Monday, April 28, 2014

Guest Post: Dear Mom and Dad

Here is a guest post from Lisa. She sent it a while back but it got lost in my in-box. I apologize for the delay Lisa.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I love you. I want you to know that, because I’m sure you’ve doubted it before. I can’t know exactly how much pain I put you through, but I imagine it was a terrible lot. How could I treat the two people I love most in the world so badly?

I was sick, and I think you understand that now. We all learned a lot about my disease through this journey, through my stints in rehab, and I think you understand. The little girl you raised to be kind, thoughtful, and moral didn’t die; she was just sick.

I can’t ever thank you enough for all the support you’ve given me. There were times when I pushed you away and resented you for trying to help me, but that was before I could see clearly. Now that the fog of addiction is years gone, I realize how selfless you were and how truly grateful I am for you both.

I’m a parent now, and things are coming full circle. I worry that my sweet, innocent son has inherited my disease and will one day take the same wrong turns I did. I worry that everything I experienced and learned won’t be enough to help him avoid making the same mistakes. I worry that one day I’ll be in the same shoes you wore.

If I’ve learned anything, though, it’s that we can’t dwell on the past we can’t change or the future we can’t predict. Here and now is all we have. Here and now, I want to enjoy my son’s childhood AND enjoy the great relationship with my parents that I finally have.

If I haven’t said it enough: I’m sorry, thank you, and I love you. You’re the epitome of great parents and who I aspire to be like with my own child every day.

I love you,

Your Daughter.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Do/Should We Write

Why would I write about addiction, share all of my family secrets and issues, exposing us all to shame and ridicule by so many?

Simple answer, it was because I tried everything else and this was my last resort. I went to meetings spoke to counselors and therapists. I sat in rehabs while addicts shared their stories, me searching for answers. I cried privately. Darlene and I suffered in silence. Writing and sharing worked for me.

I am not discounting what works for others but I am making sense of what works for me.

Parenting an addict is a life of the immediate. If you aren't in the middle of a crisis you are waiting for the next one. There is no time to plan the next step. The next step is about to land on you as you wait.

Writing was a necessity for me. Maybe sharing publicly wasn't what I intended to do, in fact if you read my first posts in 2009 I made a point to be anonymous.

In the heat of the crisis/moment we all react. That is all we can do, many times it can be a matter of life or death for our loved one. When do we have time to deliberate and reflect?

Writing forced that time upon me. It caused me to examine more closely my personal experience. What happened in the crisis, what happened to me, what did I do in reaction and finally the most important point, what did I learn.

Writing held me accountable to myself. In quiet deliberation I could examine my own mistakes, not just blame everything on the drugs. There are answers to this insanity called addiction that makes sense. Writing helped me to find and ask the right questions.

My learning and advice. If you do not write, try it. You don't have to put it online for the world to see. It can be as private as you want. Write a journal or a diary or write on a scrap piece of paper. Put those words and feelings in black and white. Involve the other parts of your body in fixing your heart. Force your hand and fingers into the game. Make your eyes focus through the tears. It doesn't have to be profound it only has to be you.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What If It Never Gets Better?

What if it never gets better? I bet that is a question every parent of an addict has ask themselves, probably more than once.

I admit I no longer struggle day to day. Most of my time in dealing with addiction issues involves reflection. Playing Monday morning quarterback is my best position in sports so I have adapted it to life.

What if it never gets any better is that question of frustration. It's usually followed by a statement like, "I've done everything I know to do."

Lately I have been thinking about this question and it is still troubling. For a fixer like me what does that really mean, I failed? I'm not one to accept defeat. There is a fix, I just haven't gotten the right formula. That was always my answer. I always seemed to disregard the real answer because I never really accepted the premise of the question. My failure to accept reality that some never do get better caused me much heartache and much grief for my son.

The last few parents I have spoke with I have ask this difficult question. It's a hard question for me to ask because I know by the time someone would write me, a stranger, an e-mail based solely on this blog there is a desperation and hopelessness that I do personally understand very well. They aren't writing or calling to find someone to tell them give up, they are looking for an answer and sometimes just someone to talk too.

Not until the last six months of Alex's active using did I learn what I needed to know and understand the first six weeks. Understanding and dealing with addiction isn't about the addict.

Understanding and dealing with addiction is about dealing with a disease and yourself.

Granted I can't ask this question to someone that has been dealing with this six weeks but it is something we all need to answer. Put aside the anger, the fixer, the disappointment, the guilt, put aside the past. Don't try to analyze and understand ideas like powerless and acceptance. Make it simple, go off by yourself or with a close loved one.

What if it never gets better? 

What type of relationship do I want to have with my son/daughter/brother/sister/mother/ father/friend or whoever your addicted loved one happens to be? 

When you get to that answer it is easier to begin working on making your own life better despite the heartache you feel for your loved one.

Sometimes it is OK to have a one sided relationship. Life is give and take. Sometimes the scales do not balance no matter how hard you try. (thanks dad, you still speak to me even after 32 years gone.)