My first lesson in addiction began the day I made that commitment to help my son the minute I learned of his troubles. Though I repeatedly was introduced to the lesson, it took me a long time before I was in a position to truly understand and learn it. That first lesson is both powerful and obvious, though we parents are blinded by our loving commitment and are unable to really learn it, at first. Try as I did — and I tried everything — nothing brought Brandon around to his recovery until he decided it was time.
I recently read an article about “Challenging the Monster of Addiction” by Joanne Kosta. As I read the article, I started to see myself in it. I started to see the other parents I talk with, coach, and present to, as well. We have all gotten caught up in our child’s addiction in the quest to save them, only to painfully and tragically discover their child’s addiction is more powerful than any parents’ love.
This was my first true reality lesson regarding addiction. If only I would have believed or accepted this fact earlier. It is the most important one to learn, as well. The beast of addiction is more powerful than any parents’ love. The unconditional love of a parent drives us and we relentlessly fight the monster at great personal — emotional, physical, psychological, and financial — cost. As Kosta writes “addicts’ lives revolve around their addictions. In turn, people who love the addict start to live their lives around the addict and his or her behavior.”
With every one of my son’s failings, every setback and every stupid decision, I would get more and more frustrated. I couldn’t understand how my son could hurt himself and his family in the ways he was. I had not yet come to grips with the powerful control the monster had on my son. As Kosta shares “You might think the person that has an addiction doesn’t care, because they act like they don’t care. They just want to get high again or drink again. The truth of it is, they carry around a tremendous burden of guilt. For the most part, these people are good people…They know what they want in life, but they’re seeing themselves failing over and over again. They see themselves hurt the people they care so much about … They actually don’t know how to stop it. They’re not sure they want to stop it, because of their addiction. Psychologically, they’re not sure they could cope.”
Kosta shared what I eventually came to understand on my own. Addiction is more powerful than your love or your desire to save your child. This does not mean you give up faith, hope, or love. It simply means that, as a parent, there is an element of letting go that must become part of the process of living with this situation.
It took me over eighteen months to come to grip with this. Fortunately, I discovered a path to my recovery and developed a program for myself that helped me distance myself from some aspects of my son’s addiction and empowered me to stop living my life centered around my son, his addiction, and his addiction related behavior.