Dr. MacAfee talks about a parent’s pain when confronting addiction: Parents are often as trapped inside the addiction as are their children. They ask me, “Where is my son? Where is my daughter?” They know their child is under the drugs, but the child is lost to them.
You can hear the pain in these parents’ words:
I’m trying to remember who we were before this thing called addiction pushed in our door, flooded our house and left us homeless.
Addiction took our beloved son making him only a ghost of who he was. We could see his changes, but not our own. My anger turned to hatred and the shame of this kept me silent.
My reflection: I was like these parents, living in confusion, trying to find a way out of addiction’s grasp and not knowing where to turn. Just as addiction had Jeff by the throat, it had me. I knew Jeff was under the drugs, but I didn’t know how to free him.
Today’s Promise to consider: Only we, as parents, can free ourselves from the claws of addiction. Today, I’ll reach out for help, go to an Al-Anon meeting or talk with someone who understands. I’ll pray and trust that in time this soul-crushing heaviness will be relieved. I will take addiction out of the shadows and into the light.2156
When I saw the title of this week’s meditation, “a parent’s pain”, I reflected. When I let my son go at 26 years old, it was the most difficult thing I had to do in my entire life. I let him go because he was wrapped in addiction and I had to stay out of the chaos or it was going to kill me. After I let my him go, the pain I felt was so immense, I had to get help. I got help from a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a social worker. I wish I had gone to an al-anon meeting, but at the time, I was in so much pain, I didn’t even think of it. I believe that if I had gone to a meeting with others who had the same hurt, it would have helped me more than all the doctors in the world.
I think it’s imperative for all parents who have children that are addicts, find an al-anon meeting and voice their hurt to others who know their pain.
I didn’t take addiction out of the shadows and into the light. But, I refuse to blame myself for my son’s demise because of his addiction. He died from the heroin overdose that he chose to ingest. I loved him so much and miss him terribly. May he rest in peace forever in God’s realm.
In prayer, for all the parents and addicts of the world,
Thank u for sharing this was encouraging
If only words could transform me. If only a more experienced parent could have layed out the perfect plan for me. If only the God of my understanding could have magically granted my every desire. If only.
If only I could have screamed out much earlier to the God of my understanding to bring me more pain. Please God, send me more pain and suffering, bring me to my knees, to my deepest despair. Then I will be freed. I will fight my way back and discover that life is good and I can have a life of joy and fulfillment. Please God, send me more suffering. I need more pain so I can live once again.
God answered my prayer and sent me more pain and suffering than I could have ever imagined.
He brought me to Families Anonymous where I was understood and loved – where the pain and suffering recedes with time and hard work.
Thank you God for your gifts of pain as I would not be the person I am today without these gifts.
God bless you Barbara.
My continued prayers for all who suffer from this disgusting & evil disease called addiction.
Al-anon is good but I find nar-anon a help for family’s of drug addiction.
It seems like just about everyday another young person has died.Today it is a beautiful young lady, with a chance of a bright future, RIP Andrea Chaney. My son is in recovery, sober 4 and a half months now. He has never made it over 4 months in the last 10 years of his addiction. He has a long road ahead of him but I pray he has the strength to continue to fight his demons. We now have a Nar-anon meeting in Charles County, Maryland. Message me for more information. The parents and loved ones of addiction, can and do get as sick as their addict. I know I was, but with my Nar-anon family I am also recovering. Libby thank you for your blog, and next time u come to Maryland we would love you to be our guest speaker.
I am in pain tonight as I think of the pain in my son’s voice today when he called me from jail begging me to help him get out and into treatment. He is in jail because my husband and I finally stopped rescuing him. But I don’t know if he has had enough pain, after only a week in jail. We have been here before.
I will go to my Families Anonymous meeting this week and will hear from other parents who have been where I am.
The last time I spoke with my son on the phone and heard his voice was a phone call from prison. He was calling to tell me that he was being released the next day, after a year of incarceration. I had company so I cut his call short. He was so excited about getting released.
After he died, I felt so bad that I cut that call short. I felt guilty about it for so long. So, I prayed and prayed for God to lift that feeling from me.
God answered my prayers. I no longer feel guilty about cutting that call short, because I had visiting friends at my house. I realized that I didn’t do anything wrong to feel guilty about. I was living my life and enjoying a visit from dear friends whom I didn’t get to see regularly.
I used to stop my life when my son was in trouble. I stopped my life for him so many times, I can’t count them all. Not to mention, the monetary strain he caused.
We all have a life to live. We also have the God-given right to choose how we live it. I chose not to live my life in the chaos of addiction, but it took years for that realization.
Addiction is so very complicated. We, as parents, cannot and should not make our lives even more complicated by staying in the shadows of addiction. We all need to take care of ourselves, so we may take care of the ones who love us, truly. I loved my son and he knew it. But, he loved his addiction more, and he lost the rest of his life.
I don’t think I’ll ever completely “not” feel the pain of a parent, but because of people like Libby, and all who come to this forum to share, I give heartfelt thanks on this Valentine’s Day.
I have a daughter that addicted and I’m trying to work through maze of alcohol, meth and her in out of psychatric wardz with her biolar. Your is helping me out.
I have been struggling with “letting go” over the past couple of months. I know for my own recovery it is imperative that I do this but why is it that letting go can feel like giving up at times?
I know deep down that it isn’t the same at all but when the anxiety sets in I find myself consumed with the idea that I have in some way let her down.
The pain a parent feels is indescribable. For me it has developed over so many years I don’t even know myself anymore. I have noticed my friends have started to pull away, they just don’t understand why I am so sad and no longer have the patience to listen any more. This is the most lonely place in the world.
I think it is so important to find other parents who can support us through this because others just cant’ comprehend the pain. I continue to work through my feelings on an daily, hourly and sometimes a minute by minute moment and hope that eventually I can laugh again and find joy in my life.
I have to believe that through all this I will be a better person, I know in some ways I already am. I just wish I didn’t have to learn it this way.
I don’t know if you are seeking professional help, sometimes and for some of us, the pain was so great at times that professional help was also necessary. Whe my son overdosed and almost died, I found myself in such a depression a month or so after the trauma. I saught the care of a psychiatrist at that point. Medication did help through that dark time when I felt no joy, difficulty functioning and certainly isolating. That was a first for me. I also had weekly talk therapy and went to meetings. Eventually I stopped the antidepressant and did get out of the depression. You need to take care of yourself and do whatever self care looks like for you. My experience was that the above helped me out of a dark time.
Just my experience.
To all of you who visit this forum and share or just read, I pray for your peace and serenity tonight. Addiction is complex, consuming and cunning, and causes chaos and conflict. We can’t control it or cure it and we did not cause it either. But we do get affected by it as much as our kids do, so we need to help ourselves, take care of ourselves and get ourselves into recovery. This is no overnight process. This takes time. And we cannot rush it. Read your literature, this blog, Libby’s book, go to meetings of whatever support group you find you can connect with and love your addict, but hate the disease. Don’t plan for outcomes. We are not in control of that. Educate yourself get professional help, and learn to think about how we respond to this disease. There is no one right way to respond. Your motives may be pure but the outcome may not have worked. Cut yourself slack. Try something different next time. Try not to enable. That takes thought, so stop and think about your motives, your response, and don’t just react. Love the person, don’t enable the disease. Hope and pray. Self care, take it slow, go to meetings and listen. Do what feels right for you. Boundaries. Tincture of time.
Hugs to all who are struggling tonight. I was there too. It ain’t perfect but better. Hugs to Barbara. I know you know the pain, and I wish you only peace and love . Your son knew your love.
I loved your words of wisdom. I hope that all the parents of children, who are addicts, are reading them.
Hugs back to you!
Your comments describe how I often feel since trying to let go of my son during the past year. I know what is right, but it feels so wrong, and doesn’t always end up with positive results. As I have been letting go, my son has been facing some harsh consequences. I know there is a risk in letting go, and Barbara’s story is one that I constantly fear for my son. But like Barbara, I too know that I have to live my life.
Holding on didn’t work, and there is also risk in holding on. In holding on, I risk my own health and losing the healthy relationships in my life, including those with my other children.
What helps me is to reach out for support, get myself to counseling, try to stay focused on all the positive things in my life, and to remind myself that my son needs to feel the pain and suffering if he is ever going to change. I am not a religious person, but I have been praying to my higher power, and I usually feel better when I do.
Thanks to everyone for sharing.
Last week, ten months clean after 16 years of using my son came home to visit us here in our home. He had a day pass. He hit his bottom in jail. The visit was wonderful. Laura, he is now in a half way house because we did not let him come back home. We did twice before but the results were the same — he disappeared and started using again. It is hard to know when to hold on and when to let go. Very very hard. Maybe just maybe, there is no real right thing to do at times. You do what you do as best you can. There is no perfect answer and every one has their own learning curve with this disease. Reaching out and prayer really help. This clean man who is my son we tried to stay close to, ( sometimes in the chaos and not out of it) is healing. Our family feels new and strange and wonderful and uncertain– still a journey for all of us. He talked a lot. He said it’s hard. He’s trying to figure out life without drugs. He looks so healthy I wanted to keep squeezing him ( he is 33) and pinching myself. BUt.. but. But. Yes, a but. I cherished each second we were together –but there is not a day I do not think of Libby and Jeff Jane and Sue and Barbara and Pat and all of us here–because wherever I have been in this journey you all have been so wise and generous. Libby ‘s book and her journey has taught me that the work is ongoing for all of us. It does not end with our child being clean for a period of time or whether a child is in jail or even if a child is lost to us. Barbara is still here for us and she has faced our worst fear for our children — with son and grandson. This disease, when it doesn’t swallow us whole along with the one using does bring us to the light and deepens our faith if we allow faith in. Prayers are not answered when we want or how we want but I know they matter. They matter. Warrior not worrier! Some days, it’s a struggle to see any hope for joy, but each of us ,despite the pain — are entitled to happiness. Addiction is such a leveller. Humbling, Cracks our hearts open and we can “see” so much in everyone. We have learned , all of us, how vulnerable we all are — and to surrender to something higher. That is something. That is everything. Prayers tonight and every night. I love people i have never met. Isn’t that a miracle to be grateful for.
Joy wrote, “I love people I have never met. Isn’t that a miracle to be grateful for.” I agree that, yes, it’s a miracle and I, too, am grateful.
Joy your son is back. Your real son, the one who has been under the drugs all these years. We all suffer – our addicted loved one and all who love them. Addiction is a leveler. It humbles us and makes us human. In our humanity, we are able to accept the gifts that others offer. In our humanity, we are able to accept that God does love us even when we think there is no God.
There is great wisdom in the comments we all write. Hard won wisdom.
I’ll keep coming back. Love you all. Prayers always.