Parenting is the most difficult, important, and honorable job a person can take on. With great intentions, we screw up even on our best days. Living with addiction, depression, anxiety or other illnesses can make an already hard job unmanageable.
We know the adage that ultimately, recovery is something we must do for ourselves. I say if you can’t do it for you but you can make an honest effort for the benefit of your family (children, partner, others) then that’s a fantastic starting point.
A young man near and dear to my heart brought tears to my eyes recently by relating a story in which his little girl observed him closely one morning and exclaimed, “Yeh! My daddy’s back!”
I fought back tears and asked him, “What are you willing to do to ensure that he doesn’t go away again?”
Active addiction takes our loved one away. It strips us of our character, integrity, and dignity. As it rages from within, it deprives us of receiving something as innocent and pure as a child’s love. Then it turns on its heel and uses those losses to convince us that we ought to keep drinking and drugging because of what we’ve lost.
Restoration begins with taking responsibility for our choices from today forward. This young dad is overwhelmed. He tells me, “I’d be okay except for all these fucking feelings.” In recovery it’s referred to as thawing out. The good thing about being sober is that you feel more and the bad thing about being sober is that you feel more. It’s a simple piece of acceptance:
We come back from the dead and everything hurts. It’s necessary and inevitable. It’s scary to believe that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel because if there is that means we have to get back up (again and again)and walk towards it instead of hiding in the familiar and procrastinating the work of recovery ‘til tomorrow.
He tells me how scared he is to let everyone down. The false belief is that if we don’t make promises and don’t get their hopes up, we won’t crush our loved ones. This is a precarious place. All it takes is for our efforts to end in disaster is for our disease to convince us that inaction is acceptable, that maintaining status quo without change is desirable, or that just staying sober is enough.
There is no purgatory for addiction. There’s no waiting place, no fence to sit on, no place to hide.
We become paralyzed in our fears and get lost in dark places. Stuck in our heads, trapped within ourselves along with every painful memory and every disappointment, trying to stand under the weight of every bit of shame we’ve accumulated.
In recovery we do not stand alone, nor do we walk alone. To attempt this is to remain disconnected and vulnerable to our disease preying upon our doubts, fears, and insecurities. Addiction, depression, and anxiety all tell lies. If we are willing to surround ourselves with people who will tell us the truth, we do not have to struggle to trust ourselves. We can simply take responsibility, be accountable, and become free one day at a time.