An Honest Interview with the Mother of an Addict, Part 2

More Encouragement and Hope

Photo cred. Farkul J

Today’s post is Part 2 of our interview with the mother of an addict. It’s a continuation from Monday’s blog on March 27th. I believe there are many things she shared that will be of great value to you.

 

  1. How did the experience of your son’s heroin addiction affect your marriage? What did you do? My husband and I initially approached our son’s addiction and self-destructive life-style on the same page. But over time, we realized that I was a bigger push-over and my husband was a bigger “tough love” proponent. This led to many disagreements and hurt our sense of oneness. In order to deal with this, we spent time (and still do) with other couples who have survived situations like this to receive their input. We also attended a support group for families who had children in outpatient therapy. This helped us realign our focus, prioritize our marriage and family life, and once again become a united front in the battle that threatened to destroy us. Since early in the journey Hope for Hurting Parents was a tremendous resource.
  2. How did this impact your other children? All of them are in therapy, working through the effects this has had on them. Each one responded differently. Some struggled with anger and feelings of betrayal (lying and stealing from them). Initially, our youngest felt she let her brother down and struggled with feelings of not having been able to help him. But, they were all willing to forgive him when he asked (during rehab) and they’ve been willing to work on rebuilding their relationship.

An Honest Interview with the Mother of an Addict

Hope and Encouragement for Parents

Today’s post is Part 1 of an interview with the mother of an addict. It is our hope and prayer that something she shares will help you on the journey with your child, even if you’re not dealing with addiction.

 

  1. What signs of trouble did you first notice with your son? I saw emotional fluctuations: extreme highs and lows. He was much more easily angered and increasingly isolated. He wanted to spend as little time as possible with the family.
  2. Is there anything you wish you had done differently? Yes, I wish we would’ve confronted him sooner with what we observed and asked him to move out of our home sooner, too. This was a scary thing to do, but in retrospect, he probably would have hit bottom sooner.
  3. Tell us a little about the journey with your child. Throughout high school our son was increasingly angry and hostile to us and to his siblings. By his senior year he dropped out of sports and was barely passing his classes. In his freshman year of college, he flunked classes both semesters and was expelled. The summer after that, he admitted he was addicted to pain killers. At that time we were moving to another state, so we invited him to come.

Brokenhearted Parents Need Resilience

Are you a resilient person? What is resilience and why do brokenhearted parents need it? The dictionary defines resilience as edited for websitethe ability to recover quickly from adversity, change, or misfortune; becoming adaptable to challenges and serious losses; the ability to be buoyant. The property of a material that enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed; elasticity. Parents with broken hearts are in great need of this quality – this ability to bounce back from the painful experiences they’ve endured. In other words, emotionally, we need to be like a bouncy ball, piece of elastic or a rubber band, able to be stretched but not break or rip apart. Do you have this quality?

Adapting. Bouncing back. Overcoming. Not easy to do. I couldn’t do it. Not for a long time. In the early years of my journey I felt broken and ripped apart – torn into a million little pieces. Some days were so unbearable I wished I had died. I had to dig deep into my character to find a way to survive  – to not let it destroy me – to overcome.

There are many ways to overcome adversity, to withstand stress and catastrophe. Resilience is the capacity to adapt successfully in the face of threats or disaster. Threats or disaster. Have you faced these? Have you become resilient?

According to PBS’ online magazine, The Emotional Life, “Psychologists have long recognized the capabilities of humans to adapt and overcome risk and adversity. Individuals and communities are able to rebuild their lives even after devastating tragedies. Being resilient doesn’t mean going through life without experiencing stress and pain. People feel grief, sadness, and a range of other emotions after adversity and loss. The road to resilience lies in working through the emotions and effects of stress and painful events. ”

You’re not born with it. Resilience develops as you grow and mature, learning to manage your emotions. It also comes from developing supportive relationships, as well as other beliefs that give strength and courage. The good news is that resilience can be learned and developed throughout your lifetime. If you haven’t had this capacity in the past, you can become resilient.

The Emotional Life reports, Factors that contribute to resilience include:

  • Close relationships with family and friends
  • A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities
  • The ability to manage strong feelings and impulses
  • Good problem-solving and communication skills
  • Feeling in control
  • Seeking help and resources
  • Seeing yourself as resilient (rather than as a victim)
  • Coping with stress in healthy ways and avoiding harmful coping strategies, such as substance abuse
  • Helping others
  • Finding positive meaning in your life despite difficult or traumatic events
  • (I would add – getting involved in a support group with others going through similar situations)*

The main factor for me – not listed here – is my faith and trust in God. Through receiving His help and tapping into His strength I have become resilient. I have learned to adapt during times of change and transition. I have recovered from distress and extremely heart breaking challenges.  Because Christ overcame, I have overcome. He made me resilient. He enabled me to bounce back. I was stretched, but in Him I didn’t break. You can, too.

These are a few Bible verses that helped me become resilient:

“The Lord is the everlasting God . . . he gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. . . Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  (Isaiah 40:28-31)

“. . . Weeping may last for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”  (Psalm 30:5)

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves (helps) those who are crushed in spirit.”  (Psalm 34:18)

Eagles in Alaska

Something Weary Parents Lack

wizard of oz1Are you a weary parent?  Are you drained?  Depleted?  Worn out from dealing with your child’s rebelliousness, alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorder, forms of self-injury like cutting and burning, pornography, mental illness, sexual identity issues and continuous arrests?  If you’re like me, you lack something. Because of this you keep saying “yes” when you really want to say “no” to your child’s requests for help – more money,  more of this and more of that.

Why do we do this? Why do we keep denying our feelings? Why do we continue to give in when inside we want to stand firm and say no? What happened to us? Where did our healthy boundaries go?

What do we lack?  COURAGE. Been there. Done that. How about you?

A Parent’s Hero

David and Renee blondHow do you adequately thank someone for saving your child’s life who was in bondage to addictions? What do you say to the person who selflessly gave so much of themselves with no thought of gaining anything in return? What do you give them in return? I don’t know. I’ve asked myself this question for the last eight years. Nothing seems to be sufficient. There aren’t enough words, enough hugs, enough prayers, gifts,or demonstrations of gratitude.

When I was brokenhearted, feeling hopeless over my daughter’s alcohol and drug abuse, cutting, depression and suicidal tendencies, an amazing thing happened. God brought an ordinary man who did something extraordinary. As a result, he became my hero. Let me tell you about him. His name is David McKenna.

A Different Kind of Hope for Broken-hearted Parents

My daughter has suffered for a long time now with drug and alcohol addiction, self harm, mental illness (depression/bipolar disorder) and the long-lasting effects of being raped.  For years my hope has been that she would one day be healed – physically, emotionally and spiritually.  That she would “recover” and be whole  – –  no longer controlled and effected by all of these things.   At times I have seen great progress and answers to my prayers, then at other times she regresses and I do, too.  It’s a 3 steps forward, 2 steps backward situation . . . over and over again.  You may know exactly what I am talking about.

Then there are the times of waiting.  Deep, dark valleys of waiting, hoping and longing.  When I am in that hard place, everything begins to look bleak.  Glimmers of hope flicker like a weak candle’s flame.  My heart rises with anticipation, only to fall again . . . it’s a wearisome rollercoaster ride.  Have you been on it, too?

While having these hopes is not a bad thing, I am beginning to see that God has a better hope for me

Struggling Parents Need This More Than Anything Else

What do you need when your son’s drinking is beginning to damage his life and he won’t listen to your warnings?  What do you need when your daughter is depressed, cutting herself and ends up in the psych ward for the umpteenth time, still refusing to accept help?  What do you need when your son calls you from jail for the 3rd time begging you to bail him out “just one more time”?  What do you need when your daughter tells you she is pregnant and she’s not sure who the father is?  What do you need when your son tells you through tears that he thinks he is gay?  What do you need when you see your daughter becoming way too thin and you can’t get her to see a counselor?  What do you need when the psychiatrist tells you your son’s diagnosis is schizophrenia?

R E S T .  When things are out of control and you realize you are powerless over the situation, after you’ve done all you know to do, all you can do is trust God and  rest . . . in his love . . . in his peace . . . in his strength . . . in his presence . . . in him.  When you can do that you have found victory.  Then you discover that what you are going through will not destroy you.  You can shift your focus.  Refuse to panic.  Accept that God has allowed this into your life for some reason you cannot see today.  You and I, we can rest in God.  In who he is and what he can do — for us and for our child.  In this is our victory . . . and the most unexpected . . .  joy.

The reading below is not my own.  It is by Alan Redpath.  After a major stroke he suffered from severe depression for a period of time.  He speaks from experience.  It is powerful and has helped me so much in my trials as a parent.  I have found that the truths hidden within it apply to any difficult situation you may be going through that you have no control over – cancer, divorce, financial difficulties, etc.

THE REST OF VICTORY

THERE IS NOTHING – NO CIRCUMSTANCE, NO TESTING –

THAT CAN EVER TOUCH ME, UNTIL FIRST OF ALL,

IT HAS GONE PAST GOD AND PAST CHRIST, RIGHT THROUGH TO ME.

IF IT HAS COME THAT FAR, IT HAS COME WITH A GREAT PURPOSE

WHICH I MAY NOT UNDERSTAND AT THE MOMENT.

BUT AS I REFUSE TO BECOME PANICKY,

AS I LIFT UP MY EYES TO HIM AND ACCEPT IT

AS COMING FROM THE THRONE OF GOD

FOR SOME GREAT PURPOSE OR BLESSING TO MY OWN HEART,

NO SORROW WILL EVER DISTURB ME,

NO TRIAL WILL EVER DISARM ME,

NO CIRCUMSTANCE WILL CAUSE ME TO FRET.

FOR I SHALL REST IN THE JOY OF WHAT MY LORD IS.

AND THAT IS THE REST OF VICTORY!

Dear weary parent, I pray you can rest in “the joy of what (the) Lord is”.   A little today and a little more tomorrow until it is more of your daily experience, no matter what is happening with your child.  Who is God?  What can he do for you?  Focus on this.  There is your joy.  There is your victory.

This is one of my favorite Bible verses on this subject.  It speaks of finding victory by choosing to be joyful in God, even in hopeless looking circumstances:

  “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails (their main source of provision) and the fields produce no food . . . YET I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer (sure-footed in uncertain times), he enables me to go on the heights.”  (Habakkuk 3: 17 – 19)

Heartbroken Parents Need to be Resilient

Resilience.  The ability to recover or adjust quickly after setbacks or difficulties.  To bounce back after going through a tragedy or setback.  Bouyancy.

Do you feel stretched?

This is a character quality that I need.  As brokenhearted parents we all need this.  We have been through so many difficulties and setbacks.  When our children our abusing alcohol or drugs; when they are cutting or burning themselves; starving themselves; binging and purging; when they are sexually promiscuous, confused about their sexual orientation; when they have a mental illness and are refusing treatment; when they have attempted suicide or are threatening to do so . . . .  How well do you find yourself recovering?  Are you bouyant or are you sinking?

Resilient is also defined as: “The property of a material that enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed; elasticity”.   I sure feel like I’ve been bent and compressed.  Crushed.  Definitely “stretched” like a rubberband.  However, I have become alot more elastic and bouyant than I used to be.  Much more than I was before I went through these years of bending and stretching.

Life-shaking.  Traumatizing.  Bone-wearying.  Draining.  I lost my zest for life.  Have you?  At one point I even despaired of life itself.  I actually wished my life would end (or that my child’s would – as horrible as it is to admit that).  What I was going through was so horrific it actually felt like it would have been easier.  It would have ended the pain.

How can you rebound and snap back to who you once were?  Is it really possible?

For me it is only through my faith in a loving God that I have been able to bounce back and recover.  It has been a long, slow process.  Many have helped me along the way.  Friends, pastors, counselors, rehab center staff, support groups —  all have played a part.  Reading.  Resting.  Being easy on myself.  Simplifying my life.  Giving myself permission to feel my feelings.  Accepting that I am not perfect.  Accepting the issues that my child faces, then learning as much as I can about them.  Taking One Day at a Time.  Releasing my need for control.  Letting go of a desired outcome yet holding on to hope.  Giving thanks, even in the worst of times.

Resilience.  It’s a good goal to aim for.   We can do it!   We can recover and bounce back!

This Bible verse has greatly encouraged me as I have worked on my recovery:

“Now he (God) is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”  (Ephesians 3:20)

What do Parents in Pain Need?

Last night was the first night of the Florida Film Festival and Renee the movie(which is about my daughter) was the opening feature film. You can find out more about it and watch clips at the website:  reneethemovie.com  It’s a pretty big deal.  It’s a pretty crazy thing to me and to our family!  Just thinking about it I am taken back, remembering a very dark time in our journey with my daughter when I had lost all hope.  I had given up and resigned myself to her death because of her addictions, serious problems with cutting, severe depression and suicidal tendencies.  “Agony” barely describes the depth of what I felt.  It’s rough to keep on living and going about your days while your heart is dead and you are breaking into a million little pieces inside, isn’t it?  Many of you who are reading this know exactly what I am talking about.

So, when I read the quote below again today, I am reminded of how much it encouraged me the first time I ever read it, about 6 years ago.  It reminds me how much we need to have hope!  I pray the Lord God himself, the God of ALL hope,  will somehow give you a sense of renewed hope if you have lost it or if it is leaking out of your heart.

BUT, (and this may sound strange) not hope that your child will one may be “OK”.  . . . instead, I mean Hope that YOU will one day be OK.  That God will be with you no matter what.  That he will empower you to do the impossible.  He will carry you through.  He will redeem it all.  And of course He will never stop trying to reach them, oh, no!  But our hope must be in who He is and what he wants to do in us during this trial.

 

“You can live 40 days without food,

7 days without water,

And 7 minutes without air;

BUT you can’t live a moment without hope.”

 

I really like what the Bible says about hope, “May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:13)

Easter’sTruths For Hurting Parents

When I am in deep emotional and psychological pain I need something solid to hold onto.  The things I have been through with my daughter have brought me the deepest pain of my life and therefore the greatest need for comfort and hope.  So I turn to what I believe is truth — the Bible.  When I read Luke 23:26 – 24:45, which tells most of the Easter story, I am struck by how much truth is in here that encourages me, comforts me and gives me hope as one whose child struggles with substance abuse, self harm, suicidal thoughts and mental illness.

I thought I’d share with you some of the truths I see in the Easter story that mean a lot to me as a parent in pain.  I hope maybe something here will resonate with your heart and give you a little more hope and comfort, too.  I need all I can get!  How about you?

God is all-powerful; if He can raise Jesus from the dead, then I know he can do the impossible in my child’s life, too!  And mine!

Nothing is too hard for God; NOT A THING (mental illness, addiction, a prison sentence, eating disorders, etc.)

Things may look hopeless today (Jesus suffered flogging, was unjustly convicted, died a brutal death on a cross, was buried and his body was in a tomb 3 days), BUT . . .  it wasn’t the end of the story!  It’s Friday (when Jesus died), but Sunday’s coming (Resurrection Day)!  Today is mystery to us; we can’t explain ‘why’; can’t understand or make sense of it with our own reasoning abilities – we must trust God no matter how things look.  Anything is possible for him!

You never know what God is doing.  We must believe he can redeem any situation and use it for good not just in my life and my child’s, but as a ripple effect in the lives of others who will see and hear about what God did.  No one ever imagined God would raise Jesus from the dead!  No way!

God DOES have a plan and he will be with us every step of the way as it unfolds.

There is always hope for anyone.  It’s never too late!  Jesus told the criminal on the cross beside him that he would be with him that day in paradise.  This man would die in just a few hours, but there was still hope for him.

God will do whatever it takes to reveal truth to people.  Earthquakes, the dead coming out of their tombs talking to people, angels bringing messages, Jesus appearing in a locked room and then disappearing, touching his pierced hands and side.  Yet, he gives to all free will to choose whether or not they will believe.  It’s not forced on anyone.  All who see and hear will not respond in faith.

God’s love is incredible, immeasurable and incomprehensible.  He loves every single person he ever made more than we could ever imagine; enough to enter into this messed up world in human form, in the person of Jesus, His son; allowing him to suffer and die a horrible death on a cross to pay the penalty for our offenses to him, so that we could be forgiven and cleansed, be made right with him, have an intimate relationship with him and have the free gift of eternal life.   “God so loved the world . . .” (John 3:16)  Yes, he surely does.  And that includes me and my child, no matter what they’ve done or what has been done to them.

God is faithful to keep his word throughout all generations.  He is trustworthy and dependable.  Fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies is throughout the Easter passages and all of the four gospels.

(from v. 26 “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things then enter his glory?”)  We may have to suffer to bring glory to God.  He has allowed suffering to come into my life through my child, but it has a bigger purpose.  It’s not about me, it’s about God and His glory!

**Which one of these truths means most to you today as a hurting parent?  Choose one and write it on an index card or piece of paper.  Put it out somewhere as a reminder to you of who God is and what He can do in your life or in your child’s life.  Look up these Bible verses and read them for yourself.   What else do you see?  I’m sure you’ll find even more truths than I did! 

***Pray and give thanks to God for the truth you wrote down and any other ones you find.  And keep your eyes on the cross!  Jesus is alive and lives to help us through anything we will ever face in our lives!  Our hope is real!

HERE ARE TWO VERY HELPFUL TIPS FOR SURVIVING A HOLIDAY: 

1) LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS.   IT WILL HELP YOU NOT FEEL SO BADLY IF THINGS DON’T HAPPEN LIKE YOU WANT!!!

2) DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY THIS YEAR IF YOUR PREVIOUS TRADITIONS WILL MAKE YOU FEEL MORE SAD AND UPSET.  START SOME NEW ONES YOU CAN ENJOY FROM THIS POINT ON!