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Archive for December, 2011

LISTENING WITHOUT JUDGING

A mom wrote to me: I know we are not alone, but I almost avoided a gathering at my mother’s house with some dear neighborhood friends because I didn’t want to be asked how my sons were doing and have to pretend all is well. My dad has passed and his dearest friend asked me how I was doing with my boys. I answered honestly, “Not the best.” He replied with kindness, “I’m sorry. I see you are struggling.” He understood and didn’t judge me. I am blessed to have shared a few minutes with him. 

My personal reaction to the passage above: The Big Book of AA says that addiction can only be defeated through rigorous honesty. There were many times I lied about my son’s addiction and our family problems. After many years and many failed attempts, I finally decided to respond honestly.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today I will listen to others without judging. I will respect their right to respond with truth and I will be there for them, just as others were there for me.


HOLIDAYS

A mom and grandmother wrote to me: When people at work talk about their kids and grandkids I feel myself die inside and hope they don’t ask me about mine because I feel such sadness, shame and embarrassment. I know my husband and I can’t let our son’s choices dictate our happiness, but I am finding it so hard to carry on with everyday life when I’m screaming inside with sadness and worry. Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time but I’m left wondering if my son is sleeping somewhere warm and if he’s safe. I feel despair. 

My personal reaction: There are four words often used to describe addiction: Shame, Secrets, Stigma and Silence. I remember well praying that no one would ask me about Jeff because I didn’t know what to say. I remember lying, “He’s fine. He’s working in Florida.” I remember trying to feel happiness, but finding it impossible. During the Christmas season, it all felt heavier.

Today’s Promise to consider: Many of us struggle with problems and although Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time, it doesn’t always feel like it. For today, I accept that life can be difficult and I pray that tomorrow will be better. For today, I am grateful for what I have. For today, my spirit will feel serenity.

 

 


THE INNOCENT ONES

Our grandchild (Thanks to Mom Aeriona and younger son Papa Jeremy)

 A mother writes: My husband and I have tried everything, even letting our son stay in jail. I don’t know how our journey will end, but I pray that he will accept the help he so desperately needs. I feel such despair and such anger that this happening to us. What makes it worse is that he is a father to a beautiful seven-year-old little boy who I worry about all the time. He is such an innocent.

My personal reflection: Addiction brings entire families to their knees. We as parents struggle and we suffer doubly as we watch the trauma extend to our grandchildren who don’t deserve this turmoil. Addiction isn’t fair and stops at nothing but full destruction. The little children get caught in the chaos and someone needs to help them through their confusion.

Today’s Promise to Consider: I will stay close to the innocent ones and allow them to share their feelings. I will be strong for them and support them always, especially when their family systems are spiraling out of control.

 

 

 


BOUNDARIES

A mother wrote to me: Today I am struggling with Staying Close as I fear my son’s addiction is taking hold of him again. Part of me wants to say Stay Away and say, “I don’t want to be your mother anymore. I don’t want to deal with your addiction anymore.”

My personal reflection on the above passage: I know this feeling of wanting to run away from all the chaos that is addiction. I asked Dr. MacAfee, our addiction specialist, and he told me, “Of course, ‘I don’t want to be your mother’ is not the same as ‘I don’t want to deal with your addiction.’ Parents cannot obliterate relationships in hope that they’ll obliterate addiction. I know that parents want the pain to stop, but rejection of and disowning their child does not alleviate the pain.

“In addition, punishing the addict won’t help either. Good, solid and meaningful boundaries can help best. Every parent needs to say what she means and mean what she says.”

Today’s Promise to Consider: I will stay close to my loved one. I will tell him what I can and cannot do and I will mean it and follow through. I will respect my boundaries for his sake. I will stay close and pray that he chooses a different life.

 


COURAGE

A dad wrote to me: Our children have to fight their addictions and win. We, as parents, will never know how hard their battles are or understand the strength they need. I think that anyone who has battled through addiction deserves a lot of credit.

My personal reaction: Dr MacAfee says, “Addiction is loss.” Recovery, he said, offered Jeff the space to rediscover his identity and, in time, the real Jeff would emerge. This was a journey that Jeff would have to do alone. I came to realize the enormity of the fight that he had to face in order to win his battle against addiction.

I once told Jeff, “You have a lot of courage to do this again.” He paused and then said quietly, almost to himself, “Courage? That’s a word rarely used with people like me. Yeah, it takes courage.”

Today’s Promise to Consider: Words like strength, courage, and hope are seldom used in the same sentence with addicts. My son and I faced journeys of despair and self-discovery. Courage: we both needed courage as we made decisions that would lead to our health and wholeness. My son chose to fight his addiction. I chose to fight my anxiety. We both chose to change.


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