A mother wrote an email message to me. This is part of it: My son is an alcoholic. My feelings of guilt, shame and helplessness for him are intensified because I, too, am a recovering addict. Even though my son was raised in an alcohol and drug-free home, addiction found him. I ache for him as his mother, but only another recovering addict knows the TERROR an active addict lives with. Sometimes I feel temporary peace that I confuse with wellness, but I live with the fear that chaos will find us. I don’t know what to do to stop our pain.
My personal reflection on the passage above, offering my thoughts today: How do we help our children? I don’t understand, not really, the terror, guilt or shame with which an addict lives. But my son has used the same words when describing his feelings about his addiction. He once told me, “An addict loathes himself and what he is doing to the people he loves.”
As parents, we want the pain to stop, but we are powerless against the addiction. Our children must make the choice of wellness for themselves. For parents to admit that we are powerless is humbling.
Today’s Promise to consider for all of us who love addicts: I will remain humble in the face of addiction. I recognize that I am powerless to change my addicted love one: I am powerless to change anyone. But I will stay close.281
Thank you, Libby, for reminding us that we are powerless over this horrific disease. As a parent of an addict, I grapple with ‘staying close’ vs. detachment and detaching with love. Your book, Stay Close, has helped my husband and I learn how to support our son, in the face of addiction and it’s emotional pain associated with the disease. We are taking turns spending 1:1 time with him throughout the holidays, as he courageously battles this disease in treatment. THAT is what we have control over.
I love your words, “We are taking turns spending time with him….That is what we have control over.” Yes – that’s all we have control over: what we do. Your son is courageously battling the disease and that’s what our addicted loved ones need to do. They have to walk the walk and fight the fight, but we can stay close by with encouragement and love.
Thanks so much for writing. Let’s keep each other and our children in prayer.
Thank you for your encouraging reply.
Your family will remain in my thoughts and prayers, as I continue to pray for all the families grappling with this disease.
Do you have any speaking engagements in the near future?
It would be an honor to meet you.
You are so right: ‘families grappling with these disease.’ We’ll pray together.
At this time, I don’t have any future speaking engagements, but if I do, I’ll email you and let you know.
My love and thanks to you,
I think this is the hardest part for a parent is to finally admit that we cannot control our children’s disease, and we need to let go. It’s an ongoing issue that continues to arise each time there is any kind of relapse or crisis.
Oh, yes, you are so right! Parents want to fix things; mothers want to make things better: kiss a knee, hug away the hurt and make their tears go away. In the end, we learn that our children have to fight for themselves. We can support them and we can love them, but the days of “mother magic” are gone. Very humbling and very difficult.
Love to you,
What if that loved one never makes the choice to become clean and stay clean?? Then what are you parents supposed to do?? What about us siblings who are forced to grow up, take the bench and watch the game?? What about those parents who are in denial about their addicted son and give him every chance to call out their bluff?? why do parents give out empty threats?? why?? why?? why??