Meth stole one of our daughters, pain pills is on the verge of stealing a second, and prison for trafficking drugs across state lines has taken our third and youngest daughter. I work my own program for recovery as a co-dependent enabler through Celebrate Recovery. I am in several online Al-Anon and Nar-Anon groups so I can feel more closely connected with others who are going through similar things, both as a parent and as one who loves an addict.
During my time in these groups I’ve noticed a plethora of parents, particularly mothers, who are so lost as to how their child has slipped away into addiction. They grasp at straws, trying to make sense of the chaos that has become their lives. One after the other of these women relates horror stories of addiction, lies, betrayals, thievery, brushes with the law, and brushes with death due to the drug use of their child. I can relate. That connection does make a difference, in fact it makes these things common; common to mothers of addicts everywhere.
I have learned that encouraging others, sharing my story, and offering hope to other mothers, as well as receiving the same in kind, has been a lifeline for me as I bob around in this sea of disbelief and despair that I’ve been cast into by our children. Many moms write their first posts, or voice their first share in a face to face meeting by opening their mouths or readying their fingers for typing….and the geyser of emotion begins to flow. For the most part these moms are full of anger.
I spend a good deal of time telling them what I’ve learned, and if you are the mom or parent, or in any way caring for or loving an addict, I will tell you as well: Anger is a perfectly natural emotion to feel. Please do not apologize for feeling angry. And yes, this is the perfect place to vent. When we lose our children to drugs it is very much akin to losing them to death. In fact, I think it’s worse because we see and/or hear of the shape they are in and it pierces our hearts repeatedly. Caring for their children reminds us daily of our loss. We mourn for their children as well as ourselves.
I found it helpful to learn about grief and how to cope with it, while at the same time connecting with groups like this one so I did not feel so alone in my pain. When you are up to it, read up on the five stages of grief.
#1 ISOLATION or DENIAL of the reality of the situation
#2 ANGER – Anger at the addict for his/her actions; anger at yourself for not being able to rescue your loved one, etc.
#3 Bargaining – bargaining with God, or with them, to get them off of drugs. (THIS IS NOT EFFECTIVE, but nearly every loved one of an alcoholic/addict does this at some point in time.)
#4 Depression – This includes sadness and regret, as well as the preparation for separating ourselves emotionally and physically from our loved one.
#5 Acceptance – Don’t mistake this for accepting the addict’s bad behavior. Acceptance, instead, is of the reality of the situation and the realization that you are powerless to change it.
There, in step #5 of the grieving process, you are brought to Step #1 of your own program through Al Anon or NarAnon or the recovery program of your choice. I hope this helps you know that you are not alone in this. There are many who have gone before you, many who travel this road with you, and more who will travel it after you. In your journey you do not have to be alone. We in the groups (in the rooms, as they say), are here to help. Being in a group and reaching out in the rawness of your pain is the beginning of your healing process. (((hugs)))