Part Five of 6 part series-parent survival

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by antsmom, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    Part Five -a reminder that this is not MY story, but that of a woman on the site. sharing here for the benefit of those in similar scenarios.

    When my son was completing his stay at the halfway house and he was planning his future, we discussed ways in which I could help him. However he said, “I cannot take help, Mom. I must be one day from the streets to stay clean.” I was amazed at his foresight and further amazed that he refused any financial help. And now when we discuss any ‘help’ that I may give him, I make sure that I do not interfere with this balance.

    Even though he and I have never discussed that moment again or his words, I force myself into that memory and replay it over and over again. I picture myself in his room, me sitting in the chair and him sitting on his bed and saying, “I must be one day from the streets to stay clean.” He got it. Now, I must remember it forever.
    So, as we parents come to an end, so must there be an end to our child being a child. And we come to the end of supervising their treatment. We have taken care of them to the best of our ability. We have gotten them help, paid for counselors, worked the authorities to get them into placement, been there for them when they needed us, and we have been there for them even when they didn’t need us, certainly when they didn’t want us. They have proceeded through these years of therapy and placement, and they are growing older and learning. Our teenager is gone. It is time to allow the adult to emerge.
    However, it is very difficult to determine what action we should continue to take as parents as our emerging adult moves forward into drug recovery. We will still be a part of their lives and still see them struggle from time to time. Unfortunately there is no absolute truth to what will work when dealing with an addict. There is no well-defined path to success. There isn’t even a path that is obvious, even if it isn’t a sure success. And there is no guarantee that there will not be dire consequences to whatever actions or inactions that we decide to take or not to take.

    However, we do know what actions enable our child to continue to be an active addict. By the time your child is ending his teen years, you know all about enabling, because we parents have been on the front lines of our addict’s enabling. And we continue to be there. We will always be there. And our addict will continue with the addictive behaviors as long as we continue to enable it, because we as parents send a much stronger message more so than anyone else; For it is our actions that are coupled with the approval that all children seek from their parents. When we do the enabling it is far more devastating to our child’s addiction, because with our enabling comes an endorsement.

    However on the other hand, our not-enabling is far more powerful, because no matter how old our kids are they still want us to be proud of them. They still want our approval, and they still do not want to see us disappointed in them. We are their “Number One” in terms of requiring acceptance of their behavior. And just as enabling is sanctioning their addiction, our not-enabling is a condemnation of their addictive behavior. So, we must stop giving approval to their addictive behavior no matter how slight the enabling is or our insignificant it appears to be to us. And we must allow ourselves to come to the end of this co-dependency between our child, and us.

    So what do we do at this end? For us parents, I think we must begin to recapture the other parts of our lives that have been on hold for so many years while we were dealing with our kid’s drug addiction. Years ago when my son was in in-patient drug-detox for the first time, my husband and I attended group sessions designed for the parents. We were new at this process and our lives with our son’s drug addiction were just getting started.

    The counselor at these sessions was also a parent of a drug addict. In fact, she had a daughter and a son, both heroin addicts. I remember thinking how terrible that it must be for her to have a child that is a heroin addict. That wasn’t my son. He just got involved with the wrong people and I just need to address this problem. Plus, my son would not do anything to jeopardize his hockey. That is his dream, and I will have this all fixed soon.

    She also emphasized the importance of the parents retaining a piece of their lives outside of the issues with their child. “We must get a life!” she would say over and over again. At that point in time, I was horrified. How could she expect me to set aside my son for one moment? He deserves my undivided attention until this is solved, until the drugs are behind him. I need to fix my son, restore my family and I will not be selfish enough to be concerned about my life. I will fix this and I will do nothing else until I do!

    And I tried, to the exclusion of my marriage, my daughter, my career, my friends, and everything else, until the exclusions included my health. But I could not fix this. And any thought that I could was a denial of the truth and I was living in an illusion. And the more I tried to fix it the more we all sank into the co-dependency of manipulation and enabling.

    But I get it now. We did not move forward as a family that included my teenage son, for he is a drug addict and he needed help. So I had to relent to others in his life that knew more than me about addiction, that truly could help him, and I must give him the freedom to accept that responsibility himself. And in order to do that, I must get-a-life.

    End of Part 5 - Come back next week for the final part

    A brief preview from next week
    “So I grabbed for that oxygen, inhaled it till it hurt, I began the climb out of that pit, and I started to rebuild my life that included everyone and everything that I had pushed aside for years. And I found support and strength that allowed me to properly deal with my son’s issues. “