’t realized it yet, one day you will wake up and see that you are living, breathing proof that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You may have spent every second wishing your childhood was full of rainbows and butterflies, but you will see that every ounce of suffering you went through has shaped you into the beautiful person you are today. You have compassion like no other. Your empathy is unmatched by most. Your friends and family rely on you to be a helping hand because you have a gift for being as understanding and non-judgemental as possible. You aren’t just enough, you are more than it.