I once called our beloved Dr. MacAfee, my son’s addiction therapist, to talk about suffering: During the fourteen years of my son’s addiction, I suffered, as we all do when we see our child destroy himself and his life. At that time, I received an email from a mom in which she wrote, “You need to quit complaining about your suffering. You need to learn from it.” Although I understood the concept of learning from pain, I also felt confused and hurt. Was I not ‘allowed’ to talk about or feel the constant heartache? I needed help putting things together.
Dr. MacAfee’s responded: “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 that pain to transform us. Suffering can be redemptive, sculpting us into better people if we let it. The problem is when we get mired in our own suffering, and resist it, then it becomes nonproductive. Acceptance of pain allows it to pass through us.”
Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction taught me that pain is both the cross and the resurrection. We all suffer, and no one is immune. Whether the pain we experience is part of the current pandemic, addiction, health issues, money problems, or a myriad of other heartaches, today I will allow it to flow through me. I will breathe deeply, not resist the hurt, and let the trauma help me to grow.
The continual suffering that my son’s addiction created eventually lead me to find a different path. I needed a path that allowed me to “Stay Close” to my son but a path that freed me from the devastation of habitual suffering. The fear never fully left me but I learned how to deal with it in a manner that freed me from it’s control. It’s not an easy or short journey but there are paths that lead to a return of peace and serenity. I learned I had to release all of my knowledge and allow a new educational flow to protect me from my codependency. The first stage to my own recovery came when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I thought I knew God but the God I thought I knew was a god who couldn’t be trusted. The second stage came when I began seeing a experienced alcohol/drug counselor on a regular basis. I listened carefully to his sage advice and did my very best to follow his guidelines. My nest stage was joining a twelve step parent support group. I attended regularly and eventually found a sponsor. I worked the steps with my sponsor for over a year. I believe my own recovery went a long way in also allowing my addicted son to find his way to recovery. It took my son twenty-one years but he just celebrated his seventh year of recovery. He is an electrician and is a true joy to be around. Prayers for all who are suffering.
Dear Pat, Your journey can help so many of us. I think your steps to personal recovery are pretty much universal – belief in God/a Higher Power, education and working with an experienced counselor (Dr. MacAfee was our personal angel), reaching out a hand to a parent support group (for me, it was Al-Anon), and finally learning to let go. God bless your son, who made a decision to change his life after twenty-one years. Your story gives us all hope.
Thanks for sharing all these years. We all need to hear your voice. xo
Libby, hi, this is just what I needed to hear today. I am suffering and not only am I suffering I can’t stop obsessing about my son who is serving another eight years in prison, as a result of his addiction. I want to stop obsessing about him I have tried everything I can possibly think of, am I selfish? Am I thinking only of myself? Why can I not let this go? I love Jesus with all of my heart and believe and know that he will take care of him. Please, how do I allow this pain to work through me so that I can become a better person and most importantly stop obsessing about him?
My precious Amy, No, you are not selfish. You’re a mom, who loves her son. I once asked Dr. MacAfee, our beloved addiction therapist, when I would stop worrying about my son and his addiction, and our beloved doctor said, “Be patient with yourself. You’ve been vigilant a long time.” With those words, I breathed. Little by little, by being compassionate with myself, I was able to find peace. Keep doing what you’re doing – pray, go to Al-Anon meetings, work with a sponsor. I’ll stay close in love and prayer.