So much pain, so many questions, joy, sadness, hope, defeat, fear, uncertainty, confusion...the list could go on and on.
The common thread among the parents of addicts that I know, is that we all love our children and want to do what we personally believe is best. In some cases a parent has had to completely distance themselves from the "child" (all of these children are adults). In some cases a parent's involvement has brought about a year anniversary of sobriety to celebrate. Most of us are somewhere in between on the roller coaster of wondering what will happen next on this crazy ride.
For me, I am in a good place right now. Keven is in jail waiting to see what his future holds. I have absolutely no control over that situation so I am not fretting over it. Whatever the outcome is, I will deal with it day by day. A year ago if we were in this exact place, I would be a wreck worrying about all the implications, trying to figure out a way to persuade the judge to do what I thought was best (hey, I think I did do that a year ago!)
But now, there's much more peace in it. Its sort of a cross between resignation and surrender, but I will call it "peace" cause that sounds more positive.
I've learned SO MUCH. I've learned that there is no "one size fits all" way to deal with our addicted child. I think there's a balance that has to be found for each individual parent/child. This is what it looks like for me:
Year One: I was in denial for the first three months, if I ignored it it would go away, right? Then I got a devastating wake-up call and had to face the truth. Following that were many desperate attempts to help him, even though he did not want help at that time. It was a year of complete and utter devastation. I was a wreck. Pain, frustration, confusion, guilt, guilt, guilt, fear, anger. Every negative emotion known to mankind was churning inside me that year.
Year Two: I took all that I had learned in year one and started to sort it out. I became stable enough myself to see that I was doing more harm than good for Keven. I sought out answers but still lived in fear of doing it wrong. I finally realized that there was no right or wrong, just what was right or wrong for him and me. I trusted my maternal instincts. I relied on the intense amount of knowledge I had gained through listening to others, reading, research, talking to addicts and observing things in meetings/groups. I felt like I had become an expert on heroin and on opiate addiction. Not the kind of thing that comes in handy for most, but indispensable information for someone who loves an opiate addict.
Year Three and beyond: I've accepted things as they are at the moment. I do all I can to support my son with love and compassion. I am constantly aware of my motives and base many decisions on two questions, 1) am I doing something for him that he can do for himself? and 2) is this going to help or hinder his recovery? Nothing is black and white. Every decision, conversation, etc. has to be taken in the present moment based on what is best for each circumstance. I no longer care if someone disagrees with my way of doing things. I respect others for doing it their way even though it may not be the way for me. I am aware that my son may never fully recover and that I may lose him, but I will never, ever give up hope for the opposite. I understand that there are two parts to Keven. And although I don't love the behavior of the addict, I love both parts of him because they have melded into who he is as a whole, if I like it or not.Through it all I have learned that tragedy does indeed bring people closer. I have met some people that I have a strong bond with, unlike any bond I've experienced before. I have learned that the Recovery Community of AA is awesome and that the people in those rooms are some of the most healthy people I know in spite of their disease. AA is not just a plan to get well, its a plan to live with integrity, openness and compassion.
One last thing to any parents who are New To This. When your child is in their first rehab and you are sitting in a family group meeting and realize that the majority of the addicts are there for the second, third or more time - don't despair. That's normal. Its not a one time deal, its a process. One step forward two steps back is typical. Also - above all else: its NOT your fault. It is never the family's fault and run from anyone who dares to think that or has the audacity to say it to your face. They are ignorant and dangerous.
As many have said: as long as they are breathing, there is hope.
Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara