It's Not My Problem, It's Yours
Updated: Feb 27, 2020
"It's not my problem, it's yours," is the most common thing I hear in my office when I ask the substance using individual to bring in their spouse/parent/significant other to a session. They often say that the other person is so sick of them that they don't want anything to do with this. "YOU need to fix YOUR problem!" is what they are told.
The reality of the situation is, THEY are part of YOUR problem. For all the years you have been using your substance they have enabled the behaviors for so long they don't realize they too have a problem that may also require therapy. Interestingly enough, if they have had a history of relationships with substance abusing individuals and they put up with it for so long and then get tired and find a new unhealthy relationship. Guess who has a problem? They do. It's called Co-Dependency. The long and short of it all is Co-Dependency is the addiction (for lack of a better word) to helping others who are capable of helping themselves. Co-Dependents will complain about the behaviors of the addicted individual outwardly, but inwardly its about control. They are able to control and manipulate a lot by keeping the addict sick; how do they do this? They call in sick for the person when they aren't sick they are really really hung over; they make excuses for their erratic behaviors; they encourage their behaviors by offering them alcohol or other substances; the list can go on and on.
Addiction is a family disease. Picture a baby mobile on a crib. If you have 5-6 pieces on the mobile, what would happen if you take one piece off? It would tilt and not work correctly. That is what happens in a dysfunctional family, the missing piece is the person with the disease (typically addiction.) What happens is the rest of the family scrambles around to balance out the mobile so that it will be even and work correctly. Kids may take on extra responsibilities as well as your spouse/significant other or excuses are made to friends and extended family why you are missing from an event or family gathering, but this is YOUR problem they say. Again this is a family problem and the family must get help; while you maybe the bull in the china shop everyone is affected.
Here's another kicker, the very person that wants you to change, but isn't willing to make changes themselves will often attempt to sabotage your effort to change. I bet you are looking at your screen reading this and are now really confused. Let me repeat myself at little louder so you can hear in the background... THE PERSON THAT WANTS YOU TO CHANGE, BUT ISN'T WILLING TO MAKE CHANGES THEMSELVES WILL OFTEN ATTEMPT TO SABOTAGE YOUR EFFORT TO CHANGE!!! Yep, they can't handle the new you, you've changed; they don't know you anymore. You aren't the person they met, you are new and reinvented. All the more reason that they need to understand it's not just YOUR PROBLEM! I will add to this, if you are making changes to stop doing what you've been doing, please do it for yourself. You should never change for anyone else but you, WHY?; because people who often do things for other's will build resentment, because they didn't want it in the first place. So you aren't changing for your spouse, your boyfriend/girlfriend, your kids, your grandma, your neighbor, your dog.... you get my point. YOU have to change for YOU, and YOU
So when someone is telling you, it's YOUR problem, they need to understand it's the family's problem. If you or someone you know has a problem with addiction and needs help, please contact me. If you are a family member of an addicted person and need help, please contact me. If I cannot help you, I can try to help put you in touch with someone who can. Lets heal the problems and mend your family.