How to Navigate the Damage that Our Struggles Can Bring
Entering a rehabilitation or recovery center is not easy for anyone involved. It’s a life-changing decision and one that carries numerous ramifications throughout a person’s life. Most people would assume that entering a rehab center is the hardest on the individual entering the facility, which is a valid assumption. They are the one who is turning their life completely around and are now carrying the label of having had to go into a recovery center and program. But we can’t forget about the people around that person; their loved ones who are watching their friend or family go through something hard, and while they support them in their decisions and journey to get better, they still have to deal with watching their loved one suffer.
The experience of mental illness and addiction goes beyond just the experience of the person who is struggling. While they are the most integral part of the journey, their family and loved ones are a part of it as well. Dealing with an addiction or mental affliction can be incredibly damaging to a family, especially when the affliction is being untreated. It is often during these times when a person is at their most unstable when their behaviors and actions are being completely controlled and decided by what is afflicting them. Their lives are being driven by their brain’s desire to appease whatever it is currently being gripped by. This can cause them to lash out at those around them and exhibit a display of irritation and frustration. They may make harsh or mean remarks to a loved one when they usually would never make any comments like it. They may have destructive behavior, damaging not only themselves but also hurting the people who are trying to support them. If the affliction is really bad, they may even lie and steal from their loved ones in order to get their next “fix” or whatever it is that their brain is asking for. If the person afflicted is one half of a two-person parent or guardian pair, then the other person will often have to pick up the slack for them, in both emotional and financial support of the family. Children may find themselves having to make up excuses for their parents, and again, lying about what is really going on in their home life. Both these situations can lead to resentment and anger; a grudge forming towards the afflicted.
Powerlessness Is Empowering
This resentment is valid. As we have said in other articles, a person’s mental illness is a reason, not an excuse. We are still responsible for our actions within our struggles. We must feel accountable for how we treat others and what we do. This doesn’t mean we need to feel shame or intense guilt. Quite the opposite, actually. What this means is that after recovery, we can make the effort to repair whatever damage we may have wrought. We are in control of helping make these amends and rebuilding these bridges that we may have torn down. It won’t be easy, as the person may still harbor their anger towards you about what has happened. But we have to be patient and persistent. Show them the steps you have made to improve yourself, to be better than you were when they were hurt. Show them how your counseling and work has paid off and given you a new lease on life. Showing may take time, but it can be crucial in proving to them that you are different and won’t do what you did before. And in some cases, more work may need to be done. Personal and family counseling is an option. The person may be holding on to these emotions, which may be leading to their own creation of unhealthy habits. Giving them an outlet and a person to talk to, a professional, may help them to look past their anger and see that things can be better. Or bring them all together into one counseling session with a professional. Attend family counseling so that everyone can be encouraged to speak their mind and be heard, while the conversation is mediated by someone outside of the family dynamic. Again, these steps may be difficult to actually take, and things may seem worse for a bit after starting, but they can be essential in salvaging the family.
The damage of an addiction or mental affliction is bigger than just the person struggling with it. While they endure most of the suffering and pain that comes with the territory, there are also the people around them, their loved ones, who must bear some burden as well. Damage can be done to a family when going through recovery, but this damage doesn’t have to be permanent. Loved ones love you for a reason, and you love them for a reason too. It’s up to you to make the effort to fix what has been broken, though, and it won’t be an automatic or easy process. But it’s a process well worth the effort.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at TrueRecovery.com. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at