A Loved One’s Recovery and Our Own Self-Care

It’s very promising to see someone we care about that battles addiction enter recovery, but realistically this isn’t an instant fix to everyone’s problems. Although finally getting help is a step in the right direction, addiction is still a disease that affects the entire family. If your loved one is away, either at an inpatient or outpatient facility, this is an opportune time to work on your own recovery.

You may not have been the addicted person, but that doesn’t spare you from the physical and mental pain you’ve experienced, or perhaps still do because of codependency.

The pain and anguish felt in the months, days or even hours prior to your loved one’s recovery journey has lingering effects. These feelings don’t dissipate overnight; you still feel the aftershock even though you know your loved one is getting help. If they happen to be away at a treatment center, treat this as the perfect time to focus on practicing long overdue self-care.

A mother, a father, a grandparent, an older sibling, or even a longtime friend can feel responsible for holding a family together. Because they’re holding a leadership role, this person can become so preoccupied with the needs of the group that they neglect their own wellbeing.

Some experience this more than others depending on the size and dynamic of the family. It’s especially challenging when a spouse to an addict, alcoholic, or a person suffering from any other addiction, such as gambling, has to also be the sole leader in taking care of the children.

Childrearing is one of the biggest responsibilities of life, and if a parent (even if they aren’t the addicted one) feels they aren’t measuring up they might feel sad, angry, tired, or filled with blame towards themselves or others. Negative thoughts and feelings can also end up influencing other areas of that person’s life including friendships, work, and spirituality. Think of it like a domino effect: when one piece starts to tip the rest of the pieces can fall as well.

As individuals we can only truly be accountable for ourselves. If we attempt to control others that pursuit is destined to end in failure. An addicted person should be held accountable for their actions, but we can’t force them to do so. Until that happens—and they reach that conclusion on their own terms—there is no benefit to playing into the “blame game”.

Nobody can “unring the bell”, meaning although we may wish otherwise, what has happened in the past cannot be undone. The best thing to do is detach from resentments and focus on moving forward. Once the need to blame someone else is relinquished a huge weight will be lifted. When you stop waiting for an apology or trying to force change, and instead focus on yourself by incorporating various self-care techniques, the past pains and resentments will have less of an affect on you. As the detaching process takes place, you will feel relief from stress and a revival of personal freedom. That is one of the best outcomes of implementing self-care.

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