Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

They Don’t Kow Me Anymore

The moment I finally admitted I needed help was the moment I started to change, and I haven’t stopped changing to this day.  I don’t believe I’m a different person per se, but there is a lot about my behavior that’s different.

As I started eliminating the layers of addiction, something rather profound emerged.  I stopped fighting against my life and started fighting for it.

While this awakening happened for me, it didn’t just magically happen for those around me.  As a matter of fact, it’s really no wonder  some of the people I grew up with have a difficult time seeing me for who I am today versus who I was then.  Yes, they know I’m not drinking or pushing food away, that’s not what I’m referring to here.  What I mean is it’s hard for others to erase what they had seen or unhear what they had heard.

Years of emotional baggage rest between us.  Years of memories include varying forms of my unhealthy living.  Years of promises left unfulfilled.  My words became white noise.  They had seen it all, heard it all, and feared it all again and again and again. Some took advantage of my weaknesses, some refused to deal with any of it, but they all eventually stopped listening to what I was saying.  They couldn’t trust my words anymore because I hadn’t given them any reason to do so.

The destructive cyclone I created does not get erased overnight.

I know all this intellectually.  I do.  Yet for whatever reason, I fail to remember the members of my family who were with me as I grew up simply don’t know me anymore.  I suppose I could point to the fact that we’re older now with points of focus going well beyond what used to be held under one roof.  I could also point to time and distance between a physical get-together as a reason to not really know me anymore, but that would simply be a copout on my part.  I’d be avoiding the truth.

The truth is, as we grew up we taught each other how we wanted to be treated.   My teachings included how to navigate around someone swirling through many chaotic years of addiction.  As we shifted into adulthood, not only did my addictions escalate, so did the intensity of their education.  I taught them I didn’t need them, they were always wrong and I was always right when it came to how I was managing stress and my emotions.

Fast forward to today.  I’ve been sober for over a decade and free from an eating disorder for almost four years.  During all this time I’ve continually tried to show through my actions, not just words, how my life has changed.  Yet I must remember the winds of change take time to settle within a family dynamic.  At present there are those who can’t or won’t see me any differently than the person they grew to know.  I’ll never be anything other than someone unable to manage my life and/or have a healthy perspective about it.   However I can hold hope for a day when I’ll be seen through a lens of non-judgmental clarity.

If that happens, how long might it take?  I have no idea.  It’s not for me to guess or even impose an expectation it even will. I can’t control how others perceive things.  I’m not that powerful.

In the meantime, what I can (and will) do is continue moving forward in a healthy direction, carrying with me the belief someday they’ll choose to know me as me.

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