As much as you want to love your child, you cannot help them unless and until you help yourself. You are not an infinite resource. The world says to give, give, give and that it’s selfish to receive. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You need to be whole before addressing anyone else’s needs. Also, addicts have to want to do the hard work to make change. Yes, they need support; however, that support doesn’t come in the way of enabling or by being codependent. When we talk about you helping yourself before you help others, your job is not to “fix” anyone. You are not to blame for your child’s addiction, you are not a failure, and you need help too.
It’s very easy to get caught up in someone else’s problem and forget attending to your own needs, but in order to face what you’re going to face, you will need to love yourself a great deal. You are a human being who needs refreshing, renewing and recharging. Don’t allow anyone to talk you out of that. You know you love your child, and you would do anything you could to end their problem, but the truth is that the addict has to want recovery. All too often, “helping” an addict causes more problems. In addition, you lose out on your life when you focus on someone else’s addiction.
Self-care is extremely important, but this is even truer for those who are the parents of addicts. Being a parent of an addict takes a huge toll on the mind and body. This creates stress that wears and tears on the body. It also creates an atmosphere where everyone focuses on the addict. Usually, people who are in a relationship with an addict are codependent. It’s easier to focus on the addict rather than looking within. Codependents neglect their needs, but this can temporarily take over anyone. You might be really hurt, feel unlovable and choose to neglect your needs, but this will eat away at you. The best thing you could do for yourself in this time is to love yourself. Self-care comes in many forms because it’s not about what you do. It’s about doing something for yourself—getting yourself “right” and in good standing before you deal with anyone else.
Here’s What You Can Do When You Have a Heroin Addict In Your Life
You’ve probably heard the old adage that people will treat you in the way you allow them to treat you. This is true, in part. Healthy people will honor your boundaries, but unhealthy people will be angry that you have boundaries. This is not your problem. You are going to have to learn to say “no” to people and follow through. If you’re serious about your self-care, the word “no” needs to be a part of your vocabulary. No one will respect your boundaries if you’re willing to walk all over them too. For example, when a neighbor asks, “Do you want to go out to a movie tonight?” and you already have something planned for yourself, stick to your plans. Don’t feel bad. Politely say, “I’d love to, but I already have plans. Maybe we can see a movie on Friday.” When family members get on your case about what you’re not doing for your child, don’t feel guilty about it. You will find peace in respecting yourself.
You can be so involved in someone else’s problem that you forget to shower or brush your teeth. Some people slip so far into depression that they honestly don’t care about taking care of themselves. Go beyond simple showers and brushing your teeth. Take a long bath with bath fizzes, moisturizing soaps and luxurious conditioners. Put on some nice music, light a candle, and do your nails.
People know that chicken soup is good for them while they’re sick, but they don’t know why. See, chicken broth, garlic and vegetables help boost the immune system, but that’s not the only reason it helps people when they’re sick. The real reason chicken soup helps is because people are willing to do something good for themselves. When you take the time to bathe, shave, steam your face, use a mask or clip your nails, you’re telling yourself, “I love you, and I’m going to take care of you.”
You need nurturing meals. Don’t reach for pizza, fried chicken or whatever else to comfort yourself. By all means, treat yourself occasionally, but you’re going to need nutritional food that tastes good. It doesn’t have to be gourmet food, and it doesn’t have to be hard to make. Look up crockpot recipes. For instance, a simple chicken meal using a crockpot involves cutting up potatoes into 2-inch slices, along with other vegetables, that are placed at the bottom of the crockpot. Season a chicken with salt, garlic powder and paprika, and place it on top of the potatoes and vegetables. You don’t need to add any water. Cook on high for 4 hours, and you will have a delicious meal that was easy to make. Barbequing and one-pot meals are just as easy. This form of self-care strengthens your immune system, helps you to get fit, reduces your blood pressure and blood sugar, and it helps to ease your burdens if you make a large enough batch.
Tell Yourself the Truth
You might kick around negative thoughts all day long, but you need to stop to have strength and to improve your mind, body and soul. It’s time to start telling yourself the truth. If your mind says, “You can’t do this.” Tell yourself the truth: “I can do this one step at a time. With love, patience and self-care, I will get through this. I choose to treat myself good. I choose to honor my feelings. I choose to allow this to make me stronger and wiser.” Every time a negative thought pops into your mind, which will be a lot at first, gently and firmly tell yourself the truth. If you need to forgive someone, take the time. Release those negative feelings.
It’s called “self-care” because you have to do it for yourself. No one can live your life for you. You child’s self-care includes recovery, and no one can do this for your child but your child. You are going to see good days, and you’re going to see bad ones. Your self-care will carry you through the bad days, and it will set you up to be ready for the good ones. Self-care might mean that you need a good cry by yourself. You might need a relaxing bath or a pedicure. Whatever it is, take time for your self-care, and make sure to honor your feelings throughout the entire process.