Somewhere along the line a ‘little’ thing called loyalty became very important to me. Because of my hypersensitivity to it, I’ve realized that our society honoring this idea less and less. Some of the people that I come in contact with on a daily basis are lacking this character trait altogether. It has become so easy to just send a text or ignore a call to get out of our commitments, and sometimes I even catch myself wanting to follow suit. People hastily dismiss the feelings of the person on the other side of that commitment or simply justify their disloyal actions and move on with life.
This observation has caused me to really consider how it became such a defining attribute to my character, and I feel like it is related to the struggles I experienced with my father’s addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs.
How does one show loyalty when dealing with an addict? A girl looks to her dad as her hero, at least I did. There was (is) always a place in a my heart for my dad even when he was at his ugliest. And generally speaking, I think this is true for daughter’s everywhere. I realized that my conflict with this started when I was torn with staying loyal to my dad, my hero, even when he turned into the villain. Once doctors realized my dad had a problem, they were done. Business was closed, and they shut the door on my dad and the downfall of his existence. No loyalty, no love lost.
If I could just give you a glimpse into how I knew my dad, you would understand the devastation that our family went through as we watched him kill himself, his family, and his dreams.
I learned that addicts are only loyal to their addiction, and they will do whatever it takes to stay faithful to their drug use. This means breaking commitments to people, even the ones who are loved the most. It starts with the small lies or excuses, but before I knew it my dad was calling me every name in the book if I couldn’t commit to helping him continue his high. No matter how much his words hurt, I knew that deep down my dad was still lost somewhere inside of this nightmare, so I stayed loyal.
I listened to him when he talked about the screwed up medical system. I stayed by his side in the ER, even if I knew it was just for the pain pills, I had heated discussions with doctors on his behalf, I gave him money, shelter, and transportation because that is what people do for the ones that they love. I know that meant something to him, and I believe that I had a positive impact on his life. Some might say what I did was enabling him, but anyone who has ever dealt with an addict understands the mind-fuck the entire family goes through. I was not supportive of his addiction, but I wasn’t supportive of leaving him on the streets to die either. I wanted to save his life.
Whether it is being loyal about the seemingly little things, such as, a lunch date with a friend or telling your children that you will be there to support them at the soccer game, or the big commitments, such as, weddings and funerals, it is imperative to healthy relationships to keep commitments. This is how the people build trust, and grow in a relationship.