Updated: Aug 29, 2018
The stories that Addictions can leave us re-living.
Addictions.... most of us have them in some form or other, & a lot of the time without realising it, Addictions don't always mean drugs, drink, cigarettes, but also food, sugar, shopping , tech addictions like Facebook, Ebay are just as destructive when they take over & become the priority.
My own witness statement of addiction started back in my childhood, my Dad was well known for his capacity to drink copious amounts of Special Brew & Vodka.
As a kid, I just accepted that side of him, always aware though of when his mood was about to shift. The reason I'm so good at diffusing arguments now, I would guess.
I can remember having the ability to acutely know when things were about to change & would invent ways to distract him away from potential situations.
His relationship with alcohol cost him more than just his health. Bed bound now from a stroke, which Dr's say was the result of his alcohol intake over the years, his freedom now diminished, along with the bright spark that he once was.
The effects it had on his life were profound, but more so for the rest of us in the addictions wake.
The one thing I hated as a kid was the pity I would be given at the realisation that he was my Dad, pity & scorn. I couldn't understand it, he was funny, & a good Dad when he wasn't drunk, the pity of the adults that saw him only as a drunk showman, scorn as they didn't agree with his choices.
He was always a really flamboyant character, but looking back now that was always fuelled by alcohol. He became the showman, believing that version of himself only exsisted through a bottle of vodka.
To this day I don't know why he drank to escape, it's too late to have that conversation now. Could've been so many reasons, his mother was sent to a mental institute, he left his home town to move to London in the 60's with big dreams, he almost made it but life got in his way, my sister dying, loosing his own sister to leukeamia, a list as long as your arm as to the reasons why. I suspect he never really felt good enough. He was trying to live up to an expectation he didn't quite fulfil. Alcohol I guess took away his pain, but in taking his own pain away he gave us our own.
My mums resentment to him grew as time went by, we all suffered the bad decision making he made whilst drunk.
A freezing cold house in the middle of winter because there was no money for heating bills was no fun to live through. My mum did well to hide her frustration at his drunk decision making, coping with his behaviour & taking the financial burden of the house by herself, no wonder she felt resentment !!
I'm aware of the adult pattern I have of wanting to"fix" people & situations. Those cold winter memories & unwanted sympathies being my driving force to help others avoid the same. I haven't acquired my Dads relationship with alcohol, I enjoy it but can equally live without it, I don't have to rely on it as a coping mechanism like he did.
His drunk decision making left him with a very feast or famine way of life. In more promising sober moments he was capable of anything he set his mind to, sadly for us there were less of those times & more of the fallout moments to deal with.
I think one of the reasons I have never resented his choices was his fun side, as much as I was aware & increasingly conscious of his drunk life, some of his antics were hilarious. You could't help but laugh at him in those moments.
Not everyone in our lives could take those showman moments & we got invited out less & less to places, I think Dad felt that rejection & he would pretend it didn't matter but I knew it only added to the rejection he was feeling. He turned to people that did accept him & they weren't always the best influences for him to be around. His feast/famine, drunk/sober just became our norm.
These patterns we witness give us our own stories & beliefs about life, often we replicate them without knowing it, it's what we saw growing up, so elements of that become our adult life. You can change the patterns when you decide it's time to change, when the reasons for your decision making are replicating an old wound or a story that doesn't serve you, it's time for a new belief.
My first husband was so different to my Dad, by the time I was ready to get married I was craving stability,a less feast /famine way of life. My then husband was from a Catholic family, neither of his parents drank & couldn't be more of a contrast. As much as I craved that "normal", I hated the dullness of it. I had such a conflict of beliefs & wants & found it hard to resolve the two.
I found myself constantly battling the need for a more steady pace but then craving the excitement of what I had known.
When that marriage broke down after just 6 months, I jumped from the frying pan into the fire when I met my children's Dad.
He had the same showman behaviour, the narcissistic qualities I was used to & the same feast or famine way of being. I didn't realise I as looking for what was familiar, a looping pattern of addiction & all its fall outs.
His addiction was gambling, & now I really was in eye of the storm. My mum had done what she could to protect us from the affects of Dad's addiction but in this relationship, there was no escape.
To see a person walk from a black jack table with the coldest, most focused look in his eye, is one I will never forget. He would think nothing of gambling tens of thousands of pounds,loosing would put him in the foulest of moods, his gambling was fuelled by his part in drug dealing. This was not a life I knew, this was a whole new level of fear, intimidation, recklessness & pure addiction at it's most chilling.
Nothing or no one could stop him & his pursuit of the high gambling gave him. It destroyed his life & sadly continues to leave it's mark. Back then I naively thought I could fix him, I believed that when had our son he would change, of course he didn't.
That was when the devastating realisation the gambling was his only love. It was so deep routed & back then I had no real understanding of it or how to deal with it. I was the one now stuck with the fall out of his addiction decision making. Not enough for household bills or food, I was living the pattern of what my mum lived through because that was my familiar.
When I realised what his driving force was, I turned my full attention to my son, I didn't want his life to go down the same path.
His addiction led decision making took him away from us, emotionally & physically, what was left from that wreckage was me realising the patterns of trying to fix a situation & me living the pattern of my mums hard life, I couldn't fix my Dad, I couldn't fix my first marriage & I sure as hell couldn't fix this. At this point I knew then I had to fix myself, I had to break those patterns.
The next couple of years were a lonely, isolating time, I had little in the way of resources in how to fix myself & as much as I made some progress, I stored the rest. I didn't properly process what I had witnessed & unfortunately that left me open to making the same mistakes falling back into that repeated, familiar pattern.
"You play the only part you have ever known, until it becomes your own" is one of my favourite quotes.
When you really let those words sink in you realise just how true they are.
My part I had always known was "Victim". Victim of an alcoholic parent, my need was to fix that, always believing that was how my life would be. When you become truly aware of this & work out where the pattern lies, thats where you can really start the work to change the loop & release them.
When my sons Dad came back into our lives for a brief spell I let him back in, believing he had changed, he had learnt his lessons & that I had fixed him. How wrong I was!!
The birth of our daughter was the turning point in my life. I choose at that moment to no longer be the victim, I wasn't going to be responsible for anyone else's addiction decision making. I took complete control of my life, the scars were still there & were still deep but now they really were beginning to heal.
I wasn't going to live with resentment either, I had seen first hand just how poisonous that made a person & I didn't want my children to ever feel like that.
I changed the pattern, I broke the loop of the destruction & I no longer have to live with playing "victim" or living with the consequence of addiction led decisions. I strive to never hold on to resentment either.
The beliefs of how addictions occur in our lives are being challenged all the time now, more support & less stigma is attached to them.
My experience of those addicted through my personal accounts & of clients leads me to believe that the addict of anything just doesn't feel good enough, they use the addiction as a way of coping, hiding or repeating a pattern they grew up with.
That they feel they are flawed, have the gene, that they are not good enough or that they will never be able to change.
I have seen clients go back to the route of their addictions, worked out where the addictions started, & break the pattern they were stuck in.
The person with the addiction has to be responsible for wanting to change, us that live in their fall out can't make them face their behaviour if they aren't ready to do the work.
Us as family, friends, colleagues have all felt the effect of the addicted mind & its decision making , but we don't have to let that be our stories forever, you can choose to heal, to let go, to learn, to grow. You CAN choose to accept that person as they are & put your own protective boundaries in place. That doesn't always have to mean an end to a relationship with a person that has an addiction. As a child living in an addicts wake, it's so hard, & we all would give them sympathy, but as I said for me sympathy was something I didn't want, I would loved to have heard "It won't always be like this you know" "Your life will be different one day", if they can be told to hold on to that vision, to create ,in their mind, a life where they won't live in an addicts shadow. That is something as they then grow up they can work towards achieving, a different life, a new story. It can lead them away from making the same mistakes, following a pattern that won't serve them, & a belief that that is just how it is.
It's never easy dealing with addictions. It's raw, it's painful, it brings up all kinds of emotions, but it can be addressed & it should be.
Even the most seemingly benign addictions should be challenged, the lesson for us all is "Life doesn't have to always be this way"
For those that are the addiction witnesses I say look at what you may have re-created in your own life, if it doesn't serve you, challenge the pattern & get help in how to change it.
Live life on your terms, not your story of old. Be the loop breaker , the pattern destroyer, the addiction warrior & watch just how much your life can change.
If I can break the pattern of an addiction legacy then so can anyone reading this.
For sessions with addiction help contact; Startthefreedom@gmail.com