Monday, December 28, 2009

Can't Give What You Ain't Got

The holiday has come and gone and another is rising on the horizon. New Years Eve is I am sure another stressful time for addicts in recovery. New Years Eve has always been a celebration at our home. Not the drinking get smashed drunk type, although there are a few bottles of wine and champagne emptied, but there are usually a large number of people to spread around the spirits. New Years Eve is an evening to feast on steak, shrimp and other culinary specialties anyone chooses to bring. In addition that day is also my birthday. I joke that from what I have heard there were no parties on New Years Eve until 1955, from then on it has been a day of celebration, could the two things be related? ;-) Mom says something about my ego being bigger than the Times Square Ball but I have always been comfortable in my belief parties actually began in 1955, so that is that.

It was an anxiety ridden Christmas for Dad and Mom. Not knowing what to expect. There were assurances from Alex he was doing OK but any parent of an addict knows how much weight those words hold. I thought we did well in holding our expectations to ourselves. But I guess only one person can answer that truthfully.

We have to keep tempering our expectations to reality. My continued observations along with anecdotal evidence I hear from others lend credence to my conclusions about developing maturity levels as associated to addiction. Over this holiday there was much interaction with Alex and his relatives of the same generation. In our extended family there was a baby boom that provided many siblings and cousins around the same chronological age. That makes for some interesting observations from clothing, conversations, attitudes and general social behavior. My conclusions are; I believe when a person becomes addicted their maturity level remains fairly static at the point of addiction until their addiction is being controlled and a recovery process allows maturing to resume. That has serious ramifications to those of us with an addict in our household and our setting of expectations of behavior as it relates to a chronological age versus a maturity level. The data I am not privy to in my conclusions are are the experiences Alex had outside of my purview, such as jail, dealing and buying drugs, and homelessness. How does all of that shape his character and behavior. For Alex I wonder, is there an imbalance in his expectation of life versus his appreciation of life? To me that is another of those balances that we need to work to be centered most of the time just like "give and take" to have a happy life.

So with all of this I must remind myself to live in the world of "what is vs. what ought to be." That means I must not fault Alex for not giving something he does not have to give. Dad must also not fall into the trap of lectures when I see teachable moments. Experiential learning is best for a 21 year man, not lectures from dad.

16 comments:

Lou said...

Interesting post, Dad. I had a chance to observe my son under conditions when I knew he was absolutely sober (he gets drug tested and does a blow test almost daily at the half way house), and I was able to see the lack of maturity at Christmas. He is 26, but I would put his development at about 18 y/o. That said, he was always immature, but certainly the heavy drug use didn't help any.

What bothers me is the neurological damage that is evident some times (tics, slow reactions). I have heard conflicting opinions about that, some doctors say it never goes away. Other parents of addicts have told me it does go away sometime.

Either way, the past cannot be undone. We cannot know how much damage has been done on the inside.

Stacey5271 said...

As the mother of a teenage addict (almost17 by the calendar), I can confirm the immaturity. The agency that is following him, and runs parent support groups, has instructed us that the addict stops maturing when drug use begins. In the specific case of my son he either regressed or had a stunted maturity level to begin with (quite possible - don't boys mature slower than girls to beging with?). In several ways, my 6-year old daughter is more mature than her brother. I wish I could say he's making up for lost time. Unfortunately, he's just waiting out the system =(

Mom of Opiate Addict said...

I also have noticed the immaturity in my son who just turned 24 but seems to be about 17 (sometimes 13)! I know that maturity level does stop with drug use and resumes with sobriety, but I also wonder how much of it is their own personality? I know people who have never used drugs and are very immature and impulsive. Also, are co-dependents too mature? I have often wondered this as I had to grow up pretty fast in my world as a youngster. So does that make others that maybe aren't so immature look more so to me? Great post.

Debby of Oxycontin and Opiate Addiction: A Mother's Story said...

There is nothing more I could add in this brilliant work of parenting wisdom. You have come a very long way! I can see my son's lack of maturity, but I am seeing some promise of his learning to handle things on his own. Of course, I've had to learn to allow him to work things on his own. Happy Birthday, my friend! New Year's Day is my 4th wedding anniversary to C. While that sounds like such a short time-- considering the disappointments I've endured with men, this is four years of true joy.
While you're recovering from your party, we will be enjoying a romantic weekend in San Francisco.

Happy New Year, and best wishes to Alex.

Syd said...

I believe what you write to be true and have been told this by a psychiatrist. I think that selfish, grandiose, and irresponsible behavior is immature and these seem to be the hallmarks of an alcoholic/addict.

Barbara aka Layla said...

Excellent post and comments. I have always heard the same thing about maturity/addiction but Renee makes a good point about how personality plays a factor. Keven was actually mature for his age when he started using so he has that to an advantage but its definitely stopped.

Lou said soemthing about tics, I never associated his tics with his drug use - duh! I am so glad she brought that up.

Happy Birhtday to you Mr. NY TImes Square Ball (jk!) and Happy Annviersary to Debby. Hope we all have a good NY Eve. Personally I don't enjoy it, another reminder that I am single and have no where to go (poor me - lol)

Kim A. said...

I stopped maturing at the age when my coping tools quit working. I grew up in my 30s..painful to say the least and nothing to do with drugs or booze. I was the ACOA, though. My son is 19 chronologically but 15 mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Remembering how much I didn't know at that age and the mistakes I made helps me to find a bit of humility and compassion. GOOD POST!!

Namaste

Heather's Mom said...

Your last paragraph has so much wisdom. I am learning so much and what you wrote is what I PLAN to do! Preparing for the day when my daughter is back in my life... In the meanwhile, I wish you success with the follow-through with Alex, as it will give the greatest benefit to him as well as you and your relationship with him.
The "what is" has many blessings, they may just be the ones God intended vs. the ones we intended...
I think I remember reading in 7th grade History class about the first New Year's Eve, if I remember correctly it WAS in 1955...

Heather's Mom said...

Wednesday - misc - my blog list shows you have a post titled
"End of the Year is Closing in",
from "1 day ago" but I can not access it...???? I love reading your posts and didn't want to miss one :)

Dad and Mom said...

I wrote that posting and put it up but after reading it a couple times I did not like it so I removed it. If you want to read it I would be happy to e-mail it to you but I want to think a little more before posting it again. Send me your e-mail if you would like to see it.

Ron

LisaC said...

I very much agree with your post and everyone's comments. I especially am giving thought to my expectations for my son, considering his true maturity level versus his chronological age.

And "Mom of Oppiate Addicts" comment about the maturity level of codependents? I need to give that some thought as well.

Great post and happy birthday. My mother was also a new year's eve baby; and she partied pretty hard in her younger days to celebrate! :) But of course, once she became a Mom, she settled in and partied with "grace"!

Heather's Mom said...

Thanks for the offer to email it, but I'd rather wait until it is how you want it and you are comfortable with it. I'd just never seen that happen before! Even though I don't always comment, I try to read all the posts on the blogs I follow - I'm afraid I'll miss a pearl if I don't! :)

It's 11:18 pm here - less than an hour away - although, I'm in Florida so I'll hit your B-day before you do... I'll just go ahead and say Happy Birthday!!!! :)

Garnet said...

I have heard it said "he can't do what he can't do." It's simple, but sometimes you'll find me walking around the house muttering it to myself. "He can't do what he can't do. He can't do what he can't do. So move along..."

Barbara aka Layla said...

Happy Birthday! (see my latest blog post for more info - ha)

Mom of Opiate Addict said...

Hope you have a FANTASTIC Birthday!!!

Midnitefyrfly said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!