April 16, 2011

A Topic That Won't Seem To Go Away (UPDATE!)

Update: If you don't have time to read this post, no biggie. BUT PLEASE do NOT MISS the comment left by Bmelon because she is an addict that found lasting sobriety and knows what she's talking about. She has a great message for us parents!

As parents of addicts, I think the majority of us struggle with the question:

What did I do to contribute to him/her becoming an addict?

Then we hear our peers, and most of our addiction specialists assure us again and again:  It was not your fault.  There is research and evidence that shows addicts come from all types of families.  It doesn't matter if they were loved or if they had obvious trauma in their childhoods - the disease of addiction was pre-existing in them and there was nothing we could have done to stop it.

But....its still nags at many of us.  Maybe we could have stopped them from tying it the first time, maybe we really did do something to mess them up to the point that they sought out an escape.

Last night the speaker said that 80% of addicts have had abuse, neglect or trauma in their past (verbal, emotional, physical or sexual).  That's a lot.   I don't doubt that statistic, but if its true then wouldn't that also mean that some of us played a role in it?  It was disturbing to hear that ugly statement coming from a professional in the field since I've worked so hard to not believe any of it was my fault.

I've come to the conclusion that if I did something - or did not do something - it was not intentional and it was done in love.  I refuse to waste time and energy feeling bad about something that is in the past and can't be changed.  I've apologized to Keven for the things I know I did wrong as a parent.  He tells me over and over that it was NOTHING I did.

So if you start to go town that road, stop yourself.  Blog about it or call a friend or email another parent.  Don't let it rob you of the present moment because all parents make mistakes and addicts come from loving homes as well as unhealthy homes.

If you know your child had an unhealthy upbringing in your home, then you probably did too.  Really, its a cycle that goes through many families but can be stopped.  The last need we need is GUILT.

QUOTE From Kansas Bob's Comment (this really sums up this whole post!!!!)

"Years ago a friend told me that if I took the blame for my addicts failures then I would also be tempted to take credit for his success as well. It helped me. 
My failures and successes belong to me. 
His belong to him."

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara


Tori said...

What a great post. My Husband and I spoke about this exact thing in depth last night on our "date" while our other son was at ala-teen.

I was going to post about what conclusions we came to.It is a very difficult thing to accept that we had anything at all to do with our childrens addiction.

kc bob said...

Years ago a friend told me that if I took the blame for my addicts failures then I would also be tempted to take credit for his success as well. It helped me. My failures and successes belong to me. His belong to him.

Anonymous Mom said...

Tori, yep, its difficult. But what Bob just said is really GREAT.

Roberto ---- I am going to use this in the body of my post above, it kind of eliminates the need for the rest of what I wrote!!! Thanks for reminding us of this, IYears ago a friend told me that if I took the blame for my addicts failures then I would also be tempted to take credit for his success as well. It helped me. My failures and successes belong to me. His belong to him.

I've heard it before but need constant reminders.

BMelonsLemonade said...

First of all, I do not agree with that 80% statistic, either. Another problem I have with "drug abuse" statistics is where they get them. Do the people in rehab TELL them they were abused? Do addicts in jail TELL them they were mistreated? Do addicts who work a regular job, and have never been trouble talk about it? I just think that many of these statistics come from people in treatment or jail, or are unreliable because they do not accurately reflect the WHOLE population of drug users. People are hesitant to admit these kinds of things, and I think many people will lie to questions about their drug use. Also, addicts are also not the most reliable people, so is it their testimony that creates these statistics? When I was in active addiction, and even newly clean...I still had a lot of anger and I truly believed that my parents had neglected me, and they had done all these things to hurt me. But, that was the addict that kept me in addiction, allowing me to see things in such a skewed perspective. When I got clean, I realized that I made a lot of excuses to keep using, and eventually BELIEVED them. It is a crazy mentality. I just often hear these statistics about drug abuse that seem to be way off from the world I know, so I have often questioned their methods for gathering these statistics.

But, off my rant, and to the core of this post. I do not think it is anything most parents do, and often can do to prevent this situation. But, I did not fully realize this until I had been clean for quite some time. During active addiction, I often blamed my mother. We fought alot, and I blamed those fights, and I blamed things she said, and blamed the way she talked to me. I held the fact my Dad was not around as much as I would have liked, and I blamed his wife for many of my problems. I used all this as an excuse to get higher, and my anger fueled my drug abuse. If someone had asked me during active addiction, I may have very well blamed one or both of my parents. Of course, if I did not blame my parents, I had some kind of ailment that caused me pain, and hence, the need for pain killing drugs. My back, my ankles, etc. Now, I can look back and see how ridiculous all these excuses were, but, damn...I believed them at the time!

When I read "Beautiful Boy," I really looked at the whole thing from a parent's perspective. My parents did not go to the lengths that David Sheff did for his son, Nick...but, I was also 25 when I got addicted. I realized, though, that there was nothing my parents could have done to make my path any different. They could have done all the things David Sheff did, and I still would have done what I did. They could have done less, and I still would have done what I did. And I called my mom, right then and there to tell her..."You know, Mom, there really was nothing you could have done to save me back then. There was nothing you could have done differently that would have changed that path. I just wanted you to know that." She already knew it, but she was so glad to hear it from me so honestly, because she knew that I was getting better to be able to see that. I think it is all part of the process. It is just really sad that some addicts never get to have that moment with their mom. But, parents...take it from me, IT IS NOT SOMETHING YOU DID.

Michael said...

I can not blame my addictions or life choices on anyone but myself. In my own misunderstandings and false interpertations I drove myself to alcohol and drugs to drown the pain of not meeting the expectations I put on myself. I was the blame, no one else. you for sure are not to blame. It all comes down to choice, the choice is ours, no one else can choose for us.

Anna said...

Parents are not the only ones who cause trauma and abuse. Addicts abuse each other a lot. My daughter was raped while using. She was beat up repeatedly while using. These things never happened in her family but they happened with the people she hang out with while using.

Dad and Mom said...

I think of it this way.

Do I blame my parents for the mistakes in my life?

No, I am the reason for my own stupidity or mistakes.

Momma said...

This is something my husband and I still struggle with, discuss, and wonder over. It's a painful thing to ponder, especially being brought up with the attitude that parents are critisized for everything their kids do. I still feel responsible, even though everybody, including my son, says I'm not.

Annette said...

Great post Barbara. I was just thinking about his yesterday as I am listening to a book on CD while I do all of my driving around. Its called Home by Marilynne Robinson. A slow mover, but the story is about the brother Jack who comes home after 20 years of "being out there." As he rebuilds his relationship with his dying father, a retired pastor, the father calls Jack in to his room and apologizes for not being the father that Jack had needed. He said "even from the time you were a baby, I felt like there was something I was missing with you." He went on... but it made me sad. Every parent wonders where did I miss it? What did I do wrong that my most beloved child is in so much pain? And we are willing to take full responsibility if that will make our child better...which it doesn't. Maybe its true...they are hardwired to become who they are. But I know I still wonder....if I hadn't done this or had done that, maybe it would have helped. It just is what it is.

A Mom's Serious Blunder said...

No matter how much I try... I do blame myself. I know it is not rational but thoughts that go this deep are not always rational? On the other hand I find myself wondering what I could have done differently if it was my fault. I don't have an answer for that either?

I wrote about this on my blog after reading yours Barbara. I hope you don't mind me mentioning you? LOL

Anonymous Mom said...

Sometimes when people ask why I blog I say: To get the comments! I think this is where the good stuff comes out, the different perspectives, the added first hand knowledge, the support and concern and all the rest. THANK YOU ALL.

Bmelon - you know how much you rock my world. I updated this post to make sure people saw your comment here.

Anna, SO TRUE! Thanks for bringing up that point. I haven't experienced that with Keven's use but I imagine it is very different for a girl. I know Keven's friends leave each other behind for dead if one of them ODs but thankfully he has never done that to anyone.

Ron, but my parents are at fault for everything that is wrong with me.

Just kidding. I think most parents love their kids and the kids know it. It takes time and maturity for some people to look back and say what you said here. Its the healthiest perspective to have.

Momma, your'e not. YOU ARE NOT. You will believe it some day. Write me whenever you feel like you are and I'll remind you all the reasons you aren't.

Anonymous Mom said...

Annette, I think we're hardwired to blame ourselves and in some ways its actually easier to say "I messed up" than to say "my kid is an addict because he just is for no damn good reason other than HE IS". None of it is easy to cope with.

Mom, I already commented on your post so won't repeats myself here, but you are getting better and better at not blaming yourself, I see it in your writing. It takes time, it has to sink in and may never sink all the way in, but if you can answer yes to this then you are not to blame: do you love J? Did you do what you believed was best for him even if mistakes were made?

Syd said...

I do believe that we didn't cause it, can't control it, and can't cure it. But I know that I can contribute to it by enabling. Good post Barbara. Guilt is a useless emotion. If I spent all my time feeling guilty and obsessing over the past, then there would be little hope for today.

Larry said...

A friend of mine, who also has trouble with self-judgment, passed on an idea that I think fits these circumstances well. The idea is that the world offers criticism and judgment all the time. It's like walking along and being struck by an arrow.

That hurts. What hurts more is when I take the side of that arrow, and add a few more. What God has been working on is teaching me is how to keep from shooting the second, third, fourth... arrows into myself.

Judgment is built into everything we learn in this world. I'm going to get hit by those arrows... but gradually I'm learning not to pick up the bow. You'd think it'd be easy.

It's not, because judgment is how our world works. It's how people are controlled, and addicts love nothing if not control. It takes time and effort to learn to recognize the signs of shooting myself. More time to learn how to stop. Patience is wanted, and patience may just be the most powerful expression of love that we can know.

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