Definition: Anxiously awaiting a seemingly inevitable event.
Okay, now that we are all the same page, let’s dive into exactly how to identify the feelings associated with this state of anxious limbo. Watch the video below to get a visual of it.
What Are The Effects?
Take away the heartwarming father and son bonding and those lovable British accents, and you will see the unpredictable anxiety that come with waiting for something bad to happen. It’s like emotional Russian roulette. This phenomenon directly relates to caring about someone who is struggling with substance use and abuse. Recently I had my eyes opened very wide to the fact that someone very close to me is using. I saw the cocaine, and then I saw it disappear. In an instant I knew nothing would ever be the same. Aside from feeling like an idiot for being lied to for so long in a blissful ignorance, I felt crazy after I confronted this person and was left with nothing but a blasé statement like, “Oh, yeah I’ve done it like four or five times. You want a drink or something?” I quickly became aware of the waves of anxiety that would accompany my thoughts like, “Ok so what now? What’s going to happen next? Is this an isolated event? Of course not, how could it be? Is there something I should do? What if it’s worse next time? What’s going to happen?”
Just How Bad Is It, Really?
I’m sure you have had personal experience with how quickly these thoughts can circle around in your mind at high volumes and even higher frequencies with no end in sight. We all have someone in our lives who we consider to be unpredictable. It may not be drugs and alcohol just yet, but it might be an anger problem or a cheating spouse. Whatever it may be, we, the people who are affected by this ambiguous possibility of disaster, cling to our anxious feelings and thoughts because they give us a false sense of control over our time bomb. I am here to tell you that sitting around with your ears at full alert waiting for the sound of that other shoe is one of the most destructive things you can do to yourself. You are slowly but surely becoming Jack in the Titanic with no hope of survival after the ship sinks and you realize there is no room on that door for both you and the substance user. You are the one that is left to pick up your own wreckage after the ship sinks.
Ok, Ok. So What Can I Do About It?
I will use a direct quote from my mother's pearls of wisdom. She is a woman who has spent over 10 years in recovery and Al Anon as well as therapy to make her wants and needs a priority. Bottom line-- she knows what she’s talking about. Detach with love. I’ll say it again for the people in the back. DETACH WITH LOVE! Remember if it’s in all capital letters it has to be important. If and when that no-good shoe drops, you must position yourself to be ready for the impact.
- Don’t emotionally depend on the unstable person
- Surround yourself with a supportive community of people that are well versed in addiction and recovery
- Become steadfast in your own beliefs and boundaries because they will be your beacon of light and strength when you need it the most
Once you begin to DETACH WITH LOVE, you recognize that you’re not abandoning this person. On the contrary, you are loving them in a healthier way because you are now loving yourself. We can no longer pull the wool over our eyes, there is simply too much at stake, myself included.
One Last Thought
This is far easier said than done, and until you have become the collateral damage in a loved one’s unhealthy life, you can never fully understand the importance of detaching with love to protect yourself. I’m still trying to obtain this vague idea of detaching with love, but like any skill it will take time to develop. As always, the awareness itself will prove invaluable once that shoe finally drops.
You got this,
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: The Intern