Imagine it: you’re on this twisting, turning, WILD roller coaster. It’s looping! It’s swooping! And you’re just along for the ride – no control over what’s going on.
Kinda like being in an unchecked relationship with an alcoholic or addict, isn’t it?
When you’re in relationship with an alcoholic or addict and you don’t have strong boundaries for yourself – you better triple check that safety bar! Because you’re about to be loop-de-looped all over the place.
It seems like the addiction ride has only two different options: you’re either actively riding and addiction is calling all the shots OR you’re nervously standing in the front of the line, wringing your hands, and waiting for the next go ’round.
When you’re riding the coaster, everything is warp 10 intensity. You’re freaked out, disoriented, and probably sick to your stomach. Heart beating like medieval war drums. Bile bubbling in your belly. Seems like there’s no way to make it stop.
It’s different for everyone but riding the coaster might look something like this:
- Sitting up all night in terror because they haven’t come home; earning mental Emmy Awards for all the crazy plot lines playing out in your mind about what’s happened to them
- Dropping anyone and anything that matters to you (way faster than you can say “super unhealthy codependent relationship”) to heroically toss on your superhero cape and place yourself right in between your addict and the looming danger of….No! Not the natural consequences of their own personal choices! 😲
- Putting yourself in physically dangerous situations where your instincts are going berzerk like a gaggle of unleashed Cornish Pixies but you’re not listening because you just have to find your addict, help your addict, etc.
…and that’s just a few examples.
Eventually? Sure, the ride will calm down momentarily. But expect to be an emotional, spiritual, financial, and physical mess when it does.
While you’re waiting for the next ride, it’s a panic-driven stroll down anxiety alley. You’re driving yourself crazy by imagining upsetting ups and downs and tormenting twists and turns. Nervous energy has your guts flopping around like your stomach has been set on a heavy duty wash cycle. Or maybe you’re angry. You’re so pissed off that you’re voluntarily riding this coaster and you’re going to let everyone know! So you complain loudly about the injustice of it all. You shake your first and cut down your addict with that sharpened blade of a tongue while insisting that you’re done! No more! It’s over! Knowing…that when the time comes, you’re absolutely going to yet again squash yourself into that high-risk coaster cart and away you’ll go.
I allowed my entire life to be jerked around for a really long time by the alcoholics adn addicts in my life because I didn’t know I had a choice when it came to riding the coaster. Because here’s the deal: When you’re a child growing up with alcoholics and addicts, you’re strapped into that coaster from Day One; a sweet, teensy-tiny infant with no ability to protest or protect herself in an extremely volatile predicament. These babies grow up emotionally battered, shaken, and bruised…and so accustomed to the dips, turns, and terrors of the roller coaster that they may not realize as adults that they do have a choice. Even worse, coaster life becomes comfortable. It becomes the norm! And, as they grow, these coaster-riding kids start to search for other dangerous roller coasters to ride when looking for friends and eventually love interests – because chaos and cortisol is all they know.
Feeling like you have no choice is a terrible place to be. When you’re in relationship with someone who is plunging and spiraling into their addiction, the feelings of loss can be profound. But you have the right to choose how to respond. Please hear me when I say this to you: riding the roller coaster isn’t proof that you care nor does it do anything to help the addict. It just leaves everyone in that dizzying state of disorientation where no growth and no healing can occur.
It might be scary to consciously choose to stop riding the roller coaster…but I know you. And I know that, if you’re reading this, then you’ve successfully done lots of hard things in your life. So what’s another?!? Because I promise you, friend: planting your feet firmly on the ground after a long and difficult roller coaster ride with your addict is a powerful step in the direction of freedom and healing. And you deserve freedom and healing! Plus so much more. ❤️
Are you a “coaster kid” who grew up in an addictive and dysfunctional environment? Then click here to get the latest news from me – Cassandra Kali! – to help inspire you on your new ride to recovery.