In recovery circles, we talk often about telling our stories, to heal, to encourage and to process what has happened in our life. The story can be fraught with danger, peril and violence. Or, it can be like a soap opera, all that’s missing is the dramatic soundtrack to give the over-blown emotions the added emphasis. Or, perhaps a mixture of both.

This weekend, I helped a family member edit an addiction story that walked the reader through some pretty perilous and sad moments in the pre-recovery life of an addict. As family, it’s hard to read the gritty details of what happened, but perhaps harder still to read the motivations behind the behaviors.

Any acting out or addiction is connected to how we see ourselves or feel about ourselves. Addiction doesn’t just come out of partying too much. There is usually underlying distress or trauma that’s not being dealt with. I struggled as I read the story, to see where there were moments that things could have been changed or the course corrected. But I had to ask myself, could it really have been changed?

As those who love addicts and are in families of addicts, oftentimes, we need to find ways to deal with our feelings of helplessness. Because you can lead ‘em to recovery, but you can’t make them stop using (or recover). Besides, I even tried drug testing my family member and they told me later they were able to beat it.

I made amends a few years back on all this, and occasionally I will bring it up in group, when I feel the need to go to the land of “why and how”…but, at the end of the day, I know I did the best I could with where I was at the time; not in recovery and dealing, or not dealing with my own stuff. God knows my heart, and I have confessed this to my sponsor and to my group at large.

It is a fine line we tread, as those who love and are in relationship with people in recovery from addiction and even in active addiction, not to become wrapped up in their stuff, and how we can somehow save them from it. It doesn’t make us the bad guy because we can’t, and the addict in our lives will most likely resist our well-meaning efforts at fixing and controlling.

I know my time spent in recovery has taught me above all else, where I stop and others begin, and that I need not trespass onto someone else’s recovery program, or lack thereof.

May I love, honor and respect those around me by working my own program, not theirs.

Have a lovely week all!