That is a question that families don’t really want to ask themselves. It’s usually a question asked out of frustration and after a long time of battling family addiction. Followed by: “I’ve done everything I know to do.”
Lately I have been thinking about this question and it is very 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 causes me much heartache. I bring this up because of the many families that have been struggling for years with their love ones addiction.
I’ve asked this difficult question to a few family members. Only because they are completely overwhelmed, stressed out and at the end of their ropes. These family members are dealing with physical and mental breakdowns and need to release their love ones addiction back to them, instead of carrying it around on their shoulders. It’s a hard question for me to ask because I know by the time someone contacts me, there is a desperation and hopelessness that I do understand very well and they aren’t looking to hear someone to tell them to let go, they are looking for ‘the answer’.
I’m not talking about giving up on our love one or not helping them when they really need it. I’m talking about taking your life back and loving yourself again.
Put aside the anger, hurt, disappointment, guilt and past. Not for them, but for your well being. Negative emotions are hard to let go, but we need to find it ourselves to do so because it damages us more than anyone else. Don’t try to analyze addiction (or your love one). But try to understand ideas like we are powerless over our loved one’s addiction, that we can’t fix or change them. The truth is they can only do it themselves and the sooner we can see that the better our families will be.
Take time through this hard journey to take care of yourself. To Love yourself. This will make for a heather family, so when your love one does get better, the family will be in a better place and please remember even if they don’t get better, you can and do deserve a life of your own.
It’s amazing what happens when another human being ever so conveniently decides to cross your way in a not so positive manner.
Even if it’s one of your own ….
One minute everything’s fine, the next, you’re at the top of the highest roller coaster heading down to the depths of who knows where.
We find ourselves plunged head- first into a world that we were only vaguely aware of before.
What to do?
Most people, especially the “anon” groups tell you to detach with love. Unfortunately alot of their stories that I hear, feel more like detach with coldness and aloofness.
It goes against every mother- cell of survival and caretaking imaginable. That’s why we hang on for so long.
Sometimes too long. Until we are deficient & lacking energy, focus and hope. The very things people look toward us for.
We are the healers, the lovers, the make-it-all better-ers. We stay up all night just to make sure our babies don’t choke if they have breathing problems.
Over the years we fervently buy creams, vitamins, educational toys to make sure they develop normally. We worry if they are lacking anything that might cause their stuff esteem to plummet.
Now our babies are out there doing all sorts of self harm and damage to their precious bodies. We can’t think about it without cringing and feeling a deep sense of .. Failure? Or is it just sadness?
Yet we are told over and over again, “Let go” “Give it to God”. “Live your life.”
So we resort to…..
Appearing to”let go..
Appealing to God to take it…
And Attempting to live our life.
Because if we do anything other than that, we are punished for caring.
Twenty or thirty years ago we would be punished for not caring, for not giving our family everything they need and providing for their safety and comfort. But the minute they turn 18, OR the minute they are labeled “an addict”; we are judged as co-dependant.
Robert Weiss, in his Book Prodependance, squelches that diagnosis saying that it’s not abnormal to care about someone when your family is in crisis, whether that crisis be cancer or addiction.
It’s a comforting book full of validation for us suffering Mom’s.
But just because it’s not abnormal to care, doesn’t mean it’s healthy either. If you find yourself lost, feeling powerless, depressed and struggling to relate to anything and anyone, then you have a problem OTHER than your addicted loved one.
That’s when you need to decide: “Is this vile creature that has hijacked your beautiful child, going to have two victims or just one?”
That’s the question of the day for this mom of a person with a substance use disorder……
My job gives me the opportunity to intimately see into a person’s life…..in fact I see pretty much the whole spectrum from birth to death.
I’ve had the opportunity to watch 100’s of births and maybe half as many deaths.
After an emotional week at work which resulted in several awakenings, tonight my heart is full. Full of a sense of the struggles people face… Sometimes silently… Sometimes in the public eye.
The sudden appearance of disease in your life; wrenching heartache & turmoil that you never dreamed of; or the pain of looking into the eyes of a lost soul, seeing the remnants of broken dreams shattered.
My personal awakenings included memories of my parent’s deaths mingled with twinges of regret; also the suicide of my brother 15 years before; who was my hero..my protector…my wizard.🤺
I’ve witnessed fame and the fall; anger and outright apathy. I’ve seen firsthand that disease, addiction and death have NO favorites. No one is immune. It doesn’t matter how famous, how rich, how respected you are, you can’t prevent tragedy and strife from invading your sacred space.
Although our challenges are different, the one thing that we all have in common is human bodies & souls 💫 that need connection. Gabor Mate explains it well Here in this easy cartoon drawing.
What it comes down to is …..that ALL of us eventually struggle with the same issues.
To think our time will never come or that our kids will never have to experience that deep pain is being very naive.
We all experience feelings of loss, regret, sadness, and guilt.
When those times arrive, almost everyone craves understanding & compassion without expectation;
A hand placed over theirs;
A gentle touch that says: “I’m not scared of your disease”.
Eyes that hold no judgement…. Just simple silence that says “I’m here”. A parting hug that says, “everything will work out”.
When I wrote this article regarding how I like wearing masks due to covering up my emotions; I failed to mention the benefits of having my RBF hidden too.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been mistaken as grouchy. So the question comes up: which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Regardless, I spent my life as a peacemaker, always trying to get those around me to feel good or “differently”, which would eventually come back to haunt me.
I learned that it’s ok to feel anyway you want. Just like it’s ok to look anyway you want. If others have issues with it, I learned to slyly (and possibly passive aggressively), rebound the ball back to them.
When my co-worker asked me why I don’t talk more, I asked him how much talking would make him feel ok about me? He seemed taken aback.
So how much of a resting bitch face would I NOT NEED to make me popular? Most people would say it’s all in the first impressions. If you can pull off coming across as friendly instead of standoffish, that’s a plus.
So imagine my surprise when I found out there’s a cure. Vanessa Van Edwards gives the following suggestions in Her Article.
When you are looking at someone, look up at them. This makes your eyes more open and less downcast.
Use makeup to reshape your downcast eyes.
Replace your neutral frown with a small smile. …
I tried for alot of years to replace my downturned mouth for a fake plastic one, but I just couldn’t maintain it. So I guess I’ll just have to own it.
These are the words I heard echo from a co-worker during a meeting today. She was talking about a client who didn’t want to go to a place of business in case he had to sit by a heroin addict.
If I was financially independent, I would have stood up and said: (well- yelled, “There are worse things than being a heroin addict, like being intolerant of humans who’s sins show on the outside!”
But I’m not, so I didn’t.
As it is, I sat there in my silence of suffering as usual.
Michael J Wilson in his book Loving Lions describes the impact as this
“I watch the impact that my addiction has, and it’s like watching a horror movie. You know something bad is going to happen and you want to yell at the person onscreen to not go into that basement, not to open that door, but they never hear you. The movie goes on and I am forced to watch, trapped within myself, unable to stop it. I feel helpless, I feel useless, and I feel worthless.”
I keep my struggle with my Lion seperate than other areas of my life. Or, I at least try.
Later on that day I was sending another patient to see a medical provider as scheduled, and she yells out, “I’ll be back, I’m going to see the drug dealer!” Haha, everyone laughs, while my insides fall the 1000 feet that it took me to build them up again after the comment earlier this morning.
Drinking or joking about “needing” a glass of wine, is all fun and games until you see the first phone call from the jail knowing it’s your beloved child who not only had that glass of wine, but couldn’t stop at one.
Loving lions also describes their (the person with a substance use disorder) ( in-)ability to fix that problem too:
“I do not have the ability to fix a problem that has me convinced it does not exist. I am not capable of putting myself into the challenging recovery process that is required to get well. I am not capable of coming up with a plan to fix a problem I cannot see clearly. I am not capable of fixing this without help. I am not capable of pulling myself out of this hole. “
Which brings us to a crossroads and to the normal model of “a disease”. How do you help someone who’s very disease won’t let them believe they need help?
It’s like a pimp. Convinces his girls that they can’t live without him, even though HE is the problem, engaging them in illegal activities, lowering their quality of life, risking their health, their freedom etc.
Drugs are the biggest pimpmobile ever and I wish that caravan hadn’t stopped in my town.
Just to top my day off, this Day in The Life of a Mom of a person with a Substance Use Disorder; I see a “Story” pop up on my son’s Facebook. He is quite new at Facebook, having only had it the last year or two when his addiction seared to new “heights” so to speak; so I was curious that he figured out that feature.
Much to my shock, I saw a conversation that he accidently posted on there, which was “seemingly like a drug deal”. Unbelievable. I frantically tried to message him to delete it. No answer. I knew there were people on his Facebook that were not “real” friends and would look at that as “ah ha see? He’s still at it, what a loser” or whatever people think of addicts. No, I’m not trying to cushion his fall. He’s fell so hard the last 2 years there’s no cushion left. I guess I’m just still a bit embarrassed of it all.
Shame and blame go right along with the agenda of addiction. For not only the addict, but the family.
My son finally answered my frantic messages. He said he doesn’t know how that conversation got on a story or how to get it off. I hurriedly explained with detailed screenshots how to get it off.
Then in true Nar-anon cringe worth fashion, I gave unsolicited advice & told him since he has warrants out, he probably should be more careful. He still insisted it wasn’t a drug deal.
Ok son. Over and out. 10-4 to this day. Another Day in the Life of a Mother of a person with a Substance Use Disorder.
The little girl with the shy smile, came over to me, standing in the kitchen. Her sticky fingers grabbed my hands and led me to the dining room table where the family was singing Happy Birthday to her soon to be little sister.
She sat in the tall wooden chair and put my hands on top of it and said to stay there behind her.
The birthday girl’s Mom brought the My Little Pony cake in, as the familiar song rang out with happy smiles all around. 🎶🎵🎶🎵🎶
As I watched the plume of smoke rise up from the candles, I felt the tears stinging my eyes.
This was my little 6 year old granddaughter; who I managed to see a few times a year, despite living hours away.
These people were mostly her new family, of my youngest son as he forged into a new relationship and new life.
The previous life held my eldest son, the family business, and all my other happy kids and grandkids.
As the grey smoke disappeared into the abyss, my eyes clouded in tears as I thought of the irony of that smoke.
The sweetness of life swirled up in the yummy pink fluffy frosting. The colored candles of adventure dripping with melted wax. The lightness of the flame flickering, taunting. The flame is what separates the light from the darkness. When the flame extinguishes, the smoke does its dance….
And oh, did our smoke dance. Our family had now joined one of millions ripped apart with addiction, specifically opiods which not so quickly, dominoed into heroin.
We can argue all day long about who’s fault that was, but it’s clear that anyone who was remotely vulnerable to addiction had some intense marketing help.
Over 200,000 thousand Americans have been lost to the opiod epidemic crisis. The recent Sackler family lawsuit has brought to light some factors of this.