When we found out that our son had developed an addiction, which was something he could die from, we were scared to death. We didn’t want to lose him. Not now, not ever. We had to do something and fast.
With solid determination and a whole lot of fear, we tried everything we could to help our son. The demon called addiction had a strong hold on him, but we would see glimpses of our “old” son from time to time. He was still in there. Trapped. These glimpses were God’s reminders of why we were fighting so hard.
We always had the hope that we would reach our son. We just had to figure out what would work. When one thing failed, we tried something new. This continued with crisis after crisis.
Our “can do” attitude would take a major hit when we found out that our son’s addiction had escalated to the worst level possible. We were crushed. That was the day that I lost all hope.
Over the next few weeks, I was so devastated and exhausted that it took every bit of energy I had to get out of bed in the morning to go to work.
I could hardly force myself to smile anymore. I didn’t have the energy to pretend that life was good. I felt like my son was going to die and I couldn’t stop it from happening. There wasn’t anything good about that.
I began to have pains in my chest. I went to the emergency room where I was hooked up to the EKG machine to see if I was having a problem with my heart. The machine doesn’t diagnose broken hearts so I was sent home with a warning to see my doctor because I had really high blood pressure.
I met with my doctor where I learned that the pains in my chest were caused by anxiety. I was also experiencing a bout of depression.
I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t go on like that. I was no good to anyone if I died from stress or couldn’t get out of bed. I had to find a way to live with the fact that my son might die and I was powerless over it. As a mother who spent a lifetime loving and protecting her children, that was really hard to accept.
Through support groups and other ways of helping myself, I eventually came to realize that my happiness depends on me, not on someone else. My son was doing what people who are sick with addiction do. It was up to me to find peace in my life again, even in the chaos of his addiction. With a lot of work, I did it. But, it didn’t happen overnight, it happened over time.
We had to let go of some things, but we never let go of our son. He needed us to be his beacon of light in the dark world of addiction. We prayed that our love and warmth would be enough to keep his hope alive when things got really bad. We kept him close while letting go of the things that were unhealthy for us. These included:
Enabling. We figured out the difference between helping and enabling.
Trying to control someone else. We learned the hard way that we can only control ourselves.
Worry. No amount of worrying ever changed the outcome anyway. It only made me sick. It had to go.
Our son’s problems. They were his issues to deal with not ours. He had to experience the natural consequences of his actions in order to find motivation to seek help.
Thinking too far ahead. I was bad for this. I began living one day at a time. I stopped planning my son’s funeral in my head. Every day he was alive was a good day.
Anger and resentment. We let these things go very early on when we learned that addiction is an illness. Our son was sick, not bad. We knew not to take things personally. He was not trying to hurt us.
Making decisions on the spot. When our son asked for something, we took at least thirty minutes to ourselves to talk about it. We made better decisions because we weren’t pressured into them.
Caring what other people think. Our son was sick. It wasn’t our fault that other people didn’t understand his illness. We didn’t understand it either until he got sick and we learned about it. We couldn’t allow other people’s lack of knowledge to have any power over us.
These are just some of the things that we let go of in our lives. As a result, our family got healthy again. Eventually, our son did, too. Today, he is eleven months in recovery and in college where he is doing very well. There is always hope. Please don't ever give up.
We live one day at a time. Today is a very good day!
Written by: Rose Barbour
Written by: Rose Barbour