How would you suggest engaging more friends and family in their recovery when it's currently a secret?

communication

#1

Hi :blush:

I just have a follow up question regarding one of your suggestions. Where you say that’s it’s so important to reach out to friends and family and engaging them to be there for our addicted loved one and ourselves. How would you suggest handling this if the current dynamic is this is his secret and I am not allowed and betraying him if I tell anyone outside of anyone he approves of (which is nobody except for his mother). If I turn to a friend or his friends, etc it is looked at as sheer betrayal. How dare I tell his private business to others… so on and so forth! Any suggestions/advice would be so very much appreciated as this is definitely something I’ve struggled with amidst all of this! Doing so alone with nobody to confide in or “have my back and help me help him” so to speak. Thanks so much!


#2

I know @Tlee22 has been working on this to great success lately and I wonder if she can share a bit about her journey to open up these communication lines :slight_smile:

In my experience this takes time but the more we work on our connection and our communication with them (you’ll definitely want to join our next weekly meetup where we cover Positive Communication), the more we can frame it as coming from a place of love and care and because we all care about them the easier it becomes. I would start by working on communication, softening our conversations around addiction and focusing on how we care about their health and mental wellbeing and beginning to open up more opportunities to talk about support they may need.

In the mean time I think it’s worth it to loop in your support network to take some pressure off yourself. And use discretion as to who you might involve on his side and maybe there’s a way to do it without being explicit with him yet. EG. loop in a good friend who cares about him to ask them to spend more time with him. If this goes well you can step it up from there.

Working together with support can make a big difference in how to gain momentum towards recovery. But it can be slow at the start.

Also, I like to take a very experimental approach. Trying something one time and evaluating how it worked out. Good? OK do more of that. Bad? OK reevaluate what went wrong and what another option might be.
<3


#3

@jane Thank you so much for the advice! I feel if his mom would look past her concern of “ruining their close knit bond” or “making him so upset that he pulls away from her and their close relationship” and enlist more support within their immediate family (he has 3 older brothers but all are relatively close in age and their 3 wives who’ve been apart of their family for awhile now - one of the wives even having gone through battle with addiction/in-patient rehab facility herself), that would cultivate more of a supportive atmosphere for him to not feel so ashamed and embarrassed and see that they won’t judge or criticize him like he suspects. Being just me and his mother working together, it often winds up he manipulates us against one another by poking holes when I tell her of concerns or vice versa. She immediately questions me and if I’m overthinking his behavior or is my anxiety affecting my perception. Ultimately getting the focus off of him, which is his initial intention by creating doubt where my observation and experiencing him showing behavioral and psycological signs of using is concerned. I’ve told her several times that I cannot succeed in this on my own and if we find ourselves more concerned about making him mad at us, then we’re at the end of the day, acting out of selfishness because we may lose the relationship we have with him and what it does for us solely. She doesn’t seem to understand this. I feel if I reach out to her other sons without her consent, I’ll be crossing a line. Definitely between a rock and a hard place.


#4

This is something I struggled a lot with and as @jane mentioned this was a very gradual process. It started with me opening up to my support network about my husband’s drinking. Initially (and I sometimes still feel this is blurry), I thought of the addiction as his story and didn’t feel comfortable sharing without his consent; however the first obstacle I was trying to overcome by sharing was my feeling of isolation. I felt like I was living a double life with no one to talk to about MY story, which includes his addiction, but in a much different way. It made my husband really uncomfortable at first to know that I was opening up to people, but I explained that sharing to my support network was a form of self-care for me and absolutely necessary. I started with my friends that he trusts and always debriefed him on the conversation afterwards, if he wanted me to. Over time he’d see these friends in person and I think it helped him see that people weren’t judging him and nothing had changed and with each friend I told, he was less and less bothered.

It was pretty similar with his friends and family, although I didn’t tell him beforehand. With his best friend, he was visibly intoxicated and I pulled his friend aside and gave him an overview of what we’re going through. I asked him to check in with him at a time that I knew was a trigger and over the last few months, I’ve asked more directly for help from him and other friends who are becoming in the loop (i.e., mentioning treatment, planning a sober activity together). I included his family gradually and told him that they needed to know but asked for his input on how WE should go about telling them and he decided to do it alone. I’m sure he didn’t go as in-depth as I would have with the extent of the problem, but this is opening the door and I feel like I can now reach out if needed and it won’t feel like such a betrayal.

All that to say, SUCH a gradual process and while I love it when my husband can collaborate with me in expanding our support network, sometimes I have to think for both of us because he’s just not in the mindset to make the best decisions for himself. I know that there can be a lot of backlash when we make decisions like this so I think it’s best to be thoughtful and make baby steps in this area and for me, starting with expanding my support helped tremendously and allowed time for me to work on how to talk about it so that when I incorporated his friends, I was more comfortable too.

I hope this helps. It sounds like the dynamic with his mom is a tricky one (and I can understand how hard it must be a parent to see their child struggling and not wanting that to be the case). Hopefully finding more support for yourself will be helpful <3


#6

Isn’t it crazy how good they get at these things?! The denial is a difficult stage to navigate and it certainly makes conversations around the topic much more difficult. I think it took a lot of natural consequences for my husband to understand the depth of his addiction and made it that much harder to live in the place of denial. I hope that yesterday’s experience will open the door to a good conversation. Good luck today!

I can relate to your fears about neglecting the relationship. I think for me, trying to feel like I was focused on him or our relationship was my attempt to feel like I had some control in a chaotic situation. I understand that is backwards, because the only thing I can control is myself. I’m glad you’re working on self-care, I think it’s truly the only thing that has helped me weather the ups and downs and actually the best thing I could do for me relationship, even when it started as simply survival. Sending lots of love and calming thoughts!


#5

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me! I absolutely can relate to the feeling of isolation because although I’m affected by this or “his” story, I’m in a sense, not allowed to speak about it. Yet, him and I haven’t reached a place of healthy communication in regards to his addiction because he still regularly lies and manipulates. Even if cornered, he refuses to admit to it. So, my talking about it with anyone is considered “me lying about the situation because I’m making myself believe my own assumptions and they aren’t true because he’s not using!” - My guy is also inconveniently very intelligent, clever, etc. I almost catch myself wishing he weren’t so knowledgeable, etc so he wouldn’t be so dang good at this hiding and lying and making everyone doubt themselves. He has a way of twisting, evading, projecting, etc that is pretty impressive.

I hope to get to a point where him and I can openly communicate our feelings in a manner that has resolution or planning on how to navigate this together.

I’m actually planning to have a talk this afternoon. He has been at his mom’s dogsitting while she’s out of town for the week. After talking on the phone with him yesterday evening, he sounded very much under the influence. Even what sounded like nodding out during our call. So I drove to her house and walked into him passed out on the bed, halfway on bed and half off. His cellphone flashlight still on from where he nodded out while using it. A piece of straw he cut and rolled up bill. He claimed it was for a pill (Adderall) but I don’t even remotely believe him. I didn’t find any actual substance just the paraphernalia. I notified his mom and I came back to our house. He tried to lash out, “knuck and buck” and I told him when he was ready to be honest with me, I’d be here. He called today and said he was going to talk to me when he gets off work. I’m not sure what about but something he’s already discussed with his mom. She’s been distant today given the circumstances. So my anxiety is through the roof.

I’m rambling! And completely off topic! I appreciate your insight! I’m definitely going to start opening up to selected trusted friends about this. I have to. Otherwise, I’m going to lose every part of myself trying to fix and save him. When I know that’s impossible. I’ve also found a local support meeting. It’s PAL (parents of addicted loved ones but advertises to parents, spouses and family members with addicted loved ones). I’m going to go to that tomorrow afternoon. I find myself hesitant to work on myself out of fear that if I do gain some healthy coping strategies and focus on myself first, that nobody will be giving the relationship attention and it will eventually run its course. Crazy what things I scare myself into thinking will happen. Too bad I didn’t become a fortune teller that can read folk’s futures :rofl: