Little kids? Important job? Do others depend on you? Getting sober just feels like it can wait until life is calmer. It can’t. Here’s the answer you’ve been looking for.
The water started boiling over from the pot to the stovetop. Then, the kids began wailing from the other room. Top it all off with several upcoming assignment deadlines at work and the beads of sweat accumulating on your forehead pair well with the impending doom gurgling inside your chest like red-hot molten magma spewing from Mount Tohellwithitall.
Beyond the stress there’s two undeniable facts staring you down:
People need you! They can’t live without the daily attention only you can give them, and;
You are, without a doubt, hopelessly and unambiguously addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.
“I’m indispensable” is easily in the top three reasons why people put off getting sober. Ironically, as the illness progresses, addiction keeps taking away from not only your capability as a parent/worker/spouse but it also adds to the stress itself.
And so the insane whirly octopus at the county fair keeps on spinning. And life, like a nauseous teenage riding in a car on the aforementioned carnival ride, keeps hurling puke into your face like a trebuchet launching wet, stinky missiles.
If you have small kids, the perception of your indispensability is magnified, and probably rightfully so.
How to get sober? What brings it all down and how does the world survive while you try to get healthy? Here are four loud rings tolling from the bell tower of truth.
You’re not as indispensable as you think you are.
It’s amazing, I know. But the world indeed does go on without you. Just fine, in fact. Don’t get me wrong—I know that people have responsibilities and others depend on you. I also know that whatever doesn’t get done while you’re getting your health in order will somehow manage to be completed . . . or, at a bare minimum, it’ll be put on hold.
When I was trying to get sober, I threw much of the responsibility for our two growing boys into the lap of my wife. I was lucky that she understood that addiction is an induced mental illness. Like any other illness, it takes time and effort to get well and function again. Eventually, I was able to downshift and gradually build up speed to be the husband/father/employable-person I was meant to be.
Help is a gift others want to give!
I think we fail to grasp how much others want to lend a hand to people when life gets bumpy. Sure, you might feel guilty that you’re throwing all the responsibility to someone else while it seems like you’re just contemplating your navel. You need to understand that while you were using, you were handing off responsibility anyway; you simply didn’t realize how complicated and insanely byzantine everyday life had become by your drug and/or alcohol abuse.
People want to help, and they want to help you. Why? Because they knew you once as a responsible and thoughtful human being. They no longer see that because the chemicals have hijacked your brain.
Don’t worry—the dog will get fed and the kids will get to school. You need only ask, because others want to help.
You’re not doing anybody any favors by staying drunk or high.
This. Just this. I don’t need to actually write anything in this paragraph, because as anyone who has experienced a loved one’s addiction will know, you’re not a functioning person when you use.
You might think you are, but—believe me—you’re not.
You have more options than ever before to make it all work.
Without sounding like a blatant advertisement for addiction treatment, it’s really the truth—with today’s technology and medical expertise, the options for effective treatment for addiction have expanded significantly from what they were ten or twenty years ago. Especially if you are a parent or you need to keep tabs on your work, today’s options make finding sobriety easier than ever.
The responsibility you have for your health always outweigh the perceived responsibility you have for others. Why? Because without your health, you’re heading down a dangerous path where you might not be there at all.
How would your responsibilities look if that were to happen?
Daniel D. Maurer is a freelance writer, an award-winning Hazelden author, and a public speaker on recovery from addiction. He lives with his family in St. Paul, Minnesota.