It’s time to let go of the taboo, the guilt, the shame and discuss what it’s like being a Parent of an Addict.
First, it’s the hardest thing for any parent to endure. It’s filled with guilt, shame, and questions; man, do we have questions. Like why….why and how did this happen? Was it something I did? Could I have stopped it? Did I miss early signals? Is this my fault? Was I really that bad of a parent that it drove them to drugs to mask their pain? Did someone hurt them when they were a child, a teen, an adult?
Next, it’s riddled with frustration….yes, frustration. Why won’t they take my help? When will they hit “their” rock bottom? Why won’t they go to rehab OR stay in rehab…or in sober living? Why do they continue to choose this life? Is this really a disease or is it a choice?
Then you have the judgment of extended family, friends, or strangers. The looks, the snide comments, the gossip, and my favorite…..the advice on how you should do “xyz” when they have no clue what “a-w” even looked like.
And as if this doesn’t sum it up, then you have the behind the scenes of how destructive their actions are to our household because we stopped reporting every incident out of shame and exhaustion. Or how it affects every direct family member and weakens their own health; both mentally and physically.
Next, you have the hardship of setting healthy boundaries, which is the most important, and yet, the hardest to do. It goes against every fiber of our being to say “NO”, knowing it leads to more drugs, or homelessness, or starvation, and more. Saying, “No,” is the HARDEST part of this journey. However, more often than not it is said out of LOVE and nothing else.
The backlash we receive for using this word is sometimes unbearable. Every time we have to say it, it feels like a part of the heart literally dies in the most painful way. So, trust me when I say, “It hurts us more than anyone can comprehend.” Why? Because, as a parent, we want to fix this! We want to make this go away. We want to do EVERYTHING in our power to see our addict child succeed. We bear more pain than we portray. We lose more sleep than we’ll ever admit.
Finally, we have the horrific process of grieving; letting go of our own hopes and dreams of who our child would become. Like all parents, we too wanted to see our children become adults who take on the world, become leaders, who give back to society, who change communities, touch lives, and etc. Instead, we have to succumb to the process of having to accept the here-and-now. We have no choice but to acknowledge what we can not change, to realize that what we had envisioned is either on the back burner or never to become reality.
If you have never grieved the living, then you have absolutely no idea what this process looks or remotely feels like. Words can not express this process… and no attempt would ever be able to convey the pain it brings. The only thing that keeps us going is the HOPE that our child will one day start walking the path of health, the road of recovery, the journey of self-love.
We don’t talk about this as much because we have been conditioned to believe it was somehow our fault; that somehow we failed.
So, the next time you see a parent of an addicted child, grant them some grace. Give them a hug with NO advice to follow; and for Pete’s sake, do not compare addicts to addicts. I know you’re trying to help but more often than not, you’re just devaluing our struggle.
In conclusion, if you see us laughing and enjoying the day… don’t think for one second it is because we are callous, cold, and have written our child off. We too NEED to live, love, and laugh; for it is in these rare moments, that we gain strength for the next challenge that our addicted one is bound to bring to the doorstep of our heart.
With much love and frustration,
The Parent of an Addicted Child Candace Larson.
As always, leave a comment down below if you relate to this post or have tips on how to continue to help us grow into better moms and women! Oh, and please give this a share if you enjoyed this post.❤