It is absolutely paralyzing to learn that your child has substance abuse issues. Where do you turn for help? How do you know what steps to take? What is addiction, anyway? There are endless questions and no consolidation source of answers or support. In addition, the stigma of having an addicted child causes many parents to retract and withdraw rather than seek help. In truth, many families struggle with substance abuse issues, and the support, wisdom and guidance they need are not easily found.Parent Pathway was created for parents, by parents, to provide a place to find peace of mind at a time when their world feels like it is falling apart.
I didn’t really know what to expect when our son invited us to join him a support group to celebrate a milestone of his early recovery. I had been to open meetings before, but never at his side. My first impression of this particular meeting was—Wow, there are so many people here. My second impression was—And so many of them have lots of recovery….years and even decades.
But it took my breath away when I heard my son announce, “I am an alcoholic and an addict.” That short sentence made me confront the fact that my dreams for him would take a different shape. My visions of him on the high school debate team, high-fiving teammates, volunteering in the community had been derailed. My dreams — fantasies — for his future were unlikely to materialize. And AA was certainly not the club I wanted him to join.
And when I let go of my dreams for my child, it made room for him to carve out his own path, independent of what I hoped for. And that divestiture helped me slash some of the ties of co-dependency that had tied us together in an unhealthy way. His life/his dreams to chase.
And at the same time, I was immensely proud that he claimed membership in this group that I know to be committed and brave and march straight ahead while the siren song of addiction calls out to them. This is a fellowship of people who dig deep to understand their powerlessness and to seek the help they need. There is tremendous empathy and mutual support within the walls of such meetings. And in those rooms, my son has created new dreams for his life, dreams that I am honored to witness.
My son’s proclamation also compelled me to admit, “I am the mother of an alcoholic and an addict.” I never imagined that I would claim membership in this club. But there is strength and honesty in this proclamation that helps me get better, too. And there is a fellowship of committed parents in that club- committed to their own health, and to figuring out how to support their children in recovery. There is strength, and wisdom, in their numbers.
How many times does one hope it’s the last time? I reflect on a time when I had to gather my strength while knowing that my daughter had relapsed again. I remember it was one of the bad relapses. It was so disheartening for me, but for her as well. There are so many phases of addiction, but there does come a time when it’s just not fun anymore. I haven’t had a drug addiction so I cannot say what it is like from experience. But I do know that there is drug and alcohol use that is just one big ‘party’ to young people and then there is addiction. It is not pretty, it is not fun, and it is not a phase. It is an obsession, it is a depression, and it is full of loss and remorse.
It seemed whenever my daughter relapsed I had an overwhelming urge to travel to where she was detoxing just to hold her and love her. I always knew that whatever she did I would be there to hold her. I did not begrudge her or have anger towards her, I had love and compassion. I knew that she did not want this to be her life, she wanted to move forward, yet the addiction was like trying to run up a muddy hill – you keep sliding and slipping in place or backwards. I sat with my daughter and listened to her story, what she thought, what she did, how she came back and wanted to get better. My part in her journey was to just love her and support her – she was the one who would eventually make the changes to get off the muddy hill.