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How has addiction changed you?

Old 10-20-2013, 01:44 PM
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How has addiction changed you?

In my experience, addiction is a really sad state of affairs for the addict and the loved ones of addicts. Active addiction of any kind is a fast track to hell. Without some kind of recovery, it seems hopeless for all involved. People have differing opinions on addiction, recovery, and life in general and it's not black and white. Despite all the theories in the world, experience has been my best teacher.

My AXBF is still on the roller coaster with drugs/alcohol/self-loathing, and I have watched him go around and around and upside down many times and for most of his life. At first, I stayed on the ride with him and tried to convince him to stop. Then I got off and on again and again, making myself insane. Eventually, I got off the ride for good. Now I am leaving the theme park altogether. Where he'll stop, who knows.

I still pray for him from time to time, despite my feelings of anger and resentment that followed our split. When I left, I left behind a pile of recovery resources and a letter of encouragement, forgiveness, faith, hope, and love. I finally got to the point in grief of acceptance. Grief has become such an ingrained part of my life, that I forgot how to live. Forgiveness has helped me let go and move on. Acceptance gave me my life back.

Addiction has been a fast track to personal growth, transformation, and spirituality for me. So far, my AXBF, has been my single greatest teacher because my relationship with him put me on the path to my recovery. I also realized that as much as I was stuck in a holding pattern, that it was my choice to stay or go.

Eventually, I stopped focusing on him. I stopped feeling guilty for taking care of myself. I was no longer afraid that he might die sooner than later. And I no longer feel obligated to help. I tried everything to help, and I was going down with his addiction. I chose to get out and save myself. Because of that choice, I am now repairing the damage done to my own life and building a new life. I trust that letting go was the single most kind act of real love I have ever showed him and myself.

I have no idea what the future holds. The past has shaped who I have become. But today is an absolutely gorgeous day outside, and I am going outside to enjoy life on life's term. I am blessed with an abundant life. I am blessed with choices. I am blessed with loving people in my life. I hit rock bottom, and found my way out to a better life. That is how addiction changed me.

How has addiction changed you?
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Old 10-20-2013, 04:06 PM
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Good question B & B, it's changed me in more ways than I can list. On one hand I feel it's jaded me, I used to take people at their word, now I watch for actions. On the other hand I'm much more empathetic towards others. I've always been involved with various charities...but since dealing with my son's addiction I listen more intently to the stories and look more for commonalities than differences. I know how much it has helped me to be able to share my challenges, So if I can lend an ear, or offer comfort to strangers, I do it now without hesitation.

Your post reminded me of a conversation I had with my son early in his addiction. I was telling him how I prayed for the right people to cross his path. To help him learn the lessons he needed in the least painful way possible so that he could move forward with grace and a productive life. His response "have you ever wondered if I'm your teacher"? And yes, he most certainly has been. Still learning.
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Old 10-20-2013, 04:12 PM
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Thank you so much for this post. This line "Grief has become such an ingrained part of my life, that I forgot how to live." resonated with me in a huge way. I somewhat recently broke up with an addict, and I've been trying very hard to refocus on myself and let go of him, but despite the fact that I made a ballsy move and took off accross the world (literally) I still find myself thinking about him, wondering what he's doing, how he's feeling, who he's with etc. It's like my life, this new life that has nothing to do with him, is still somehow all about him. Anyways, reading what you wrote was very inspiring to me.
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Old 10-20-2013, 11:50 PM
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I will be quicker to jettison in a timely fashion,
based on actions......not words.

(without feeling the slightest remorse)
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Old 10-21-2013, 01:54 PM
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BaB...this is a loaded question, one I can't really give a short answer to. But I'll try.

What my experience with addiction has done is hardened me regarding situations that may come up in my day to day life. What I may have tolerated in the past in terms of other people's behavior is behavior I no longer tolerate. And to steal Vale's words --without feeling the slightest remorse.

At the same time, I've learned I really need to be thankful for the gifts I have and the people that are in my life.

ZoSo
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Old 10-21-2013, 02:03 PM
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I suppose it's good that it happened in a way. Otherwise I might be a very different person.
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Old 10-21-2013, 02:42 PM
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It is hard for me to answer that question. My parents were drug users when I was born. I was around drugs through all my formative years. When I turned 18, I left. Time went by, and eventually I ended up with bf who later ended up with a drug addiction (pain pills after broken leg). Somehow, my codependent self found an addict--even before he was addicted. Or maybe, I stuck around even after he became an addict because of my codependency. Who knows. So, how did addiction change me? I have no idea what my life would have been like if I hadn't been exposed to drug addiction.
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Old 10-21-2013, 10:17 PM
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When I was 23 I dove head first into her addictions. Took me until almost 30 to claw my way out. Before her I was a young, idealistic and naÔve boy. As our relationship progressed I allowed myself to become a miserable man, rank with codependency. Any given day I was either victim, warden or martyr. One of the three. The day I chose to step aside from our toxic relationship was when I became a lot of things. Mainly free. Today, I'm a devoted, doting father to our children. I'm a single dad who works full time and enjoys his weekends.

I believe I'm happy, healthy and humble.

Who I was before I met her is still a blur to me. The past 6 years were simply traumatic and I sometimes struggle to sort out good from bad but try very hard not to spend too much focus on what happened. I no longer want to dwell there.

I eat better. I used to skip lunch a lot. Either my stomach was in a knot because of her behavior or I was too broke from cushioning her consequences. I never skip lunch anymore.

I wake up at 5 every morning and greet each day with gratitude. I punch into work at 8. Between 5 and 8 isn't bad anymore. I pack lunch for my kids, wake them, then dress them and get them to daycare and school. When she was involved it was always a mess. I'd usually wake around 7, utterly disgusted about whatever happened the night before then rush to get it all done. Today my children and I are awake, well dressed and punctual each morning.

I don't tell people what I think they should do anymore. I no longer use the phrase "you should". I've learned that my advice isn't always needed nor welcome and that people are going to do as they will. It's often best to keep to yourself in those situations.

Her addiction's did change me, although all people are always changing.
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Old 10-21-2013, 10:53 PM
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Blackandblue, thanks. Your entire post was beautifully written.

When I found my way to SR a few years ago, I remember reading posts like yours and wondering if I would ever, ever, ever find that kind of peace. But I'm there now.

It was addiction--to be exact, my relationship with xabf--that changed me for the better. It was addiction that forced me to look honestly at my reasons for choosing broken men in my life, repeatedly. It was painful beyond imagination to be hurt by addiction, but I would still be repeating old ugly patterns if not for the xabf in my life. The things I have learned because of addiction have also made me a better parent, daughter, sister, friend, employee, neighbor, etc.

I saw this tonight and I thought it was fitting:

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills. ~Chinese Proverb~
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Old 10-23-2013, 07:04 AM
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I am so grateful for all the years that have passed. They made me more self aware and as sick as it sounds, heroin walking in the door was a huge catalyst for a better life within myself. It did force a lot of issues that I needed to address.

Within it all, I finally healed my past, learned the true meaning of no control, and of acceptance. And while I always appreciated the little things, I do cherish them more now.

I didnít change much, in core beliefs. If anything my beliefs are stronger and have more conviction. I am so much more comfortable in my own skin. And yet in terms of being comfortable. I do see as well how comfortable I was in the chaos. That was a reality check that does still cause some fear. Maybe it should.
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Old 10-23-2013, 09:52 AM
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I suppose dealing with AH's addiction has hardened me a bit, made me close myself off to him and others when I used to be open, and worsened my anxiety in general. Not good, I know. I have a lot of work to do on myself. I guess the biggest part has been becoming introverted when I used to be extroverted.

I also have a tendency to wonder if others are addicted now and notice behaviors that I wouldn't have before.
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Old 10-23-2013, 03:47 PM
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Addiction took a big piece of me away, I am no longer the care free person I once used to be, yes yes I have heard it all, you can get off the roller coater ride but in reality it's always going to Hurt , it will always be a part of you even if you "detach" , detaching will not erase addiction.
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Old 10-23-2013, 05:43 PM
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Well Im still in the middle of it all (addiction)- I haven't figured everything out yet. I haven't learned to let go and let him ruin his life with his disease that is sucking the life out of everyone in his path. Im still in it with him. But as of right now- His addiction has made me resentful and cynical. It has made me bitter and angry. It has given me severe anxiety. I used to be so laid back and free. But all I feel is anxiety creeping in to me each day and I feel trapped in this darkness. It has made me push those I love away, it has made me lonely. It has made me weak against him and even against others in my life. One good thing it has done- It has given me a whole new perspective on life itself, it has made a dreamer, and made me grow up in ways I didn't know how, but most importantly it has turned me towards God (something I never believed in).
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Old 10-23-2013, 06:12 PM
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Hi B & B, Unfortunately I think addition has hardened me...I used to be so trusting and naive. I believed people for their word, now that I have been lied to sooo many times by my ADs I almost expect a lie or two before I get the whole story, I assume this will change with time. One thing that has happened positively that came out of the addiction roller coaster is I give people a second chance and rarely judge anymore. Kinda opposite from the others, but that's what this mom walked away with.
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Old 10-23-2013, 10:09 PM
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As a person in recovery from alcoholism I had already hit bottom once.

Falling in love with someone addicted to crack brought me to a deeper darker bottom where I had to deal with something deeper...my desperate want of love, my codependency.
I found myself in a deep well of despair and felt like love was being torn and smashed. And then...after alienating many people, feeling like a desperate victim, feeling hate and bitterness...feeling myself losing my sanity...

I finally discovered I needed to love myself

then, I started crawling back up out of that well.

Now I know I love myself. I trust myself and I tend to my boundaries. I practice healthy detachment (not that it always comes easily!) which I have discovered is needed in many areas of life, not just with addicts.

I discovered that love and hope are not necessarily benevolent forces...just like the idea that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"...love and hope exist in relationship, and the quality of those forces are based upon the mental/emotional/spiritual health of those experiencing them.
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Old 10-28-2013, 12:30 AM
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I notice a theme throughout the responses to these posts. We are all in the same boat but different stories brought us together like surviving the titanic or a war. The reality is that we will ultimately be forever shaped by our collective experiences. So where do we go for here? Sorry Zoso- yet another loaded question.
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Old 10-28-2013, 08:36 PM
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So where do we go from here?

We go forward. One day at a time.

Today, I'm thankful that I have a civil relationship with my qualifier. Despite our irreconcilable differences and separation we still talk on a daily basis because we have children together. She's been diligent with AA for over a year now and is able to co-parent. When we do talk it's strictly business regarding the kids. Dentist and doctor bills, pick up and drop off times, clothing needs and school events. I don't think either one of us are truly ready to start digging into amends just yet but that's okay. There will be other days for that. For now I keep my issues in my rooms while she confides with her sponsor.

I hate watching the news. In my opinion it's simply a showcase of how horrible humans can be. The other evening I was picking up the kids from her and she flipped on our local channel. She always turns it on when the kids are leaving. The police busted up some crack trap on the other side of the city and the news was there interviewing neighbors about it. We gave each other uncomfortable glances for a second because it triggered us both. She used to spend time there, not that particular one but another. The first time we dated I would drive her there, then after we had our first child together I'd go trying to drag her ass out. Finally I gave up and let her find her own way.

She broke the awkward glances with a simple smile, a nonchalant shrug and said "Well... I'm glad I don't ever have to go back there." while she folded some of our daughter's clothes that she was sending home with them. I smiled back.

It's all choice.

We don't ever have to go back. Once you're aware you're a participant and able to get off when ever you choose.

We go forward.
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:10 PM
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I'm hesitant to answer this question.
I didn't do as well as I should have in college.
I made some really bad choices and decisions and put myself in crazy demoralizing situations.
I also picked myself up.
I feel stronger than ever before, and I know whatever life brings me that I can get through it.
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:32 PM
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This is a good thread for my 100th post.
Drugs taught me about the mind, perception, vision, philosophy, psychology, memory, personality, art and emotion. I know its kind of counter to the message here at SR, but I have indeed had some rather enlightening drug experiences, as my own use back when I was a young'un was centered around exploring beauty and consciousness, not escape. I'd do things like go to the art gallery while high, not bars. (I was into LSD and mushrooms-- halucinogens, not a seeker of buzzes or highs)

Addiction has taught me my strengths--perserverence, forgiveness, the size of my heart, that I care about EVERYTHING. And weaknesses --tying my happiness to others, not expecting more from myself than others do, uncontrolled sadness and anger, laziness and fear of ambition, that I care about EVERYTHING.

Recovery has made me less naive-- more ready believe in my own instincts and observations about people, less likely to put up with people I don't enjoy, and more believing in my own worthiness, that I can do better than lowlifes. That I have enough strength, at least to make it through one bit at a time, if I don't waste strength worrying about future bits until its their 'turn', and as long as I reflect on past bits without reproach for myself but with motivation to improve. It has also put me back in touch with my own heart after ignoring it for much too long, and that I like myself and am powerful enough all on my own. I hope recovery continues to teach me to judge myself instead of judging others and to look to my own two hands to manifest my dreams.
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:39 PM
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Addiction slapped me in the face. I had never been exposed to it so it took me FOREVER to recognize my AH is an alcoholic. Literally years. I come from a small town and we all drank in high school. In college I was a social drinker, met my husband at a bar (surprise). What floors me is that he was not a big drinker until he met me, nice eh? He says the difference is I grew up and could leave it, he could not.

I would say it has made me very mistrustful. I watch my family like a hawk, him because I am scared of relapse. My children because I don't want it to happen to them and I watch for warning signs even at a young age (DD is 14). It made/makes me avoid situations with alcohol because it makes me so mad I cannot expose myself to it,
even though I dont have a drinking problem. I just missed my 20th high school reunion b/c I knew everyone would be drinking and I just cannot be around it.

I am an expert at smelling and finding alcohol. I can log onto my bank account and check debit purchases in seconds. I can just speak to my AH on the phone and know if he has been drinking at all, I don't even have to see/smell him. I ALWAYS KNOW. It amazes other people as they had no idea.

It has twisted my stomach into knots. It has made me depressed and angry. I now take Prozac. My hair has turned gray at a very young age (my sister 4 years older does not have a gray hair on her head). I don't sleep well. The list goes on and on.

HOWEVER...THERE IS HOPE. Because I have made some recent changes in my life and some decisions about my future, I feel more in charge. I feel like life may be stressful my God will protect me and my girls and we can make it. I am not letting addiction rob another day of my life, not another second of mood swings and bad behavior from me because I am reacting to his problem. I am in charge of me and I will take charge of me with the support of friends, family and God.
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