Walking on Eggshells with Your Addicted Loved One?

Do you feel like you're constantly walking on eggshells around your addicted loved one? You're definitely not alone. Anyone who's lived with addiction in their household knows what this feeling is like. I want to shed a little light on this topic to help you get untrapped from this situation.

Step one: stop walking on eggshells.

I know you're like, "Now Amber, you're the one that's always telling us to be supportive and be positively reinforcing and be kind and stop yelling, nagging, and preaching!"

What I'm about to say doesn't change any of that, but being kind and supportive and not losing your cool and being a crazy person doesn't mean that you have to walk on eggshells.

One of the first steps to being able to get out of this eggshell mode is to really take a deep dive into why you're doing it. What is it that's triggering you?

One of the reasons you might be walking on eggshells is because you're afraid your addicted loved one can't handle any bad news. You go around and smooth things over and run interference for them in their life because you don't want other people to get upset with them. You don't want them to experience any negative consequences because you're afraid it's either going to destabilize them and make them relapse or make their act of using even worse. You get the sense that they're not emotionally capable of dealing with life.

In some respects, that's true because when you're using substances or engaging in addictive behavior as your primary coping skill, you do lose the ability to cope with life stressors. However, your running interference for the person isn't helpful.

I encourage you not to play the bad guy role, but you also don't have to smooth things over for the other issues going on in your addicted loved one's life.

Another trigger you might be experiencing is you're afraid of what kind of influences they're going to come in contact with. You're afraid they're going to see certain things on tv, billboards, places, people, and things that are going to trigger them.

When you're doing this, your loved one can definitely feel your fear and it's no doubt doing nothing but annoying them and it's not necessary.

Remember-- recovery is about learning to live life on life's terms. Maybe you're afraid if you give your loved one money they're going to go out and use. Maybe you're afraid if you don't give your loved one money they're going to go out and use or do something stupid to get that money. You're being held hostage by this whole money thing, which is probably one of the most common struggles that people with an addictive family member have. It's this whole issue of how much do I help versus not help. Here's what I'm going to tell you, giving someone five bucks or even 10 bucks is not going to make or break an addiction. I know that you've heard other people say, "well what if the ten dollars I give them overdose them, and then that's on my shoulders?" If something bad happens because you gave them less than ten dollars, that's because of the addiction, not because of you!

Another reason why you might be walking on eggshells is that you're scared it's going to start a fight. Especially if your loved one tends to get angry or very emotional. You start to fear their emotional response. You have to realize that starting a fight is one of the manipulation tactics commonly used by people struggling with an addiction. It deflects energy and gets people to back off. It basically serves as a great distraction from the real problem. With that being said, you don't have to try to pick a fight either, and learning how to disengage from someone who's trying to get you angry is probably a really good skill to have.

The third thing that I've seen hold people hostage and make them walk on eggshells is the thought that they're the last person that the addicted person has.

This usually happens when the addicted person has burnt every bridge and other people are fed up with them. No one will help them anymore, no one answers their calls, and when you find you are that last lifeline you feel like the whole burden is on your shoulders. This makes you feel trapped...it's almost like if you let go, you're the last person they have.

Here's a different perspective of this...

If you are the last resource that the addiction has and you let go, that addiction will have no more resources and that might just be enough to cause the person to shift and make some changes. I really need you to understand if they've run off everyone else in their life, there's probably a reason for that and that doesn't mean that you have to hang in there. But it also doesn't mean that you have to reject them.

Essentially, if there's one lesson you can take away from this video, it's the idea that you have to stop making decisions out of fear and other negative emotions!

That's the key to family recovery and that works in both directions. You have to stop being reactive and crazy and yelling and screaming and nagging and spying but it also means you have to stop being scared and fearful and tiptoeing around the issue as well. You've got to come back to your center. It's okay to be supportive and loving, but also be assertive and strong at the same time. When you can do this you're going to respect yourself, you're going to feel so much better, your life is going to get better and your loved one is going to respect you more as well. Getting out of that emotional mind and into your thinking mind is definitely the key to your recovery!

Amber Hollingsworth

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