I remember 3 years ago when my son’s addiction was really bad. He was still living in my house he would sleep all day, refuse to work, and would be up all night wandering around the house keeping me awake and irritated every night.
I couldn’t trust him because stealing had become a normal pattern. It was so bad I would hide my money in a cd case in my car so he wouldn’t be able to find it. That is when you know your life is out of control.
A friend of mine who had lost her son to a heroin overdose told me she would go to support group meetings and they really helped her. I had been toying with the idea of going to one for some time and then one day when things were really bad I realized I needed to do something.
I walked into that meeting with a sick feeling in my stomach knowing that if I was there that meant I really had a problem. I was addicted to wanting to help my addict child. That is a hard pill to swallow. You want to just pretend all of your problems are because of the addict but in reality it is partly because you have enabled them, pleaded with them to get help, made excuses for their absence at family events and maybe even their jobs. I even tried to convince myself that this nightmare would end soon.
The first step walking into that meeting was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
When you allow yourself to admit your part in this disease, it helps you to see the changes you need to make for yourself. Taking a good hard look at your actions or reactions to your addicted loved one isn’t an easy exercise. Thinking that you possibly have prolonged the anguish both you and your addict have experienced is extremely difficult. We see it as loving our addict but in reality we are helping them stay in their active addition.
I met some wonderful people there that were very empathetic to my situation because in one way or another they had been there or still are in the thick of things. I did feel that attending and sharing what was going on and how I was handling it was helpful.
The one thing I didn't expect to feel was resentment. My addict wasn't going to meetings, my ex-husband didn't go to meetings but there I was spending my Tuesday evenings after a full day of work sitting here and baring my soul. I decided that if they weren't going to do anything about this problem why should I waste my time.
You can probably guess what happened, my problem got worse after deciding not to attend the support group meetings. I got even more involved in trying to “save” my son, researching rehabs, reading books, sending him job postings, checking up on him, driving by friends houses to see if he is where he said he was going. You name it I was doing it!
During this time my son was kicked out of the house for stealing yet again. We couldn't trust him and it was hard to sleep with him up all night making noise. Having him living in his car on the streets was the worst nightmare I could have ever imagined. I started having panic attacks and would cry at the drop of a hat even when I was at work if I would hear from my son asking for money or needing a shower. It was then when my ex-husband called me and said he was worried about me and I needed to do something or I would have a nervous breakdown. You know if your ex-husband is calling you because he’s worried about you it must be really bad!
I decided I needed to go back to my support group and really start working on my recovery. My son may never get better but that did not mean I had to destroy my life, my marriage, and other relationships because of it. I was so lucky to find two groups in my area, one for the general public in my county and one that I was invited to by the leader of my other meeting. It is a faith based group for Moms. In putting myself first and making the time to attend the meetings, I truly believe it has saved my sanity. Being able to talk to people who know exactly how you feel and give advice based on what is best not what would make us feel better in the moment makes a huge difference in the way you handle addiction. I have become so involved in my groups that I even lead a meeting every so often and have become a committee member for my local FAN chapter.
I would be lying if I said everything is better all of the time. I still have my ups and downs and struggles when I feel or hear that my addict is not doing well. But, instead of traveling down the path of despair, I try to remember the things I have learned or call one of my friends in the groups to talk some sense into me or to say a prayer for me and my loved one.
Consider finding a group that you can attend to help you with your recovery...just like our addict, it’s one day at a time for us too!
Karen Damian has a son in recovery and feels that it is a privilege to share the ups and downs of addiction with other parents.