My name is Tracey and I was an enabler

Enabling is therapeutic jargon or tough love which is often heard in support groups is a way of describing some forms of helping as being destructive, for example, some might say that any act that helps an alcoholic continue to drink prevents the alcoholic from suffering the true consequences of their actions, or make it easier for an alcoholic to continue drinking.

I was advised that I shouldn’t enable, because by enabling dad I wasn’t allowing him to face the full-blown consequence of his actions.

Yeh, I could have said, “I love you dad, but you are on your own?” Or “When you are ready to see the errors of your ways, I’ll be there”

But Surely there are varying differing degrees of enabling?

Trust me dad suffered many consequences as a result of drinking and there were some consequences I simply couldn’t ignore or walk away from, for example

Relationships – Loss of relationships and friendships, because of dads drinking, he had lost many – had we walked away he would have had no-one, well, anyone who genuinely cared about his own best interest.

Physical health – Dad had many injures resulting from a fall where he fractured his shoulder, it was a very nasty condition he didn’t have the capacity and the pain gave him more reason to drink.

Advocating  – Now one else would! I understood him, he was unable to articulate what he wanted, well not without offending or swearing at someone – a blind, deaf person is entitled to have assistance in communicating, how was dad different

I have often questions if we prolonged the inevitable? He could have died sooner, had we not intervened? I guess I will never know?

As humans it is our instinct to want to help others, we don’t do well-seeing anyone in pain, that is of course if you are a psychopath. We are all players in a game of relational transactions – hundreds of them a day. Either initiating or engaging in transactions for which there is always a payoff or loss. There were many times I questioned myself, christ I didn’t need someone else questioning me I needed someone to hear me

Advising someone to walk away is counter-intuitive and not always helpful. I do get it, it is vital that the person caring gets support for themselves, but sometimes advising them to walk away is impossible, so surely there is a compromise to be had?

I can look back on my addiction and god forbid if my mother, loved ones had turned their back on me. Even when I was acting like the devil incarnate one minute and walking around thinking I was John the Baptist the next. They didn’t walk, they didn’t know what they were doing, whether or not it was for the best, but thank goodness they never gave up hope and never gave up trying.

I would often wonder, had dad had cancer would the words of advice had been the same? Addiction in the eye of so many is seen as something self-inflicted, a selfish condition that cares about the one person, the user. But when I reflect on my addiction I didn’t set out to become addicted – no addict does!

I was fortunate to recognise that my recovery had to come from me and me alone, so with this personal knowledge and understand reasoned that I needed to afford dad the same. I knew no amount of coercion, manipulation, shame or blame would help dad, it would’ve been all wasted energy… and my words would have fallen on deaf ears.

Now I am not denying that there were many times that I felt like walking away, there were limits to what I would, could do in terms of support, but I always lived with a glimmer of hope, that maybe, just maybe that combined they might have some sort of impact.

Some would have said, my helping/enabling was filling a void within myself, to make myself feel better – I would argue, so what?

In my case enabler or not, I was able to negotiate some boundaries that helped us both. It wasn’t easy, it never is, watching someone you love commit slow suicide is heartbreaking, its frustrating, cancer, addiction there is no difference everyone has a right to decide what not just what’s best for the addict, but what’s best for themselves.

In the end, the biggest consequence as a result of his addiction was death. But I can live with myself knowing that I did what was right for ME

If you are affected by a loved one’s addiction, regardless of the substance or relationship, please know this.

You are not alone

There is no right or wrong

Caring for someone addicted is all trial and error

Negotiate boundaries that work for you and your family

Make time for you

And remember there are 1000’s just like you questioning themselves

You are not alone

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.

Love Fordy x

 

Yeah I’m clean but my poetry’s not!

 

Emj is a talented artist and has come a long way from the very first time I met her at one of our recovery months, ride for recovery events, she was halfway through her detox and staying at Phoenix House.

The other day I caught up with her, she has been living independently now for nearly a year, has returned to college, chairs one of the local NA meetings and has just returned from a holiday of a lifetime in Lapland with her partner.

She has come along way from self-harming, prison and substance abuse and is slowly learning to live life on life’s terms. We talked about our love of swearing, inspired she wrote this

Dirty words. 

Yeah I’m clean but my poetry’s fucking not

I’m still cursing like I’m being chased by a cop

I have the right to remain obscene

Your nightmare was my fucking dream

Smiling on the outside

Inside I scream

I don’t swear for the hell of it

I swear to highlight this shit

I didn’t mess things up

I completely fucked things up

So why pretend

I’m sorry if I offend

But I refuse to minimise

My poems are my way to analyse

All my faults and lies 

My way of counting all the tears I’ve cried

My way of pointing out the fact 

I’ve been to hell and made it back

That’s where the fucking miracle is at

So can I get a fucking amen on that. 

 

 

Copyright2020emjmorris

 

Learning to live with fear

 

Fear it is the instinct that protects us from real dangers, fear activates our fight-or-flight responses but a lot of the time our fear can be a response to imaginary dangers too, be fearful of dangers that only exist in our minds.

I wanted to share my recent episode of fear with you…

I came away from a meeting with a writing coach the other day, I was buzzing, on cloud nine I even went and booked myself on a weekend writing retreat, this was it I thought, “I am finally going in the right direction, I WILL finish this book”. The feeling of contentment, reassured of my self-worth, was undeniable, I felt great about life, life was good. 

2 days late following a meeting at work, fear kicked in, It was just a few exchanged words but that was it, that was all it took! Time spent rolling over the words and implications sent me spiraling into self-doubt, questioning myself, my job, my worthiness, trust me it doesn’t take much! Fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of talking about shit but never delivering on it! It wasn’t long before the imposter syndrome soon took hold. 

When the deep-rooted fear of failure takes over, its invisible to others, no one knows the self-doubt that I carry around, the only indication that something is wrong is my attitude. In one fail swoop it changes from being positive to pessimistic, I struggle to apply myself with basic tasks, just responding to emails feels like a chore. I see the negative in everything any optimism I had previously has disappeared.

I constantly go through cycles of fear – I can be like a fucking Cathryn wheel on steroids, fear can take me from feeling content one minute to worthless in a fucking nanosecond.  

The self-doubt, self-worth, kicks in, I can feel paralysed, feeling fearful, unsure about myself and who I am, my passion has gone, I can’t think straight, I feel like I have lost my purpose, its a shitty dark place. I hate being in this dark place, I don’t like the thoughts, the lack of energy, feeling flat, purposeless, sometimes it feels like it won’t ever pass.

But I know it will, you see this isn’t the first time I have experienced fear and I know it won’t certainly be the last.

Working through FEAR

I will allow myself time to wallow for so long, but I know that at some point I’m going to have to #Haveawordwimesen I sort the facts from imaginary fiction, reassure myself that the fear of the unknown is normal and that whatever happens “I’ll be ok”. I always am!  Re-affirming who I am, what I have achieved but more importantly acknowledge remind myself that fear isn’t always a negative.

Judy Lief points out that fear restricts our lives, can imprison us, or be used as a tool of oppression. But unlike our fellow creatures, humans can reflect on our fear, and this gives us the capacity to counter the overwhelming sense of anxiety and the dread that infiltrates modern life. 

“The essential cause of our suffering and anxiety is ignorance of the nature of reality.” The movement toward fearlessness is in accepting whatever is happening at the moment and looking deeply into what is feared. In this way, we can begin to develop self-awareness of the patterns that inflame our fear and self-acceptance of the nature of who we are. 

So rather than see fear as a negative, I study it, dive into it, try and work out where it is coming from, become familiar with it and understand it better. Diving into fear can feel counter-intuitive as our habitual reaction is to push away or deny what frightens us, but getting to know our fears can help us to soften or even eradicate them. 

I have learned that if nothing changes then nothing will ever change, and when I am in this dark place sufficed by fear, I know there is one thing or person that can give me a hand back out and that’s me! 

And so what if I fail? I’m not even sure what failure will look like? But I know for sure that if I don’t take a risk and breakthrough my fear, I will never know… 

Fear is an instinct it is within us whether we like it or not! It how we manage the fear within us that counts.

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.

Love Fordy x

 

Looking back on your life ask yourself If you didn’t know any different, how are you supposed to know?

Over recent weeks I have met a number of people who are still suffering from issues, things in their past (particularly from childhood) that still affects them in the present day…

  • Angry with themselves for choices they made in the past
  • Carrying blame and shame from the choices they made in the past 
  • Angry at choices other people made that impacted on them from the past
  • Angry at how they were treated in the past

The list goes on

If I was to allow myself to  be scrutinised by some parts of society some might say that I have made a lot of mistakes in the past, many bad life choices, and I would totally agree. But I would always argue that many of my decision I made in life, (Informed or ill-informed)  had been based on what I knew, at that time, based my environment, my understanding of the environment.

We can only make informed decisions with the knowledge, understanding that we have at any given time! 

I witnessed the fall out from complex relationships seen love and abuse used at the same time, it didn’t make sense. As a kid I would act up, lash out, hurting those close to me, it was never my intention to hurt anyone if I did it was because I was hurting and confused myself. 

But I can look back now and see it for what it was, I was just a kid, confused, unsure, I saw life through many lenses, I saw injustice, experienced stigma, even imposed shame based on others moral code, There was a time where I blamed almost all the adults and everyone around me for my unhappiness, I never once questioned theirs, or what circumstances, information, choices or options that they had at that time. 

How long do you hold onto sad memories, resentments? What purpose does it serve you now, where you are today? I reasoned if I am going to afford myself some slack, why shouldn’t I afford them the same? 

There have been times as a parent, I have often questioned how my life choices may have impacted on my children, after all, I made some ill-informed life choices, and It can sometimes hurt if I dwell on it too much to know that my choices had an impact on them further in life, but I cannot change the decisions/life choices I made at that time, because at that time, I didn’t know any different, I did what I thought was best, at that time. 

In our society sensitivity is frequently seen as a detriment rather than a strength, BULLSHIT, we are all complex beings and Its ok to be passionate, upset or angry, hurt, that’s the sensitive side of us, its normal to experience these emotions. The key is what we do with them that counts.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, we can look back and see things for what they were, but we do have a choices, we can either repeat the same mistakes drag our resentments around with us for a lifetime or we can try to make sense of our past, learn from them, now that’s where the magic of discovery in recovery takes place.

For years I would carry these resentments around like a dark cloud, I had the biggest chip on my shoulder, I didn’t realise that I could actually let go of a lot of them? 

One of the saddest parts was when I came to realise that the very same people I held resentment or hatred towards, were mostly oblivious  about my resentments towards them, it didn’t affect them as they did me, I wasn’t hurting them, the only person I was hurting was myself. 

Holding onto the past isn’t healthy for your future, I found that by holding on and blaming others kept me paralysed and any decision I made was stained with resentments. 

If there is one thing I am certain of, is that we are all always learning, 

I realise that the older I get, the less I know. I am always learning, learning about myself, learning and understanding my past, learning from others. 

My recovery has been an insightful discovery being able to untangle unresolved issues from the past. Understanding my own learning about my own past, also played a big part in affording those I held resentments against the same understanding? Now I am not suggesting that we forgive everything or everyone but being able to understand, acknowledge and accept – The best part is you have a choice to let it go… 

Be mindful of what you are thinking, how we talk to ourselves and our thoughts can have a  big impact on how we see a situation. Not every thought you think is a fact, and you have a choice to challenge or understand what, why and how you think. – more often than not if you rationally work through your thinking you will undoubtedly find a limiting belief formed from an unresolved past experience, that has probably been lying dormant in your unconscious for years. 

My advice to anyone who is still hurting from issues from the past, carrying resentments or carrying guilt is to try and understand your past, look at it from other angles perhaps, see it for what it was and LET GO after all the only person that you are hurting is you, and potentially others around you. 

Ask yourself is it time to break the cycle, is it time to stop blaming others for who you are and start working on you because after all, that’s the only person who does count.

I say #FUCKTHEPAST it’s gone, you can’t bring it back, you cannot go back and change it, but you can look forward, forgive yourself and those ill-informed decisions you made in the past and leave them there where they belong.

Make peace with your past and live for the future, after all, you only get one shot at this thing we call life – go fucking live it

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.

Love Fordy x

 

Its not just the addict that needs help and support

Unless you have ever had a loved one entrenched in addiction, with no desire or will to pull themselves out of their misery, you can simply never understand the conflicting guilt, physical and anger that a loved one of the addict goes through. Living with emotions, like a pendulum swinging from one extreme to another, rarely settling in the middle.

You worry about them constantly — you can’t sleep, you can’t focus, and your heart stops every time the phone rings. The fear of losing them consumes you, and your focus becomes doing anything and everything you can to help them get better. 

Now I am not suggesting that dealing with a loved one’s addiction is easy but keeping the following things in mind can help you better address your loved one’s alcohol and drug abuse.

Letting go of control 

While you may be tempted to make it your mission to save your loved one from themselves, this will only leave you exhausted, hurt, and maybe even resentful. You may feel as if you are not doing enough to help your loved one, but you need to understand that no matter how hard you try, you cannot control their addiction. No amount of begging, pleading, threatening, or ultimatums will make your loved one stop drinking or using. 

Whether you realize it or not, your loved one’s addiction is taking a toll on your life. And you need to start making yourself a priority. Working on letting go of trying to control their addiction, you must come to accept that you are only in control of your life, you also have a life, away from the addict and embark on your journey of healing and recovery.

Letting go of blame

You probably never imagined that addiction would become a part of your life, but it has you may be wondering if you were responsible for your loved ones use. Did you not love them enough? Too much? Was it something you said? Did? Didn’t do? The questions are endless, and they can drive you mad, but the truth is that you didn’t cause your loved one to drink or use — even if they blame you for it.

The underlying cause for their addiction may not be clear to you. They may be dealing with trauma that you’re unaware of or having difficulty managing their emotions. Regardless of what’s behind their addiction, remember that you are not responsible, and allowing unwarranted guilt to consume you will only end up hurting you and your loved one.

But remember you are not alone, research estimates that in the UK YouGov that almost 1 in 3 adults in the UK have been negatively affected by the substance use of someone they know.

Don’t let their addiction become your addiction

It is normal for your loved one’s addiction to have an impact on your life. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to allow it to consume your every moment. As challenging as it may be, you will need to set boundaries. Whether it’s not giving them any more money, refusing to engage with them when they’re under the influence, or establishing a curfew or boundaries can help you and your loved one know what is and isn’t acceptable.

Remember though, it may take a few tries, there is no right or wrong, just try to find a balance between helping your loved one and taking care of yourself. Remind yourself that you should never feel guilty for doing what is right for you, even if it upsets your loved one. Just be sure that your decisions come from a place of love rather than anger or fear.

Don’t lose hope

Watching your loved one tackle addiction day after day is incredibly taxing. It can be a particularly hard pill to swallow if your loved one has tried to get clean before but continues to relapse. I know, I get it! it is like you are on the roller coaster with them. But it’s important to hold on to hope no matter how many setbacks you’re loved one experiences.

It may seem counter-intuitive to put yourself first, make time for you, but trust me, focusing on you, your needs, making time for your own maintenance or recovery is essential.

Here are some of the things that families often find helpful:

  • Carving out a small slot in the week to do something just ‘for you’. Re-read a favourite book, take a walk in the park, curl up with a magazine, take a bath, paint your nails, re-discover a long lost hobby.
  • Mindfulness. There are now many apps and local classes to help us practice mindfulness which is scientifically proven to improve wellbeing and reduce stress.
  • Re-connect with old friends. Families affected by drugs and alcohol often become isolated from previous social networks.
  • Get some exercise. A brisk walk, a cycle or a favourite class has many health and wellbeing benefits, not least that it will release endorphins that improve your mood.
  • Buy a diary, offload your thoughts, clear your mind
  • Take a break. Many family members of those who use drugs or alcohol feel unable to get away because of the unpredictability of their loved one’s behaviour. But a change of scene, even for a weekend, can make a huge difference to the rest of the family.
  • Find a local support group or an online forum where you can speak openly and offload how YOU are feeling

A word from the author

My dad died with as much dignity as an addict could, he wasn’t found on a street, out in the cold, he was at home surrounded by his daughters, he died knowing he was loved. I learned that dad was more than his addiction and in a bizarre kinda way we had a unique relationship, one that I will cherish If I am guilty of cooking meals, doing laundry, running errands then sue me? 

My dad’s addiction and ultimate death took my on a journey at the time I wasn’t ready or prepared for, but as I look back, I am no longer left with regrets or sadness, I am left with memories that will stay with me for a lifetime. Learning to let go of the guilt, the anger has helped me see beyond myself and see the past for what it was, a series of events that took place. I am a stronger version of who I once was and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Shithappens whether we like it or not, its how we deal with the shit that counts, so on that note.

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.

Love Fordy x