BE GENTLE

A mom wrote to me: Sobriety has not been black and white for us – drunk, then sober,  trouble, then hugs and kisses. A sober alcoholic may be unemployable, chronically depressed, riddled with rage and fear and suffer from a general lack of sober references that continue to make life unmanageable. Sobriety for us has been about accepting the “new normal” – we lived through our own private Katrina. We will never be who we were twenty years ago. Today we temper our joy with acceptance.

My reaction to the above message: We all have to accept a ‘new normal,’ especially after a long period of active addiction. It took Jeff more than one year to get his vocabulary back. There were times when he’d ‘reach’ for a word and he lament, “It’s like reaching into the fog. The word is there, I know it, but I can’t grasp it.” I remember telling Jeremy, “Your brother lived through a horrendous trauma and it changed him. We’re lucky he’s alive and with us.” In time, Jeff improved significantly, but we had to be gentle with him in the process.

Today’s Promise to consider: Dr MacAfee once told me, “The soul is too private to handle neon light, but listens wonderfully to candlelight.” Or as I believe children learn best, “The mind responds better to a light bulb than a hammer.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

1072
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

11 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pat Nichols
Pat Nichols
10 years ago

Our addicted children give up on life because we do a poor job of lighting the candle.

However, a light atop a candle cannot be lit without a candle stick and a light bulb will not shine without energy. For this to occur there has to be passion. Passion is the energy that keeps the light shinning.

What does the light provide? It provides hope to the addicted child that recovery is possible for them; that addiction is a treatable disease and millions of people are in recovery.

The lack of passion for change creates the stigma that hinders recovery.

More passion is the key.

Teresa
Teresa
10 years ago

“Sobriety has not been black and white for us – drunk, then sober, trouble, then hugs and kisses. A sober alcoholic may be unemployable, chronically depressed, riddled with rage and fear and suffer from a general lack of sober references that continue to make life unmanageable.”
The words I read here sometimes take my breath away. It is as if I wrote them myself. Thank you to all of you for sharing. I gain strength through the wisdom shared here every week.
Libby, as always, your words of wisdom warm my soul. My prayers are with all.

Jane
Jane
10 years ago

Teresa, I too feel like those words could have been mine. I know there is no straight line to a recovered life.

Pat I do not agree that our addicted children give up because we do a poor job of lighting he candle. I have lit so many candles for my son, and it still has not helped. I didn’t cause it, I cannot cure it and I cannot control it. We have tried every approach possible and I am out of answers. The answer for his life must come from him. The answer for my life comes from me. I have hoped for so long that he could recover. I will try to continue to hope in spite of the deeper hole he keeps digging. But the only one who can make the change is him in spite of my hope. No energizer bunny is going to fix it external to him. He must do it with the help of God.
God bless
Jane

Pat Nichols
Pat Nichols
10 years ago

I didn’t intend to imply that parents do a “poor job of lighting the candle.” My message was for everyone, not just parents, to keep the “passion” for recovery alive.

No offense intended.

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

I really do believe that the mind responds to a light bulb rather than a hammer. How I remember how gentle I had to be, during my son’s recoveries. Addiction is so very complicated. We try to understand it all, but how can we possibly fathom such a horrendous disease?

My son was a preemie at birth. He weighed 4 lbs. At the age of 5, he set a refrigerator box on fire. He was in learning disabilities classes most of his life. We were in and out of doctors offices for years. I don’t know if any of this contributed to his addiction, but I know one thing for sure, none of it helped matters. He struggled all his life. We struggled to find the perfect care for him. In the end, the addiction won.

I wish I had just some of the answers. I do know that praying really helps a lot.

I appreciate the dialog in this forum. We can say what’s on our minds. Sometimes it’s really difficult to decipher what the writer is trying to say and what the reader comprehends from it.

God bless our children and all the parents who have to live with the pain.

With love,
Barbara

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Hi all,

Thank you all for the important conversations. Just as the mother wrote, “Sobriety has not been black and white for us,” it is the same for our us, parents of addicts. Our lives are not black and white or as Barbara says, “Addiction is so very complicated.” There are no ‘real’ or ‘for sure’ answers.

We, as parents, try our best and that’s all we can do. Dr. MacAfee talks about candlelight, but he also reminds me (always) to keep strong boundaries. I don’t think these are mutually exclusive. The Italian concept of Stay Close is just that: Love your child, but don’t enable, don’t give him money, don’t open your door for abuse. Let him know he is loved and when he is healthy, home is waiting.” As Jane says, the addict must choose.

I spent a long time trying to blame someone for Jeff’s addiction, even myself, but for me I’ve decided there is no blame. I had cancer – where did it come from? No one is my family had cancer. Jeff is an addict. As Jeff told me, “I never meant to hurt you, Mom, but you were never in my mind. I’m an addict.”

Love to you all,

L

Renee Ruhl
Renee Ruhl
10 years ago

In reading the responses of the parents of addicts here, I am truly moved by the love, acceptance and understanding that you have. I was not fortunate enough to have parents that were understanding or willing to stand by me through the depths of my addiction an the struggle that I underwent to find my way alone was almost insurmountable. As a friend of Jeff’s, it makes me very happy to see that he, as well as others of your respective children have had that support. Don’t ever give up, you have no idea how much we really do need you.

Teresa
Teresa
10 years ago

I am so very sorry that you did not have the support of your parents. Jeff’s mom has given so much to all of us who are working on loving our children through their addictions. If you have Libby in your life as well, you are blessed.
In my prayers,
Teresa

Libby Cataldi
Libby Cataldi
10 years ago

Dear Renee,

You are wonderful and I thank you for reaching out here. When I read your message, I filled with tears because I felt so very moved by your words, your wisdom and your advice. As parents of addicted children, we don’t know what to do or how to move. I raced from one ‘expert’ to another, and either ignored what they told me or fought with them :). Finally, when I was at my bottom and Jeff at his, I came to Italy and understood the meaning behind the words Stay Close. You encapsulated what I learned in your last line and this fills me with admiration for you. You found your way back to live, alone. My heart is with you.

Jeff is alive and so are you! We’ll hold hands, walk together and continue to learn. We’ll reach out our hands to help another brother or sister.

Love you, angel, and thanks for staying close.

Libby

MJ
MJ
10 years ago

I am so glad I read this because ever since Brian has become sober I feel like he is a different person …much quieter, more serious, more intense..many times seems a little unhappy or sad..but he is SOBER 7 months..but when I read your blogs I see that you do become a different person and searching for yourself again. I do see his great smile with his dimples from time to time with his daughter Sophia. I too have blamed myself for so many mistakes I made thru that journey of addiction with him that I almost lost all my self worth…I just want to thank you for all of the insight and knowledge you have so kindly shared with the families of the addicted children. Prayer do help so much I almost felt like I was in this black hole when this all unraveled but with God he does show us the light.
MJ

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear MJ,

Addiction wants us to stay in the black hole, filled with fear and angst. Prayer and hope are the ways out of the darkness and into the light. Brian is seven months sober! A HUGE accomplishment. Learning to live in sobriety is a challenge and our sons need time to figure out who they are without the drugs. I remember Jeff saying, “When I got sober, I didn’t even know what color I liked.” It takes time.

Love you! Stay strong.

L