We all haven’t been able to do much doing this last year. Constant realizations of, “Oh yeah, I can’t do that.” I can’t visit my friend in a rehabilitation facility, I can’t go to a concert because there aren’t any. I entertained a big party idea and then remembered I can’t entertain big ideas of parties. My meeting isn’t normal, my work isn’t normal, my church isn’t normal, and you never know which people are not normal (by my standards), certainly I’m not normal. Best line lately from a shop owner, “I feel like I’m living in a Stephen King novel.”
Those of us who have or have had children in addiction understand abnormality. We know isolation — at the very least in our thoughts. Experts at social distance, we hold records for avoiding the most people, wearing a mask, and staying home. Welcome to our world, world.
The difference between lockdown living and living with a loved one in substance abuse is that in the latter, we have choices. We may not think we do, but we do. Although yes, we feel like the protagonist in Cujo, there are solutions within our control when our mind and life are swirling out of control.
We can find a 12-Step meeting — lots of them — ones which are for us (people who love alcoholics and addicts) and go to it or Zoom to it. We can reach out for help to a comrade in that meeting who, given the chance, will go from stranger to kindred spirit in warp speed. We can read literature for co-dependency which speaks to us whose loved one is going down. It will hit home like a batter on a streak. We can take the first step to regain our lives, connect with God again and ask Him to show us the way back to who we once were. We can pick up where we left off being that person who had dreams and gifts and a future that does not include managing the life of another. Those resources I just referenced are on this website, JustKeepGoingParents.com.
All that’s left is to be willing, open-minded and make the effort. Uh huh, the effort part is anathema to us having made nothing but Herculean effort to get that person clean and sober and on the right track. This time the effort is to get us serene and on the right track. No one actually asked us to lie down on the track for our loved one which would accomplish nothing — because we can’t do it anyway. It doesn’t work. Does it?
I didn’t know I had choices until our son went into treatment and some professionals knew how to address the collateral damage to moms. I thought my destiny was to mourn our son’s deteriorating lifestyle. At first I took their suggestions to make them happy because that’s what I do. Then I kept coming back to meetings to keep making them happy. Then I started to get better. Then I laughed at something. Then I grew some confidence. Then I let God out of His cage. Then I got an itsy bitsy bit braver. Then I got happier because doing what God wants me to do for my life makes me happy. Other thens are still happening.
We have choices. Who knew?