As the parent of an addict, it was hard for me to understand why my child would continue harming herself and possibly even take her own life. I spent countless hours, days, months, even years stressed to the max with worry, embarrassment, and anguish. I felt alone, scared, and was living in torment all the time.
It was a Nightmare!!!!!
I spent countless hours trying to figure out how I could help her get out of the mess she was in. When I would ask her questions like, “Why are you continuing to harm yourself?” it would escalate into an argument that would only push her into wanting to go out to get more drugs so she could numb the pain of looking at herself. At times she would open up and cry and tell me she was trying to get clean, but it was extremely hard. I did not understand that.
A therapist I took her to suggested N/A (Narcotics Anonymous) Meetings. The therapist told her to look into it, but beware because people who go to those meetings could potentially still be using while trying to figure out how to get themselves clean. She asked me to accompany her and I did. I sat in hour-long meetings, sometimes 3 to 4 times a week. As I sat there and heard these people sharing, I began to get a sense of what being an addict is all about. They live with low self-esteem, depression, bipolar, and other mental illnesses. I learned that addiction is a mental disease. I found out through those meetings, my daughter had low self- esteem, depression, and bulimia. My daughter was an over-achiever in school, looked up to by her classmates, and was a wonderful well-rounded child while she was growing up. How could this happen to her? The fact was she did not see herself the way others did. Moreover, I did not want to see the signs that led her down that dark, lonely path of addiction.
During the first six months of going to meetings with her, I thought she was kicking the disease of addiction. Within those six months, there were times when I would second-guess myself. I would give her drug tests, toss her room, and constantly look at her eyes and demeanor to see some kind of change. Only to realize that she was and could still manipulate me. She was still using. You see, my head wanted to believe her, but my gut told me she was.
Finally, one Saturday morning at an NA meeting, a woman came up to me and said I needed to go to a meeting of my own. It is called Naranon. It is for parents and family members of addicts. I went home, looked it up on the internet, and found their site with locations and times of meetings in my area. So off I went thinking they could help me with my child. Well it didn’t exactly go like that. When I told them my problem and that I needed their help with my child, they told me they were not there to help me help my daughter figure out her addiction problem. However, they would help me figure out my problem with her addiction.
At first I was back to feeling all those earlier feelings expressed in this blog and then some. However, after taking two weeks of feeling defeated by her addiction, (knowing my daughter was still using), I went back to the Naranon meetings and found ways to set boundaries. Boundaries to not allow her to manipulate me with her addiction. I also came to the gut wrenching realization that she might possibly lose her life to her addiction.
With the Naranon Family Support, I no longer felt alone. Everyone there has family members who are addicts. They understood my panics and fears. They would listen to me with no judgment. They showed me the compassion and love that I needed to try to help my daughter, by first helping myself. They shared their Experience, Strength, and Hope that I needed to deal with her addiction one more day. I heard the cries of other parents within myself and it was such a comforting feeling to know I was not going through this alone.
I began to set boundaries with my daughter, realizing I had to stop enabling her. Beginning with giving her my rules if she wanted to continue living in my house; and I stuck to them (even though it was extremely hard). She bucked me by packing her bags and leaving. I was frantic; but kept going to my Naranon meetings.
After a week sick with worry for my addict, she called and told me she was tired and wanted to go to rehab. I found her a place in California; flew with her across the country; handed her off to the facility staff; then turned around the next day for my journey back home, alone, to North Carolina. I sobbed uncontrollably the entire way not knowing how her journey was going to end. Two and a half years later, she is still living in California. On her own. Sober.
Today, I continue to go to the Naranon meetings. I go for two reasons:
(1)To give my Experience, Strength, and Hope to others. To help parents and families understand themselves while dealing with addiction.
(2) This disease lives dormant in my daughter’s life. Only she can control it. I need to continue to stay out of her path and journey in life, while I Love Her unconditionally without controlling her!