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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
January of 1997 in Baltimore, Maryland, my husband, three children and I found ourselves in the middle of a blizzard. We had flown into town for two weeks of cross-cultural training to prepare for a year overseas. Staying at a retreat center outside of town, we were safe. Their staff provided us with shelter, plenty of food, warmth, and generators. Hoorah for those!
To our dismay, due to the snow storm, none of our luggage arrived. Thankfully, our new friends at the conference showed us compassion. When we asked for help they loaned us everything we needed, from underwear and shoes to a hair dryer. Ten days later our luggage finally arrived. Boy, were we happy to finally get our things.
As I type this blog there’s a huge blizzard barreling down on many states – many where you are. Deaths are being reported by the hour. Millions have been affected.
What message could a blizzard have for parents in pain whose children are making dangerous, destructive choices?
Parents who suffer over the destructive behaviors and choices of their teen to adult children long to find someone who can walk the lonely path with them. Alcohol, drugs, self-injury, eating disorders, mental illness, Same-Sex Attraction (SSA), gambling and video game addictions, incarceration, pornography . . . the list of troubles we might encounter is long. Saying them out loud to someone is incredulous. We shudder in shame. And so we hide.
We know. We’ve walked that path and feeling alone only made it worse.
Your pain is deep. You long for someone to share it with. If I don’t get this out, I think I’ll explode, may be your ongoing thought. But to whom do you entrust these intimate family details? Who will listen well, suspend judgement, and keep a confidence?
Try asking yourself, “Can they carry my suitcase?” What in the world does that mean?
This question comes from a story about a father of two daughters:
I didn’t know where to find help for my addicted, depressed daughter. What counselor should we take her to? How could I find one? What rehab should we send her to? Which one would be best for her unique needs?
I didn’t understand mental illness. What is bipolar – really? How does an anxiety disorder impact a person? How can I help when she has a panic attack?
I didn’t know why she cut and slashed her flesh. Was her life that bad? Did she want to die? Should I hide all sharp objects in our home or make her keep her door open?
I was scared she might take her life before her 21st birthday. Would I find her lifeless body in her room one morning? How do I sleep worrying about something like that?
I didn’t know if her problems were my fault. Was I really such a bad parent? What did I do to cause all of this? I was overwhelmed.
What would the future hold for her? What kind of life would she have? What were realistic expectations?
I certainly didn’t know if I could keep my sanity in the midst of so much heart break.
Was there anything I could know for certain? Anything helpful or encouraging?
Yes. I now believe there is. It took a long time, but I’ve come to see that there are two things I needed to know that could make a difference.