A mom wrote to me: I know we are not alone, but I hate answering questions about my children. In fact, I avoided a gathering at my mother’s house with some dear neighborhood friends because I didn’t want to be asked how my sons were doing and have to pretend all is well. My dad has passed and his dearest friend asked me how I was doing with my boys. I answered honestly, “Not the best.” He replied with kindness, “I’m sorry. I see you are struggling.” He understood and didn’t judge me. I am blessed to have shared a few minutes with him.
My reflection: The Big Book of AA says that addiction can only be defeated through rigorous honesty and the help of a power greater than ourselves. There were many times I lied about my son’s addiction and our family problems. After much time and even more failed attempts at hiding the truth, I finally decided to respond honestly. It wasn’t easy, but I released myself from worrying about what people thought of me.
Today’s Promise to consider: Today I will listen to others without judging. I will respect their right to share their truth and I will be there for them, just as others were there for me. When I’m ready to answer questions about my child’s struggles, I will, but I won’t feel coerced into responding. I’ll listen to my gut and follow my heart. I will pray for wisdom.4414
I am so grateful for the honesty of all you moms. I, too, dodge the subject when it comes to my son. He’s doing well at the moment, but I still haven’t told even my closest people that it is more than alcohol. I have never had anything hurt so much as his addiction, and the fear that comes with it. My addiction coach keeps telling me that it’s HIS recovery, not mine. I think it’s finally sinking in. If/when another relapse comes, I pray I can stay strong, as he almost died 6 months ago. I pray for myself and family, and for all of you moms. You’re not alone
God bless you that you are working hard at your recovery. My son’s addiction therapist used to say, “There’s only room for one in addiction.” We moms can’t make our children quit using, but we can stay close in love while staying out of the chaos. Addiction is counter-intuitive. When our sons are young, we fix their hurts, but when addiction enters the scene, we are powerless. This took me years to accept.
My love to you. I join you in prayer.
As time went on with my son’s struggles, after years of thinking if someone asks me how he is, I will burst into tears – and I did sometimes, or avoided gatherings when things were really bad, something changed for me, as result of Alanon teachings, counselling, contemplative prayer and Libby ‘s wisdom.
I loved my son so deeply, I was so powerless, but I realized I was being educated– about the disease ,yes, but about being a human being, about growing deeper in faith, not religion, but faith. If I could drop the shame and blame game I was doing on my self, maybe what was given me was an ultimate teaching, on Love, and how I could keep loving the world, myself –and yes my son, exactly where he was in his recovery or non-recovery. It did mean throwing away fear of others’ judgment and this meant examining my own. It meant accepting hard truths and knowing I had to live the truth we were living –most of all trusting I knew when to tell someone and how to do that without violating my son’s privacy. A fine line. Like the line between staying close and staying out of the chaos.
I know there is still so much educating to do — that addiction and mental health issues, even if less taboo to speak of still ,immediately, for so many, stigmatize families and individuals The more I simply said, as this man said, “we are struggling” or “my son is struggling.” the more I realized how many people really are kind.How many have something going on in their own lives. We who love our ones in whatever phase of of addiction or recovery they may be in, are being taught compassion, on the deepest level. This is what Libby, Jeff and Jeremy have given us here. They educate so we might be more compassionate, informed and so we lead others to a world where people see each other without harsh judgement.
In a very real sense , and it was not an overnight change, but I was transformed, realizing the world I want to live in is one where I face my powerlessness to change anyone or anything — except my way of seeing and being. I want to see through the eyes of a God who says, love one another. Kindness.True and deep Compassion. Humility. Loving someone who suffers in addiction may be a hard way to learn these things …the hardest , but I am grateful for the spiritual teacher my son was/is and always for Libby’s work and words which shine such a light of awareness through her courage to tell truth. Praying every day for all of us who see life from this side.
Dear Joy, Can I ask you please about what your son is struggling with–is it alcohol? I had seen my son a few days ago and he seemed to be doing better. Then yesterday, two of the girls he’d been writing to online let him down and he slipped into a hole again. He called off work twice and I fear he will lose the only source of money he has. He desperately needs to find someone he can confide in and trust. I am at a loss as to how to help him. Thank you.
Hello, dear Sue. My son struggled…. from diagnosed neurodevelopment delays in early childhood. (whatever that means)–to depression, anxiety and later substance abuse and addiction to opiates which amplified it all. I wish I could give you an answer.. just keep loving him exactly where he is on this journey. Gather information and offer that. Love Love love. Do not give money no mater how scary that feels if he is in active addiction but offer safety and help if committed to recovery. Say I love you often. Accept you are powerless except in prayer and mother love and gathering info. You will never regret your kindness and firmness. This is not tough love. It is “enough” love to move mountains. Never Give up hope. Take care of you. MY prayers.
My precious Joy,
Your words are filled with wisdom. When I read your sentence: “…It meant accepting hard truths and knowing I had to live the truth we were living – most of all trusting I knew when to tell someone and how to do that without violating my son’s privacy,” I nodded with deep recognition. This was always difficult for me – to not violate my son’s privacy, but also not to violate my younger son’s privacy. In fact, my younger son was more vulnerable, more cautious about the truth than any of us. He didn’t know how to respond to the ugly responses from others, and I didn’t do a good job at helping him navigate that minefield. Addiction teaches us so many lessons. Yes, yes, yes, I have become a more compassionate, humble, and loving person after suffering at addiction’s feet. Truth was the way for me. Truth set us all free.
My love to you, always.
This is me exactly. Just when I think my son is doing better, he slips back into his alcohol addiction and this overtakes everything else going on in my life. He is in depression again and really needs to find someone he can talk to and someone who will keep responding to him. He says that everyone he is in touch with eventually stops contact with him. I am super worried about him all the time. Please give me some suggestions of someone he can talk to when he is really down and there is no one around. Thank you.
Dear Sue, My son, recovering from a 14-year heroin addiction, found strength and companionship in AA. There, among other recovering alcoholics and addicts, he met others who knew his walk. There he found people, who had walked in his shoes. His addiction therapist was a huge help, but my son says that it was AA that saved him during the times when he was weak and depressed.
I join you in prayer for your son.
I can easily relate to the mother who would rather not be around family and friends who will undoubtedly ask how her kids are. Even though my oldest son has successfully moved passed his addiction and now working as a counselor for other troubled men, I still struggle with the fact that neither of my sons ( the youngest still an alcoholic), never finished college. This is extremely troubling as an educator for many years and even a School Board Director. My entire life has been centered around encouraging and motivating children in education. What’s even more troubling Is that all my family’s children and even my closest friends’ children have all graduated from college. When will this sense of guilt and failure ever end?
Dear Susan, How well I understand. In fact, just this morning my son and I were talking about his high school years. I was Head of School, and I told him that I thought if I had not been the Head of his school that he might have done better and not been so rebellious, especially during his high school years. He didn’t disagree, although he also shook his head and said, “Who really knows?”
When will the sense of guilt and failure ever end? For me, it’s little by little, day after day. I need to stay grateful for where my son is today, and go forward. I think all parents have regrets, but we try our best.
Your oldest son is now an addiction counselor. God bless him and you. He’s saving lives.
My love to you,