You know what I can’t do anymore? Ride roller coasters. They make me sick. I get dizzy, my head hurts and my entire day is ruined. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or because my body has changed or what. But one thing is for sure, I don’t ride them anymore. I learned that I don’t like the way they make me feel or how they impact my life. So I quit.
Being in a relationship with an addict, is a lot like riding a rollercoaster. A rollercoaster of emotion, that you ride all day – every day.
They take us up and then they take us down. They take us side to side and for loops. And then just when you think the ride is over and it’s time to get off, they hit the reverse button and you do it all again, but this time backwards!
Loving an addict can be nauseating! Up and down, side to side, head over heels craziness can really suck the life right out of you.
I’m sure as many of you moms and dads read this your heads are nodding as fast as the Dwight Schrute bobblehead doll from The Office. You fully admit this is the way it is, yet for so many of us we can seem to avoid taking this ride.
We tell ourselves, we won’t do it any longer. We say NO MORE! I’m not getting back on that ride. I’m tired of being dizzy, exhausted, depressed and sick to my stomach! Yet so often we find ourselves back in line handing our ticket over to the carney and watching as he lowers the bar onto our laps and quietly whispers, “Hold on, this may hurt a little.”
Learning to stop getting on this ride is a HUGE step in the recovery process for all parents and spouses of addicts. Your ability to stop riding the emotional rollercoaster that their addiction produces is the first step towards finding your peace again. It also just may be the shove that finally pushes your addict to truly see their need to ask for help.
You see, each time you get back on that roller coaster with them. Submitting to their requests for money, buying into their grandiose stories of victimization or allowing them back into your home. You’re showing them that no matter how many loop to loops their rollercoaster has on it, you’re not getting off. You’re always gonna be there to hold the barf bag…
It’s time to get off and stay off.
It’s time to show them what a firm boundary looks like.
It’s time to start taking care of yourself and let them deal with the consequences of their actions.
I know it’s easier said than done. I get it. And if that’s the way you feel, then this week just start small. When he or she tries to pull you into their emotional craziness. Just take a deep breathe and say no.
No, I can’t help you today.
No, I can’t give you any more money.
No, I’m done bailing you out.
No, I will not let you back into my home.
No, I will not get back on this roller coaster with you.
When you stop taking your seat on their roller coaster of life, you start shutting down all the options that have supported their addiction. The longer and more effectively you can do this, the closer your addict gets to that pivotal point in their life when recovery becomes the best option.
For more help on learning how to get off the proverbial roller coaster that is loving an addict, pick up my book: Finding Hope, a Field Guide for Families Affected By Addiction.