Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What's Thanksgiving to the Parent of and Addict?

What a question. What does the parent of an addict have to be thankful about?

I remember the horrors of holidays. It seems no matter the occasion Thanksgiving, Christmas, Birthdays or anything that was special to our family our son while he was using found a way to bring heartache and sorrow to the occasion.

Why couldn't he just be OK for one day? Why do we have to have every holiday and special occasion ruined? These were the constants in our life.

Looking back it is easy to remember these events. A son showing up on Christmas Eve while we were walking out the door. Drug dealers delivering heroin to our home on Christmas Eve as casually as a pizza delivery person. Thanksgiving not being able to rouse him to join us for lunch. Going down to a prison located 125 miles away on Thanksgiving eve to pick him up after being released. Every holiday was an event.

The perspective of time and distance allows me to understand most all of our anguish and hurt was self imposed. We EXPECTED what was impossible to be delivered. My son was an addict. My son was addicted to drugs and I didn't understand addiction and what it meant.

My son suffered from the disease of addiction. He did what addicts do and all that is expected of an addict. He used drugs no matter what I wanted or expected. My heartache and anger was self imposed. I expected from him something he didn't have to give. At least not at that time.

If your loved one is suffering from addiction accept the reality of what IS and don't play a game with yourself of OUGHT to be able to be good for one day.

Secrets from a father about for surviving a holiday with an addicted loved one would include:

  • Temper your holiday expectations. 
  • Accept what is given.
  • Love with no return expectation.
  • Do not expect something from someone that they do not have to give.
  • Inside there is still a person. You loved them all their life, do not forget.
  • Where there is life there is hope. Look around you and see the life.
Never stop believing. Tomorrow my son will be joining us with his family. Hugs will be shared. We will give thanks to all and each other. 6 years ago if anyone would have told me this day would come I would have thought they were crazy. Never stop believing in yourself or others.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.


Annette said...

What a perfect post for the day before a big holiday. Very well said. Despite the disease of addiction, I am so grateful to not be in that sad awful place that I used to live in every single day. The sadness (and exhaustion) still come around sometimes, but its nice to not be there every minute of every day. Acceptance of what is was a huge turning point for me. Im anticipating a good day tomorrow, come what may!

beachteacher said...

Ron-- such spot on words about this topic-- especially about expectations that aren't realistic-- and so important--about the hope !! We too went through hellish impact upon our holidays with D using -- I remember those so well. Once-- when we'd just sat down with my brither's family & ours to dinner on Christmas Day-- in the dining room, all decorated, using the china dishes, with beef tenderloin & King crab-- which had always been D's favorite. D suddenly appeared, & I thought -- oh good, least he's here,...because after the earlier in the day gift opening ,...he'd taken off somewhere. I said something about him being just in time for dinner --- and he walked in & said-- ""nah--- I already ate at 7-11." I just remember that so clearly --- some weird specific memories stick with you that aren't the worst ones of the jail or complete sickness of their drug life--- just also the ones of how the "normal" of those times were/can be not any normal you'd ever had before--- especially for holidays. Our D is doing so well now --- I can't even describe it articulately enough. 4 years ago, we'd just put him on a plane right before Christmas for his 4th treatment center & didn't even see him that holiday --- and it wasn't the first Christmas he'd missed with the family due to being in treatment -- despite only being 19 years old. I couldn't have imagined how it would be today even though I'd prayed for this soo much. You're so right about keeping hope alive. Happy Thanksgiving ---

Sue Magoo 8 said...

I think you are an amazing person. Wishing your entire family a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have many blessings to count. You and Darlene are amazing. So are your three children! Enjoy loving them today, and making them laugh. Susan

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful and perfect post for me to read this Thanksgiving morning. Our son has ruined almost every occasion these past 10 years with his addiction. This morning, I wake up thankful that he is still with us and he is still fighting, but fearful that he may show up high today:( You post gives me hope and I thank you for taking the time to write/post it. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving!

Pat Aussem said...

Beautifully stated Ron. Two years ago my son missed a family trip through the Panama Canal during Thanksgiving. It was to celebrate not only the holiday, but my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. We were all devastated despite understanding addiction - as you stated so well, self-imposed hurt and pain expecting something he wasn't able to give in that moment. Here we are 2 years later and my son as well as the rest of my family just ran a 5K to raise money for the interfaith food pantry. If you had asked me 2 years ago if this was possible, I would have laughed. So I am overwhelmingly grateful this Thanksgiving... such a gift to have him here and participating in life in such a loving way.

Syd said...

Thank you, Ron. All good to remember. Hope that you and your family had a wonderful day together. Changed attitudes can aid recovery!

Melanie said...

Thank you Ron, for reminding us that there is a light on the horizon and we should keep the faith; for those of us with children still in addictive addiction. The holidays seem to be such a sacred time and we expect our addicts to realize that and suddenly change behavior that they can't or have't changed all year long. Setting the bar to fit the situation is exactly what is called for. Thanks for the reminder of both hope to come and accepting the now.

Eileen said...

I remember a Thanksgiving with our guy: we naively thought he was doing well. He loaded up a healthy plate full of turkey and all the trimmings, then got to bickering with someone (I think his dad) and so used that to throw away the plateful of food away. The reality is he was never going to be able to eat that food because he had no appetite for food.
This year he is living in "a gated community".

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ron for sharing the realities of addiction. As a recoving addict myself, there were many holidays that I had my family sitting on the edge of their seats. Today though we celebrate together as a whole. Your story though helps me remember where I came from and reminds me not to become complacent and let those demons rule me again. Holidays are stressful for recovery it's ppl like you that keep us in a reality check. Happy Thanksgiving and have a Merry Christmas too.