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.
It’s been said resentments are the dark rooms where negatives are developed. This conjures up a great deal of truth about resentments – all negative. For me, it always came when my sons did not do what I expected and when it really mattered. I usually had a financial or emotional investment in the action I was anticipating. Commonly defined as an emotional feeling resulting from fear or imagined wrong doing, resentments always kept me hostage to negativity; anger, sadness, frustration, contempt, tension.
As I work through the resentments I have harvested with regards to the family disease, I can see where my obsession with the addicts in my life was consuming me and thwarting any possibility of joy and happiness. Depending on other people for things that really mattered to me was the driving force behind my resentments. Since my perspective was disproportionately misdirected, it was as if THEY were held in higher standards than where I held myself. And my self worth was predicated on them…no wonder I spent so much time trying to control…
It’s been said the amount of time you spend thinking about something should be in this proportion: God first, me second, them 3rd! My understanding of resentments has come full circle, and though I do not find myself having these emotional feelings as much anymore, they are not far surfacing when life happens to throw a curve ball. The difference today is I have a better support system to help me accept what is going on. I have choices in how I react to it.
Try exploring how the expectations we have for our loved ones can set us up for happiness or sorrow in our Meetings in A Box: Expectations. You may discover your own dark room were negatives are developed. You may begin to ask what really matters.
A while back, I re-read an article I had torn from the New York Times that debated the pros and cons of keeping alcoholics anonymous. The author writes, “More and more, anonymity seems like an anachronistic vesting of the Great Depression, when AA got its start and when alcoholism was seen not just as a weakness but as a disgrace.”
My reaction at the time had nothing to do with the pros or cons of anonymity. Instead, I proclaimed an internal Hallelujah that “the disgrace” of alcoholism is beginning to be seen as a vestige of misinformed days gone by. It will be powerful to have more honest conversations about the nature of this disease. The conversation should also include a discussion of teen substance abuse as a massive public health threat, but that’s probably a few years off.
And the conversation should include bad doctors who capitalize and fuel’s people’s chemical dependency by prescribing unnecessary pain pills. An article in today’s LA Times features a doctor who was arrested for prescribing an average of 37 Vicodin prescriptions a day to patients he never even examined.
Another article in the LA Times wrote about the rappers who glorify “Sizzurp” or “Lean” in their music, and even in their musical style of slowing down the cadence of their music, doping it down, as if sedated by the codeine/soda/pain pill concoction. (not so glorious: the numerous famous rappers died from this fatal brew). With our style-makers and influencers of teens today proclaiming the virtues of this brew, can we really expect our kids to Just Say No??
What’s my point? Addiction is a complex disease further complicated by the media, parasitic doctors, and a celebrity culture that glamorizes a destructive disease. As parents, it’s important to see these forces at play as we try to understand our loved one’s decisions and perhaps help other families make wiser choices.
Denial is a powerful escape from life’s serious problems. For me, reality takes on a distortion, and when I’m focused on my grown child I lose sight of what really is. My tendencies are to not see addiction. I don’t see isolation from family and social settings, and I don’t see self-centeredness, ego or anger to name a few. Unsettling behavior is hard to see with those closest to me. I can’t stand to see the suffering or struggles. Before the tools of recovery to help with my co-dependency issues, I stayed in denial because I didn’t know what to do. I felt obligated and responsible for the substance abuse but I did not know it was much bigger and more powerful than anything I had ever come across. With no tools and working on it alone, denial helped smooth over the trouble, minimizing big issues to a temporary manageable level.
Oddly, if the same behavior was exhibited by a stranger, at least I’d recognize certain signals: danger, concern, disrespect or insensitivity. Most likely I would not tolerate it. But to those I love? I don’t see it or my denial turns it into rationalization or normalization. I thought I would be able to help, but really? How? I’m incapable – I’m just too close. This is why I pray for the stranger, turn the rest over to a Power, greater than myself and for all matters that concern me; I let it begin with me.
To understand the coping mechanism that can perpetuate rather than solve the problem, check out Parent Pathway Meeting in a box: Denial.