(Trigger warning: abusive relationships)
It remains a mystery why – under certain circumstances – we allow harm to come to ourselves. I think everyone does it in one way or another. Even getting complacent about clicking the seatbelt when ‘it’s just a short trip’ invites unnecessary risk of harm.
Certainly when addiction is concerned it is more than the risk of harm. There is a certain amount of harm that comes with every dose or use and depending upon the substance, a single use can be lethal. Imagine how indignant we would feel, how wrong we would deem it, if some other person was causing us harm! Most people I talk with have pretty clear definitions of acceptable and unacceptable behavior when it comes to what behavior they will tolerate from others. We dismiss people and terminate relationships when people mistreat us. Meanwhile we tolerate patently self-destructive behavior.
It is at least curious why we are reluctant to defend ourselves from our own actions. Over the years very productive, beneficial conversations have occurred when we have discussed an addiction in terms of an abusive relationship. Addiction, like some interpersonal relationships is a very complex mixture of perceived benefits and various kinds of costs.
I think our freedom may be easier to grasp and hold when we can be brutally honest about the perceived benefits of such a relationship. Staying with a mate may seem to be preferable to being alone, even if the mate is hurting us. But in that sort of relationship (with a person or a substance) we have all heard about things escalating until something tragic happens.
If this topic is relevant for you, let’s try to be brutally honest about the behavior that harms us and be deeply compassionate to self as we look for answers. You deserve to be free.