Listening is hard. After all, nobody will ever love your child the way you do. You fed him, changed him, raised him and provided for his every need. What do I wish I had done differently? I wish I had learned how to listen sooner.
My son stopped using over two years ago. For seven years he was addicted to drugs and, by the end, was a heroin addict. Today he is drug free and working to put his life back together. These are just some realizations that seem to help me.
The language of drug addiction is laced with many terms that seem to be designed to scare everyone. Many words and descriptors of addiction make me cringe “Hitting rock bottom,” is a term I have written about before. Another term that I have recently been exploring and considering is “Tough Love.”
Then we snap out of our dream and see our child addicted to a drug and wonder if the future is even possible. We mourn the loss of our dream. We experience suffering for our child because in our life and wisdom we know the hardship of life even without being saddled with addiction. We cry, become depressed and grieve this fading picture. Never really giving up the hope that all of the past will go away and we all get a “do over”.
It starts with letting go of the idea of having a “normal” life. Truthfully, it’s a far cry from the storybook life we all fantasized about once upon a time. Being a parent of an addict is about being more than you ever dreamed you could be. And most days it feel like you’re at war.
As parents of an addict, living in the world of ought to be gives us permission to do things that hurt our addict and perpetuate their addiction. Living in the world of what is forces me to see the situation as it is and not the way I wish it to be.