RELAPSE and COURAGE

A mother writes: My son is still on the revolving road to recovery. He has been in detox three times, rehab (both inpatient and outpatient), in a sober house, involved in AA with a sponsor and is presently trying the suboxone route with individual counseling. My heart is broken, but I will find my courage.

My reaction to the above: The addict must learn to live in abstinence and that’s a new and scary place for him. He knows how to live in addiction, but abstinence requires skills that are foreign to him.

Relapse happened often to my son. I understood in a deeper way when Jeff wrote about a friend who relapsed, “I know that place. He was in pain, and it was too much. He used to kill it. Then he needs to keep using because the addiction has kicked in. An addict loses all sense of free will; you’re thrown back into the space of obsession, of always needing something more. I’m sure he’s scared and confused.”

Today’s Promise to Consider: Relapse scares me as a mom, but I will remember that it’s also frightening for my loved one. Learning to live in abstinence is his goal. Having the courage to stay close is mine.

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Cheri
Cheri
10 years ago

I am in the SAME exact place as the mom who wrote you- my son is also doing suboxone and counseling. Your reply and Today’s Promise was more than helpful, Libby. I really needed to see and hear this today! God bless you and all of us as we continue on our journeys and stay close! XO

Libby Cataldi
Libby Cataldi
10 years ago

Dear Cheri,
Thanks for staying close! We are all in the journey together. We hold hands and take the next step forward. Love to you.
Libby

TRACI
TRACI
10 years ago

I TOO AM IN THE SAME PLACE WITH MY DAUGHTER. SHE IS IN REHAB RIGHT NOW. SHE GETS OUT ON TUESDAY AND GOING TO A HALF WAY HOUSE. I WANTED HER SO STAY A FEW HOURS AWAY FROM HOME AND SHE IS GOING TO ONE 15 MINUTES FROM HOME. I DON’T WANT TO BE MEAN BUT SHE WILL WANT ME TO COME ALL THE TIME. THIS WILL BE TOUGH LOVE,,,PRAY THAT I CAN GET THROUGH THIS! THANKS FOR BEING HERE!

Libby Cataldi
Libby Cataldi
10 years ago

Dear Traci,

You and your daughter are in our prayers. You might find this site helpful. I just read this and entry about avoiding the four M’s of relapse. I thought it had some good information:
http://parentpathway.com/category/relapse-3/

Love and strength to you,

L

Jane Ciaramella
Jane Ciaramella
10 years ago

I too have been in this spot so many times. My son has gone to treatment, both inpatient and outpatient so many times and we have seen him go to sober homes, and come back to live with us after. He always relapsed sometimes quickly, sometimes a month or two later. it was so hard for me to watch. Relapse was more painful than watching him active. It was this loss of something so hopeful that left me so sad each time.
This week in Al Anon one of our members spoke about hope. I have felt much less hope for my son lately and I shared that. This fellow member said that we need to change our perspective from thinking about hope for them and bring it back to us. Hope for our recovery that we may be returned to sanity. The hope is for us to get well. Remember why we come to Al ANon-our own recovery. We cannot change their situation as much as we try and wish and pray. We must change ours and help ourselves to recover. Hope for us, because we have ALL suffered with this disease so much. It swallows us all up.
Prayers for their situation. God may be able to help them change their situation if they are open to do his will.
Libby thank you for the new website to look at, and my love and prayers for all of you today.
God Bless
Jane

Paula
Paula
10 years ago

Thanks libby for the words, “Having the courage to stay close.” Courage is the difficult part for me.

Jane, Thanks for the words, “Hope for our recovery that we may be returned to sanity.” I particularly like the words “may be returned” means , to me, that God is doing this for me when I ask. I also have hope for his recovery but try not to have expectations because they are two different things that often get blurred for me.

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear Jane, Your words are so true, “addiction swallows us up.” If I hadn’t found my Al-Anon group, I would have been lost.

Dear Paula, I agree that courage is the difficult part – difficult for us and difficult for them. I remember Jeff saying to me, “You believe in me more than I believe in myself.” I’m not sure I believed because I had courage or because I didn’t know what else to do.

Hope is fragile, but where there is life, there is hope.

My love to you both,

L

Nanci
Nanci
10 years ago

Hi Libby…what a beautiful picture of you and Jeff.
It gives me hope…for both my son and myself.
I am finding, more and more, that I am UNABLE to stay close. It has come back to bite me over and over again. Sometimes I think it takes courage (and strength) to detach.
Staying close and detaching has been a terrible struggle for me lately.
I thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers,
Love, Nanci

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear Nanci,

I understand. Dr. MacAfee says that staying close is also about boundaries. Staying close means, “I love you, but I won’t give you money. I love you, but if you’re using, you can’t come home. I love you, but I will stay out of the chaos of your addiction.”

As Jane writes above – we cannot change their situation; we can only change ours.

When Jeff was very sick, I stayed close but out of the way. He says I became “suspiciously calm.” (interesting word choice, I think). He says that he knew our family was there for him, but that there was no money. He had to choose to fight for his sobriety or die.

Everyday I am grateful that he chooses to fight. Everyday I pray that he has the strength to continue. I know it’s his choice.

Hope this makes sense. With love,

L

Jane
Jane
10 years ago

Nancy I can sympathize with how you feel. It can be very daunting to stay close because when we do we have to spend so much energy being on guard with boundaries. I am a nurturer by nature and I had to go almost to the opposite of what my natural personality was like in order to not enable my son. It is hard to be so on guard. I don’t have to be that way for my other son. It therefore makes me feel sad at how differently I have to be with them. I don’t know if it will be that way forever but it is that way now.And yes Nancy, it takes a lot of courage and strength to detach. If you cannot stay close right now that is ok. It is ok to be hatever you have to be right now in order for you to be well. If detaching in anger is all you can do today than detach in anger. Just detach. Detaching with love may be a goal for another day. The point is to focus on you and your wellbeing right now. As we get well our children may get the message that we don’t want this chaos in our lives.
In the meantime I will keep all of us in my daily prayer. Love Jane

Nanci
Nanci
10 years ago

Thank you, Libby and Jane. Very helpful and so very kind.
It makes a lot of sense.
I am now at a place where (although I have not given up hope), I no longer have contact with my son. My other children are also, tapped out. I am profoundly sad at how this disease has affected our family. The sadness I feel is at times, so overwhelming. I have to remember that HE is making these choices. You are correct, I have to focus on my well-being and I am grateful for the strength to push through these difficult, dark days. Thank God we are not alone in this journey. Hoping and praying for better days ahead.

Jane
Jane
10 years ago

The sadness sometimes literally sucked every ounce of energy out of my body and it literally took all of my energy to just breathe.My other son was very tapped out as well. He chose to move out of our house for a while just to “do Him ” as he said. Its what he needed to do to “focus on just himself” I got it, although I felt like my family was so broken and then that made me sad. Keep doing one day at a time and focus on the rest of your family and yourself. We are not alone in this journey.
Have a good week everyone
Jane

Cheri
Cheri
10 years ago

I am so grateful to read all the comments posted here- it truly helps to be reminded that I am not alone and after a few days of my mind getting the best of me, you’ve all helped me get the focus back where it belongs- on myself and my own recovery. I needed that gentle reminder. Praying for all of our peace and healing. XO

Fay
Fay
10 years ago

Hi Libby, my son had the sam problem and his drug of choice was percocet. now after 2 years he is doing ok and just graduated from college but can’t find a job because of his background. is there any places that they hire people with criminal background?

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear Jane, I know that feeling when the pain is so intense, you forget to breathe. Even breathing takes energy that we don’t have. I wish I had paid more attention to my younger son Jeremy. He suffered, but I was so wrapped up in my own pain that I didn’t know what to do to help him. I wish I would have listened more, just listened and said nothing. Jeremy needed a safe place to share his feelings of confusion and anger. Thanks for your posts – they are full of wisdom.

Cheri, We all need reminded to focus on ourselves. We get so wrapped up in the addiction that we aren’t good for ourselves or anyone else. Al-Anon was my saving grace. You are not alone.

Fay, What a blessing that your son is sober and just graduated from college!!! God bless him. I have no idea about the job market, but we will keep your son in our prayers that the Lord opens the perfect door.

Love to you all,

Libby

TRACI
TRACI
10 years ago

WELL MY DAUGHTER IS OUT OF REHAB AND NOW AT A HALFWAY HOUSE(THIS IS GOOD)…SHE HAS Call to let me know what she needs…my problem is how do i stay close and not answer my phone? i need to let her do this on her own need answers?

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear Traci,

You ask a good question. Staying close and out of the way sounds contradictory, but that’s how Dr. MacAfee describes it. In Al-Anon, we use the words “love with detachment.” I didn’t understand how to do that, but with Stay Close, I learned not to abandon Jeff, but not to give him money and to keep better boundaries.

With your daughter, I think about the Big Book of AA that says sobriety can only be achieved through rigorous honesty. Only you know what that looks like with your daughter, Traci, and we each need to do what we think is best for our own child. But with Jeff, it might look like this, “Jeff, I love you and you are taking care of yourself and now in a halfway house. Addiction can kill you and you are doing what you need to do for yourself. I learn from you as you take these steps. Fighting addiction takes courage and you have courage. At this point, now that you are safe, I need to step back and take care of myself as you take care of yourself. I need time to concentrate on my own needs. I won’t be answering any phone calls for one month (an example) because I need to the time to think, pray and heal. We each need to do what we think is best for ourselves. I hope this makes sense to you and you can respect my decision.”

I don’t know if this is the ‘right’ answer (I’m not sure there are any ‘right’ answers with addiction), but if you need time, tell her. Once you say you need time, you have to keep the distance for however long you say. Boundaries have to be respected on both sides. As MacAfee says…honesty, although difficult, is the way to healing.

Love to you, Traci.

TRACI
TRACI
10 years ago

thanks libby you seem to have the right words. it’s hard when you are in the middle of things, getting your point on things helps…thanks again!!god bless..

Libby Cataldi
Libby Cataldi
10 years ago

Dearest Traci,

Dr. MacAfee helped me with these words. I once asked him a similar question and he modeled the answer for me. We learn from each other.

My love to you,

L

Nanci
Nanci
10 years ago

Libby…thank you so much for sharing how Dr. MacAfee helped you ‘Stay Close’ while protecting and caring for yourself (as you so eloquently replied to Traci’s question). This was incredibly helpful to me and I am so grateful for your wisdom and support.
With love, Nanci