Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2013 Nancy Virden
“You’ve been drinking again.”
“No, I haven’t.”
“But I found a water bottle in the back of the bathroom cupboard filled with vodka.”
“That’s just water!”
“Oh… ok, it’s just water.”
Addiction takes many forms, and it is not only the addicts who have a problem. Spouses, friends, and other family members jump through figurative hoops sometimes trying to make sense of the lies versus wanting to trust what their loved-one is saying. No one wants to play the fool, yet disbelieving all the time hurts too.
“You’ve been watching porn.”
“I saw a link in the computer’s history file.”
“You’re too suspicious. I don’t know how that got there. Some ad or something. I have not been watching porn. You have my word.”
“Oh…ok, it’s just an ad.”
Accepting blame and listening to a constant stream of denial can be crazy-making. Family members may feel helpless and victimized, too. The question remains, “Is this the relationship I want?”
“I finally found comfortable shoes for work. On sale for only $20!”
“We don’t have the money for that.”
“But you bought an I-Pad and took all your friends out to dinner.”
“You don’t need new shoes, your old shoes are just fine.”
“Oh…ok, do you want me to take them back?”
Remember that you matter too. You deserve to have a life that is not consumed by another person’s power plays. Whether someone tries to pass to you the sympathy card or victim card, the denial card or blame card, you do not have to extend your hand and join the game.
“But I don’t want to hurt them or myself by setting a boundary. I will feel guilty.” May I suggest you are already in great pain? Perhaps choosing to take care of yourself will release both of you to experience life as it is intended to be.
One of the strongest women I’ve met was the mother who had to remove her son from the home and not welcome him back no matter how he begged. His mental world was created of lies and reality was not within his scope of reasoning. Tough love brought her to the point she had to force reality on her boy (a young adult) by showing him there are consequences for his stealing and the emotional abuse of his family.
Oh, what pain she was in! She missed him. It was torment to find him at her door. Yet she stood her ground knowing she might be saving his life, and was better for it as her existence and that of other children in her home returned as much as possible to normal.
NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.