We live life surrounded by a sea of choices. The only way to make sense of these competing interests is to filter our choices through priorities. Our priorities are determined by what we do rather than what we say. As the adage goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” The actions of addiction shout out the priorities of the addicted person. No number of assurances, excuses, rationales, promises, or protestations can drown out an addiction’s true priority, which is to continue at any cost.
Those associated with an addict understand, at some level, that they come in below the addiction on a priority list. These loved ones recognize, by the addiction’s supremacy, that they have been rejected. This is the reality they’ve lived with every day of the addiction. They may have cried out in frustration, “If you loved me, you’d stop!” only to watch the addiction continue. They’ve come to understand the intensity of their love was not sufficient to change the addiction. They can support the change, but they cannot mandate the change. This can leave family members with an overwhelming sense of helplessness. And because this helplessness is painful to experience, they may harbor unresolved anger toward the addicted loved one.
The addict, however, while actively listening to and believing the voice of the addiction, can fail to see or recognize the damage being done to others. This isn’t that surprising; the addict, blinded by the addiction, often fails to see or recognize the damage being done to themselves.
Are you at a place where you’re able to see and recognize the pain your addiction has brought to your relationships? What has your addiction done to your marriage or romantic relationship? Are you a parent? What has your addiction done to your child? What about your parents? How has your addiction changed the relationship you have or had with them? What about other family or friends? What has been your response when confronted by loved ones about your addiction? How many times have you chosen to continue your addiction, regardless of the pain expressed by others? How many relationships have you lost because of your addiction?
Step 8 of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous speaks about the need to make a list of all the people your addiction has harmed. There’s a reason this isn’t the second or third or even fifth step. Admitting where our direct actions have harmed another human being, especially those we love, is a gut-wrenching personal undertaking. We face tremendous temptation to minimize the negative consequences of our actions, a temptation addiction is all too willing to promote.
The first answer to “Why can’t I see what this is doing to others?” is because the addict mind is blinded to the true consequences of the addiction. Whenever you try to see beyond the veil of the addiction, you’re presented with all sorts of reasons why you’re not really seeing what you’re seeing and why others are not really experiencing what they’re feeling. Within the haze of addiction, you can’t see truth clearly.
The second answer to “Why can’t I see what this is doing to others?” is because you don’t want to. The truth is too painful, and avoiding pain is an overriding reason for your addiction. You don’t want to fully grasp the breadth and scope of the pain your addiction has caused or is causing others, especially those closest to you, those you love, those most vulnerable, those you have a duty to protect. Without the haze of your addiction, you’re afraid of seeing the truth clearly; you’re afraid of seeing the truth about you clearly.
If your addiction has affected your relationships, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.