|The mantra of recovering addicts/alcoholics is |
"One day at a time."
And that must also be the mantra of the loved ones.
Over the last few weeks Gail has been serializing this little book based on our experiences with our addicted son. The title of the series was "Help for the Loved Ones of Addicts and Alcoholics."
She ask that I add a few observations on what has transpired since the book was first printed.
Our son, Brin, began his recovery about eight years ago. Approximately the same time I gave the talk in church, which was the genesis of the book. Gail's inspiration and effort transformed the words into The Best Help --- with his permission.
He was in complete recovery for about seven years. Then he relapsed and was in that state of relapse for a few months. He is in recovery once again and has been for several months.
We had learned relapse is often a part of the process of most addicts as they are in recovery. Consequently we were not complete surprised but we were, of course, terribly disappointed. However, as a result of the tools we had acquired we were once again able to leave our son's decisions in his own hands, and of course in the hands of the Lord.
The mantra of recovering addicts/alcoholics is "One day at a time."
We realized just how true this was when we were in an AA meeting with Brin a few years ago when one of the visitors shared the following:
"I have been clean and sober for 53 years; give me another day."
This must also be the mantra of the loved ones.
The yellow book is obviously about addicts and loved ones, but ultimately about agency and accountability. That is the agency and accountability of everyone, each of us and all of our loved ones. Here is that redundancy again. . .We must not, we can not take that away.
Not surprisingly, not everyone agrees with the "no help" concept and we've had some interesting discussions with others. We still attend a family support group. We still learn and hopefully we are also able to help others from our experience.
It is very easy to become addicted to your addict!
What these groups teach us is that we must take care of ourselves and not get caught up in the madness that is addiction. We have learned we can't cure our loved ones addiction, we can only control ourselves.
One subject which recurs from time to time is the story of the "prodigal son" in The New Testament. The conclusion we draw from that parable is that the son made the decision to change his life. In Luke 15:71-18 "And when he came to himself he said, I will arise and go to my father..."
Read Luke 15:11-32 to get the entire context of the parable. You will note the father did not go after his son; he had to wait until the son was prepared to make the change in his life.
What a hard decision that was for him and what a hard decision that was for us.
But it was the decision we had to make for our son. His life. His agency.
A couple of other things we have learned which I will share.
When we first watched our son begin his recovery process we expected that as soon as he quit using drugs, the son we knew before would immediately and miraculously reappear.
It didn't happen!
We discovered that years of addictive thought and behavior becomes a part of their persona. And it takes a long time, even years, for those traits to change to a more rational thought process.
The good news is it can happen!
Another major issue to be addressed is the loss of trust that has taken place. We have often been asked, "Will I ever regain trust in my loved one? or "How long before I will trust my Loved one?" The answer to those questions is "Yes. It can happen. But it will take a long time." I will tell you when we knew he had regained our trust. One day he had to use a credit card to make a purchase and, not having a card himself, he called and asked if he could use ours. And we could say, yes!
There is hope for our addicted love one. When they are ready to change. And there is peace for us when we turn them over to our Heavenly Father and seek that peace.
There are many more things I could say, and probably will be sorry when they come to mind after I have wrapped this up. But here is one more very important thing:
When your loved one finally makes the decision to clean up and takes the necessary steps to successfully do so, it is important to remember that they own that success. As we repeatedly stressed, they made their own choice to use.And then they made the choice, and put in the hard work, to overcome it.
They are accountable for the extraordinary effort it takes for them to succeed. And . . .
the success is theirs.
May the Lord bless you and your family.
1. If you missed the beginning of this series, or if you want to share it with someone, you can go back to the beginning. "Help for Loved Ones of Addicts and Alcoholics" began on January 31, 2014. The first few posts were weekly but quickly went to Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays when we decided it wasn't fair to "string" them out if they were helpful to you.
Older posts on April 20 and 24, 2012 also "introduce" the yellow book.
2. I, Gail, will say my final good-by to you on Friday.