I have had a screaming desire to address, in a much more focused way, the family members of those addicted to drugs and alcohol. It is such another big part of my own experience, being deeply and profoundly affected by my own daughter's addiction to heroin. In fact, it has taken several years for me to be able to even speak of it.
The words "shame" and "guilt" seem almost trivial compared to the true internal emotional experience. As a mother, I took the responsibility of her addiction as truly all mine. As a recovering alcoholic, I took on the blame for all of it as well.
In the beginning, we have the energy and the idea that something we might do just might change the course of our loved ones' lives. I tried all the newest and most popular versions of “tough love,” the “contracts,” the family counseling, the therapies, the in-patient treatments, the out-patient treatments, the Christian-based treatment, the insurance-based treatment. We go to any length. We get temporary relief as we think that, this time, we finally found the problem, and the fix.
Then the fall, sometimes quickly and sometimes that long, drawn-out, slowly slipping backwards, and grasping at everything I could find to grasp at until there just was not anything left to hang on to. She was gone once again, and I was left with the shame and guilt and fear of not knowing what to do.
I remember thinking that this kid would never make it to 16, then 18, then 21, and her she is, now 27. There are still times when the phone rings, and I have the terrible, terror-filled thought cross my mind: Will it be “THE CALL,” the one where someone is wondering if the body they found is my daughter?
Now, most days. I am at peace. I stopped fighting some time ago, and surrendered to trusting that this child and I were meant to be in this situation, this life together. One day, I was sitting at my computer; it was one of those really tough days where my mind just kept going around and around about her. I was sitting there, and I swear I felt something just gentle touch my shoulder, and then I heard this: “Just love her, all you need to do is love her.” My arguing mind began as though I did not understand that, and today I realize I did not understand what it meant to love someone unconditionally. I thought my trying to fix her was me “loving” her.
All I needed to do was to step back and stop focusing on the addiction and the behavior and just love her. Somewhere along the line, I forgot she had a God and a mission here on this earth. Somehow, I began to think that I knew what her life was supposed to look like and how it was supposed to unfold for her. Somewhere along the line, I began to behave as though I was the all-knowing one.