Updated: Sep 25, 2020
Any parent, spouse, sibling, or partner of a person ensnared in the disease of addiction knows what it is like to live in the land of waiting for the other shoe to drop.
When your loved one is seemingly doing better today, you hold your breath and don’t exhale too deeply because you worry the other shoe may drop. When he is talking clearly, smiling, and following through with what he says he will do, you clench inside, waiting for the other shoe to drop. When he is going to work this week and money is not disappearing from your purse or your wallet, you don’t let yourself think about relying on this continuing, because you worry the other shoe will drop. When he says he is going to his NA meeting today, you close your eyes against the fear that this isn’t enough to hold off the vicious cravings that assail him. You have seen the other shoe dropping. Dropping like a bomb into his life, and the life you share with him. Into the hope you have that he Will. Beat. This.
You can’t prevent the shoe dropping. But you get good at catching it, putting it back on her foot, lacing it up tightly so she can walk with fortitude and strength into the hurricane that doing battle with addiction can be. You would gladly walk behind her every step she takes to make sure the other shoe doesn’t drop…. scurry to help her put the other shoe back on before too much pain and burning is caused walking barefoot over the searing coals of the disease of addiction.
You can’t exactly predict when the other shoe will drop. But you get very good at being a detective, searching for clues that the shoe may drop, and devising plans that would prevent the other shoe from dropping. You read all of the minute signs in his face, his voice inflections, scrutinize his actions that may signal that the other shoe may be dropping.
You get so adept at being vigilant for clues that the other shoe may drop that you live your own life less and less. You take care of yourself less and less. You don’t recall what it feels like to have fun, to feel at peace, to let go, to unclench, to exhale deeply.
You are now ensnared in the disease of addiction too.
It is a bottomless pit of grief to believe that you can control whether the other shoe drops. Living in fear for the future of the other shoe dropping will drain your energy, your love, your resilience. What you CAN control is to plant yourself in the very moment you are in. In the present moment. Be here in the moment whether the shoes are off or on and whether you have any impact in making that happen. Breathe. In. And out. Notice, really notice, when the other shoe hasn’t dropped in a given moment. Mark that. Compliment her for her strength in battling another day.
Be honest with your loved one about your fear for his other shoe dropping. Tell him you know that only HE can prevent that from happening. Ask him how HE would like you to support him in keeping the other shoe on.
Then start breathing again. Take care of yourself. Be with others who understand how scary it is to live in the land of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Support each other. Breath some more. In and out. Be in the present moment. It is all we have. It is everything we have.