Perhaps you’ve suspected for some time that something is amiss, but learning the hard truth about a child’s addiction or alcoholism is an absolute sucker punch to the gut. Maybe that’s why it is so hard to accept that truth.
There are many obstacles to grasping a child’s chemical dependency, with denial in the forefront. Dictionary.com defines denial as “An assertion that something said, believed, alleged, etc. is false.” Quite fittingly, the example given is “Despite his denials, we knew he had taken the purse.” Swap in any number of nouns for purse—pills, money, jewelry—and now you’ve got a story that sounds may sound familiar.
Acknowledging that something was really wrong with my child was too horrific, so I looked the other way, made excuses or simply refused to accept the possibility. Part of me couldn’t understand how my child could be addicted, especially since I had worked hard to be an involved parent, loved each other, had family dinners almost every night, and was very present in my son’s life. (Maybe too present, come to think).
Once I “got it,” I still couldn’t believe it. This was my faulty logic: “Drug addicts come from bad families. We are a good family. Therefore, my son can’t be an addict.” Toss that logic with a hefty dose of shame and stigma, and you’ve got the perfect storm of denial. But my utter lack of knowledge and information about chemical dependency kept me from understanding that no one is exempt from this common disease that impacts one out of three American families.
Although I understand that my denial protected me from a horrific realization, I wish that I had been able to break through it much earlier in the game. Then we would have faced the monster when it was weaker and less entwined in our lives. If you need help understanding and overriding the coping mechanism that can perpetuate your pain, please check out our Denial Meeting in a Box for some powerful tools.