ADDICTION TAKES PRISONERS

A mother wrote to me: My son walked out of his fourth rehab, and in November of last year my husband kicked him out of our house, again. I couldn’t help but mourn. I lay on my bed and didn’t move for two days. He’s presently in an outpatient methadone program. His addiction has claimed him for five years. Methadone is not the permanent answer for my son, but he is doing better. His drug addiction has had such a big impact on our lives. I want to see him whole and clean and well again. His bruises on his arms are fading.

My reflection: Addiction affects all of us. Parents argue, siblings are confused and angry, and the addict is in his own world, chasing his next fix. Mothers cry until we have no tears left, and fathers watch helplessly, powerless to protect their families in the face of addiction. The entire family is immersed in sadness and trauma.

Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction thrives on chaos and pain. Not only does the immediate family suffer, but addiction spirals out to affect extended family, coaches, teachers, friends, priests and ministers. Especially now, during these troubling times, let us not be defeated. As families, we are powerless to stop addiction, but we can remain faithful and compassionate, while maintaining boundaries to keep our family safe. Let us stay close to our support groups. Let us keep faith and hope alive.

 

ADDICTION: WHERE DO WE FIND PEACE?

A mother wrote to me: My daughter has been in sober houses, psychiatry hospitals, jails, and detoxes. She’s attempted suicide. Like a merry-go-round, she’s been sober, until she wasn’t. I can’t make her do what she refuses to do. If I could climb into her body, I would. But I can’t. It’s her journey.

I always thought that if she was okay, I would have peace. Now, I realize that it’s not her job to bring me peace. That’s a tall order to put on my addicted child…and it’s not what she needs to do. Her peace must come from living in the solution. My peace must come from inside me, from my Higher Power.

My reflection: For the fourteen years of my son’s addiction, I ached for peace, the peace I thought I would surely find if he were sober. His addiction demanded center stage in my life, and the consequences of his actions overtook me at every turn. Whether it was detoxes, car crashes, or arrests, he was always on my mind and, when he wasn’t and I experienced moments of joy, I soon returned to my mental machinations about what would happen next.

Today’s Promise to consider: Our peace must come from within. It can’t be contingent on the rise and fall of our child’s addiction because, if it does, our serenity rests on the surface of a rolling sea. Additionally, it’s not our suffering loved ones’ responsibility to bring us peace. It’s their job to fight for their sobriety. Let us pray them home.

 

WHAT DOES TIME SPENT IN ADDICTION FEEL LIKE?

by libbycataldi under family

Liz Moore wrote: In a moment of clarity, Kacey (my addicted sister) told me that time spent in addiction feels looped. Each morning brings with it the possibility of change, each evening the shame of failure. The only task becomes the seeking of the fix. The days themselves become chartable, according to how much time, in sum, the user spends in comfort or in pain. Confounding all of this are periods of sobriety, which occur voluntarily on some occasions – when, for example, Kacey checks herself into local rehab facilities with dubious success rates – and involuntarily on others: when Kacey finds herself in trouble and then in prison. These periods, too, become part of the pattern: waves of sobriety, followed by relapse, followed by larger waves of active use.

Excerpted from Liz Moore’s Long Bright River, pg.186

My reflection: There is much about the passage above that touched me, especially the sentence, Each morning brings with it the possibility of change, each evening the shame of failure. The only task becomes the seeking of the fix. Fifteen years ago, my son told me, “They say that addicts aren’t afraid to die, they’re afraid to live without drugs.” I still remember those words.

Today’s Promise to consider: As much as other people can’t really understand what we parents go through as we continue to love our suffering child, neither can we really understand what our loved ones endure when locked in the grip of their illness. The trauma of addiction is bigger than we are big; its tentacles and indignity more insidious than we can ever imagine. Today, I will hold compassion in my heart for my loved one. I can’t fix the addiction, but I can pray and hope my child comes back to himself and our family.

HONESTY OPENS THE WAY TO HEALING

Dr. MacAfee, my son’s beloved addiction therapist, wrote to me: When people meet on the common ground of truth, healing happens. One of the gifts that you and Jeff share with the field of addiction is the rare and open dialogue between afflicted and affected. This has been sincerely earned.

My reaction to the above: The Big Book of AA says that sobriety can be found only through rigorous honesty. This was a challenge for both Jeff and me. Jeff had to be honest with himself about his addiction, and I had to be honest with myself about the mistakes I made. I also had to find courage not only to talk with Jeff about the many hard things that happened over the span of his fourteen-year illness, but courage to listen and the compassion to understand.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will summon the fearlessness to find the common ground of truth. I will work with those I love to have the tough discussions required to heal. Difficult as it is, I will wade into the rough waters of discord in order to get to the other side where healing and understanding can take place.

 

I TRIED EVERYTHING, AND THEN I SURRENDERED

A mom wrote to me: I tried everything humanly possible to save my son. And then I let go. I have so much love and gratitude for the peace I am now experiencing. I have no illusions for tomorrow. I went to three funerals of young people in ten days.

My reflection: I, too, tried countless ways to stop my son’s addiction. I dragged him to therapists, forced him into treatment centers, paid his bills, and tracked him down whenever he couldn’t be found. After fourteen years of attempting to control my son’s disease, I was forced to surrender.

Today’s Promise to consider: When I finally acknowledged that the power to stop my son’s addiction was outside my control, I was able to let go with love. As sobering as it was to admit my powerlessness, it was crucial for me to realize that no matter how much of myself I poured into his illness, the choice to stop was his alone.

 

NURTURE YOUR SOUL: ADDICTION AND THIS PANDEMIC

There are similarities between addiction and this pandemic. I find myself struggling with the familiar feelings of uncertainty and fear, so I talked with a friend about it. After the phone call, she wrote and gave me sensible advice, “Maybe it would be good if you took some time for yourself. Try and read a book to soothe your soul, cook, bake, meditate, or listen to music. Do whatever you can do to take care of yourself.  Remember Loving-Kindness goes both ways – to others and to ourselves.”

My reflection: All of us, who are living with or have lived with addiction, know well the feelings of distress, of waiting for the other shoe to drop, or of holding our breath when the phone rings at night. We also know how easy it is to overlook self-care when tensions run high.

Today’s Promise to consider: After living through an addiction, I’m no stranger to uncertainty or fear. Maybe this pandemic touches those same emotions that were once so fragile. Today, I will take steps to counteract suffering by practicing Loving-Kindness to myself. When we are happy, we are better for ourselves and others. Let us water those seeds that most support us.

 

 

 

GRATITUDE IN THE FACE OF ADDICTION and CRISIS

A mother wrote to me: When I awake every morning and go to sleep every night I feel God’s presence in my life and the life of my child. My son is good today, but I know it’s one day at a time. Dealing with addiction takes courage, humility, and gratitude: Courage to stay close and to love our child; humility to remember that the addiction is strong and can come back at any time, especially when we least expect it; and gratitude for our daily blessings.

My reflection: Gratitude is powerful, but it can also be elusive. When my son was in active addiction, I was thankful for the very fact that he was still alive. My prayer each morning was, “Dear Lord, thank you for keeping him alive today.”

Today’s Promise to consider: Gratitude, for me, is part of a daily routine that requires deliberate effort. When despair takes over my soul, gratitude is my strongest antidote. This practice keeps me aware that, even though things are difficult, I still have much for which to be thankful. Today, let us dedicate time to our emotional wellness and remember the role gratitude plays in fortifying us.

ADDICTION: DOES HOPE REALLY SPRING ETERNAL?   

Poet Alexander Pope wrote in An Essay on Man (1732) that hope springs eternal. Is it true? 

A mother wrote to me: I am the mother of two sons. The older one is fine, but my younger son is an addict currently working on recovery, again. I’ve been down this road so many times before that it’s hard to be hopeful, but it’s impossible for me not to hope.  During all the years we’ve battled this disease, I haven’t given up on him. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. It just is. 

My reflection: We don’t know when our suffering loved one will start to live life in the solution. We pray that today is the day that our child takes control over his life, but relapse happens. How many relapses does it take? The answer is different for every family.

Today’s Promise to consider: I don’t know how long addiction will rein terror in the life of my loved one or my family, but I will continue to pray, to hope, and to seek the counsel of my support group. Even though parents will be sorely tested, it’s simply not in our nature to give up on our children. Where there is life, there is hope.

WHEN OUR CHILDREN ARE IN THE THROES OF ADDICTION, IT’S HARD TO TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES…BUT WE MUST

A mom wrote to me: Logically I can convince myself I have to let go and not enable my son. I know I can’t do it for him. Then at a stoplight, in the grocery store, or just sitting having coffee, it overcomes me. My tears, my fears, my anger, but most of all my loneliness for my son and all the plans and dreams he/we had. How can I keep pretending day in and out that I am fine? I feel like I’m in the middle of everyone’s anger, blame, confusion, heartache, and loss. How can I be “normal,“ strong, full of faith and hope, and calm for everyone, including me, when I can’t stop crying? How do I keep my marriage and family strong and healthy, and the rest of my life under control, when I am so afraid for my son?

My reflection: This mom’s words hit me hard. How well I remember the tears, fears, anger, and loneliness. How well I remember grieving for the lost dreams and broken promises of a united family. How well I remember trying to be normal, strong, and full of faith and hope, while inside I was dying and overwhelmed with fear for my son.

Today’s Promise to consider: Parents suffer profoundly when our children are in addiction’s grasp. The need to protect them and save them is baked into the marrow of our bones. We try to be strong for our family, and we try to keep hope and faith alive, but it’s hard. I know I can’t fix my child or force him to change his life, but I also know that I can’t force myself not to feel. Today, I will be compassionate with myself. I will be patient with myself. I will pray, go to Al-Anon and family meetings, talk with others, reach out my hand – I will take care of myself.

 

RECOVERING FROM ADDICTION: ACTION TAKES COURAGE

My son’s sponsor wrote, Action takes courage. We often feel like fish out of water, separate and different from the world around us, but fish out of water can learn to swim in a new air of consciousness, and with a new purpose in life. Perhaps our clinging to our addictions keeps us feeling separate – not only dependence on drugs, sex, or alcohol, but also addictions like fear of failure, the need for approval, or fear of desertion. Discover your own power and meaning by having the courage to give up your addictions. Then live your power with courage.

My reflection: When my son was in active addiction, I needed to find my courage to disentangle myself. When the phone rang in the middle of the night, I was distraught. When my son was arrested, I ran to his aid. When he called and needed money for another rehab, I paid – only for him to walk out in short order. Life was a vicious merry-go-round that I couldn’t get off and it was destroying me, until I learned to Stay Close and out of the chaos.

Today’s Promise to consider: Recovering from addiction takes courage and action, but so does recovering from loving someone who is in addiction’s grasp. The situation affects the entire family, and we all suffer. Today, I will find my courage and set my boundaries. I will pray for wisdom, and then I will act with purpose and stand strong. As my son’s sponsor wrote – I will live my power with courage.