I am struggling. My 22-year-old daughter has been on a path of addiction for about five years. I constantly teeter on whether to stop communication because of the heartbreak I experience when I see her in active addiction; or, buck up and pretend there isn’t an elephant in the room named heroin and just see her. It’s such a catch 22. I miss her so much, yet when I do see her I feel complete sorrow and pain. I don’t know how to handle being an addict’s mom. ~ HW
I was once in that place where it was so frustrating to see my son in his addiction. I couldn’t stand it; knowing there was not one thing I could do about it and I had zero power over his situation.
I finally decided he needed to experience my love for him even if he was using and I began interacting with him in the most “normal” manner possible. So, we started getting together and simply enjoy each other’s presence.
What it accomplished was it allowed my son to experience my love for him without any of my judgement, criticism or disappointment. We would talk about what he wanted to talk about and enjoy each other’s company as best we could. Eventually, our time would wind down. In respectful recognition of the boundaries we had established, he would go on his way back to the life he was living and I to mine.
These interactions were powerful. Not only did my son have the opportunity to experience my love for him in a safe environment, he was able to realize there could be a road back to his family from his addiction. So many children get kicked out or cut off by their parents and family in a moment of anger, hurt or disappointment they fear they may never be able to receive their parents’ love again. This loss of hope is not a reality any addicted child needs to be holding on to.
It takes a lot of work to focus on meeting them where they are and offering them nothing but unconditional love; but, it is the greatest gift you can give them. It reminds them there is always hope.
The work required to get there involves a willingness to accept the reality you are meeting them where they are, in a place of unconditional love and acceptance. Whatever anger, hurt, disappointment, or pain you are feeling needs to remain checked and under control. When your child has returned to wherever they came from, you are then free to release your emotions and let them out. This would be a good time to meditate, journal, go for a long walk, go for a run, or ride your bike (my favorite).
It would also be a good time to celebrate what isn’t lost – a connection with your child. It may not be the most ideal relationship or the one you desire most; but, find comfort in having created a space to be connected, to share your love, and to demonstrate your commitment to them, regardless of their circumstances. That is something few children experience enough of.
I would love to hear from you. What issues are confronting you today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help. Please let me know: dave@100Pedals.com.