If you are dealing with an addict in your life, you already know that you won’t be able to keep it up forever. There will come a point where you will need to reclaim your life and get back among the living.
Years ago, I began taking gradual steps toward letting go and by the time my son got clean and sober I was back to enjoying life.
Was there a connection between me letting go and him finding his way? I will never know, but I do know that reclaiming my life was the best choice for me.
- My worry box: The first thing I did was to make a worry box. Worry boxes can be detailed and artsy or simply a jar with a lid. It does need to have a lid though. I made one and decorated it and put it on my dresser.
Each time I found myself obsessively worrying about something where my son was concerned, I would write it down on a small slip of paper, read it out-loud once and then drop it into the worry box and close the lid.
Symbolically this habit was a wonderful way to acknowledge my son’s addiction and choices and accept that I had no control over them.
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- Going out. Most families of addicts begin to withdraw socially from friends and outings. I made a commitment to myself that I would go out to lunch with a friend at least once a week. Later I added a commitment to read for pleasure for 30 minutes a day.
These small things reminded me that I am a person, separate and apart from my son and that it was okay to have fun and to do things just for me.
- Plan for the future. At times, when you are dealing with an addict, the future is never more than the next hour. I discovered the benefit of making plans for my future.
I developed a six-month plan, a one-year plan, and I am now working on a five-year-plan. Where do you want to be in six months? What would you like to be doing? It is time to get started.
Related: Two techniques for reducing stress.
To someone outside the chaos of addiction, these steps may seem simplistic and obvious, but for those of us who have lived with someone in active addiction, we are aware of how much we have recently given up. These simple steps start the road to letting go, which is vital to recovery.
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