Not everyone has warm and fuzzy holidays. During this time of the year, many people struggle. This year the struggle has the added pressure of a pandemic, a volatile election, social unrest, and all the other difficulties which arrived with 2020. Suffering in isolation is rampant. Check on your people.
Bit by bit, I have watched Addiction take over a life. Bit by bit, I have watched it start with a sip, then a glass, then a bottle. Bit by bit, I have watched it take over and destroy a family. Bit by bit, I have watched it morph from a “social” activity into an isolated prison. Bit by bit, I have watched it pound confidence into insecurity. Bit by bit, I have watched it suck life and infuse death. Bit by bit, I have watched it increase fear and zap faith. Inch by inch…day by day…bit by bit…
Addiction starts with a taste, over the lips, down the throat, into the stomach and then…the brain. The substance is so soothing. So relaxing. Such a sweet whisper. Such a kind soul. Then from friend to lover. From lover to controller. From controller to master. Then to a jealous and violent owner who wants his slaves all to himself. Until nothing else matters but keeping Addiction happy. Keeping him off your back. Keeping him subdued. Even if it means a life in chains. Even if it means life alone.
At the beginning, those who partake in substances do so to numb life’s pain, or to decrease insecurity, or to have some fun. Over time, Addiction, the master of deception, twists all the reasons into one result… full blown depression. He is a killjoy. Only he could convince any one that his motive is pure fun. Only he could keep his true identity a secret long enough to hook his prey. A shiny lure. A fat worm. Anything to get them to bite.
Oh the sweetness of the bait. The tasty morsels that draw the prey to the predator. All while Addiction sits comfortably, waiting for the hook to go in deep. One hard bite and the captured one flees. Fights and wrestles to get loose. But it is too late. The hook is burrowed through flesh and cartilage. The barb will not allow the hook to be reversed or removed. When running in futility tires him, the hooked one gives up and allows himself to be reeled in. Set on dying, he floats limply in the water waiting for the inevitable. There is no way out. He is trapped. He and Addiction both know it.
In the meantime, every one of the prey’s relationships has been forced to bow to the master. Each interaction is toxic or volatile. Addiction weaves a web of reasons for this phenomenon in the mind of his slave, none of which is the true reason. His lies are believable and repeated by his slaves; pointing everywhere but the source, the blame game becomes a facade. A flimsy front that fools no one except the one in bondage. People pull away, relationships explode, all because the lies are a sham and they get old very fast. This pulling away only serves the master in his efforts to isolate his slaves. It is a spiral Addiction is oh so willing to continue, for decades if he is allowed.
What I wish is that the addicted ones knew is that they are loved. And it is possible for others to both love them, and be frustrated with them at the same time. What I wish that the addicted ones knew is that others want to support their escape from this horrible bondage. But family members and friends learn over time it is best not to become an enabler. Tough love called that for a reason. It is tough to remove yourself from the life of someone who needs help, but refuses to get it. What I wish the addicted ones knew is that others dread the phone ringing with an unknown number because it might be the final call. The tragic end of someone they hold dear. What I wish the addicted ones knew is that the people in their lives who really care, do not know how to help. They are not trained in the web of Addiction and his ways to trap his prey. What I wish the addicted ones knew is that, if they get professional help that can untangle the web, there is a whole world of love waiting for them. What I wish the addicted ones knew is that watching them self destruct and self harm is one of the most painful things for their loved ones to endure. What I wish the addicted ones knew is that substance abuse doesn’t only affect them, but it breaks the hearts of their family and friends too…bit by bit.
During this time of year, this season of hope, what I wish the addicted ones knew is that it is never too late. What I wish the addicted ones knew is that getting help requires courage and bravery, both good things, even though it is scary. What I wish the addicted ones knew is that healing is possible…bit by bit.