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.