For a long time I wondered how this whole addiction thing could have happened to our family. We tried so incredibly hard to do everything right. Why us? How did this tragedy befall wonderful us?
The conclusion I have come to is.....why NOT us? Why did I feel exempt? I think the fact that I felt immune from anything like this ever happening in my family is an indication of just how arrogant I really was. Ugly stuff to look at, but true.
People's kids get sick all the time. People lose spouses to disease and accidents. Awful, painful stuff happens in life. Awful and painful stuff happens in families. Everyday. I have personally known families who have lost children or spouses to brain tumors, leukemia, car accidents, ATV accidents, overdoses, suicide. Do these families worry about the other kids in the family? Sure they do....just like I do. Just like we all do. ANY serious illnes will affect the whole family, will be a family disease, will have ramifications on our finances, on our relationships and our physical bodies. I am not alone in my suffering. I have nothing to be ashamed of if addiction and mental illness are truly diseases and according to the medical community....they are.
So what are my options? I can be sad, wonder why me, wail and cry (and trust me, I spent a lot of time doing that) OR.... I can keep putting one foot in front of the other.
What have I watched mama's who lost their 3 year old to leukemia, or their 10 year old to a brain tumor, do? My friend who lost her husband in a motorcycle accident who is now raising 3 boys alone do? Of course they had horrible, terrible, very bad days. They had days where they couldn't stop crying, they felt their loss, their pain, BUT they kept going. They hugged their kids, they talked about how sick their sibling was, what a huge loss they have suffered, they sought counseling if they needed to, they ate healthy, they exercised, they sought out friends who they could be comfortable with and cry if they needed to or go to a movie or laugh if they felt like it, they went to grief groups.....they sought help. They took care of themselves. They kept life moving in a forward motion. They faced down the tragedy that had befallen their precious family and as much as they were able they didn't let it steal one extra moment than it had to.
How are parents of addicts any different? We are afraid of losing our kids, but so are other parents. We watch our kids suffer, but so have other parents. WE suffer as we watch our kids deteriorate....but so have other parents as they watched their flawless baby's skin bruise and and turn pale and he gets thinner and thinner until finally he can't support the weight of his own head anymore.
Addiction brings with it the moral issues of honesty (or lack of,) trust (or lack of,) deception, faithfulness, faithlessness, shame, guilt, and those can be difficult and painful to navigate.....but they are symptoms of our kids disease. Can we take care of ourselves, protect ourselves and our families from the ripples of the disease that has taken over our family? Somewhat. But it will leave its mark, just like all diseases leave a mark. A scar. We have choices. They aren't easy choices....but they are there and they are ours. Personally, I feel like the lessons I have learned being the parent of an addict have been gifts. Would I choose to have learned them in this way....no. Never. But I also think it was probably the only way I could learn some of them too. I think some of my other kids have learned a great deal of compassion for people who have lost their way. Not judgement, but compassion. One of them struggles with anger AND deep compassion and tentative hoping for the future....but he will find his way eventually. I am sure of that. We all have our paths to walk, our lessons to learn and he is figuring out his.
This is the path I have been given. For whatever reason...its up to me how I choose to travel it.
Bless all of us, and especially the hurting parents among us.