When our loved ones are addicted, it leaves us feeling totally helpless. Many actions we take, whether consciously or subconsciously, to better the situation can actually make it worse. How we are feeling and acting can be good indicators that there is something amiss. If you find yourself in the following dynamic, it is very possible that your partner is engaging in an addiction, and you, yes you need help.
- Need for Control. It doesn’t matter what form it takes, you must have it. Your life feels out of control and unmanageable, and therefore, you are doing everything you can to regain some order. You may be making sure that everything in the house is just so, or creating budgets and spending plans for each family member, or have become rigid and inflexible in your own daily schedule. The sense that if you just had enough control to make a difference in such an out of control situation can be extremely powerful and driving.
- When Did I Become Your Parent? Somewhere along the way, you stopped interacted with your partner as their equal and started engaging as their parent. Likewise, they started engaging as a child in terms of irresponsible and rebellious behavior. This switch was born from the chaos created by the addiction, the belief you can fix it, and the desire to care for your loved one. Unfortunately, the ‘nagging and controlling’ spouse often helps facilitate the very behaviors that they are trying to prevent, and a vicious cycle is born.
- Addicted to the Addict. Constantly thinking of your partner. Is he where he says he is? Checking her phone and emails. Devising ways to catch her in a lie. You know he is lying, he knows he is lying, but you need to prove it anyway, over and over again. Getting into the same fight every month when bills are paid, eliciting promises of change yet knowing deep down you will go through this turmoil again next month. You find yourself being untruthful yourself, keeping secrets and covering up. Job performance deteriorates, as do relationships and your own emotional and physical health. All of these things are signs and symptoms of your own addiction to your addicted partner. Like your partner’s addiction, your addiction is just as detrimental to your well-being, and it is just as important for you to get help.
Individual therapy is a wonderful place to seek support and work through possible issues of codependency. Twelve Step groups are also invaluable for those who are loved ones of addicts. Alanon and Nar-anon are two fantastic places to meet with other individuals who can relate to your story and offer their own experiences, strength and hope. Prioritize your own health, and everything else will fall into place.