Through the rollercoaster of our addiction, we usually have no issue putting ourselves through absolute hell to continue our using. Through all the pain and suffering that we put ourselves through, it usually doesn’t register with us just how much emotional abuse we addicts can cause our families.
To the Parents
God bless all those sweet, loving, hopeful parents. The ones who never give up on their children, despite the heartache they are put through. I was blessed with a set of those, and to this day I know that I will never be able to restore the sanity they lost during my active addiction. To the parents who fight and struggle to keep us safe and to do everything they can to make sure we don’t die, you guys are the real winners. And we treated you like trash. We tormented your dreams with visions of horrible car accidents or finding us dead in our bedrooms. We kept you up at all hours of the night, unable to stop worrying about if we were even going to make it through those hours alive.
Eventually, you would think that those parents would just get sick of the pain and stop trying and for many of us, that is when we finally start to see a bottom. One of the hardest things for an addict to do is to admit complete defeat. For me, it came when my family, my mother especially, finally one day stopped checking on me. She stopped calling because I never answered anyway. She thought I had been dead for days already. I finally felt like I was completely alone, I felt the only warmth I had left in my hollow shell of an existence drift away, and I knew it was time. I called her, and she saved my life by throwing me into detox, taking my phone, and then driving me halfway across the country and dropping me off into treatment. My mother finally grew a backbone, and it was the best thing she could have ever done for me. Years later, she says she finds the most comfort in being able to sleep through the night, knowing I am safe and warm in my own bed.
To the Children
I am grateful for all the children of addicts and alcoholics that keep pushing through, despite their upbringing. To the children and adults who watched their parents destroy themselves, always wondering if it was their fault, or if there was more they could do to help. The emotional trauma that comes from never knowing what your parent is going to be like when you get home from school leaves children with abandonment, codependency, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Add a hearty dose of anxiety, depression and an increased chance of addiction to the mess, and we have the children of addicts. Obviously, not all of them end up as addicts, as the truly resilient ones grow up to be the exact opposite of the parent they grew up with, and God bless those children.
Many addicted and alcoholic parents are not only emotionally abusive but physically abusive as well. My sweet, gentle mother was raised by a physically, sexually, and emotionally abusive alcoholic father. Since her mother worked three jobs to support the family, and as the oldest of seven children, the responsibilities fell onto her to take care of her siblings. She became the passive aggressive caregiver of six children, always putting her life on hold to make sure that everyone else was well taken care of. Today, she still exhibits some people-pleasing and enabling characteristics.
To the Spouses
Whether they knew they loved an addict before or after the wedding, and whether they are in addiction themselves, there is always a little part of us as humans that fools us into thinking that we can be the one to save someone. No matter how much spiritual reading or self-help books tell us to be our own person, most people who love an addict will be unwilling to admit defeat until they themselves have been through the destruction of the emotional abuse of loving an addict. Lois W., the wife of the founder of AA, had spent years and years watching her husband put himself through hell, trying as best she could to carry hope and support him until she finally realized that no human aid could help him.
After Bill was finally able to get sober and start Alcoholics Anonymous, Lois went on to found Al-Anon which is a spiritual program for the loved ones of addicts and alcoholics. The program was completely designed to help those children, wives, and family members learn how to deal with their own emotional trauma and to love their addicted loved ones in a healthy way. Often it meant letting them go completely, but the program centers around the recuperation and strengthening of the emotional standing of loved ones of alcoholics and addicts.
To all of the people who loved us through our addictions, you are the real heroes of our stories. For all of the sleepless nights and for all of the money you spent, we thank you. We are sorry for what we put you through, whether we show it or not, and no matter what, we love you, too.
Getting Help at Wayside House
If you are a woman struggling with addiction and mental health issues, Wayside House can help. We offer a women-only program and provide a safe, supportive environment to recover in. We have outstanding treatments and therapies that are often only found in more expensive programs. We offer inpatient rehab with various therapies, relapse prevention education, outpatient, and aftercare, as well as programs for medical professionals and veterans. Contact Wayside House at 800-655-0817 to learn more.