Friday, October 31, 2008

My Name is Hula, and I am a Co-dependent

After months of refraining from writing about this, I’m going to put it out there. Like so many other folks, my life is touched by addiction. Someone I care very much about is an alcoholic. I have hesitated to write about it because it is painful and I really believe you need to put a lot of thought about what you put on the internet for the whole world to read. The web leaves a deep and enduring footprint, and I don’t what to do anything to harm someone. Words are an important coping mechanism for me, and I am finally writing about it because it will help me to heal, and I think I can do it in a way that maintains the privacy of the addict. This post is about me really and not about the alcoholic. I need to do this, and I may never write about it again. It is a tiny step and yet, such a giant leap for me. Will you hold my hand while I jump from the curb?

An open letter to my friend, the alcoholic:

I love you, I really do, but your disease casts a wide reaching net that has pulled me under and practically drowned me in recent months. I keep thinking you’ll hit rock bottom and make a change, but that hasn’t happened despite everything you’ve lost this year. After months of butting my head against the wall and picking up the pieces each time you fall, I have finally learned that I can’t “fix” you. Only you can fix you. However, I can fix myself, and I need fixing. After your most recent brush with disaster, I have hit my “rock bottom”. You see, I realize this disease makes the non-addicted sick, too. And I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. You have not chosen recovery, but I have. My recovery starts today.

I will stop driving by your house every day, wondering what condition you’re in. Little clues like whether your lights are on just fuel my overactive imagination. Sitting at home at night, wondering if this is the day it gets the best of you is making me physically ill, and I have to find a way to stop that. I have to stop making myself a hostage to my worries. I can’t let this disease consume me, too. I will not clean up any more of your messes. You must face the consequences of whatever problems you create with your drinking, or you will never have a chance to get well. Conversely, you can truly own your victories, too.

I have found a support group full of wonderful people who will help me to put some control back into my life. I’m hoping they can help me find some peace and help me to let go of this anger I’m feeling toward you right now. I didn’t ask for this disease. I never wanted it, and yet I’m suffering from it. Is this how someone feels when they find out they’ve caught AIDS from a lover they trusted? Betrayed in a life changing way? You know, I realized yesterday that sometime in the last few weeks I unknowingly accepted your alcoholism as a terminal illness, a disease that’s in its last stages. I was driving down the road, heard a song on the radio and thought that it would be appropriate for your funeral. That thought horrified me, and I almost had to pull over to the side of the road. I wept for the second time that day.

In recent weeks I’ve struggled with my running. Inexplicably I lost my endurance and my breath and then it occurred to me that I was dragging my heart around and yours too on those solitary runs, replaying the hurt over and over in my mind, mile after mile. It was wearing me out. Today I ran and forced myself to think about other things. I felt stronger than I had in a long time.

You and I have been friends for years. I don’t want that to end, but I can’t witness the destruction from the front row anymore. I have to step back. I will still love you, and I will only be an arm’s length away, but I will be focused on my recovery. That probably sounds mean and selfish to people who have never been in my shoes, but those who have been will understand completely.

We’ve taken vacations together and talked a lot over the years about the other places we’d like to travel to together some day. We’re at a crossroads in our friendship right now, and we may be headed in different directions. I know which path I’m taking, and I wish you would travel down the same road. Let this be our next journey together, without the margaritas this time. If not, I will grieve for you, but I will stick to my path. I love you deeply my friend, and that love will not end. My support for you will not end, but MY journey begins today.

Love always,


Jason said...

Hula, I'm so sorry. I've never dealt with this particular kind of issue before, and I can't imagine.

It is my hope that your friend finally is able to pull things together and get out from under this mess.

I hope writing this post has helped you.

Mike Golch said...

Hi I'm Mike G. and I am a greatful recovering Alcoholic. I'm sorry that your friend is still practicing.I will keep them in my prayers that they will be lead to our door and find the soberity that I so enjoy. it is just one day at a time for us.I have been putting a whole bunch of one day at a times together since 12/17/1990. I have tried so many times and this is the longest I have remained sober. as your letter to them stated you can not help them but God and A.A. can and will.It is just an easy step if they are willing to.Go to a meeting and admit that you are an Alcoholic,we want you to achieve what we have.Hula Girl,Please share this with this person.I DO NOT JUDGE THEM,I WOULD JUST LIKE TO SEE THEM FIND THE THING THAT I HAVE.SOBERITY.
THIS IS WHY I HAVE THE Senerity Prayer on my is to remind me of what I have and how to keep it. Big time Hugs and God's Blessing and love.Mike G. said that it's an A.A. thing of mine!

Mike Golch said...

I for got to add that I have my big book near me at all times I have my sponcer on speed dial.Your friend does not have to do this alone we are here to support them not comdemn them.

Mia said...

This post has really touched me today. Thank you so much for writing it.

oreneta said...

Hula, this sounds like a great plan...and a very very difficult one. The amount of stuff you have on your plate right now is astonishing....I hope both you and your friend can find the help you need to get through this. As Mike Golch said, and I think he's right, it doesn't have to be done alone.

Aoj and The Lurchers said...

Good for you in finding the strength to break free of your friend's addiction. It must have been a very hard decision but, as you rightly say, you cannot continue to let yourself be pulled down with them.


karisma said...

Hula!, You are being very brave in your decisions! Remember! We cannot live or learn for others! But we can be there when they need us! To hug, to listen, to love! Don't involve yourself totally, you cannot change what is someone elses lesson. But you can love and support them no matter where their lesson may lead! Do not judge, just be there at the right time! When this person is ready! Support them byxxx just being their friend, don't try to solve their problems, that is their personal journey! Just love them and step back and let them be! That is the best gift we can give as a friend! When they need you they will call! Listen, love and support! Not your burden but a little love goes a long way! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

LuckyMe said...

Good Luck, Hula! You sound like a great friend.
But you're right. You only have control over your own actions and reactions. Stay healthy.

Kathie said...

Dear Hula,
What a heart touching post. This is a very difficult thing and I think that you are a very courageous person. I will be praying for you and all concerned. Blessings from Costa Rica

Cruise Mom said...

As a recovering co-dependent, I can only tell you that you are doing the right thing. "Let go and let God"

swampy said...

"You cannot change that which you will not acknowledge."

I've never had to deal with an issue like this, but can certainly empathize with you.

Your friend has a good friend in you...but your friend has to take the first step and acknowledge the problem. Then, a support system can be put into place.

I'm happy that Mike came by to share his experience.

Janis said...

Hula, No one can begin the healing process unless they admit they are sick. I wish your friend well, however, they just might not make it. Stay the course and let GOD handle the rest. I have been to the "gates of hell' and looked the devil in the eye and have been allowed to back away from that. For you see, I too, am a recovering alcoholic and have been sober for over 23 years. If that person wants to get sober, they will and if that person don't want to get sober,they won't. Words of Wisdom from my Hubby. We wish you well. Keep the Faith!

AirmanMom said...

hula...I am sorry for your pain. I know your pain, I've lived it. Please attend one al-anon meeting. It has been a great comfort and strength to me, my blue book is read daily. When someone you love has this dreadful disease, you become ill as well. It appears you have made a huge first step in your recovery. Please remain on this healing path, because you are worth it!

~AirmanMom returning to her blog...