I have a family member that struggles with drug addiction. I want to start off by saying that she is a member of my family and I love her. Many times in my interactions with her, I have to remember that the drugs are in the forefront – speaking, manipulating, coniving, plotting. The sickness is leading most of the time. There are times of clarity and sobriety that I enjoy with her. I want to be filled with grace and hope when interacting with her, but I also want to use wisdom and operate in clarity to keep my family and I safe. Now there is level of physical safety that I have to be aware of, but even more than that there is a responsibility to ensure emotional safety.
If you deal with someone with an addiction, an abusive nature, or even someone who has a pattern of hurtful choices then emotional safety is important.
I want to share four tips for maintaining your emotional safety in a potentially volatile situation.
1. Recognize the roller coaster you are on.
The most zealous roller coaster riders seek out a thrill every now and then. Even if they have season passes, they don’t get in a roller coaster car with a sleeping bag and a pillow. They don’t set up residence in the Double Loop waiting station. Realize that every single emotional up and down is a choice. If you are on a roller coaster of emotions with this person and you see that even in the last month you have been up and down, around the bin, through the loops, world turned upside down, then right side up – realize that YOU ARE ON THAT ROLLER COASTER BY CHOICE. When the ride comes to a safe place, make a concious decision that now is the time to get off the ride and take control of my emotional safety and stability.
2. Change your perspective.
I love roller coasters, but after being stuck at the top of the highest roller coaster in the amusement park for over twenty minutes, I made a decision to change my perspective. Do I still love roller coasters? Absolutely! But now, I enjoy them from a different perspective.
Here is what I’m trying to say. The person that you are dealing with may choose to go up and down and all around emotionally. They will still live in an upside down reality and become frustrated with you for not being by their side, like you used to. You can see them and their choices. If that is the life they choose, you don’t have to be on the roller coaster with them. I know that in order to be emotionally safe I need to set boundaries. I can’t effectively set boundaries when I’m all wound up and going off and yelling and screaming and crying. But when both of my feet are on the ground, I can say with surety that I want to remain here. When my emotions are under control, I take back the power of the roller coaster and enjoy life from the perspective of my choosing, not where the roller coaster takes me.
3. Manage your new normal.
So now that you have gotten off of the roller coaster, and decided that your emotions were no longer at the mercy of another individual, you will need to plan for a new way to deal. You used to get upset, argue, cry, scream, fight, cuss, try to convince them to stay, or try to convince them to go. It was the way you handled things. Everything was crisis. Nothing was planned. Now that the roller coaster days are over, you are off the ride and your feet are on the ground what does that mean? It means you may have to mute text messages, or change your phone number. You may have to seek counsel or inact a strong support system. It means you may have to start mapping out your triggers that make you feel like going back to the good old days. Here is the freeing part: You don’t have to explain. You don’t have to defend. You don’t have to get the person to agree or approve. This is new. This is you!
Whatever it takes to maintain your emotional safety just know that you do not have to stay on the ride. If the ride hurts you, diminishes you, confuses you, aims fire at you – you have a choice. Addiction is real, but so is freedom. Be filled with grace and love, but also yield to wisdom and the direction of wise counsel. Don’t enable by staying on a roller coaster of emotions. Get grounded. Get clear. Set standards. Be brave. Love yourself with the love God has given you!
Pray with me,
Lord give me courage to set standards. Give me wisdom to lean to Your truth in every situation. Empower me to speak Your truth in love, then to live Your truth in my actions, decisions and footsteps. Give me faith to trust You when You say enough. Give me strength to invite in Your peace even when that means I have to have that same strength to pull away. Lord, I pray for everyone struggling with the sickness of addiction. Send healing and power to receive Your light and reject the darkness of the enemy that seeks to steal, kill and destroy. Lord, I pray especially for family members of addicts who suffer on the roller coaster ride of each day. Give them peace. Give them direction. Give them strength. Give them love. Give them physical and emotional safety.
In Jesus’ name we pray,