Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How has addiction changed us?

Addiction changes us at the core of who we are. It changes everything.....with or without our permission. It barges its way through and in and its tentacles wrap around anything it can reach.

I was thinking of the things that addiction have changed for me. Some are negatives and some are beautiful positives. 

1. I now have "triggers." Seemingly innocuous things that other people may even find joyful or fun, that send me into a spiral of deep sadness and pain. (Like weddings!) 
2. There are certain movies and TV shows that I can't watch because they are too darn sad and take me back to some very dark scary places. 
3. I am numb when dealing with what others would view as unthinkable. 
4. I am tired. Bone tired much of the time. 
5. I cry often. (Molly's boyfriend told me that if we feel deeply, have a belly laugh each day, and have a cry every day....we are living life fully. Yayyy me! I've got it covered!)
6. If the phone rings in the middle of the night, my heart races and I shake and have to go to the bathroom. 
7.  I am more compassionate.
8.  I am less likely to judge another person.
9.  I am a champion at looking at the big picture.
10. Not much rattles me because in comparison to having active addiction in one's life, nothing really is that big of a deal anymore.
11.  I am not easily offended anymore.
12.  I am far stronger than I ever knew.
13.  I have learned how to live in forgiveness, how to let go, and how to love unconditionally.....gifts that have changed me forever for the better and made me into a better person.
14.  I have learned patience.
15. I am compelled to live an honest, raw, life. Dishonesty, manipulation, and justification, rub me way way the wrong way.
16. I have been given a life sustaining faith and have met a kind and compassionate and long suffering God.

I'm sure more will come to me as I go through the next few weeks and months, but I want to hear from each of you though! How has addiction changed you? The good and bad. Send me your lists in the comments, or through email (lv4gves@comcast.net) and let's see what we share. Because more than anything else, I needed to know that I am not alone in this. As I have made my way through the years....that is the one huge commonality that all of us parents share. We want to know we aren't alone or that we aren't "weird." We all share so many similar things....and we learn from our differences. So please do share.

My prayers go out for all of us and my love and admiration is so deep for each of the courageous momma's who read here and share this journey with me.



Anonymous said...

Annette, interesting post. My thoughts off the top of my head .. may have more given more time to think about it .... Mary

1. I am used to being lied to. I don't ask a lot of questions because I never get a straight answer.
2. I am tired all the time.
3. Addiction is expensive - financially, physically and emotionally.
4. Dealing with a spouse's addiction is different in some ways. I was angry with my (now ex) husband all the time. I rarely get angry with either of my children with addictions ... it mostly just makes me sad and did I mention tired?
5. I don't advertise the addiction in my life but I don't hide it either.
6. I believe in "god moments" ... I've experienced them.
7. There are a lot of good people in this world.
8. I get angry when people with no experience in the addiction world ask me what I think I should have done differently with my children ... the implication being that if they were raised differently they would not have addiction issues. My standard answer is "walk a mile"
9. I try not to judge people. My philosophy these days is "live and let live"

Annette said...

Mary, Yes, the financial side is a tremendous hit. i too believe in God moments. Those are precious life sustainers, aren't they! Thank you for answering....I always love hearing from you!

Lolly said...

Oh boy.... let's see.
1. Addiction taught me to be angry...very angry. Angry enough to want a person dead, angry. (Isn't that horrible?)
2. Addiction took my voice from me. My self-esteem, my gut-instinct, my intuition. It made me feel alone.
3. Addiction put me in a place of fear. Fear of being wrong, of being left, of being alone. Fear of the dark, of illness, of being out of my comfort zone, of thunder-storms, of midnight phone calls, I could go on and on. (Still working out some of the fears as you know)
4. Addiction taught me that God didn't always answer prayer.
5. Addiction taught me not to trust in, not to believe in, not to want a future with this man.
6. Addiction taught me to blame others, and finger point.

I'm sure there is more. These are just a few that popped off the top of my head.
A better question and answer for me would be-
What did recovery teach me?
1. Recovery taught me that I could save myself. That I was worth it.
2. Recovery taught me that an Intervention could be life saving for me as well as for the addict.
3. That God does answer prayer, maybe just not in the way that I had worked it out in my head.
4. Recovery showed me that God was indeed everywhere! That I could find HIM anywhere and everywhere at anytime and that sometimes HE was hiding in plain sight.
5. Recovery taught me to stop judging and blaming others. 6. Recovery gave me compassion. It gave me the ability to see the other side of someone's actions.
7. Recovery taught me how to let go of my anger and how to love again. Or maybe that was God. I don't know, but sometimes I feel like Recovery and God are one and the same.
8. Recovery taught me that I wasn't alone. That others knew exactly what I was going through, that they could be trusted with my story, would share theirs with me and we could all find healing together.
9. Recovery brought me to blogging where I found Syd and TAAAF and then you Annette. Life rafts all of you. Fellow traveler's walking on the same road towards home.
10. Recovery gave me back some of the pieces of myself that I had lost.

I am a work in progress. Up and down I go most days. Sometimes it's a big step forward or maybe three steps back. I'm ok with all of it. I've learned to Let Go or be dragged. I thank God for you Annette. You are such a blessing to me. Praying for you and your girl.
Love, Lolly

Annette said...

Lolly! You should have written this post!! Lol I love that differentiation you made there......yes! recovery gave us our lives back didn't it?! Bless your heart. I love your perspective.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you remember the series called "Thirtysomething," from the 90s. I watch the reruns on Hulu. I was watching an episode recently where Nancy had gotten a hysterectomy because she had ovarian cancer and she was dealing with all the changes she felt from the cancer and from the hormonal issues. She was in a art gallery staring into a large white room and they showed her staring at someone who was herself, dressed in white, the Nancy dressed in all white went over to a bed where there was a young man from her art class and she said to him, "did you know that I'm different? I'm dead, and he said yes I know, she then said I used to be someone else you know, and I miss her terribly and I'm lost without her. This resonated with me of who I was before and after addiction came into my sons lives. I was a different person, I used to love to go out and buy the newest looks in clothes for the season, I was always doing projects arounds my home, I even dated. I haven't dated in over 7 years, I buy clothes but really out of necessity for work, dating isn't even on my radar. My one son went into recovery in 2012 and my youngest son starting using opiates/heroin six months later. He still isn't really in recovery, he will have a few months of sobriety but will use again after that. He has lost every single job he has had due to drug use, calling in sick, etc. He just lost his most recent job last week. Yes, I am totally exhausted most of the time, when he is doing well I am not as exhausted but the fear is always there. I love both of your lists and I agree with everything you have shared, I don't ask questions anymore because I'm always told lies, the financial hardship is horrible due to the fact he cannot keep a job. I have many God moments that I am beyond grateful for and I definitely have such empathy for those struggling with addiction. Dealing with a loved one's addiction is draining physically and emotionally. I have been going to support meetings for four years and it really does help and I have great faith in God and my hope is in Him. That being said, I do miss who I used to be before addiction came into my son's lives and I feel a great loss, not only for my son but for myself as well. I am grateful that my son has maintained sobriety since 2012, I can only hope and pray that my youngest will find his way out of this as well.

Annette said...

Oh Anonymous, your comment is so sad. I am so glad that you go to a support group. None of us can do this journey alone. I think that my life too, has been brought down to the bare necessities due to addiction. I love for my home to be a peaceful refuge. I don't like the TV on, I like quiet. I can only manage so much these days. But my simple life suits me and I am ok with it. It sounds like you are grieving for all that has been lost.....that is a tremendous process to find our way through. It was such a lightbulb moment for me when I heard someone say that the parents of an addicted child, are grieving for their child who is still alive. Ugh....so true though.

Anonymous said...

How have I been changed? Here are my thoughts:

1. "Gentle" used to be my middle name. I've had to become much tougher.
2. My relationship with my son has become much poorer.
3. The trust and comfort level with each other is no longer there.
4. I've been lied to and taken advantage of so many times that I've lost track.
5. I now am less trusting of and less open with other people.
6. I've experienced hysteria, rage, fear and shame - a toxic mix of emotions that make me feel dreadful.
7. I know first hand how apt certain expressions are: "wasted", "burned out", "sober", "clean", "high", "a mind is a terrible thing to waste" etc.
8. I've learned that much of the advice I've been given with such conviction did not help our situation. I have much more confidence in my own thinking.
9. The ten commandments are still a good guide to ethical living.
10. I try to do at least 2 interesting/fun things per week that can make me happier, preferably with friends or family.

Thanks Annette, for encouraging us to share our thoughts.


Mark said...

Annette. Thank you. Addiction has changed my whole family. My grandparents died of it. My parents separated over it. It nearly killed me. Your post made me think of all the late night phone calls I caused--mainly from hospitals and jails. It makes me want to call my loved ones now and tell them how much I love them. All of them.

Liz said...

I am much more compassionate, forgiving, and spiritual.
I am much less controlling and judgmental.
I don't take things for granted anymore

SoberMomWrites said...

It brought you to me and for that I am grateful. But as much as I love you I would give up knowing you to have your girl healthy again.


Anonymous said...

Annette, I spent a lot of time with no-one to talk to about my Daughter. I was changed but alone, in that the rest of my family were not living each day with the knowledge that I had of her addiction and all that it entailed - How do you explain; the manipulation, the justifications, the lies, the hatred from her to me, the stealing, the begging , the bitchiness, the threats, etc, ad infinitum? I learned all you have said - the best and most freeing was to be honest. To her, to my family, to myself.

people are still shocked when I speak openly of her addiction - but anything less is complicit.

I can only relate to her through the filter of calling her addiction (to a heroin drug) "possession". I lost my arrogance and self satisfied attitude and feel more real - I have been forced to be. This experience has taken my focus away from my own life as I chose to be there for my grand-daughter, born as a methadone baby, now 3yrs
old. My daughter now clean for 16months has now simply taken her to live in another country. Some grief, some joy.

Now I am finding myself again after giving up so much. I realize my confidence was eroded so I am reframing my life. But sloughing off my old judgemental self is the big gain.

I wish I had read your blog earlier.