snicoll001 is experiencing the emptiness and energetic let-down that many of you have already experienced: a Loved One finally heads to treatment and you're home alone. Your raison d'être has suddenly disappeared. You are feeling down, and perhaps exhausted, too.
"Hi, my girlfriend finally agreed to go to alcohol addiction detox / rehab… it's been a long ride trying to bring up 2 kids and deal with the situation…
I'm pretty down today after dropping her off at the transfer station (I had help from the Sheriff department, because he is a friend). They transferred her about an hour from that station and now her phone is off…
It was harder then I thought to do this, but I can't explain the years of difficult situations.
I guess I just needed to vent… because I am feeling down now.
Thanks for listening."
First of all, we just want to applaud you, and your girlfriend, for this historical decision. This is HUGE, snicoll001!!
I imagine you have been working for years at getting her help, from the way you describe this long struggle. As you may know, many people need multiple treatment episodes to really gain momentum with recovery. This may, or may not, be the case with your girlfriend, but what is certain is that she is getting desperately needed help right now. Hooray!
What family members go through when a Loved One heads into treatment
We talk a lot on this site about family members working to get a Loved One into treatment. You are focused on a goal, you are working CRAFT and applying the skill set, improving communications, seeking to rebuild bridges, paying attention to moments of opportunity to discuss treatments. You are "on your best behavior" 24/7, which, for most of us, is a challenge!
Despite all our best intentions, and hopes for our Loved Ones, it is not easy to clean up our side of the road, to make all communications as positive or neutral as possible, to "own" your part in conflicts or tensions, to remove yourself or rewards when a Loved One is actively using. I speak as someone who has done CRAFT with a Loved One (partner) … it's like a marathon! You feel you can never let down your guard, never stop watching, responding, self-regulating, turning on extra sweetness when called for, and let's not forget the whole self-care piece…Ooof! I believe it's fair to say that working CRAFT with a Loved One is work.
We talk much less about what happens for the family member when that goal of getting them into treatment is attained. I cannot speak from personal experience about this portion, because alas, my Loved One still has not accepted or embraced the idea of treatment.
However, from a human standpoint, and through my work here at Allies in Recovery, it makes perfect sense to me that you would be experiencing a time of deflation and feeling down.
So many of our members have been "fighting the good fight" for years. Those practicing CRAFT on an ongoing basis have the comfort of aligning with an evidence-based, proven-to-be-effective method and skill set. Yet it's still such a challenge, for the reasons mentioned earlier, and more. When, suddenly, you no longer have the need to be fighting for your Loved One, making herculean efforts each day to dance with their moments of use and non-use, there must be a great energetic void.
Right now you are alone
Even though you are most likely "alone" with your kids, you are nevertheless alone in a new way. Your other half is away, paying attention to herself and her needs, finally.
These moments of quiet can be excruciating, especially when you are confident enough about where she is and what she's doing to let down your guard awhile. Excruciating, why? Sometimes it's simply because many of the other hard emotions (aside from the more immediate and intense survival-type, crisis-mode emotions) start coming to the surface. Among them can simply be sadness. And grief. What a ride it has been, snicoll001. What a struggle.
We certainly are not here to tell you that treatment is a magic fix, or that your Loved One will never struggle again with substances. We know, and never cease to remind folks, that recovery is not a straight road, but rather a cycle. You and your Loved One have made it past some huge humps and there is much to be grateful for today.
But we do encourage you from the bottom of our hearts to take the time to feel the feelings right now. The apparent "void" left when a Loved One goes to treatment, or even just becomes more independent and moves out (for the parents reading this), may also be able to teach us something.
So many of us make our Loved One into our life's project — often because we don't see any other option — at least for a time. When that "project" no longer needs our constant attention, we can suddenly feel we've lost our compass, our purpose, our focus.
When you have an extra moment, self-care self-care self-care
This quiet phase, while your Loved One is off looking within, is the perfect opportunity for you, too, to look within. Or simply, to let the feelings continue to rise to the surface.
When they do, welcome them, as hard of an exercise as that may be. Let them keep moving through you rather than pushing them back down where they'll stagnate and fester. A wonderful, age-old way to welcome, or accept, the feelings that are there, is by putting pen on paper. Magic happens. Healing happens. Our private journal feature provides cues for journal writing.
Commit to spending 5 minutes on the Sanctuary Blog every day, early in the day, like a source, a spring, a sacred space. Give yourself that gift of hearing yourself, of taking your current sadness and loneliness seriously.
Module 7 is all about hard emotions and is truly enlightening for pretty much all humans, in my opinion. Even if you've watched it once, or twice, I invite you to dive back in. The moment is ripe.
We thank you so much for writing in and sharing your situation with us. We send you love and support.