Henri Nouwen, a Dutch-born Catholic priest and theologian, wrote, One of the greatest gifts we can give others is ourselves. We offer consolation and comfort, especially in moments of crisis, when we say, Do not be afraid. I know what you are living and I am living it with you. You are not alone. (Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life)
My reflection: In my darkest times with addiction and breast cancer, many people offered me advice, solutions or cures. Although I appreciated their concern, the greatest help came from those who merely rested with me, stayed close without any judgment or words of wisdom.
Today’s Promise to consider: When we feel powerless or overwrought with problems, we most need to know that we are not alone, that we are supported without judgment, advice or lecture. Today, let us simply stay together in comfort and understanding.
I hear parents share how foolish they feel. I hear them say, “How could I have been that stupid?” or “How could I have missed what was happening?” Who among us has not asked those questions of ourselves?
My analogy is this, let’s say there’s a doctor, in fact, she is the number one physician in American and head of the most respected hospital in all the world with expert staff members. One day a patient enters the hospital with symptoms she and her staff had never studied; they have never experienced anything like this. How would they respond?
Well, some might say, in order to find proper treatment, the physician would need to try different tests and procedures — many of those would prove to be “mistakes” and perhaps even “foolish” in hindsight. But should they really be considered “mistakes” or even “foolish” errors?
No, not at all, it is a necessary process in order to find the best solution possible.
Like the physician, we as parents do not know what we are dealing with. We have never studied or witnessed the symptoms of the disease of addiction. We are blind sided. We are not at fault.
Our parental love for the patient also complicates our progress. Not to mention so many “expert” staff members attempting to help us! 🙂
let us look at ourselves with love knowing we did the very best we could when faced with the unknown.
My continued prayers for all of us and our children.
You are so right Pat. I was blind sided completely by this and had no idea where to turn. Every step was a gamble and had I tried something else the outcome would probably have been much the same.
I got lots of advice on how others would have handled the situation (of course they had no idea of the power this disease has) but it only made me feel I had failed somehow. What I really needed was to be able and vent, cry, express my fears and have someone just be there listening.
Someone once told me this is a disease of silence. The shame and embarrassment keep so many from speaking up and seeking help. If there is anything this experience has taught me it is to listen without judgement. I have found my safe places and people to be with when the need arises and will openly share with those who are willing to learn in the hopes that others in need can find support.
Beautiful thoughts Libby. Just stay close. Just support, hug, one another. Be with another person in crisis. We can’t fix it or cure it but we understand the pain and the process to get out of the chaos. Share your calm, a few helpful slogans, a prayer, a phone number. Just be there….support helps beat isolation and shame.
I love what you said about listening without judgement……..listen and learn?
I also like what you said about listening without judgement.
Jane, you’re right ….listen and learn.
Pat, I liked your analogy. And, we all HAVE done the very best we could.
We need to stay close to one another. And, I’m thankful for all of you who have stayed close to me (in the hell that I’ve been through).
Thank you, Libby, for today’s thoughts. How powerful your words are, yet so very simple. Stay close, stay silent, and just be there.
With love to all,
Pat, I, too, like your analogy. I carried around the yoke of guilt for a long time. People tried to help me, but they were at a loss as to what to do or say. When I had breast cancer, a slew of people surrounded me like a mountain chain, but when Jeff was in active addiction, there was no one. When I look back on it now, I understand that my friends didn’t know what to do to help me through an addiction. They had a better grasp on cancer and could support me with driving me to the hospital, providing dinners or even shoveling snow. When I found Al-Anon, I found a place of comfort.
Love you all.
After I read your posting, I reflected. Isn’t it amazing that if a person has cancer, there are multitudes of people who surround that person with love, sympathy, prayers and friendship. But, it amazes me that when addiction shows its ugly head, people just don’t know what to do or say.
Addiction is just that complicated. People don’t know what to say or do. It’s not their fault. It’s addiction’s fault.
Dear Barbara, For many years, I was deeply resentful of the isolation during Jeff’s addiction, and it took me years to realize I isolated myself. Even those friends who did try to reach out, I shut them out. I was shamed, confused, angry – you know all those emotions. Now I understand that they didn’t know how to help me: Should they give me advice or say nothing?, Should they call the police or stay quiet? They were as confused as I was, and, in time, they walked away. Addiction isolates the addict and isolates us. In the isolation is where it does its best work. Love you!
Barbara, I really love Pat’s analogy, too and so relate to Jane and Sue in the words above. I felt like such a failure and so hopeless it spun me into a severe depression. This really made me isolate myself. I functioned okay at work but had no energy to be with people socially or authentically. I was always afraid someone would ask me how I was that I’d start crying. There was shame in there, too, but mostly I had no idea sense of how to act normal when my son is maybe dying today. I felt sometimes I was going to go crazy, run through the streets screaming help me save my son. O who knows , maybe I did. (Go crazy I mean.) I used to rail at “advice”‘ when I did confide well meaning folks and even experts would use the phrase let go — just let go — that I had to learn to “let go”. If I knew “how” to let go and stay close I would have if I could have. It was so refreshing when I even read the title of Libby’s book. Then stay close stay out of chaos was the BEST advice I ever heard. A mantra. How to do this ? Well, not easy, but it lead the way.
In all our learning, we all have our own process–filled with mistakes and maybe even as Pat says, what seem like foolish choices to others and maybe they even are to us, looking back. If we only knew then what we know now and all that. But we do what we do best we can– without ANY blueprint, and we get there when we get there – if we get there. I am not even sure where “there” is anymore. I am an adult ever learning how to be a human being, an ever recovering mother of a recovering, healing addict , grateful, grateful to have you all. Tomorrow is his one year anniversary. After 16 years of using. Take heart, take heart. Never give up hope.
Joy, one year anniversary wow what an achievement!! My prayers go out to you and your son and that he continues to find peace, love and happiness in his renewed life.
You say “never give up hope” and your son’s anniversary after so many years of using does give me much needed hope.
My congratulations go out to you and your son today. Thank God for one year of sobriety! After 16 years, that’s so awesome!
My love to you.
Joy, I join you in joy about your son!!!!!!!!!!!! Where there is life, there is hope. God bless you all.