Thank you to everyone for the encouraging feedback and support. I truly am writing about my experiences and sharing my knowledge for everyone’s benefit. It’s been 3 months since I began Blogging again and I love it.
I’ve already had a couple Women (and a few Men!) reach out to me about their own stories about their Family Dynamics, Mental Health, Addiction, Trauma and Abuse.
Graphic © Angela Westelaken
It’s unreal how many people can fall into these insidious cycles but believe me; we are conditioned our whole lives for it. It’s no mistake. We will live out the familiar cycles we are used to in future relationships if we do not recognize our contributions to them or if we refuse to change.
Most of the time, it’s all we have ever known therefore it happens right under our noses, without our consent. Living in these types of situations has become commonplace these days as we virtually live to maintain an illusion for someone else. Maybe it’s our Parents, or our Spouse. It could be both. It can even be for yourself to maintain your own false identity and reality.
When I came home from Treatment, I shut down my Blog because like I said; I wasn’t ready to face all that had happened. I had been taught and told in Treatment about my situation and what needed to happen in order to stay in Recovery. It just was not the right time as my focus was on acute Recovery (up to a year post-Detox) and then of course – giving birth to my 3rd Daughter in November.
When your life revolves around recurring Trauma, negative emotional triggers around Family Relationships; it’s easy to believe what you are experiencing is normal.
Quite often, I was praised by my Spouse for being extremely easy-going, relaxed and patient. I know these qualities of mine along with my intense free-will, impulsiveness and anxiety-driven behaviours can end up bringing either the best or the worst out in me. Either you love me or you hate me, either you get it or you don’t. The ones who do have been in my life for most of it and have become Lifelong, chosen Family.
Recovery; on an Emotional, Spiritual and Physical level – it is now something I must now focus on every day in 24 hour increments. I do not live in the past nor do I live in the future. Rather than worrying about the limitless, worst-case scenario possibilities in life like I used to (also known as “Fight or Flight” mode), I’ve used the knowledge and tools gained from my time as a Opiate Addict, in treatment, in Recovery to cultivate this real change.
That’s why phrases like: “Keep It Simple” and “Easy Does It” exist – you need to focus on Recovery and be allowed to do it; with love and support.
Anything less than that and you are being setup for failure. That’s when you need to start evaluating your “People, Places and Things.”
It’s been such a dramatic turnaround since I took full control of my life back in April. For some people, it could be that they possibly don’t believe its real.
However, at what point; is the complete denial of Recovery being used as a tool to Emotionally and Psychologically abuse you in an effort to control the relationship?
This is a well-known, common after-effect of Addiction.
It literally infects the whole Family however there is usually a “centre of it all” at the core. In most cases, there are “People, Places & Things” that keep individuals in their condition because it allows whomever to continue controlling that person with Emotional Power.
In reality, Individuals are actually more at risk to develop a new Addiction than someone who is in a Structured Recovery plan, are to Relapse. This means someone who has never been prescribed an Opiate before stands more of a chance of becoming addicted than I do of relapsing 1 year post-Detox.
This is very important because when someone in Recovery “comes back,” they require a lot of love, compassion, patience, etc.
Notably this is difficult to do because emotional harm may have been caused. In my case, I have children and I am their primary caregiver, so my decision to lead a semi-public life in Addiction/Cannabis Activism was based upon setting the standards for what that looks like.
This was NOT supported by any of my In-Laws or my Mother but my plan was announced well before I decided to Separate. One by one, they all started to turn against me. I realize now it’s not so much what I was planning to do but how it would allow me to be less isolated. Isolation is key for those who Emotionally Abuse their Partners, Children, etc. as it allows them to control what information is being shared.
When I did decide to ask for a Separation, I asked my Mother to go into Counselling to discuss what I had learned about myself in Treatment. Even though so much had happened and she stopped talking to me when I was a few weeks ahead of leaving treatment.
To this day, I don’t know why but I offered full forgiveness for pretty much everything and anything that had happened at that point. I so badly wanted to prove what I had been told about my situation was untrue. I did not want to believe that these people could actually be behaving in a way that would be used to make me “behave.”
Counselling would never happen because my Mother refused to go. I held my boundaries and position but my Husband refused to support me. I realized then that the situation had turned dire as my suspicion of Triangulation was confirmed.
I realized then, that over a course of a year, the goal had been to protect my Family not in case I relapsed, but in case I tried to leave if things stayed the same. If I caused a “problem,” I would essentially be a Black Sheep.
At that time, I knew things were going downhill and that I was getting stronger but I still had total faith that everyone had my emotional well-being and best interest at heart. As time went on and I realized what was really happening; I experienced intense Betrayal Trauma.
READ: The Trauma of Betrayal
Everything I had been counselled about at Treatment as a precaution for my return home, was coming to fruition. It was devastating to learn the truth and over time, I will share that story but I am still working through it.
At what point do we stop treating those who suffer from Addiction as morality issues/problems? When do we stop punishing them for their transgressions, especially when they have subjected themselves to every standard set upon them?
How can one set Boundaries within their personal relationships to ensure Emotional Safety, Autonomy and Independence without causing massive conflict or punishment?
To the person in Recovery – how are you able to determine the difference yourself between a Toxic Relationship and People, Places and Things aside from your own contribution to the situation?
- You cannot make amends with people who lack autonomy in their Family unit to exclusively forgive another Family member without approval.
You cannot make amends with anyone who doesn’t want to or is set on harming you with the Emotional Power you have just given them by admitting your bullshit.
You cannot make amends with someone who seeks Revenge, Restitution or Respite.
You CANNOT fix a problem with a problem.
You have to detach once you’ve identified the cycle and you must separate if you are in a Relationship.
It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, it doesn’t mean the other person is “bad” or “not good.” It simply means we have been taught to react and respond a certain way to Trauma and it is actually the Individual that is in Recovery whose own Emotional reaction can create more of it or continue the Cycle.
Individuals with certain Personality Types do not appreciate Boundaries. When given them, they will find whatever method possible to break them down. They also enjoy inciting Reactive Abuse where you actually respond to the Psychological Abuse being inflicted upon you. Often times, Reactive Abuse involves crying, screaming, yelling so that the person inflicting it can call you “crazy.”
In very serious situations: they will try to record you and start to build a file against you. They will share this with other people who hold Emotional Power over you so that a literal mob will involve themselves to absolve the Abuser and further abuse the person in Recovery.
A Minority Report on the person in Recovery will start to build, consisting of all their secrets, mistakes, trauma and weaknesses. The point of this is to control the message being presented along with keeping the person within the confines of that message.
Add in the Isolation, Shame and Control; that person has completely lost their identity, voice and self-worth under the Fog of this type of Abuse. If one is not aware or prepared, you can quite frankly end up losing everything including your kids, assets, reputation, safety, etc.
The final step of the process is Elimination and Discard. If the Individual tries to leave, the one exerting Power and Control will try to stop them somehow. They are not doing this out of love and if they are enmeshed into their Family, you can expect a Team approach.
The final attack on you is when you do try to leave; they will try to destroy your character, credibility, sobriety, recovery, whatever it is – to stop you from gaining any traction.
If you try to be amicable, they will threaten Court, Custody Battles, new accusations and threats. The whole Family that’s on their side of course, will come after you in a way you never thought possible. Your reality is completely changed because for the first time in a long time, if ever – everyone is actually being themselves completely yet they are all motivated by Fear and Anger. You are motivated because they will never understand the hell that is Addiction.
The Individuals within the Opposition against the one in Recovery either join forces or face isolation. Of course, the top m-tier within the Unit are set on vengeance, proving a point and getting even. Their goal is to destroy the Individual in Recovery without any second thought or rationale thinking. They aren’t thinking about their contribution to the situation.
You are the one who became abused Addictive drugs yet the Emotional Abuse Cycle is very similar to the Addiction Cycle. They are positively correlated meaning they are related to each other as a cause and effect.
The goal now is to introduce confusion; also known as “Cognitive Dissonance:”
Now what should just be two Adults parting ways after realizing their relationship is Toxic; has now become a full-scale, expensive, trauma-inducing battle that should not exist. Neither person is in any condition to fight; they are both victims of circumstance and they are about to repeat the cycle for their children.
Parents that are emotionally healthy and equipped would never suggest this for their Children. They wouldn’t encourage it. They would be heartbroken, sad and fearful for everyone involved and would do whatever it took to minimize damage. Ideally, no one would manipulate any weaknesses or fractures in what’s supposed to be a loving relationship.
Otherwise – we continue to repeat the cycles of Emotional Abuse and Trauma, Addiction and Relapse.
If the person in Recovery does not realize this is happening (usually if they feel “safe” and drop their guard) well, an even more serious situation will arise. Paranoia sets in, as does fear and anger. If the Individual in Recovery does not seek help and support, they will ultimately relapse and either go back to the People, Places and Things that are keeping them down.
Worse – if they relapse or start to feel worthless, crazy, etc. – we lose them. They either go back to their drug of choice, the cycle of Addiction and Abuse. Their children ultimately suffer and the cycle continues.
Graphic © Angela Westelaken
Everybody has character defects.
Everybody makes mistakes.
Everybody deserves compassion, love and forgiveness.
Everybody deserves two loving parents even if those parents do not love each other.
Everybody needs to look at themselves and their part within any Mental Health crisis especially if you are in a Relationship or a close Family unit.
Everybody needs to focus on being the best they can be without hurting other people.
My daughters will be taught how to be strong, happy, healthy Women who hold love, compassion and empathy for others. They will learn to be respectful, honest and independent.
They will be taught to forgive but to always hold their own Boundaries. They will be taught to respect themselves. They will be taught self/care, self-love, self-trust, self-acceptance.
They will be taught to make decisions based on their own strength, intuition and experiences but led with love and support by their parents. I will not parent them with shame or guilt, projection or fear.
They will be taught to love themselves as much as their parents do but to be loved for who they are, not for what they will do one day, how much money they will make or what they will give.
They will always know they can trust their Mother to do what’s right for them and not just what’s right for her. They already do.