A Personal Note – Learning to Let What Happens Happen
This week, for a personal note, I wanted to talk about learning to let what happens happen when it comes to your addicted grown child. Okay, if you just read, and then re-read that first sentence, you’re not alone. Trust me, a few years ago, I would have told you that you were cracked if you tried to tell me that this is the way to a healthier life for me and my family.
But… Hear me out.
Right now, I know that worrying and trying to control everything is becoming your usual. You feel older than you are, you feel tired, frustrated, heartbroken, and find yourself praying – to anyone that will listen – for a break from your grown child’s addiction.
I’ve been there. Some days, I still am. Most days, I still pray for my daughter and son-in-law to get into rehab. Yeah. It’s that bad. Even when she says she’s in recovery now, I know she isn’t. When things start happening, and she’s been going into the city a lot, I know for sure that she’s not in recovery. We just live in that kind of area that there isn’t a whole lot you can get in the city that you can’t get at one of our towns. Except for music. And, apparently, H.
Okay, so I confess, I randomly text my daughter about things that I almost know the answer to, just to see what she will say. It’s like I want to hear something different, but I’m quietly vindicated when I only hear lies.
So, that’s why I want to talk about learning to let what happens happen.
It Gets Easier
First of all, let me tell you that it does get easier to deal with your grown child’s addiction. It’s almost like most of us have a shut-off switch to our emotions and how much we can handle. In fact, most of us simply learn how to accept this new normal, which is sad but true, and we begin to move on with our lives. Sometimes, we let our addicted loved one ride our coattails for a long while, and other times, we simply say that we can’t help, and mean it.
The point is that emotionally and mentally, our minds start to become immune to the pity party that addiction often causes. We find that we stop feeling sorry or worried for our addicted loved ones when their addictions start to chip into our lives. It’s probably a defense mechanism, and I know that a lot of therapists would tell me that I’m hiding things, but if my emotions don’t seem hurt, and my family isn’t suffering from these changes, then I’d say things are fine.
However, you might find that seeing a therapist helps you to get to this point in your life. You know, the one where you don’t wake up every morning worrying about your grown kid? For some of us, the help of a therapist is invaluable in working through all the negative feelings that you’ve developed as a result of the things your kid has done.
Because let’s face it, whether drugs make your grown child a different person or not, they still really suck to deal with. It hurts. A lot.
So, right now, though, I’m going to tell you that it does get easier. You will find a way to start living for you and the rest of your family again, and you will find that you can really have a great life if you let yourself.
Learning how to Let it Be
This is one of the toughest things for most parents. It was for me, too. Luckily, and I’m not making light, because this is a serious situation, I’m self-centered enough and lazy enough that I can’t sustain a powerfully strong emotion like anger for too long. It kind of gets ambiguous and lost in the shuffle of other unsustainably powerful emotions.
The trouble for me is that these emotions would keep coming back. So, I would think I felt good, but then something would happen, and I didn’t feel so happy or upbeat anymore. It actually plunged me into a bit of depression (again, unsustainable for me) and I truly began to lose hope. Surprisingly, losing hope was not unsustainable, because it just settled in.
Then, one of my therapist writer friends told me that I should mourn my daughter’s life. Not mourn her like that I had lost her for good, but her life. The life I knew. The one I wanted her to have. The one we had together. Basically, I needed to wrap it up to keep it safe and put it away. Those, unfortunately, are memories now. They are sweet memories, and I will always hold them dear, but they are not how things are.
By not letting go of those memories and putting them in their place, I was allowing them to torture me. Those memories are what kept me worrying and trying to get my daughter “back on track.” I kept thinking if she would only get clean things will be the way they were.
Hold up. Would they? Would things ever go back to how they were? The truth is that my daughter has still grown. She has developed a personality, and the person she used to be might not even be a part of that new personality.
I had to learn how to let it be. In a way, I didn’t know who I was without her. Kind of like an empty nester, really. The thing was, I still had a family that needed caring for.
It’s a Slow Beginning, but Once it Takes Off…
Learning how to let what happens happen is a slow thing at first. It takes constant reminding that you cannot control the situation. You can only control your reaction. It takes a conscious effort to remind yourself not to give in to your grown child’s addiction like you used to.
Yes, that means putting your money in the bank instead of holding onto that extra $20 just in case. Yes, it means deciding that your home is sacred and your grown child’s addiction will not be allowed to destroy the peace that you have there. It also means choosing to take a vacation and not worry what your grown child will do when you aren’t there. These steps seem so normal, but for someone dealing with a grown child’s addiction, they are like climbing mountains each time you do it.
However, just like anything, the more you do it, the better you’ll find the results. You might actually discover that you like saving your money and going on vacations. You will probably find that taking the break does you – and your relationships – some good. Plus, family time with the rest of your crew is a blessed thing to be treasured.
Essentially, for each mountainous step, you’re making progress, and you’re growing stronger. When you’re away, and your addicted child calls you needing help, chances are you won’t be able to just be there, so, you’ll do what most people do, you’ll stay on your trip and enjoy it. Most of the time, the things your grown addicted child needs are small, anyway.
You’re going to be taking your life back. It’s amazing – trust me – I did it and it’s so powerful to do. You’re going to be eliminating yourself from the status of “fall back plan,” to parent that has a life, and it’s so wonderful.
Can I Always Let What Happens Happen?
This is something I’ve struggled with. What if she overdoses? Did I do the wrong thing by living my life then? What if she winds up homeless again? What if, what if, what if. My answers often look a little like this: If she overdoses, it’s not because I stepped back, it would probably just be in my house then. If she winds up homeless again, I can always offer a place for my granddaughter to stay. If she goes to jail again, there is always room in my life for my granddaughter, but I can’t force her to obey the laws.
You see? I have changed my thinking from being a victim of her situation to knowing how I would react in any situation. I have accepted the areas that I do not have power – like in whether or not she uses – and begun to choose not to sit around and wait for the negative to happen.
Keeping a Lifeline
There is this thing that my dad calls, “keeping a lifeline open.” It’s where you still maintain a connection to your addicted child, no matter what. This is what I do these days. Just because I’m no longer a floor mat for my daughter, doesn’t mean I don’t have a relationship with her. It means that I let her make her own decisions about her life. It means that I spend time with her based on the time I have, and I prefer that the time we spend not be bogged down with her glassy eyes and floaty head. But, if it is, it is.
She knows that if she ever needs me emotionally, I will be there. I am her mom and do still love her. We are still building a relationship of sorts, but this time, it’s on my terms. I’m doing it my way. And it feels really, really good.
Of course, like I said, I still pray every day that she will come to me and let me know that she needs help so I can enlist the help of the wonderful people at Elite Rehab Placement and find her a great place to start a true recovery, but even when she does, I know that it will be her recovery. Because my recovery has only just begun, and it looks and feels like a beautiful life.
Until next time, be well. And chin up. Know that you’re not alone and that things will get better.