Loving our children, spouses and friends seems to be something that we “do” naturally. Letting go of the alcoholic means that we must learn to love them differently. Alcoholism is considered to be an illness or a disease. How could letting go of someone who is sick possibly work?
Understanding the concept takes time. Eventually confusion about this subject will disappear. Logical thinking says that if someone that I love is sick, I must take care of them. If the person struggling with an addiction is one of our children, then how could it be the right thing to do by allowing them to continue to be ill. After all haven’t we always cared for them when they caught the flu or a cold and every-time they fell and hurt themselves?
There’s more to it than just “letting go.” We must also practice putting them in God’s hands. This in no way means that we are turning our backs on the ones we love. We are just saying; “God I can’t-you can-so I’m going to let you.” This is where faith is born, in letting go of the alcoholic in our lives.
Once we grasp the reality that nothing that we have done and nothing we are presently doing is working, then faith can be born when we turn the situation over to God. Still this type of total surrender takes a certain amount of practice over the course of time.
In our minds and hearts we are seeing the destruction that is happening all around us on a daily basis. Somehow we think that we can fix the troublesome situation by the things that we do or say.
The reality of the alcoholic’s world is that nothing will make them quit but themselves. We can talk, scream or yell until we are blue in the face and they will still continue to stay on the path that they are on.
Why?, because alcoholism is a disease that they can only be cured by their choice to stop drinking. We cannot make them choose the right thing to do. It may be a good idea to read: Why Can’t Alcoholics Stop Drinking.
Loving an alcoholic child comes natural to us, but when the horrible behavior kicks in, then we begin to loose all sense of trust. Somehow love is directly related to trusting someone with “our” emotions.
What a startling conflict in the way we think that love should be.
When the relative or friend begins to have no respect at all for our feelings, possessions, or family, we have to begin to set boundaries because we do not trust them anymore. We place locks on the doors and refuse to discuss things with them when they are using drugs or alcohol.
Furthermore, our decisions to “not” get them out of jail or loan them money become great pillars of strength that demonstrate I love you but will not support your poor behavior in life. You will find many tips in our article about having tough love with an alcoholic.
Still, how can this be love? Our ideal of giving affection to people is through helping them, hugging them and giving gifts. All of these things can still be done, but we must learn how to protect our emotions while we are loving them.
All of the changes that we make to protect ourselves do not mean that we do not love them or cannot continue loving the alcoholics in our lives. It just means that we are setting boundaries to protect ourselves from the effects of alcoholism in our lives. They may get mad, but hey, they get mad about everything so what’s the big deal? Learning how to set and reinforce boundaries with an alcoholic is well worth the effort.
Just knowing in our hearts, the truth is “we love them,” is going to have to be good enough for me and you.
We know that we know how much we care about them regardless of what they say about our affections toward them. Unconditional love is not defined by how we treat them, it is something that is un-dieing inside of our being toward them.
Making changes to protect ourselves and live in more peace and serenity is in no way not loving someone who is ill.
The only cure for this disease is the addict must realize that they need help.
As long as we continue to place big cushions underneath them when they fall, the hurts in their lives will never be great enough for them to stop drinking or doing drugs. You can read this post about how to stop enabling an alcoholic to gain insight on what to do to help them hit their bottom.
Still, even though we make changes to not enable them, the disease of alcoholism is horribly cunning, baffling and powerful. Although many alcoholics have tragic things happen and we think that those things will be their wake-up-call, many die from the disease because they were never able to quit.
The only choices we have are to love them unconditionally and continue letting go of them and putting them in God’s hands everyday. Even though they are our kids, grand-children, spouses, friends or close relatives and we want the best for them, they must choose the best for themselves. Nothing that we say or do is going to make them quit drinking or doing drugs.