Over the last two weeks I've been writing about addiction and the affect that healing has on the addict and his/her spouse. Today I would like to explain the need for the spouse to learn to detach from the addict. While the Bible teaches, "For in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28), the spouse has learned to live and move and have his/her being in the addict rather than in God. This is idolatry and is no less sinful than the addict’s behavior!
Learning to live a life not centered on the addict sets both parties free to be responsible for their own behavior. However, detachment is not an easy task. One of the strongest, but subconscious reasons for attachment is that preoccupation with the addict’s behavior takes the spouse’s focus off of his/her own unhealthiness. The spouse has been blaming the addict for years for his/her unhappiness because it is easier than blaming himself/herself. Evaluating our own hearts feels too risky, consequently we tend to do anything to avoid it, including focusing on someone else’s issues rather than our own!
Detachment does not mean giving-up on or abandoning the addict, rather it means recognizing their behavior is not our responsibility nor is true happiness found in them, but in God.
I’m reminded of a wife who came to the place of being thankful for her husband’s addiction because she recognized that God had used it to expose her unhealthy heart and to draw her to Himself. Where does one begin to make such a transition?
Although it may not be his/her intention, the spouse is attempting to play God when he/she tries to control people and circumstances. His/her subconscious goal is to create relationships and an environment in which he/she feels safe, however we must submit to the reality that we are not truly able to control anyone or any situation. The first step toward detachment is coming to the realization that God is sovereign over all things and people.
The spouse tends to be in denial regarding his/her own problems. He/she typically fails to recognize that his/her actions and reactions to the addict are not only unhelpful, but feed into the addict’s behavior. The next step in detachment is to acknowledge the reality of his/her own unhealthiness and admit his/her part in the addictive cycle.
Facing what we truly are is frightening! We fear facing our own unresolved issues. We fear that showing our true self will result in others; especially the addict, rejecting us. While we long for intimacy, we fear allowing anyone to get too close. If we are convinced of God’s love for us, however we are free to love others unconditionally and to allow them to love us, just as we are.
Being certain of God’s love for us, and our inability to control anyone or anything, we are ready and willing to seek God’s wisdom and guidance. In doing so, our focus is taken off the addict and placed on our personal unhealthiness and on the only One who can transform us. At this point we have transitioned from idolatry into worship of the One true God! Genuine and lasting healing will not take place until this transition is made!
P.S. Please feel free to contact me with questions, thoughts, topics you’d like to ponder or to read past articles at: http://whole-heartedlife.blogspot.com/. You may also contact me at:
In Search of the Whole-Hearted Life
505 Jefferson St.
Diagonal, IA 50845