To My Loved One Battling Addiction: I Love You Unconditionally, But I Must Love You From Afar

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“I called a family member to give her a status update on a mutual loved ones’ addiction.

I started with, ‘I cried last night. I cried this morning. I promise I’m not going to cry during the phone call.’

That was apparently a giant lie.

Somewhere in the conversation, she said this almost magical statement:

‘You can’t keep giving pieces of yourself to try and fill in the holes in him. You need to just let go.’

Well then.

Here we go.

Addiction.

Addiction is truly something else.

If you believe addiction is a choice, this is not for you.

I am not for you.

Yes, the initial decision to use is a choice.

The landslide that follows that initial choice is anything but a conscious choice.

The structure of the brain and body is changed by using drugs.

Your brain stops making certain chemicals.

Your body becomes physically addicted.

There’s a point where without drugs you literally just throw up and poop and shake.

It’s awful.

You’re in pain.

Unbearable pain.

You develop anxiety, insomnia, paranoia, mood disorders – to name a few.

Your body literally changes due to drug use.

The changes that occur in your body are not a choice.

Addiction is personal to me.

My dad was a raging alcoholic.

He wasn’t in most of my life because of alcohol.

My sister died by suicide when I was barely 17 to end her battle with addiction.

I would then spend the next 17 years battling addiction from every angle possible, both my own and seemingly every single person close to me.

Addiction.

You are the devil on earth.

Unconditional love.

Unconditional love and life with an addict are hard.

We try to shelter those we love from harm.

We try to force those we love to make better choices.

We try to force those we love to do what we want them to do because it’s the ‘right way.’

It’s the safe way.

Unconditional love often looks like enabling.

The lines get so blurred.

Maybe unconditional love is enabling.

I love you unconditionally.

I love you despite your flaws.

Despite your broken parts.

Despite your shortcomings and failures.

I know every single terrible, awful thing you have done.

And yet, I still love you despite your inability to overcome.

I love you despite everything.

I love you unconditionally.

The way God loves us.

Unconditional love allows a lot.

But there are lines.

Healthy people call them boundaries.

I will not allow you to lie to me or manipulate me or use me.

Because we’ve done that for far too long already.

At this point, I need to love you from afar.

Because your addiction is strong.

Because your mental status is altered.

Because your addiction is all-encompassing.

Your addiction has consumed you.

And, one wrong move and your addiction will consume me, too.

Because you see – my addiction is trying to save you.

And that is why I have no choice but to walk away.

Walking away.

It’s the one single thing I am THE worst at.

I hold on to things not meant for me for far too long.

I cut pieces of myself out to fill holes in others.

Time and time again.

I don’t know how to walk away from you.

It’s that simple and that complicated all at once.

It’s why I sat in a hospital room for a month watching machines breathe for you.

It’s why I babysat you so hard for so long.

It’s why I have made questionable parenting choices such as (accidentally allowing) my 15-year old son to find you aspirating and nearly dead.

It’s why I let you into the life of my two young children only for you to walk out again.

It’s why I allowed you to stay in my home.

A home I built for myself and my kids after you stole everything from us.

A decision that cost me friends and sanity and mental well-being.

It’s why 5 years later, I still cry.

Like breakdown on the bathroom floor cry when I get awful updates about you.

Walking away is hard.

Time and time again you have said, ‘But I need you. You’re my sobriety.’

But, I’m not.

I’m not that powerful.

If I were, we wouldn’t be here.

Walking away from an addict is hard.

It looks different for everyone.

Sometimes it’s baby steps in the right direction.

Sometimes it’s crawling away.

I can’t save you.

I’ve tried at huge costs.

I will love you forever.

And ever.

Hopefully, I’ll see you on the other side.

Maybe then we will get it right. ”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jacqueline Waxman. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Jacqueline:

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‘The school district took the very blunt stance, ‘It’s my way or the highway.’ Special education is under attack with little pushback.’: Special needs mom urges ‘we must draw a line in the sand’

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