I have three children, ages 22, 17 and 9. My oldest has so many issues, drug abuse being one among many. Although my others are excelling and have healthy approaches to life, I now live in a constant paranoid dread that they too will fall into destructive patterns, and it keeps me from enjoying them and their accomplishments as I should. I struggle with comprehending how my oldest could choose this path when she was so loved. I keep going over it and obsessing how it could be our fault, how it must be our fault somehow.
Even though the other two are doing great, my confidence in my own abilities to parent and mother well has been shattered because of the one, and I can’t seem to shake it. My own despondence is beginning to affect the rest of my family. How do I break free? How do I do I get past the hurt, anger and horror at what our beloved daughter has become? I don’t even know how to relate in even the smallest way with her. Thank you.
EXPERT CHRISTY CRANDELL:
I can so relate to your feelings of fear and guilt! I think some personal counseling and education about addiction will be of great help for you. I would recommend a therapist that specializes in addiction and family systems as eventually it will be important that everyone in the family be able to process and have some healing around this. If the oldest daughter is still living at home, this therapist should also be able to advise you on some strategies to get your daughter into treatment. – Christy
EXPERT RICKI TOWNSEND:
First of all, my heart goes out to you and the pain and confusion you are going through, so thank you for reaching out to us. Your question touches on different parts of addiction, ourselves, our family and, of course, the addict.
What I will always ask with regard to a question of this type, would be two things.
- Are you going to any of the free Al-Anon Family Group meetings?
When I go to Al-Anon or my clients go, we go to seek support. Not to be told what to do, but to receive love and support from those who are going through what we are going through and can relate to our pain on a deep level. This is so very important. We finally feel understood.
- Are you seeing a therapist or family therapist?
I always recommend a therapist who also does addiction therapy. I personally feel this type of therapy can educate a client into the nature of this “dis-ease” and at the same time, support you in your own personal journey of healing.
What we professionals see, unfortunately, in this dis-ease is that the “good children” are left behind. This “being left behind” can happen in different ways: Parents either spend most of the time keeping an “addiction” eye on the children, or they ignore the non-addicts. The latter results in them being left to make it on their own. It is very common for the addicted loved one to get all of your time and attention. Through support and education, you can learn to shift your attention to a healthier place.
Something I have a deep passion about is helping the families deal with addiction. I believe if I educate, listen to, and talk about the options with them, I can bring out the power they have as a unit. With education, the family can become one supportive “family unit”. When I say families, I include in this group the aunts, uncles, grandparents and even close friends of the family. Knowledge is power! I see this profoundly in my families after our conference call or meeting. They take a stand together towards the addiction. My families start the journey of seeing they are not the cause, the cure and DO NOT have control over any one person. We then learn that we do have control over ourselves and our environment, and we learn to exercise that power in a healthy way.
Feel free to contact me to request one of my educational conference calls, or I would be glad to refer you to someone close to you, if you live outside my area. -Ricki Townsend