A personal conversation: I called Dr. MacAfee, Jeff’s addiction therapist, to talk about suffering. I had received an email from a mom in which I interpreted her as saying, “Quit suffering. And quit complaining about suffering. You need to learn from it.” I felt confused about my own suffering, especially with Jeff’s addiction. Was I not ‘allowed’ to suffer or feel the constant heartache? I needed help putting things together.
Dr. MacAfee’s response: Life is suffering. Until we get this concept, we can’t move on. Although days are filled with many beautiful moments, suffering is part of life. The question is not how do we live without pain, but how do we allow suffering to transform us. Suffering can be redemptive and transform us into a better person. The problem is when we get mired in our own suffering, then it becomes nonproductive. Acceptance of pain allows it to pass through us. Trauma and pain are paradigm shifts.
Today’s Promise to consider: I will put forth the effort to work through my suffering, my pain. I will allow the trauma to help me to grow. Suffering can be both the cross and the resurrection.1081
This such an important topic for me. I have struggled with my own suffering and never gave very much thought to using my suffering as a vehicle for transformation. A transformation for a “better” me.
I continue to be a work in progress and it is information like this that keeps my hope for continued progress alive.
Thanks for your efforts Libby.
I came across this when my soon was in treatment; I think it is fitting for this post.
“Let us stop saving our children from the experience of trial and SUFFERING, so they NOT us can strengthen their souls and their vision can be their vision NOT ours, so that ambition will be inspired. So they can achieve their own success. I say let them have their trying times so their true character is revealed. Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience and SUFFERING can the soul be strengthened vision cleared ambition inspired and success achieved. It is in the most trying times that our real character is shaped and revealed” Helen Keller
I was never worried about my own suffering; My mission was to make sure my son never had to suffer. This passage made me see how wrong I was. Thank God!
Un augurio per Pasqua!
Dear Pat, you took the words right out of my mouth. I, too, have never given much thought to use suffering as a vehicle for transformation. What a positive twist to such horrible emotional pain.
Another thing that hit me hard is what Dr. McAfee said – “life is suffering”. It’s so true. It’s so easy to fall into a deep depression if you allow the suffering to consume you. It’s a hole you can’t climb out of, if you allow it. To take the suffering and use it to change the way we think, is so interesting to me. I like the concept.
Thank you Libby, for helping us all. You are such a blessing to us.
Love to all,
I read a very powerful book during the throws of my sons addiction (of note, it is not Alanon approved literature). However, one statement resonated with me…”God says when you suffer, he will grant you the grace to move forward.” This was (and continues) to be a source of strength and comfort and permission to move forward during these challenging times.
Thank you, Libby, for bring to light such a sensitive topic that clearly, we all struggle with.
Learning related to “Post Traumatic Growth” is something that I encourage all parents of children with substance use disorders and/or co-occurring mental health disorder to engage on behalf of themselves and their family. You can start with a simple wiki search and learn a great deal. Then, move on from there. There is a great deal of good information on the subject.
It was not until I experienced(by combination of the grace of God,education regarding the biological, psychological, sociological factors of addiction, and the support of truest friends and my family)the realization that my personal coping style/my patterned cognition/thoughts/perspectives and attributions -in response to the challenges/stressors associated with my sons substance use disorder- was acting (in our individual circumstances)as a barrier to recovery.
Armed with that epiphany I began to, little by little, rewrite the chaotic/fearful narrative that had held me (and to a large degree, my son/my family) captive…unable to break free to the innate problem-solving ability that I had…that we all have. It’s a process that takes as long as it takes.
We journey on as a family…Only, now, more and more with a sense of hope, strength and appreciation for all the road traveled-even its beyond difficult and unpredictable miles. I reflect often on the fact that I would never have imagined holding the frame that I hold now about the journey -past, present, future-even 3 years ago.
This re-tooled, better constructed narrative I have about the challenges is the single most significant, growth-making and life-enhancing element I have experienced in the journey…
Blessings and comfort to all us parents. And may God continue to light the path.
This topic is extremely valuable to all of us. It is something I have reflected on quite a bit. We were not spared from suffering or adversity growing up. We were allowed the benefit of struggling and experiencing life’s pains. As a parent I worked hard to allow my children more pleasurable experiences than painful ones. More comforts of life than not. Looking back, I wonder.
My own suffering with my son’s addiction has most definitely transformed me. I am not the same person that I was prior to this pain and suffering.There has been tremendous growth as an outgrowth of tremendous pain.
We have been a part of the problem and so we have to clearly know how to detach so as to help the solution which must come from him.”Never deny an addict his pain”
Can’t remember if I heard this in Al ANon or in the Open AA meetings I’ve attended.
Prayers for you all and thank you Libby for this topic this week
Thank you all for your powerful comments. I, like some of you, tried hard (very hard) to ‘deny my addict his pain.’ I didn’t want Jeff to suffer, so I raced in and fixed things. I didn’t help anyone, especially not Jeff.
The concept of suffering has always been difficult for me. My childhood was not easy and I did suffer; therefore, I didn’t want my sons to suffer. Finding balance has never been my strength :).
Through Jeff’s addiction, I’ve learned and continue to learn every day. Dr. MacAfee is kind and patient teacher who is blessed with grace and wisdom. He listens, really listens, and then responds.
We know our crosses. Let’s join hands and find our personal resurrections.
My love to you all,
Libby what a beautiful thought you just ended with.It is so fitting this season of Easter.
“We know our crosses. Let’s join hands and find our personal resurrections.” Thank you
Love you, Jane. Thanks for staying close. Love to all!!!
such an insightful blog. I have just recently become a member of this community. I can’t imagine life without it now. Thank you all for sharing.
Wishing all many blessings,
Thanks, Teresa. We have a great group of people who approach addiction with love and understanding. The concept of Stay Close is based in hope. Glad you’re here. Love to you.