“You need to be bold enough and strong enough to let your loved one’s recovery unfold or not unfold as it is meant to, not as you want it to.” ~ Carole Bennett

Why don’t they just quit? If they loved me enough, they would stop drinking, right?

If you’ve asked yourself these questions, you’ve loved someone who is either in recovery or is struggling with the disease of addiction. Since starting my journey in recovery I, too, have had to watch others I love struggle with this disease. And it was and is more difficult to watch a loved one struggle than for me to be struggling myself. I’m an alcoholic and I ask myself these same questions.

The difference is, I now understand the hold that addictions have on one’s mind and body. Knowing hasn’t made the process easier. It is still heart-wrenching to watch someone I love hurt themselves and those all around them.

I attended support groups that specialize in helping you help yourself through this process. I started going to see what I could do to help my loved ones stop drinking. I was thinking that if I learned how to react differently or say the right thing, it would help them see the destruction that they were causing. I figured that what I did, said or felt would trigger a response that would hit them in the heart so they would say, yeah, that sounds right. I’ll quit today.

This disease is cunning, baffling and powerful. My loved ones might have heard me, but instead of quitting today, the words in their head said, I’ll quit tomorrow, and, of course, tomorrow never came. The pain and destruction of this disease continued and I had to find ways to take care of myself. Otherwise their addiction would kill me, as I watched them kill themselves.

I wish I could give you a magic potion that guarantees if you do this or that you will not worry or hurt anymore. What I have learned is that everyone has a path of his or her own. We can’t push them or tell them what is their right road to recovery. But you can find your road to self-care, your own pathway to recovery.

Knowing that what you do, say or feel will not change your loved one’s journey in addiction, it will change yours. It’s said that you didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you can’t cure it. What we can do is enable it. The more ways you learn to take care of yourself, the less you enable the disease. We cannot let the disease win. By letting it control both them and us, we let it win.

Take the “shoulds” out of your life and put the “I wills” in it. Make yourself a priority.

Our horses and I would love to help you fill your toolbox, as I call it, with strength, will, determination, courage and love for yourself. Replacing fear with love will show up in all you do. Find your pathway to healthy and joyful living today.