“If an addict thinks you’re his best friend, you’re probably enabling him. If an addict is pissed off with you, then you are saving his life”. I’m not an addict’s best friend anymore.
Fear. My own fear was the corroding thread in the fabric of my relationship with an addict. The fear of being rejected, abandoned, and simply unlovable.
Upon walking out of my own unlocked prison of alcoholism I stepped right into the unlocked prison of an addict. I had originally fallen in love with an addict that I believed wanted recovery as much as I did. But he didn’t.
Before the actual physical relapse, I began to cater to the alcoholic thinking he was exhibiting. He seemed edgy and irritable. He must be hungry. Let me fix him something high in protein to help him. That will make him better. He’s frustrated, I must have asked him to help me around the house too much. Let me praise him for his hard work and tell him to rest
If he was okay, I was ok
Then the physical relapse began. The world seemed to have fallen apart. The perfect honest relationship was slipping through my fingers. My fears kicked into high gear. I will lose him and be alone. He will choose drugs over me.
My fear of losing him and abandonment led to my denial. My fear of being seen as a problem or cause of someone’s angst led me to walk on eggshells and cater to his every angst. My fear of not being good enough led me to enabling him. Providing him with a comfortable home, clean and folded clothing, warm meals, while he went off and got high.
I had become his best friend. He was content. He didn’t have to feel the consequences of his actions. I was keeping his addiction up and running like a well greased machine. I was playing the role of the enabler, beautifully.
He got sicker but so did I. Finally, over time my depression and anxiety got the best of me. I had hit my bottom. My desperation brought me to the realization that I can’t listen to my fears anymore. They were running the show, causing me unhappiness, loss of myself, and allowing him to stay sick! I was playing a really good part in the disease.
This is where my higher power came in. I realized this disease had isolated me as well, but my higher power was still present. I needed to finally let go and trust that something greater than me had my back. I asked for my fears to be removed. I needed to trust that regardless of what will happen to the man swallowed by his addiction and to our relationship, I will be ok.
I felt relief. I found my voice and my soul again.
I no longer stayed in denial. I accepted that the addiction had taken over the soul of the man I loved. I no longer believed his lies and manipulations. I just told myself he is a sick man and prayed for him. I no longer believed his behavior was about me or from my doing. If he accused me of such, I ended the conversation. I finally set up boundaries that I could never do before. “I will be ok, anything will be better than how I was handling it before”. I no longer enabled. He had to leave my home. I had to allow him to travel this path he had chosen without my ease and comfort to support him.
In truth that ease and comfort that I believed I needed to provide was destroying him! Providing such comforts didn’t prove I was good. It only gave me personal relief from my unrealistic fears and allowed him to use without consequences. I was keeping his addiction alive.
But now I was no longer this addict’s best friend.
He was furious. He challenged me. Regardless, I stuck to my newly set boundaries. I was scared but again I handed it over to my higher power.
I distanced myself and could better see the reality his addiction had distorted and became stronger. He felt the consequences of his addiction. It took him further and further. But I didn’t go that final leg with him. That was for him to experience. Instead I stopped enabling and told him I believed he could find his way out on his own.
This addict has since gotten clean. Did I help? I don’t know, I’m not that powerful. What I do know is that once I stopped letting my fears dictate my actions, I wasn’t hurting either one of us anymore.
I stopped being the addict’s best friend. An addict’s best friend is his worst enemy. Don’t be a friend to an addict’s best friend.