To the Parent of a Struggling Addict

For a very long time I have thought about what I could have done differently to help my son. How my actions could have changed what has happened to him. Why does addiction skip some family members and haunt others? It has been a long hard road to the place where I can accept that addiction is just that. I don’t get to decide who is impacted and who isn’t. If I could, no one would suffer with this terrible disease. I have put myself through so very much in trying to help, to mitigate the outcomes of addictive behavior. It has taken so much to understand that it is not my fault. I know that many people are probably saying the same things I have for so long.

What if I had been a little bit stronger for my son when his sister was killed? Should I have dragged him, kicking and screaming to see a Counselor? Maybe have gone myself. There were times that I couldn’t hold myself up, should I have pushed that aside to make sure I held him up? Signs started showing up shortly after Erin’s funeral. Should I have stopped him from driving, from having a life. Tragic times call on us to be strong for our family, what if I had done better?

What if I hadn’t brought those groceries to him? What if I hadn’t reported him to the police so many years ago? What if they had arrested him then. So many times I screamed at him while he screamed back. So many times I awoke at 3 a.m. and drove all over Aroostook County looking for him. I couldn’t take not knowing if he was on the street, in a ditch somewhere or worse. Sleeping or dead. What if I hadn’t threatened to report him missing if he didn’t answer my call or text? What could I have done differently?

There are always those who consider a mother an enabler. I think that is their way of justifying their ignorance toward a person struggling with addiction. Have I enabled my son? Probably to a certain extent. But what I haven’t done, nor will I ever is give up on him. I often wonder how someone could give up on their child. I don’t think I could. Not ever. There have been many times that I screamed at God to do something to save him. But not once have I ever even thought, “I give up. There’s nothing I can do so I’m just not going to pay attention to it.”

If you have a child struggling with addiction, I’m sure you can understand all or most of these thoughts. If not, encourage someone else who has a child who struggles. Let them know they are not alone. You see them. As humans, that is the least we can do. It is not helpful to say loudly when you see a desperate Mom, “My mother told me if I couldn’t say anything nice, to not say anything.” If your speaking words like this within earshot of this Mom, you’re already part of the problem.

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