Losing Yourself to Find Someone Who’s No Longer There

Includes guest blog by Melissa Gillman

Have you ever sat by a river and watched the leaves and sticks flow by? This is one of my favorite things to do. I contemplate, every single time, where all the water comes from, where it’s going, and what its purpose is, right now, in front of me. I watch the leaves and wonder if they’re happy just being tossed around wherever life takes them. Once in a while a beautiful duck may appear, and I think, “Maybe it’s all about the duck”.

I sometimes try to remember who I was before the river. Before I was the leaf being tossed around.

Have you ever thought who you were before you were trying to save someone else?

Who were you before this current tragedy or quest took over?

What did you enjoy? What brought you joy? What was your foundation?

When our foundation is based on something out of our control, there is bound to be an earthquake to shake it up. When our very existence seems to depend on a situation getting better or worse, we know we’re off center.

What center?

The Center of being true to ourselves. As hard as it is to admit, especially in the rawness of broken hearts or deep pain that shoots through our core; we are all separate individuals.

This is not to invalidate feelings. Our feelings are our own. Grief is real. Sadness is real. Disappointment is real. But we don’t have to let them own us.

Just like the river flows without any help from us, others’ lives will unfold and flow without a whole lot of input from us. So what actions and input will help us find our true essence? Will we only be happy if x, y, or z happens? We all know that it doesn’t stop there. We might be happy for a minute but soon another concern will arise and we will be hyper-focused on making that happen.

What if instead of us being the leaves being tossed around, what if the leaves were our emotions? We see them coming, we don’t panic, we just lovingly accept and observe them? They might be angry leaves, mad at getting wet. Mad at the river. Mad at the people watching who won’t pull them out. Mad at the logs that won’t stop their decline to some unknown destination of fear.

What kind of quality of life by the hour, by the day, does that make? We wonder why we’re miserable and anxious. Maybe it’s all about the foundation and not the river that’s tossing us…….

Fellow addicted loved one supporter wrote this:

“With my jagged edges and sharp blades around my heart, I could come here and speak it into the world. I was rarely judged, and so many people would give opinions, words of encouragement, knowledge, acceptance, and love. I was caught up in my own sickness. The sickness so many of us, non-addicted loved ones get ill with. Which is thinking we can absorb the addiction out of the people we love or care about. That we can love it out of them, teach them their worth, their potential, and value. And the cold hard reality is, we can’t. Even while we try, I think we are so blind by what we THINK they want. What we THINK someone can become. And perhaps we are wrong. Maybe not. But what I do know now at this point. Nothing I ever did or didn’t do has anything to do with them getting sober and into recovery. I wasn’t to blame for drug use and relapse. And I couldn’t take credit for sober time either. That was them. Completely. The good and the bad choices. This also meant I had to realize, staying in my own illness of fixing, solving, enabling.. was also on me fully. Good days and bad. Just as their addiction was on them. My point is, something beautiful happened when I stopped pouring every ounce of myself into someone else. There was now something to pour into me. In the last few months I have ALLOWED, yes allowed being the correct word.. allowed myself to pour into me. ( After my five kids ) allowed me to laugh. Allowed me to go out and meet new people, good people. Allowed me to still be all the things about me I love while keeping boundaries of who and when people can receive the good parts of me. On my terms. I recognize myself again. I actually feel.. happy most days. Letting go of someone or something that is toxic or unhealthy does not mean the love was never there or wasn’t real. But it sometimes means you now know how to treat yourself right FIRST, and by doing so.. if other things fall off, or out, you know they weren’t meant for you. I will always wish sobriety, health, accountability, and a life of honesty and integrity for the previous addict in my life. I will always hope somewhere in this lifetime my kids will know the happy, funny, charismatic version of their father that long ago I once knew. Whether or not that is the real him, only he knows. But if they can know that person, I would be so happy for them. As for me, I found a new love. She’s about 5’10” and she is actually someone I reconnected with from long ago.. she is MYSELF. Loving her can only bring the correct kind of love in my life from here forward. To those who lost themselves trying to save someone. I see you. Rest. Pray. And remember who YOU ARE. Not be consumed remembering who THEY WERE. Let THEM do that. ❤️


Absorb the addiction out of them.

I love that. The only one we can absorb something out of- is ourself. What do you need to fo to absorb the worry, the fear, the disappointment out of yourself and reconnect with that person who just loves? Loving the one who loves so deeply….


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Samantha Waters

A unique perspective on the world from a small town girl turned big city nurse. Now a grandmother to 6 gregarious, resplendent boys and 5 endearing, magical girls, she strives the make the world a more understanding, pleasant place to experience this intense thing called life.

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