Love is not found in boxed chocolates tied up with a silk bow.
Love is not found in a Facebook post with lovey-dovey pictures.
Love IS found in the quick breathe of a Mom who looks at her phone and sees the number of her child calling.
Love IS found with the expelled breathe of relief when the door to the treatment center or bus door closes with her child behind it.
Love IS found in the fallen tears on the pillow, alone, in the dark.
Love is seen when a mom looks into her hurting childs eyes as he lashes out at anyone who dares get between him and his master.
This life, this journey. We didn’t request to be in the club. But when we first laid eyes on the child, along with all the hopes and dreams to come; we unknowingly accepted the disappointments and pain that would surely come also.
The first time our child came home crying because someone was mean to them, we felt the fierceness rise inside us.
We knew instantly we would fight for our child’s heart. We knew we would do anything to soothe their pain.
Now they seem so far away. We can’t save them. We can’t bridge that gap to cauterize their bleeding heart. If we could, we would.
God knows we try. We try bandaid after bandaid.
It doesn’t work. The hemorrhage continues. It filters through loved one’s lives and relationships like hot lava flowing from a huge volcano.
We wonder when it will stop. How deep is that hole?
No one truly knows. So we forge through the pain.
Thinking we can’t go on.
But we will.
Because of that momma bond. Unbroken. Unseared. We will go on. And even if we can’t fix this boo boo. We can still love.
We love DESPITE the pain. We love THROUGH the pain. We love because we are Mother’s.
We carry love from the pre-mortal existence before earth and we carry it through the galaxies into the afterlife.
Not time, nor space can douse a Mother’s Love.
Throughout centuries and worlds of hardships- nothing has stopped a Mother’s Love.
Beware, of the Mother’s Love.
It can crush unimaginable barricades. Move mountains to plains. Change hearts to Gold. Make a meal out of nothing. Sew a complete fictional character out of strips of cloth.
This war might think it has been won. The victory flag being raised by the devil himself.
But he doesn’t and never will….. Know the strength of a Mother’s Love.
Yesterday, I came within feet of my boy yet couldn’t hug him.
Yesterday I missed a call from my boy where I could have heard his voice for the first time in months.
How many moms would give anything to be able to do that?
When you are the mom of a substance user, these things are important because of the risk of premature or unwarranted death.
Yesterday, I still thought my boy could be gone, until I saw him alive and breathing in an almost interactive picture.
But I had to leave him again in the hands of faith and God.
Because of the wayaddiction weaves its tentacles into the crevices of people's minds, some things just can't be done the way you would if your loved one had cancer
With Cancer, you would enjoy every last minute and second with your loved one because hope is pretty much gone.
Addiction is more like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s together but with a cure out there leading you around like a dangling carrot.
The mind is under some sort of control, with moments of clarity. The body seems to be unable to stop certain behavior and actions. The mind then over- justifies the behaviors and downplays them. It might even lie about them.
Pride and shame work hand in hand when it comes to feeling like a failure. Pride says: “I can handle it, I don’t need any help, NO MATTER what evidence is presented.”
Shame says: “I’ve lost my hero/dad/husband/son/ uncle/entrepreneur status and the pain cuts so deep that I want to isolate and hurt myself worse.
People/society verify that feeling by treating me as a second class citizen, which then propels me to act worse and take riskier behavior just to survive”.
I used to think Cancer was the worst thing that could happen to a body and mind.
But I now know that cancer is usually temporary- sad & painful- but has a verifiable ending.
Addiction has brought me things that I may never have discovered.
I have crept into places and feelings that may not have existed. Because, you see, as long as my kids were doing well, and what society respected and expected; I could be proud.
But the minute the stigma of addiction hit my family, I had to hide my pain and shame. After all, how do you post the small success of improvement next to the graduations and promotions of others kids?
But addiction also has made me grateful.
Grateful for Hope. For Faith. For the possibilities of recovery and connection.
Grateful for my other kids, that despite all that’s happened, they have proven they can rise above the pain and thrive, possibly in the example and footsteps and honor of their brother, to make a life of joy for their families. After all, what speaks hope and healing better than by example.
I may not have been able hug my boy yesterday but he lies in my heart constantly, whether a few feet away or 400 miles away.
As a Mom, going through this tumultuous journey of loving someone with substance use disorder; I often find myself in a quandary of confusion.
It’s as if I’m in some suspended cloud of anger and sadness, relieved when a ray of hope trickles through the misty light only to be followed by dark thunderstorms of disappointment again.
The steps seemed pretty straight forward at first. After the initial gut-wrenching shock of discovering the drug use of my son; the comfort (and naivety) that he’s an adult and can handle it, left me with a slightly aloof neutrality that it wasn’t my deal.
I mean how serious could a few extra pills be? He worked hard! He was always having back pain. He needed relief, in order to work.
Wow! Was I ever naive.
When the facts of how serious it was becoming- despite continued denial on his part- I found the strange foreboding “routineness” of being the Mom of a struggling substance user, set in.
And THAT was scary!
I couldn’t ignore the signs of impending doom, swirling around like a storm just waiting to hit.
As the perpetual shoes kept dropping -a job contract lost; another of his businesses failed; then the marriage crumbles; I watched in sometimes shell-shocked horror at the devastation such a thing could cause.
The rehab failures, mixed with moments of clarity and hope, leave me exhausted.
“Walk away and you’ll feel better”.
“Go to a meeting, do self-care, live your life “.
It doesn’t seem to matter what mode of recovery my personal journey is at; I seem to be suspended in this cloud of perpetual uncertainty. It takes me back to elementary school when we played tug-of-war.
Will I be the cheering group with scuffed hands but happy smiles? Or dragging myself out of the mud in the middle trying to wash the heartache away?
Will I be professing the “cure” as my son happily recovers? Or will I be in the mourning Mothers club of pain & heartache?
Which team was I on anyway? Am I with the tough love crowd? Especially on those days when I’m being pressured for money from my son?
Or am I in the loving well- connection- above- all- group? In the middle, are the harm reduction lobbyists who are adamant about users’ rights & safety.
I’m running back and forth, I want to be on the winning team! And by winning, I mean I want my child to survive!
Above all, isn’t that goal?
My heart sinks every time I read ‘that post”. A mom who got “the call”.
I want to scream! No! I don’t want to be in this club! I want to show the gut-wrenching pain to all those people on Narcan posts who despise giving addicts more than one chance or ANY chance. I want to advocate for more help, for understanding. I want to break the stigma. I want to gracefully educate and come out feeling proud that we are making progress. One life might be saved.
I want to be that ONE. The one who finally found "the key" & pulled everyone together. I want results or at least palpable progress.
Just when I think I’ve gained some sort of empathy for my son’s and all substance users’ struggles, I’m hit with the accusations. Sometimes a stranger on Instagram, sometimes family and friends. That I’m the reason he still uses. That every time I use “defensive language” regarding him then I’m enabling. Every time I arrange rehab instead of jail, I’m enabling. (Which happened twice in 4 years).
It’s inferred that I’m wasting my time because he will never change & that I should spend my energy elsewhere. More than once I was cut off from family for how I handled the addiction.
This hits hard.
Rejected-not due to effort but to the failure of my efforts?
As if addiction wasn’t painful or complicated enough, it gets to perpetuate its lies and havoc not only onto the addict but onto loved ones and how they “should” react or fulfill their roles.
I felt like my role was to give him one support person like everyone needs. I needed to be able to give him hope in the midst of all the darkness.
As my friend Johanna Richards states so eloquently:
“I enable my love and truth. I enable my love. I enable a safe place for him to have a better chance of feeling loved and being treated like a human being with worth and dignity.”
This is my goal.
Everyone gets to choose their response and I choose to love without regrets.
Even “tough love” when done with anger and spite stalls any progress. I read it all the time in the Mom’s groups. Unhealed pain manifests as bitterness and sometimes when they share screenshots of texts with their person, I can’t tell who the addict is!
Addiction loves to do that. Get its slimy hands between families, friends, bosses, even organizations. Divide and conquer is how it survives.
The underlying theme in all these interactions is:
If only he would quit using.
But I have come to realize that quitting is actually a tiny step in achieving actual recovery.
It’s a necessary step, but only part of the process.
Treatment is the ultimate goal , We have an idea that if we can just get them there-then the magic will happen.
All is well right?
Recovery is not linear and usually takes several tries. I would soon learn that it takes personal responsibility from everyone past that point also.
The day after his 2nd rehab stay, he moved into an old clapboard & brick sober-living house in the worst area of downtown.
We were standing in line at the grocery store. He was so thrilled at all the new cereal flavors that had come out in the year or two of him being basically homeless or in jail.
He quietly said, with that far away, introspective look he gets in his eyes, “I wish ‘certain people’ would fight for me. They act like I shouldn’t have a job”.
My mother- heart sank.
As I watched this 36-year-old man trying to make sense of this un-make-sensible disease; I was sad. How could I explain to this newly detoxed brain, with raw emotion scourging back to life into places that he wasn't ready to handle - that no one trusted him? That people hate putting their reputation on the line when statistically, responsible behavior in recovery, is a non-linear maze of disappointment.
In his mind, he had done so much for others, for many years and now felt abandoned, in a sense.
I felt for him. To have so much hope and the momentum of getting back to center but then constantly be told you might fail, like a certain recovery model preaches; must be daunting.
Rehab is a huge deal to him. He’s NOT a revolving rehab-ber, so this was a giant accomplishment to his independent, resourceful lifestyle.
So now he had done the thing…
Get off the drugs, ✔go to jail,✔ go to rehab. ✔
“You’re still not good enough” basically, as one text inferred
I sigh. This was his journey.
I can’t hold his pain or drive his recovery.
I can’t dwell in the negative, I just can’t. We’ve come so far.
I have to take care of me.
I need relief. I need feedback.
I go back to the support groups for comfort. When I hear the echoes of those same attitudes from hurt wives and mothers who can’t contain their pain and disdain for what they’ve been through; I quickly exit out of that group.
I need a more moderate group who understands the Mom side with compassion and hope.
Now, All is well until someone mentions: “All drug dealers should get life without parole or death”.
I freeze. I wonder…..
If my son is only worthy of help when he’s ‘clean’ or not crossing a certain line in the jagged destructive course of addiction; then the other 50% of the time, it’s a toss-up as to his worth?
Is he surviving the best he can, day by day- or asking family for money? It seems, either way, he’s the villain.
According to some, if I’m not doing ANY thing for him then he has a chance -(to hit rock bottom) – even though – unrecovered, he has zero chance of keeping a regular job or getting money legally.
What happens in that gap?
If he can’t support himself, he certainly can’t support his kids. But that must be my fault too. I must have given him too many hamburgers when he was starving.
Ughh. The uncertainty and mixed messages that Mommas feel!
My goal was ALWAYS to get him back to his kids. In whatever way he could get healed and treated in order for that to happen. I never ever justified or supported him staying in his lifestyle. To do that I had to maintain a connection.
If I even so much as hint that connection works better than shame and punishment, then I’m supporting his lifestyle, like his lawyer told me.
I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know how to help my son anymore. But at times I want to scream.
What is a life worth?
Every single life in this convoluted mess of evil entanglement is of value. Each person is caught in their own version of the hell that it causes.
OTHER people in PAIN are not the enemy!
I want to have that blasted on every Billboard right next to:
NARCAN to overdoses is like AED paddles to a heart attack!"
It’s not a “get out of jail free card!”.
What I do know is that my son never ever wanted it to be like this. The man who used to send his little girl flowers every time he worked out of town is now considered a dead-beat dad and it tears my heart out. Years of substance use and conflict has isolated him further. In the short window when he is detoxed and willing, he can’t seem to conform fast enough to recovery expectations with a complete rebuilding of his life.
He has nothing-unhoused, unemployed and yet expected to manage and fix ALL his relationships AND fulfil the court obligations.
When I hear of some other thing he needs to do in his recovery, I sigh. I have to step back and accept the limits of my role. I also have to review my own expectations of his recovery.
If the determining factor for a relationship of an unhealed, skewed-thinking brain versus a healthy brain is for the unhealed brain to lead the way to healthy interactions with everyone, there’s going to be problems.
There’s a dynamic at work in ALL relationships that was there before the drugs, and now those issues need more attention than even before.
But the pressure seems to be placed on them, to fulfil all our hopes and dreams for their lives as it relates to ours.
That’s a lot for one person.
The progressive nature of unhealed addiction mixed with the correctional system almost always leads to more crime.
Relapse: A draw towards people and places who fill that empty hole that substances, or any addictive behavior fill.
For me, the justification for spending more money on a much-needed intervention at this point, is a hard sell. He’s facing charges that could be years in prison. Prison is expensive too, but so are funerals.
I think he feels like he’s stuck in a system that never lets them breathe freely without looking over their shoulder.
I see what that system has done to him. He’s hardened. Day by day, little by little which that saddens my aching Mama heart.
Pain & trauma damage a soul. It causes cognitive dissonanceto maintain a core belief such as “I can’t function without drugs”.
Sometimes, I understand why people stay in deep dark places. Although to us, it looks and feels scary, to them, it’s safety. It’s home. It’s acceptance.
No, I’m not justifying drug use. I’m justifying human beings in severe turmoil and trauma. If they didn’t have trauma before the addiction, they certainly do after it.
So, this journey of a thousand miles is truly just one step at a time.
There are days I have to literally force myself to breathe and count each step to get through the day. Some days each step is filled with angst, trepidation, & fear. But other days, I project hope into every deliberate movement and breath.
I envision the day when my hopes and dreams mesh perfectly with my sons.
When all things good and right come together in some kind of radical entanglement with the universe and God’s plan for him. To see little kids happy smiles beaming joy into faces of love is my ultimate wish. To have the love and understanding of family with everyone’s pain in the journey acknowledged, seen & heard with hope, moving forward in love.
As a mom to a person with Opiod Use Disorder(OUD) ptsd has affected me greatly. If you don’t know what PTSD is, you may not have it. I would say It’s a severe form of anxiety that can usually be traced back to an event or series of events. The department of Experimental Psychology describes it this way:
Unwanted distressing memories of the trauma, flashbacks or nightmares
Feeling emotionally upset, tearful or irritable for example, or bodily reactions such as sweating, shaking or a racing heart beat when reminded of the event
Avoiding talking about the trauma, thinking about it or feelings associated with it
Avoiding reminders of the trauma: people, places or activities
Feeling emotionally numb, difficulty experiencing feelings like love or happiness
Negative thoughts about the self, the world or the future
Feeling detached and cut-off from other people, finding it difficult to be close to anyone
Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
Feeling overly alert or watchful or feeling jumpy
For loved ones caught in addiction, the families can certainly have all of these symptoms and more. I remember so many times trying to describe symptoms to yet another therapist as they looked at me like I was crazy.
I mean….. Aren’t all their patients???
Kidding aside, usually addiction isn’t seen as an event like war, rape or deaths of a parent or close family member. I can truly say over the last 3 years I have had all of the above stated symptoms.
There are specific things to do for ptsd such as emdr which is explained in this short video
You can find a therapist who does these treatments by typing into your browser (I prefer duck duck go) psychology today. Type in your zip code, then you can click on your insurance and all therapies like emdr, that you’re interested in.
My coping skills for my outbreaks ( between therapists) have been many things depending on where I was at. If I was in my car I would turn up the radio loud to songs that I knew and purposely breathe deep and loud while singing in gasps. Although sounding ridiculous, this helped bring me out of my head, get the needed oxygen to my brain (I hate trying to take slow deep breaths when I’m upset), and back to the healing sounds of music.
If I was at home, which happened usually at night; I would leave my bed which wasn’t doing it’s b anyway, go to my couch & snuggle under my weighted blanket. I would turn the tv onto something that would catch my eye with beautiful scenery or fast-moving scenes. I didn’t want to hear what was happening, I only wanted my visual attention to be drawn in and mesmerized while my body calmed down.
At work, it was a different story. I once went into my boss’s office at the beginning of my shift and told her I couldn’t breathe and needed to go home. I don’t even know what had happened, it seemed like my son had a court date or similar, but it doesn’t matter if it’s anything “serious”. Almost all things addiction- are upsetting to us. I hate to say it but at work, if I’m upset about my son, I have to take a beta-blocker such as propranolol it metoprolol for anxiety. Please consult a doctor for your unique situation.
At work I teach my patients to do a 54321 sensory exercise like the Mayo clinic recommends here:
Everyone feels anxious now and then. But there are things you can do to minimize those feelings. Mayo Clinic Health System staff suggests trying the exercise below the next time your mind is stuck on the worry setting.
Sit quietly. Look around you and notice:
5 things you can see: Your hands, the sky, a plant on your colleague’s desk
4 things you can physically feel: Your feet on the ground, a ball, your friend’s hand
3 things you can hear: The wind blowing, children’s laughter, your breath
2 things you can smell: Fresh-cut grass, coffee, soap
1 thing you can taste: A mint, gum, the fresh air
This exercise helps you shift your focus to your surroundings in the present moment and away from what is causing you to feel anxious. It can help interrupt unhealthy thought patterns. They also have a cute stress video:
Holding a bag of ice or frozen vegetables can be grounding. Going outside barefoot with a change of scenery helps. I put a bag of rocks on my patio, that I bought at home depot with some paint pens. When I needed distraction I would pick up a rock & start painting. Later at the therapists or in your journal you can work through the emotion. Most importantly is to give yourself grace. Like my fellow mom wrote in this blog about self love.
Looking back, things that I worried about, had a way of working out, whether I worried about them or not, so why did I waste my energy, tears, risk my job, etc? Pick your battles- people ultimately are going to do what they’re going to do. When it’s all said and done your health matters too. When I used to hear that, I would say- I’ll take care of me later- but later might be too late.
“See, my son is in jail, & I’m glad but I still am wrenched with worry all night that he will get out in the night & in the day I hate when he asks for money for the phone or for actual real food or a bit of candy that we all crave but especially them when they are coming off heroin because I don’t want him trading it for drugs or calling his cronies to bail him out. After all, even though- he detoxed last weekend and became so suicidal and depressed that they put him on suicide watch and when I called the nurse she said they might pink slip him to the hospital so then I worried that he wouldn’t have a guard when I should be more worried that he’ll harm himself- he still has the mental obsession and cravings to use”………breath…
I can see the blank stare of “What am I supposed to do with that?” Look which I’m so accustomed to.
I bought this piece of grass specifically for my little Chihuahua to “go” outside on.
When I bought it, it didn’t ‘appear’ to have a dead spot.
I noticed another stack of sod had the dead spot. Obviously, they had a disease or some sort of malfunction in the seed or its development. But there were a few stacked up that didn’t. They “looked” normal, healthy. I picked from those. I thought I was good as gold.
“My grass will never turn brown, It’s from a different breed. I’ll water it every day and give it sunshine & rake the weeds out. All the things.”
This picture is one month later. The spot appeared almost immediately. In panic, I tried everything: Dragging my hose through my house to water it (small condo living); sprinkled it with love and fertilizer and even coffee grounds! It persisted in it’s trajectory of showing up different.
I thought about that green grass and my babies. We “get” them as they are green and cute and innocent with no signs of trouble ahead. Even though we don’t have a “keep the sod green instruction manual”, we’ll be fine right? As long as we provide everything for their growth, we are bound to see the results we expect right?
When those first patches of brown appear, such as with substance abuse; we may panic a little. But our inner calming spirit tells us we are overthinking it because of the thousands of thoughts we’ve had before that turned out to be nothing. Someone may have told us we were being paranoid.
Of course. Why would MY child do THAT? They didn’t grow up in a brown patch sort of house. They wasn’t abused or given alcohol. Their every move wasn’t controlled, pushing their little independent spirits & feelings deep down inside them, haunting them until later, when their demons came out in full force.
They were free-loving country adventure-after-adventure kind of kids. How could this be a problem? How could there be a dark brown spot lurking there just awaiting the right set of circumstances to show its true ‘colors’.
Well, it did. Whether it was there all along or developed as a result of intense stress that life throws at an already vulnerable base.- it was here to show just how ugly it can be.
What to do, what to do…..
Yell at it? Berate it? Lock it up with a little chain link fence around it telling it to be like the other strong green blades of grass around it or ELSE?
That should do it. That should scare it into compliance.
After all, no one should DARE to turn brown in this war on drugs. As people look upon them with disgust and tell them they only get one or two or three chances and THAT’S it! Narcan? Pfewwww. You better learn the first time dude, or we will just watch you die – that will send a STRONG message to other vulnerable and lost people not to cross the line of when it’s socially acceptable to take something for the pain or emotional discomfort but not get addicted.
Everyone knows where that line is, right?
Maybe I’ll just try to love it.
Maybe I’ll just accept it where it is but not leave it there.
Yesterday, the otherwise green child of mine called from jail. He is in his Brown patch of life. His brain is riddled with confused fiery darts of hell telling him to get back out there and continue this gig just a little longer. But my boy is still there. He thanked me for answering. He said thank you for never giving up on me. He said:
“Please don’t ever give up on me- you don’t know what it feels like to have someone on the outside rooting for you.”
No he didn’t want anything. He had one 2 minute call in 4 days, he could have used it for requests or rudeness while his brain is mucked up with confusion. Instead he used it to thank me and my husband for not giving up on him.
That brown patch is begging for acceptance. It knows deep down that it’s not who it truly is. It knows it’s destined for greater things. It just can’t see the forest for the “dead trees”. It’s like honey I shrunk the kids and he’s in the center of that brown spot not able to see the solution.
I can help with that view.
I can stand in the gap between a future life of joy and his present life of turmoil and strife.
I can lead the way. Just like when he was a baby and scared to stand up and walk across the room to the couch. What if he fell? I can encourage him that’s it’s worth the risk.
"GET UP!! You CAN DO it!! You will never look back if you master this.
a cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture
We don’t want to be in the club, yet here we are. It wasn’t planned. We fight it kicking & screaming and it takes up most of our time and emotional – sometimes physical -energy. If it were a “hobby” we would have spent thousands of dollars on it with almost zero return of pleasure- like most hobbies.
We can’t really get out of this group unless we are taken against our will into the bereaved Mom’s groups.
Mom’s of addicts.
Who knew there would be so many different subcultures of a group that NO – ONE wants to be in?
Two years ago, I didn’t have any idea of their existence. One day, while in my lone state of scrolling Facebook for addiction help; I found my first “support” group. What in the world? People who freely talked about what they were going through? No pretending that they didn’t cry every night or wonder what they did wrong? No embarrassment that their friends and family might find out? This was wonderful!
I joined a few different groups not knowing how different they were. I soon discovered that each one had their own culture or vibe making a distinct subculture within this GroupThatNooneWantsToBeIn..There was quite the variety of different groups:
Current and Recovering addicts Support group – straight & raw addiction talk.
CLEAN and SOBER support- don’t try to mention MAT- I actually like this one, despite who runs it. ( an alleged body broker)
One local PUBLIC non-profit with a ‘seemingly” proud to be addicted name- but full of resources.
Mom’s thriving together- post upon post of complaining about how rotten their addict is- but lots of ‘support’ that way.
Al-anon, Nar-anon- surprisingly the same as above – which is NOT how the virtual meetings are.
Prayer group- can’t say damn in your heartfelt rants or you get a nice message from admin.
Non- prayer group- can’t use 🙏 these or you get a ‘nice’- (not) message from admin.
Hardcore matt advocates and legislation information group. Don’t say “exchanging one drug for another” or you will be quickly put in your place! Lol, luckily I never did.
Craft / thrive support with zero tolerance for shaming or dishonoring addicts.
Fukkk fentanyl and other bereaved Mom’s groups.
I have moved in and out of different groups over this last 2 years, due to what I needed at the time. Also being unaware of the “vibe”, I didn’t receive a lot of response to a post I might have made, so I retreated. Even now, when I clearly know what’s expected, and post accordingly, I still may not get what I need.
See, it’s like a twilight zone of sorts. When you’re not used to this world of -all-things-addiction and the pain and suffering it causes; and you scroll your news feed of addiction groups; there are unbelievable wtf moments. Post after post of pain, drama, tears, kids with dfs, kids with grandparents fighting for them. Kicking spouses out, pictures of paraphernalia that a spouse or mom found. A bystander with no ties to “loving anaddict” MIGHT think, ” What in the world is going on?”
That’s what going on.
And be glad you don’t know. As I stated yesterday in this post on overdose awareness day, be very glad you don’t understand.
But for us left in the club, what do we do? I’ll go back to an AA/NA expression:
“Take what you need and leave the rest.”
Which I have finally figured out how to do. Most days I don’t have the emotional energy to argue about what’s clean, who’s clean & who’s business it is. Since I have written over 200 articles about all things addiction, it’shard to not want to throw out one of my posts from my site to ‘educate’ that person of the day. Since most sites don’t allow links, I was quickly reprimanded, in most cases not nicely. So as my fragile emotions moved onward, some groups were better left unattended.
Even now, as I post a few times a month, I feel like one or paragraphs in a single post, must not tell the whole situation because I get advice that I feel isn’t even applicable. And once again, the emotional energy required to explain just isn’t there, when the story keeps playing out in the background as I navigate my emotions through It.
People in these groups are in such different places that it’s sometimes wise to pause and inquire what it is they need most.
Like the video below, as in any relationship; I think it’s important in social media, to know if someone is just venting and needing emotional support or actually Asking for advice.
It’s like a husband and wife dynamic:
But even if there’s not an obvious solution (in all-things- addiction, there NEVER is); what advice/ response is truely helpful?
In just the last month, out of 3 posts NOT asking for advice, just venting at how I can’t (or- more like- how hard it is to not have sadness) feel joy for my other kids and their accomplishments when my son is facing prison and is still unhoused, no car- yadayadyada and other deep emotional pain I’m feeling, I still got these responses:
Don’t resent your other kids for being happy! – (ummm I don’t- I didn’t say that at all- in fact I said I was happy for them- in the. second sentence)
Give it to God, pray for him, live your life- (ok, never thought of that, I do…….doesn’t mean I can’t be sad).
Don’t be willing to be an audience to your kids addiction- once I stopped being involved in my sons addiction- he magically got better- ( like really??? You think my 35 year old son gave up a million dollar business, a new house, his family, go to jail 5 times FOR THE ATTENTION???) I can’t even…..
You just need gratitude in your life, stop “stinkin thinkin” which ironically is a post I made months ago.
Let the natural consequences happen- you didn’t cause it..yadayada…(ok, I’ll jump for joy that my son is punished to 10+ years in prison for POSSESSION of the drug of a disease he can’t manage.
It’s not a crime to be sad. I’m MAD & SAD at the system & the irony of the criminalization of this certain disease. I’m mad that I’m powerless, yes. I’m scared of losing my son and the hope that goes along with having him alive, yes. I guess I just want permission to be sad sometimes…….
Yesterday I finally- actually asked- for advice regarding my sons dire situation and I immediately got a CODA meeting group answer saying,
“Live your life – you’re not ok.”
I give up…..
If caring about your sons future and his kids not having a dad, is co-dependent, then so be it. I will not stop caring.
I’m embarrassed to say that I had never heard of it until a month ago. I have never been a huge studier of scripture. I recently heard some well- Bible versed women talking about it in a group. Just last night my son begged for it – in a way. He wants to be loved desperately in spite of his life choices right now.
So I thought I’d learn & share. Here’s what I found:
11 Practical ways to show agape love to anyone
November 5, 2019 Lila Diller
Have you ever asked yourself…
What is true love?
How do I truly love my boyfriend/husband?
How do I truly love my children?
How do I truly love my parents and siblings?
How do I truly love my friends and coworkers?
I know I’m supposed to love my enemies, but how do I really do that?
What does agape love mean?
Why is it such a big deal in 1 Corinthians 13?
I always heard about agape love in 1 Corinthians 13, but I wondered what it really is? What does it look like in real life? How should it manifest itself in my life?
Agape is one of the 4 Greek words used in the Bible. This is the “highest” form of love, the one that is always used for God. It is a self-sacrificing, unconditional love that does what is best for the object of their love, no matter how it hurts themselves or seems harsh to the object. It is not a feeling but an action, a decision of the will that leads to real actions. Like “faith without works is dead” (James 2:14), so is love. Love is shown by good works. What do these works look like on an everyday level for you and me?
do what’s best for them, even rebuke, as long as it’s done for their benefit and with gentleness
You can download the free PDF that answers these questions quickly and you can print out to refer to at any time!
This PDF is a fancy, colored one for use on devices:
This PDF is a black-and-white one for easier printing, to place on your refrigerator or mirror:
I guess, as moms, we have this type of love naturally. Maybe that’s what separates Mom’s and Dad’s view of their child’s antics? Dad’s view it more conditional – fix it and them ill talk to you- type of response. Mom’s just love no matter what and then are reprimanded for not letting go.
The good news is, it’s all a process. As long as we are moving forward in Love, we can’t lose.
Have you ever sat by a river and watched the leaves and sticks flow by? This is one of my favorite things to do. I contemplate, every single time, where all the water comes from, where it’s going, and what its purpose is, right now, in front of me. I watch the leaves and wonder if they’re happy just being tossed around wherever life takes them. Once in a while a beautiful duck may appear, and I think, “Maybe it’s all about the duck”.
I sometimes try to remember who I was before the river. Before I was the leaf being tossed around.
Have you ever thought who you were before you were trying to save someone else?
Who were you before this current tragedy or quest took over?
What did you enjoy? What brought you joy? What was your foundation?
When our foundation is based on something out of our control, there is bound to be an earthquake to shake it up. When our very existence seems to depend on a situation getting better or worse, we know we’re off center.
The Center of being true to ourselves. As hard as it is to admit, especially in the rawness of broken hearts or deep pain that shoots through our core; we are all separate individuals.
This is not to invalidate feelings. Our feelings are our own. Grief is real. Sadness is real. Disappointment is real. But we don’t have to let them own us.
Just like the river flows without any help from us, others’ lives will unfold and flow without a whole lot of input from us. So what actions and input will help us find our true essence? Will we only be happy if x, y, or z happens? We all know that it doesn’t stop there. We might be happy for a minute but soon another concern will arise and we will be hyper-focused on making that happen.
What if instead of us being the leaves being tossed around, what if the leaves were our emotions? We see them coming, we don’t panic, we just lovingly accept and observe them? They might be angry leaves, mad at getting wet. Mad at the river. Mad at the people watching who won’t pull them out. Mad at the logs that won’t stop their decline to some unknown destination of fear.
What kind of quality of life by the hour, by the day, does that make? We wonder why we’re miserable and anxious. Maybe it’s all about the foundation and not the river that’s tossing us…….
Fellow addicted loved one supporter wrote this:
“With my jagged edges and sharp blades around my heart, I could come here and speak it into the world. I was rarely judged, and so many people would give opinions, words of encouragement, knowledge, acceptance, and love. I was caught up in my own sickness. The sickness so many of us, non-addicted loved ones get ill with. Which is thinking we can absorb the addiction out of the people we love or care about. That we can love it out of them, teach them their worth, their potential, and value. And the cold hard reality is, we can’t. Even while we try, I think we are so blind by what we THINK they want. What we THINK someone can become. And perhaps we are wrong. Maybe not. But what I do know now at this point. Nothing I ever did or didn’t do has anything to do with them getting sober and into recovery. I wasn’t to blame for drug use and relapse. And I couldn’t take credit for sober time either. That was them. Completely. The good and the bad choices. This also meant I had to realize, staying in my own illness of fixing, solving, enabling.. was also on me fully. Good days and bad. Just as their addiction was on them. My point is, something beautiful happened when I stopped pouring every ounce of myself into someone else. There was now something to pour into me. In the last few months I have ALLOWED, yes allowed being the correct word.. allowed myself to pour into me. ( After my five kids ) allowed me to laugh. Allowed me to go out and meet new people, good people. Allowed me to still be all the things about me I love while keeping boundaries of who and when people can receive the good parts of me. On my terms. I recognize myself again. I actually feel.. happy most days. Letting go of someone or something that is toxic or unhealthy does not mean the love was never there or wasn’t real. But it sometimes means you now know how to treat yourself right FIRST, and by doing so.. if other things fall off, or out, you know they weren’t meant for you. I will always wish sobriety, health, accountability, and a life of honesty and integrity for the previous addict in my life. I will always hope somewhere in this lifetime my kids will know the happy, funny, charismatic version of their father that long ago I once knew. Whether or not that is the real him, only he knows. But if they can know that person, I would be so happy for them. As for me, I found a new love. She’s about 5’10” and she is actually someone I reconnected with from long ago.. she is MYSELF. Loving her can only bring the correct kind of love in my life from here forward. To those who lost themselves trying to save someone. I see you. Rest. Pray. And remember who YOU ARE. Not be consumed remembering who THEY WERE. Let THEM do that. ❤️
Absorb the addiction out of them.
I love that. The only one we can absorb something out of- is ourself. What do you need to fo to absorb the worry, the fear, the disappointment out of yourself and reconnect with that person who just loves? Loving the one who loves so deeply….
This is the conversation I just heard at the pool:
“Honey come get this dead spider out of the water, HURRY! OMG!!!! It’s alive!!! How can that be? Get it! Wait how is that even a thing?? How can it be ALIVE in the water? OMG it’s MORE than NOT dead! it’s booking it! Hurry! How Is that possible??”
To which the guy said:
Chill, Quit screeching.. You’re gonna be ok….”
You're gonna be ok.
I tell myself this all the time. Do I believe it?
Spiders are a bit scary, I admit, but when facing more insurmountable problems in life, they are fiddlesticks. What used to scare me, I look at with a mild curiosity at the power it once held on me.
Remember that being afraid of something is not the same thing as having a specific phobia. In order to receive a diagnosis for a specific phobia, certain criteria must be met, including disruption to acts of daily living and a decrease in your quality of life due to the intensity of the fear.
“A decrease in quality of life, due to the intensity of fear..”
These days, my challenge is getting through the day without overwhelming fear taking over. Loving an addict is like seeing a spider 🕷️ every second of every day but you can’t swat at it. It’s as if you’re stuck in it’s tangled web trying to save yourself while it’s just doing it’s own thing to survive.
I think it’s important to not “breathe that fear onto them- like the lady at the pool breathed her fear onto everyone there.
There are many treatments for arachnophobia and other fears, including “Exposure Therapy”.
Basically flooding the brain- usually slowly- with thoughts of the thing you fear the most. We mommas already do our own exposure therapy. We live and breathe the possible outcomes every day. This is called ‘over thinking’ or ‘catastrophic thinking’
Here’s some tips to help with that, not necessarily geared toward substance use.
Another way is to learn to trust a higher power. Trust in something or someone that doesn’t have all the emotions attached to it, like we do.
As Libby Cataldi, one of my fellow mommas-in-hope, stated:
“It’s difficult for our suffering loved ones to carry our anxieties, as well as their own. When they are in the throes of their addiction, they are struggling with obsession, shame, and the chase of the drug. When they are in early recovery, they face countless fears daily – how to get a job, how to pay rent, and how to go the next day without drugs. Today, I’ll try to bolster my serenity and breathe hope into my loved one”.
I’ve found that when I talk to my son in fear mode, it just creates defensiveness on his part. He’s a debater at heart, so imagine with such a monster of substance use added on, he wins the argument every time, EVEN if he’s wrong.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Do you want to be right or be happy?”. With our addicted loved ones, it’s so easy to tell them what to do with their life so that WE can feel better. But that kind of compliance ( if we even get compliance) doesn’t last. Connections last…..