Lance Armstrong’s Message to Parent’s in Pain

bicyclistsI’ve been thinking a lot about bicyclist Lance Armstrong’s fall from sports stardom. He was at the top of his game, high up on a pedestal. Admired by millions worldwide no one wanted to believe the accusations could be true. Not Lance Armstrong – then he got caught. Illegal drug doping. Stripped of titles and awards the consequences were severe. Loss of reputation and pride would be brutally painful. Devastating. If I were in his shoes I’d want to keep my illegal activities a secret forever. And they were, for a while.

Parents whose sons and daughters are involved in addictions, other illegal activities, self-mutilation, homosexual relationships, eating disorders or an untreated mental illness, can learn something from Lance. Like his fans, we don’t want to believe anything could be wrong. Not our child. This is our son, our daughter, who we love with all our hearts. So we fool ourselves. We bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything is fine.

You say to yourself: ” They don’t have a problem. They couldn’t be an addict. Yes, she looks thin, but it’s not a problem. She wouldn’t do that to herself. It’s just a phase. It won’t happen again. They’ll work it out.”  If you have doubts, you plead with God for your child to be okay. You begin bargaining:  “If you do _________, I’ll do ___________. Please make them be alright.”

Or maybe you know about their activities but you don’t want anyone to find out so you help keep their secret. You lie for them, look the other way, cover up, enable, etc. It’s complicated, right?

And then it happens. They get caught. Evidence is found. Truth revealed. It all comes out into the open. The blinders come off. Your heart breaks. Dreams shatter. The nightmare begins. What was hidden is hidden no more. No more secrets. No more denying or protecting.

What now?  How will you respond? Decisions must be made. It will be difficult. The consequences will be painful. Excrutiating. They were for Lance Armstrong. No matter how difficult, you must choose a course of action if you are to move forward with your life in a positive way. Your child also gets to choose – to get help or not. Some will end up in the legal system and lose the freedom to choose. Decisions will be made for them. But what about you? Will you enable or will you be strong? You can’t continue to fool yourself, or else you become the fool. Ouch, that hurts.

Facing the cold hard truth is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Al-Anon says, “Secrets keep us sick”. So in reality, getting caught can be a gift for you and your child. It forces truth into the light and forces a crisis that can lead to healing and recovery – for everyone.

Control over their response is an illusion, so let’s focus on you. Will you keep your head in the ground or will you step into the light and face the truth? I encourage you to do the latter. Be honest with your reality. It is what it is. Move into accepting the fact that your child isn’t who they once were, but you will be okay. And there is always hope if they will reach out and receive the help that’s available.

You can survive your child getting caught. You might even decide to ask God for this gift. Positive, life-changing results can occur.  I survived and moved into acceptance by turning to God. In Him I found comfort. In Him I found the ability to cope with the shock and pain. It was devastating and my life has changed, so has my daughter’s, but secrets can no longer make me sick.

What about you?

Two books I find helpful are:  Parents With Broken Hearts by William Coleman and Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie

This is a Bible Verse that I find relevant:  “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

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