We all experience negative feelings when we think that we’ve been wronged by someone, and sometimes those feelings can be difficult to shake—especially when the situation feels unresolved, and you don’t believe the wrongdoers have earned your forgiveness. Being resentful toward an addicted family member only stands in the way of their recovery. Remember that their actions, no matter how personal they may feel, are a reflection of their disease—not of themselves.
Addiction causes poignant feelings of resentment within relationships and families. Most addicts—if not all—feel resentment toward family members, and most family members of addicts feel some resentment back. The resentment feels justified, but it stands in the way nonetheless. We cannot control the actions and behaviors of others. We can only control our own: how much help ourselves or others. Persistent feelings of bitterness and hostility can drive a person to use drugs again and again as a means of escape.
In treatment, addicts are forced to confront their negative emotions with the added stress of withdrawal weighing down on their psyche, which can amplify feelings of resentment tremendously. For many addicts, the anger, disappointment, and loathing is directed at the treatment itself and whoever put them there. This can be a devastating blow to those friends and family members who went to tremendous lengths to get their loved one into treatment.
If you go on thinking that your life is forever darkened, you’ll have zero motivation to stop dwelling on the past, because it will always feel as though the past is the present and your time to shine has passed. Treatment, especially psychotherapy, teaches addicts to distinguish the past from the present, to recognize illogical negativity, and to see their problems for what they really are: fixable.
Acknowledging exactly where the resentments lie is the first step to conquering them. Addicts and their family and friends should take some time to write down feelings and create a moral inventory; this can help to identify which parts of your past still irk at you the most. The purpose of this isn’t to debate or argue the incidents, but simply to identify them with clarity and accept them so that both sides can move on.
Family members should also consider attending group meetings alongside the addict. Hearing stories and testimonials from recovering addicts can ease feelings of being personally persecuted, and the deepened insight into the mindset of an addicted person makes it easier to be empathetic, to understand the full scope of what the addict is enduring.
For their treatment to be successful, addicts need a strong support system. Being supportive means letting go of blame and disappointment, not setting it aside for later.
Here at Hired Power, we teach addicts and their families to do just that.