This is part of a series of monthly posts that reference many conversations with Dr. MacAfee. Thanks, Doc.
A client and friend of Dr. MacAfee, the mother of a recovering addict wrote to me: One of the most important lessons I learned from Dr MacAfee was to hold a mirror up to my son and reflect back to him, without anger or judgment, the honest truth of his behavior and actions. Dr. MacAfee encouraged me to be truthful at all times because without truth both of us would live in denial about what was really happening.
My reflection: I was never very good at honesty when my son was in active addiction. I walked on eggshells, trying diligently to avoid confrontations. This didn’t help my son, our family or me.
Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction survives in lies, while sobriety thrives in honesty. The Big Book reiterates that point saying, sobriety is not possible without rigorous honesty. Today, I will find my courage and be honest with my addicted loved one, without judgment or anger, and with love and kindness. Neither of us needs another battle, but we both need truth.
I agree! Honesty is a must, but addiction distorts and hides the truth from everyone involved. The doctors tells us to stop addiction and the coexisting mental health issues will stop. I say that addiction is a form of self harm, not a joy ride gone awry. Addiction is a symptom of mental illness, not the cause! I hope that addressing the behaviors in addiction leads to better life choices and healing. I hope that our medical professionals stop addressing addiction as simply a choice of using or abstaining. Most often the voice is not actually a choice. Using addresses the coping behavior needed to escape the perceived pain that addicts feel.
Well said Theresa! In my experience in attempting to communicate with my addicted child I could never have a reasonable “honest” conversation. I learned to stay quite as often as possible! My most effective communication was when I spoke of how his addiction was affecting me personally while “not” casting blame or shame on him. This opened up my perspectives on appropriate boundaries for my own mental and emotional well being – again, without pointing a finger of blame on my son. To communicate appropriately with an addicted child takes a lot of education, hard work and practice. My counselor proved vital in this area. In prayer for all our children.