Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Follow-up To Previous Post

Two requests/questions have been ask by readers concerning my post about how much work it is parenting an addict. One, detaching with love, how? Two, what is, working on things that didn't accomplish or mean a thing? Both of these questions are complex. The difficulty in these issues involve relationships with your child and yourself.

Detaching does not mean not loving or believing in your child. Detaching does not mean walking away and giving your child to the drugs and washing your hands of the whole situation.

Detaching with love is difficult. Mom and I struggle with this daily and it it is ongoing. But it is something that is good for us and good for our son. If, as a parent you want to do what is best for your child no matter how old they are and how much they are struggling you will work on this every day.

To detach with love requires a little bit of selfish behavior that rewards both entities. Detaching with love requires good boundaries. Without taking the time to set good boundaries and understanding exactly how your boundaries match your core values you will find yourself forever in rescue mode.

Operating in rescue mode means you will react to every emotion, crisis and incident of drama in both your life and your addicts. Rescue mode will consume you and every ounce of your energy and it is self perpetuating. The more rescuing you do the more you will find to rescue. Think of those people that have made it their life's mission and job to rescue: firefighters, police officers, military specialists, lifeguards; not a single one of them attempts to rescue anyone without first understanding their boundaries. Without clear boundaries rescuers become the rescued. This applies to parents of addicts too.

Detaching with love means you understand and buy-in to your own personal values and how they relate to the behavior you exhibit to your addict. I know very well this is complicated. This requires you to study about boundaries, create the quiet time to really analyze what you believe about addiction and your child and depending on the person and family it may require you to seek outside counsel of friends, counselors or outside groups. But even with all the help this is a deeply personal task.

Working on things that did not accomplish a damn thing. With most of us this does not just apply to our addict, it applies to our lives. A wise man once counseled me that if I spent my life making only new mistakes then my life was truly a life of learning. When I think of the things I did and worked on with my addict much of that time could be considered wasted or even worse repeating the same mistakes I had already made. Many of the specific examples I could cite are actually repeated mistakes and most of them relate to being in rescue mode that at the time I didn't even recognize as a method of parenting or living with an addicted child.

Wasted efforts and wasted time is the effort and time in which you learn nothing and in which you do not change yourself. That's the simplest answer that only becomes complex when you think about application. The problem is the application again can vary based upon the family, addict and circumstances.


Briar said...

Thank you for this. I'm struggling with an adult child who is addicted, but very likely also suffering from untreated mental illness. Much of his care is out of my hands now, and often when I see him he is unstable and difficult to talk to. Many people have told me to walk away, and sometimes I have no choice but to be hands off, but I still struggle every day to find a way that I can be helpful and right now it doesn't feel like there is much I can do.

VJ said...

Great post. For me, this would have been a subject very difficult to describe.

Something very interesting happened last night. I attended an educational meeting hosted by the director of an outpatient substance abuse agency.

One of the hand outs was the "7 Truths About My Addict That Took 5 Years To Learn" by Ron Grover.

Syd said...

Great post Ron. Repeating the same behavior over and over expecting different results is the definition of insanity. It never got me anywhere but crazy. I am done with trying to rescue, control, persuade or take responsibility for another. It simply doesn't work.

charlene said...

Thank you so much. I have struggled with "unconditional love" versus "detach with love" for a long time. As I set more boundaries that fit my needs, I am getting clearer and clearer about detachment. And thanks, Ron, for the reminder about repeating the same behavior over and over...yes, insanity!

Sober Move said...

I've always related detaching with love a bit to taking care of ourselves first. We love them and we're there for them but we can't drop our lives and run around like a chicken with our heads cut off for each hiccup in their life.

Dad and Mom said...

Sober Move,

You are so right. It is impossible to learn to detach and love if you are living your life in rescue mode.

Kim A. said...

When I learned to treat my son with dignity and release him to do those things that he could without my advice, interference or micromanaging, our relationship got better. I have too much to work on me to spend one minute trying to fix him. He'll figure it out...or he won't. I can't do a damn thing about either. I love him, pray for him, get out of his way and get on with my life. Until I'm walking on water, I need to keep my nose out of other's business. Took me awhile..but I finally got tired of the pain. Good post.


miss julep? said...

Great post. All of it so true.

Your paragraph on "Operating in rescue mode" is bang-on. Rescue mode is exhausting.

I obviously don't have advice or anything to add... as I am struggling, too. But I wanted to chime in and voice my support.

Sober Move said...

To Dad and Mom's comment; yes and it is definitely a challenge too. How do we feel good and be good to ourselves when we know what's going on with a loved one? I tried everything in the beginning for them, buying them groceries, clothes, renting them movies, buying them books and of course offered my love, advice and support but they did what they wanted and it left me feeling worse and wondering why they didn't care they were hurting me, even with all the effort I put in.

It's still hard to separate my feelings from their actions and feel good when they're on a bender but I guess the important lesson I learned was I was only hurting myself by sitting there crying, worrying and letting my thoughts run wild, it wasn't changing what they were doing.

But they always know that I'm here unconditionally and more so when they're clean.

Thanks for your post and comment, you're helping a lot of people with all of your insights :)

Tori said...

I have been "Operating in Rescue mode" for years. I was thinking about it the other night, and how for the last almost 5 years everything has been dropped to help my son. The interesting thing is no matter how much I tried to help things got progessively worse. Rescuing clearly does not work. The best thing I have done for myself and him is turn off my phone at 10:00. The nights seem to always be far worse and going to get him at all ours of the night needed to stop. Great post as usual Ron.

Anonymous said...

I have learned all you have said the hard way. buying groceries, giving pep talks, making lists, it is all futile. I hate what I have become and hate what my son has become even more.

Anonymous said...

I am so sad to read what everyone is going through, but also so glad that I found you all. I am going through all these things as well. Today I have been on the phone with friends, family, rehabs, doctors and anyone that will tell me what to do. I am so confused, everyone has a different idea. My daughter is a heroin addict on a methadone treatment. She has had drug problems for years and is now home. She is 24. She is beautiful and bright. She totaled her 3rd car which we bought for her. I drive her to the methadone clinic and feel like an enabler. Then have to stop and buy her cigarettes on the way home. She will go through withdrawls without it. She has no job and has dropped out of school where she had a scholarship and was going to be a nurse. She curses at me and frightens me. Then an hour later walks around like nothing is wrong. She blames me for everything. My sister thinks I should call the police and have her taken to the hospital. I have no insurance for her. They would only keep her for 72 hours and then what? Today was terrible. I feel like I will have a stroke dealing with her anger and blame. I read the Bible and get some peace, my daughter tells me I'm a hipocrite. Today I told her she is responsible for her own mistakes and I will not accept the blame any more. She told me she would leave and become a prostitute and overdose on heroin. We had a fight about me "snooping in her room". I found needles. I told her to have a good life and don't call. She is still here, she has no place to go. I am going to take care of myself from now on and put this in Gods hands. So far all my "mothering" has not worked.

Dad and Mom said...

Dear Anonymous,

Ther are so many things I want to say but without support they will fall not on deaf ears but ears that hear without resources.

It is good you are calling for help, do not stop. But I want to recommend one book to begin with, Don't Let Your Kids Kill You, by Charles Rubin.

If yoou haven't read this book please get it someplace, I just put the amazon link to help you identify the book. Read this and then begin looking for the boundaries you need to bring a measure of sanity back into your life.

Feel free to write confidentially any time. My e-mail address is below our picture. In addition I would like to recommend an article I wrote for The Partnership, it is called 7 Truths About My Addict That Took 5 Years To Learn:

Parent said...

I think you give great advice and thus far the principle works in my home.