Through recovery work, I have learned to stop expecting people to be different and to reduce the frustration that comes from trying to cause a person to get better, or trying to mold them into how I think they should be (even if it’s reasonable). When I put these demands and expectations down, I can love people for who they actually are.
Positive reinforcement, as basic and childlike as that sounds, is a motivating force for progress. Speaking to someone’s goodness despite their wrong choices unlocks their worth. “You’re not a bad person, you’re just headed in a bad direction.” Or maybe “You shouldn’t be ashamed of yourself, maybe just aware of faulty patterns so you can choose different ones.” That’s a great way to start motivating someone. Versus, “I told you so, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
My healing did not come easily and did not come overnight. It has been an extremely difficult journey and I am still not great at it. It took really small baby steps and there are still many times when I just lose it and cry. What is different now is I have a bunch of tools in my toolbox to utilize. I have strategies and a plan in place.
You might be grumbling. You might be accusing, guilting or complaining. Or trying desperately to prevent them from going out. You might be brooding in a cold silence. This might be hard to believe, but your presence and your conversation, however negative, are something your loved one counts on, and expects from you.
“Enmeshed” is a good word to describe the situation between your sister and her son. Enmeshed describes a pattern, years in the making, when a family member fixes and protects and tries to control the actions of a loved one who’s abusing substances....
If I'm out at a party at a friend's house, staying present in the party, in the moment, and enjoying every single moment with them, because that's where I'm at right now ... [this] helped me to have some joy and love right then, in that moment ...
If I had to characterize pot users in one sentence I would describe them as observers of their own life. This passivity cripples ambition and motivation. However, a strong relationship keeps the bridge open between you and your loved one, and this will be vital when they signal a desire to change.
Vitriol can be described as a solution-less rant of hate-filled criticism. A brand of sulfuric acid was named Vitriol, reason being that the acid was strong enough to burn through anything, including steel and rock. Another permanent boundary I now have: I will not remain in the presence of vitriol.
How do you keep from encouraging further drug use by raising the bottom and protecting your loved one from overdose? How as a family member do you live with the dangers your loved one is facing, day in and day out? How do you avoid depleting your energy and becoming obsessed with the circumstances of your loved one’s life?
It is critical that you, as your addicted loved one's ally, understand that you can’t create motivation. And it is equally critical that you know there is something you can do!