A member of our free online Facebook community recently posted the following comment:
“I take care of my needs daily (physically—lots of self-care), but my mind is always going from worry to resentment. I have high functioning anxiety from childhood trauma. I take on the problems of others when it’s not my monkey, not my problem. I don’t feel like I’m making a lot of progress because I get stuck in my head. I need help with my resentment and worry so I’m at a place where I can support [my loved one].”
I know she’s not the only family member out there struggling with resentment toward their loved one’s addiction, so I brought my dear friend and colleague Kimberly Ready onto a Facebook Live to talk a little bit about her experience with resentments as a family member herself.
“I used to have this belief about myself that I was just an angry person,” Kimberly shared. “Now looking back at it, I can see that what was really showing up was a lot of pain and a lot of fear, and I had no idea how to navigate through that.”
Most families have no idea how to navigate through that.
It was what I noticed when I was working in the ER doing overdose intervention, which is that the addict is spiraling in a loop around their substance where they use, try to stop, then hate themself when they fail, and do it all over again. Their brain is hardwired that way. But their family is also in a loop of worry, confusion, and anger that they don’t know how to unpack or get out of.
Those two cycles, pain and fear plus pain and fear, don’t equal recovery.
“[My husband’s] disease was spiraling, but this is my disease,” Kim said. “I was spiraling and using anger to cope, just like he used drugs and alcohol. I used anger to cope because it was the only way that at that time I knew how to numb out what I was feeling.”
Not every family’s loop leads them down the path of anger. For some people, their loop is control, trying to fix every problem and make sure everybody feels okay. For others, it may be something else. The important thing is to recognize what your loop is.
Try this: get out a journal and write down what you think your loop is. Are you angry all the time? Are you constantly trying to control situations you have no real control over? Or are you caught up in something else? Identifying it is the first step.
The second step is to know that whatever your loop is, it’s okay.
Anger, worry, control…these are coping strategies. They are not wrong or bad. The fact that we judge them and make them wrong or bad only keeps us in that cycle.
It reminds me of when someone first told me, “Kate, you’re an alcoholic.” And then the next thing he said was, “And it’s going to be okay.”
You may not think it’s going to be okay right now, but it is. You’re simply identifying that you’re sick with the family disease of addiction, just like I identified that I was sick with the disease of alcoholism.
We’re not wrong for having resentments. Where we become unhealthy is if we hang onto them.
So how do you let go of resentments?
It all comes down to understanding what’s yours and what’s not yours.
Like Kim shared, “Now I have that awareness of how what’s coming up right now isn’t about [him], it’s about me. Even though it feels like it’s about [him]. And the only person who’s going to be able to do the work on that is me.”
Getting to that point of awareness takes time. This isn’t done overnight. It’s part of the reason we created our online community in the first place, so you can have a place to put your questions and unpack these things with the support of others going through the same thing.
Because you can change. You can let go of your resentments. You can heal your anger. And by getting well, you can open the door for your loved one to do the same.
Join us in the Friends of Tipping Point hub to watch the full Facebook Live I did with Kimberly. It was an incredible recovery conversation. And share in the comments below, what’s your experience with resentment?