“It is a true proverb, that if you live with a lame man, you will learn to halt.” — Plutarch
Working through the memories of childhood is a task each of us eventually faces. Addiction in a family system contributes to addiction along the way and affects our own individual addiction(s) and creates drama in life as adults.
I have realized that we can decide whether it’s important for us to know if and how addiction has operated in our families. We can gain that knowledge as we need it. But isn’t it enough simply knowing the addiction is real, that it’s present in family systems, and that we didn’t cause it? Knowing we didn’t cause it helps to stop blaming one’s self.
The important thing I have found is to focus on my own recovery. I cannot change a thing about my family or the past. But, I have found I can change my attitude toward them. When ever we feel caught up in the addiction or drama in a family members’s behavior, we can bring our attention back to ourselves. That way, resentment and fruitless anger yield to honesty and humility. Detaching from the things we cannot change, forgiving the harm done to us, and letting go of the past are important parts of our healing.
The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators — Edward Gibbon
I had a friend in Milwaukee who loved sailing on Lake Michigan. Like many people who have been sailing, he would often blame the weather for his misfortunes. “If only we’d had good winds.” Or, “We’d have won the race if we hadn’t been becalmed.” Or, “I never feel sick, but…”
And so it is with our lives when we are under the sway of our past, negative or unhealthy behaviors or our addiction. We blame fate, chance, our genes, the devil, our parents, other people – always looking outside ourselves for some element to account for our defects and our failures.
But the good navigator knows how to read the signs and make the weather work to help the boat and crew. So, too, we can learn to be attentive to our relationships with the outside world, working in harmony with what is around us. The world isn’t a hostile place; we can come to feel at home here. But first we must learn to live at peace with ourselves.
I know that I don’t need to blame the world for my shortcomings. I am finding a harmony between my desires and reality as I learn to trust my relationship with the world.