Conventional wisdom is a tricky thing. We know it’s conventional because, at least at some point, it proved to be true for lots of people for long enough that people decided it was THE truth. One of the most challenging aspects of conventional wisdom when considering addiction is the proverbial “You’ve just got to let them hit bottom. Doing anything sooner will just be a waste of time and money.” Conventional wisdom is shared by people I considered to be wise, experienced people who care. Deciding to politely dismiss their wisdom felt risky, foolish and presumably setting myself up for disappointment. But I can’t help it. I just can’t fully accept the conventional wisdom of waiting for the proverbial bottom. The stakes are just too high, and I simply refuse.
Since I began my own recovery though, I have come to appreciate that – just like my sons – I tend to think in extremes. I’ve learned that perfectionism and all-or-nothing thinking are characteristic thought patterns that lead those with addiction AND THOSE OF US WHO LOVE THEM to miss the opportunities to find our own wisdom when it comes to facing our addiction. My sons are addicted to drugs and alcohol. I am addicted to my sons. I have learned that I can abstain from the compulsive behavior of trying to control them, but that doesn’t mean that I do nothing. The stakes are just too high, and I simply refuse.
And so I choose to draw from all sources when deciding how to respond to my sons. I allow myself to be reminded by the Al-Anon folks that I am not in control of my sons’ addiction or recovery. I strive to apply what I’ve learned from CRAFT about delivering honest but kind messages of boundary setting and encouraging my sons to access the help that is available for their recovery. I remind myself that addiction is a brain disease and stay abreast of the research. I am reminded every time I listen to pre-flight safety reminders that I need to “secure my own mask first before helping others.” And I find comfort in my church family, my faith, my devotionals and my prayer life – believing that my God has a better chance at saving my sons than I do. And I look for opportunities to share our story with other parents, our church, our elected officials and others in hopes that sharing our experience, strength, and hope will make a difference for others.
Today’s Reminder: Today I will look for opportunities to learn from conventional wisdom, science, education, wellness, 12-step wisdom, change and motivational approaches with a spirit of both humility and hope. I may not be able to control our sons’ addiction or recovery, but I can learn, heal and grow more when I keep myself open to the benefits of the best parts of all of those resources.
You can listen to an audio of this devotional at our podcast A Dose of Hope.
You do not have to walk this path alone. Parenting Through Addiction offers courses to teach you about what YOU can do to help your child as they begin their own path to recovery. We also offer various membership options so you can connect with other parents who are on their own journey to find serenity in the face of their child’s addiction. To learn more click here!