Saturday, January 11, 2014

Shit Happens......

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 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.


SoberMomWrites said...

Wow. What a powerful and moving post.


n bloom said...

I can so relate to everything you wrote. Our journey with an addicted child is so similar to the journey of any parent with a seriously ill child. I have a friend whose child was diagnosed with cancer around the same time I discovered my child's addiction. When we share our journeys with each other, it is amazing how many similarities we have. We both fear our children dying. We both grieve the lost years where our kids' illnesses prevented them from participating in the activities their peers enjoyed. We both are afraid of relapse. We both believe we have grown spiritually from our trials. But, the thing that sets us apart is that her child did NOTHING to cause his cancer diagnosis and my child made the original bad choice to experiment with drugs. Those are the unspoken words between us and although she would never, ever say those words to me, I still feel them. Honestly, I don't blame her for those feelings because if our situations had been reversed, I'm pretty sure I would have felt the same way. Addiction changes us forever, and luckily in some ways it is for the better.

Patty D said...

Very powerful and moving post Annette. Your choice to share with others your pain,suffering, lessons and the value they bring is what I believe life is all about, love and compassion for ourselves and others. Thank you, your strength shines a bright light that helps me on my path as well.

Anonymous said...

Annette, I too have thought....why us and how did this happen. And I have also thought...why not us! There are so many people out there with terrible things going on in their lives! Thank you for yet another great post!

Annette said...

To my friend nbloom....I hear what you are saying, but where I would disagree is that many many kids experiment with drugs and alcohol but most do not become like our kids. I believe that an addict's brain is somehow different than "a normie's" brain. There are lots of scientific studies on the differences between an addicts brain and the brain of a person who is not predisposed to addiction. I don't mean this to be taken as an excuse for my girl's behavior and choices, at all. But I do believe there was something different inside of her that led us into this world that we have lived in for the past decade. Google "the addicted brain." I think that some people can ingest their initial drink or drug with minimal consequences, other than the usual being high or drunk, and either liking it or not. For an addict though, that initial use triggers those neurotransmitters that have been lying dormant just waiting to be fed. They come alive and they crave more and more and more. Its an insatiable desire. Add in feelings of low self worth, depression, anxiety and you have the perfect storm.

mary christine said...

When I got sober, I looked at my kids and realized one of them acted like an alcoholic - long before she ever had a drink. And sure enough, once alcohol was added to the equation, there was big trouble. Then meth. For 15 years we lived this nightmare.

Today she is 5 years sober.

Thank God.

Liz said...

Thank you so much Annette. This post means so much to me.

Syd said...

So much to think about here. How life is like a roller coaster taking us into the low places and then raising us up on peak where everything is clear. Life seemed simple when I was a kid. Now I understand how much my parents worried about me and my future. Letting go is a powerful tool of the program. I'm glad to have unclenched my fist and let go.

Anonymous said...

I so agree Annette! I have said it so often my family/friends are tired of hearing it, but there are parents at Children's Hospital of Orange County that would kill for the 18 good years I had before addiction began robbing us. I consider each period of sobriety a bonus round with my girl. I treasure then and I will always want more, but I am so grateful for the time I had!