Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

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Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Photo of diverse paper doll cutouts.“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.”

- Ani DiFranco

When boundaries get muddled with your loved one in addiction

When my son finished his rehab program, he wanted to move back home.  He had not lived with us for several years and we tried to accommodate his request thinking it would be easier for him to transition.  I wanted to have some clear boundaries though.  Rules were set and once again I was no longer mom, but the guard-on-duty for all matters in my house.   After 5 weeks or so, he started slipping, drug tests not taken or forged when failed.  Slowly excuses became the norm.   At some point I recognized that a full relapse was in force and many months of agony ensued.   What I did not recognize was my own relapse – how my clear boundaries were muddled and hazy.  I kept thinking I had control over him and at the same time these blatant lies, deceit and cover-ups were overlooked by me.  It was almost as if I wanted to BELIEVE his words and not have to address the white elephant in the room.  I was getting resentful having to perform daily monitoring, weekly meetings, time out of my schedule, and money out of my pocket past, present and the future.   

He was 24 years old at the time.  When we agreed to pay for a sober living environment, he was all for it.  He picked the place too – that was my idea – to not be calling the shots.  In time he was asked to leave, followed by excuses.  This time I realized my powerlessness.  Though disappointed, my boundaries were clear.  We support recovery and will pay for sober living.  IF he can’t stay sober or chooses not to live in that environment, then he stays somewhere else – his choice.  My agreement was to pay for sober living.  Crystal clear!  He is, after all, a young man independent of me and has experienced consequences from this disease that no amount of “I told you so’s” would equal. 

The beauty of clear boundaries is that I can stay calm and not get caught up in the drama and doubt.  I don’t have to listen to the excuses; he doesn’t feel compelled to offer them anymore!   I don’t have to monitor his sobriety, his friends, his actions – I don’t want to either!  I can’t control him and that alone I am certain. I am grateful we had the opportunity and financial means to send him to rehab early on.  What gives me comfort is accepting we did the best we could with the knowledge we had.  I know he was exposed to another way of living in a 12-step recovery program.  As I learned more about the disease and my part in it, I yearned for a relationship based on love unconditionally.  I accept his choices and my clearly defined boundaries help me steer away from the agony of involvement.  Such miss-directed actions of involvement; mentally, financially and spiritually, only fuels my doubt or entitlement.  It clouds my thoughts, makes me fearful and provides a false sense of control over something much bigger and more powerful than I. 

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Reflections on Motherhood and a child with Addiction“It doesn’t take a lot of strength to hang on. It takes a lot of strength to let go.”

-J.C. Watts

Sunday Inspiration

teenager contemplating future“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… Do the thing you thing you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday Inspiration

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. “

 

 

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sunday Inspiration

 

“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence,
but it comes from within. It is there all the time.”

~Anna Freud, Austrian psychologist

Taking the Plunge, Finding Courage to Change Amidst a Child’s Addiction

I still read Courage to Change almost every morning as I start my day.  This publication from the Al-Anon Family Group offers bits of wisdom in daily, doable doses.  The title of the book says it all: recovering from my child’s addiction and freeing him to claim his own recovery hinged entirely on my courage to change—to do things differently, to be open to the belief that our lives could be healthier and happier if I could take a leap of faith.

When my kids were little, we sprinkled the closet with “Monster Spray” to keep the monsters away.  Somewhere along the way, it lost its power, and the Addiction Monster hunkered down in our home. Evicting that monster required every ounce of courage I could muster.

What does courage look like?  Courage is my unwillingness to tolerate the status quo of addiction, which can become comfortably predictable in its insanity. Courage is my wiliness to take a stand, and at the same time step into thin air, believing that a safe landing lay in store– or at least a landing that is softer than the one addiction offers.  My courage was fortified by my conviction that a power greater than me is calling the shots and that things will work out the way they are supposed to.

What does change look like?  It is the acknowledgement that things aren’t working and the rules of the game need to be revised.  Change meant setting limits, communicating more constructively, respecting boundaries, saying “No” and “No More,” acknowledging the insanity that had overtaken our lives and refusing to participate in it any longer.

There is familiarity in dysfunction, and changing entrenched habits is hard and scary.  But what is more terrifying? The monster in the closet or the potential of recovery for you and your child? Make that leap of faith, muster your courage, and make the hard choices that may banish addiction from your home.

Sunday inspiration

“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence,
but it comes from within. It is there all the time.”

~Anna Freud, Austrian psychologist~