An open letter to all the innocent eyes out there who have seen addiction up close and in detail. First off, if any of you are reading this and have seen addiction possess someone you hold close to your heart, I want to say I am so sorry. Though the phrase "I'm sorry" will never be enough to describe how truly broken I am knowing you had to witness this, its the only thing I know how to say. So, again, I am truly sorry.
There are so many articles and TV specials about addiction that usually star the addict, but no one ever wants to talk about the impact that one addict has on the people and world around them. So, this article is dedicated to those who have gone unnoticed in their own personal struggle with loving an addict. I see you, and although you may think no one in this world understands your pain or what you have gone through and continue to go through, I promise you, I do.
Addiction is such a mess; that's the best way I can describe it. A breakup is easy, its easy to know who to be mad at, it's easy to know why your heart is broken and, compared to everything else in this world, it's easy to overcome. But addiction is a whole other beast which it seems no one can defeat, and loving an addict is loving a beast that you know cannot be overcome. When you love an addict who shares your DNA, you begin to question everything.
When I was in 8th grade I used to be so mad at the world. I asked the question "Why me?" so many times. I was angry with God before even having a relationship with Him. I was so distraught in knowing God let this happen to someone so dear to me, so close to my heart. I grew up loving an addict, and if any of you have ever experienced this, you know that love can also mean hate at the same time. Loving an addict has such an impact on your heart, it's exhausting to love someone so much but to absolutely hate the decisions they make.
So you go through life with this idea that maybe love isn't enough. Maybe you are like me and think that if you can't save someone then that must be because you and the way you love just aren't enough. Maybe you stay up at night tormenting yourself with the idea that somehow YOU have to do better for this person to get better. So you spend the majority of your time thinking and worrying about someone who most likely has no thoughts or worries about you.
That realization tore me apart for years, knowing that the person who has caused me so much pain and heartache couldn't care less about what's in my heart. That's where the hatred comes crashing in with so much force it almost takes you over. You lose yourself in the fuel of hatred, you lose yourself to addiction without even picking up a needle, or drinking a bottle. Addiction is not just for an addict; no, addiction is a grenade. It's a grenade that scatters shrapnel around anything or anyone in a 15-meter radius.
It's a grenade with the power to kill anyone within 15 meters of its explosion. That's what addiction is. It's not someone who just can't stop drinking or shooting up heroin, it's a mix of broken hearts, watery eyes, and open wounds. For anyone who has been through this, you know that addiction can destroy families, it can take lives and it can take an eternity and some more to recover from the damage it left behind.
Unfortunately, some of us don't have a happy ending either. Well, not in the traditional sense, that is. Though rehab and recovery are amazing and definitely something to be celebrated, there are some of us who are still in the muddy waters of loving an addict whose addiction may never go away. And in my opinion, that's the hardest part that no one tells you about. They don't tell you what to do when recovery is not an option, so you're left to figure it out. There is hope.
I am 21 years old, I've been loving multiple addicts all my life, and sometimes I thought I'd never see the light. That as long as their addiction held onto them, it will forever be holding onto me, too. But I found a way out, and it's not easy, but it's worth it. The only thing that will set you free from the shackles of loving an addict is to love yourself. You have to be able to love yourself enough to remove yourself from damaging situations. Sometimes that means you just have to stop trying.
One important thing to remember is when you stop trying it does not mean you stop loving. I struggled with that idea for awhile. I thought if I give up, then I just can't love them anymore. But you will realize soon enough the bittersweet news that love cannot just be shut off (even when we wish it could). Love is there and it always will be, that's why when I see the addicts in my life in the midst of their addiction, it is like the very first time.
My eyes regain their innocence until I open them to see that the addiction is still there, but that's okay. I will continue to shut and open my eyes, I will continue to love with this broken heart because it's all I know how to do. It's what I was put on this earth to do: to love over and over again despite my pain, despite my thoughts. Because in a world where so many people grow disconnected with what it means to truly love, I want to be a light for them to come to.
I want my heart to stay soft for those whose hearts have turned to stone. So, for those innocent-eyed kids, teens, adults, let's be light. Addiction is the very thing that makes this world dark, so let us not give into the darkness but be the very light that fights it.
Also, I want to end with this because I wish someone told me this.
If any of you are reading this and it resonates with you, (I don't care what part, the addiction part, the loving an addict part or any part) message me, I don't care if we've never met, I want to know you, I want to know what's in your heart and I want to work together to overcome darkness!