A mom wrote to me: Sometimes I feel like I am just too hard to be around because the sadness is impossible to hide.
My reflection: When addiction takes over our lives, our sadness can be overwhelming. When Jeff was in active addiction, my family didn’t know whether to ask about him or not. My older brother once asked me, “How’s Jeff?” I looked at him with eyes swelled with tears. He nodded and said nothing more.
Today’s Promise to consider: When I felt suffocated in sadness by addiction, fighting my feelings never helped. I had to accept my deep sense of loss and call it by name. I found comfort by attending Al-Anon meetings. I wrote daily, exercised, and prayed. And I also had to accept that there were times I could just be sad.3715
Libby, thank you for naming the nameless sense of loss that those of us whose lives have been touched by addiction have come to know on a daily basis. I have been on this journey now for over a decade, and your words, and your clarity, continue to shine a light in some very dark places. I recently read about “compassion exhaustion” which afflicts professional caregivers; it affects those of us who love members of our family and friends afflicted by addiction as well. I didn’t realize that my state of exhaustion was leading to a chronic sense of sadness and for a long while I tried to cover that over, so others would worry less – about me. Shining a light on the full extent of our feelings, and naming them, is a pathway to healing and wholeness. Mille grazie.
Thanks for your post Maureen.
Dear Maureen, I have never heard of ‘compassion exhaustion,’ but it makes sense. Your words, ‘chronic sense of sadness,’ hit home as well. At the end of Jeff’s addiction, my cousin was so tired of seeing me in tears that she practically dragged me to San Patrignano, where I learned the words, “Stay Close” – stay close, but out of the chaos. Yes, shining a light on the feeling is the pathway to healing and wholeness. Thanks for reaching out here.
I agree Libby, being around other parents of addicted children gave me the strength, hope and understanding I needed to continue to keep me grounded and focused on my own recovery while maintaining appropriate boundaries.
Pat, you’ve helped many people with your family support group. Your hard work and effort in organizing the group has made a big difference to many people. Thanks for reminding us about boundaries – so important in all we do. xo
Perfect timing for this post as I struggled today. It took me most of the day to confront how and why I was feeling at loose ends. Sometimes the sadness and loss needs to be front and center. Thank-you!
Dear Barbara, You’re right that the sadness can be overwhelming. Sometimes even breathing feels hard. Yes, the sadness and loss need to be called by name, front and center. Thanks for being here.
Thank you, Libby and others for all of your comments. The profound sadness I felt, for so many years, was crippling. I couldn’t name it ‘out loud’ because I didn’t feel safe around most people. Thank you for breaking the silence and providing the forum to share with one another.
My dearest Nanci, Your word is perfect: crippling. Yes, the profound sadness of addiction is crippling. I, too, never felt safe around most people, so I smiled and tried to plow forward. Both the sadness and the pretending not to be sad take a toll on us, both emotionally and physically. Love to you. Libby
I am the same way. No matter where i am. If if comes up or im at the store talking to someone ill say yeah buying this or that for my son who is on heroin. And i always tear up and so many people are touched by addiction. Its a sad place to be in life. But i didnt cause it. Cant change it or cure it. I pray one day real soon he realizes there more to life.
Gail, I understand. You’re right that so many people are touched by addiction, and it’s a sad place to be. I join you in prayer for your son. We’ll bombard the heavens for his health and safety. My love to you.