A father wrote to me: I have three sons. Two out of three have an addiction, and I have been dealing with this for six years with the oldest and five years with the youngest. I don’t know what I am doing wrong. I try not to enable and am getting better. I write short stories about their lives and how their addictions have affected them and everyone else, but I can never seem to gather my thoughts fully in order to complete anything. Maybe it’s because I am always on my guard.
My reflection: As parents of addicted loved ones, we are forever on guard and our attention is scattered. Our lives become torturous and we find it almost impossible to concentrate on anything other than our child’s chaos. Even when they are clean and sober, we remain vigilant, watching and listening for any pattern of old – something that will give us a clue that our addict is using again. Every day is clouded with our fears and worries.
Today’s Promise to consider: Too often we make our children’s addictions personal and ask ourselves what are we doing wrong: are our boundaries not strong enough, are we enabling, should we step in with financial help, why one child and not the other? The questions are endless. Today, I’ll stop allowing addiction to beat me up. I’ll pray, reach out to my support group, and prioritize my spiritual program. I’ll remember that I’m not alone.
There came a time when I could no longer maintain my involvement in my child’s addiction, the pain was just too great and had been going on for too long. Then it happened, that special mystical mysterious indescribable experience with God in which I reached out to Him in sincerity, willingness and trust praying to Him, I give my son to you God, I pray for forgiveness and strength. I felt God’s presence and every fiber of my being was at peace. I then began to grieve the loss of the child of my dreams releasing him completely knowing that he would never return. I was now free to work hard on the only person I could control which was me. I joined a 12 step program, found a sponsor and began my way to my own personal recovery lifestyle change. God gave me back my son, a new son, a son in recovery. A son who I now have a loving and personal relationship with. A son who I love dearly, who I understand and have total forgiveness and compassion for.
Wow. Pat, your comment is profound. Your words speak to me – your trust in God, and your compassion and love for your son. Thank you for sharing.
I have not posted here in a very long time but I always read your meditations to help me stay on track. My daughter has been clean now for two and a half years and for that I am so truly happy.
What surprises me though is my fears and anxiety are always hovering in the background ready to show their ugly head at any moment. I can wake from sleep convinced something is wrong because she did not respond right away to a text. It is an incredible amount of work to bring myself down again and focus on my life.
I really thought that once she made a clean time like this it would be easier on me to trust her. I am starting to realize that this will probably be a lifelong challenge that will involve open honest communication with all those around me and courage to push through those times I falter.
Dear Sue, Oh, how I understand. I once asked Dr MacAfee about this, and he said, “You’ve been vigilant a long time. Be patient with yourself.” It will take us time to heal. My guess is the feelings of being vigilant might diminish with time, but they might never go away. Here’s to peace, for all of us.