Not long after our daughter began experiencing serious problems related to her use of alcohol or other drugs, counselors everywhere told us to “go to Al-Anon for yourselves. That’s what you can do for yourselves, but you can’t do anything to help your daughter until she decides she wants help.” That answer was utter BS to me, and I refused to accept it. But I was also invested in showing professionals that I was willing to follow instructions, so I attended a few Al-Anon meetings, much against my parenting instincts.
Like all 12-step programs, Al-Anon had all these little catch phrases. “Keep it simple.” “Let go and let God.” Blah, blah, blah. But there was one expression that really offered me some comfort. While most parents were like us — terrified, angry, hurt and confused —- some parents were calm and seemed to be at peace. Those whose son or daughter was doing well in recovery would say, “Don’t give up before the miracle happens,” and it used to help me feel really hopeful in our early years of parenting our addicted daughter. They wanted me to believe that recovery was possible, no matter who chaotic our daughter’s life was. They wanted me to hold onto hope and not give up on her, on recovery, or on our family.
But the expression later became one that infuriated me. As our journey with our daughter became more complicated with multiple trips through the revolving door of coasting along, chaos, crisis, treatment, sober living, coasting, relapse, chaos, crisis, detox, treatment, sober living — rinse and repeat —- it became harder and harder to hold onto that hope.
It came to the point that it seemed like those “happy, joyous and free parents” were just gloating. I saw them as literally boasting about the fact that their child had stabilized in recovery and that they were the living proof of a miracle that I would never see. It infuriated me!
Fast forward 5 years, and we are those parents. Our daughter is doing well, and I SO want to help parents believe that recovery is possible and that it is never too late! We are not gloating or boastful because we know that our daughter still has a chronic, progressive and potentially fatal brain disease. But today, she is “in remission” from that brain disease. She is healing, growing and increasingly more responsible for her life. When we look back 5 years, it truly does seem like a miracle, and I’m SO GLAD we didn’t give up either!
Today’s Reminder: We often hear stories of tragic deaths due to this disease. We all know that there are no guarantees. But our willingness to believe that recovery is possible and that it is never too late could have made all the difference for our daughter. When she doubted if recovery would ever be sustainable for her, our believe in recovery and in her really helped. When we doubted if recovery would ever be sustainable for our daughter, those joyful parents that I saw as glib did give me hope, and it helped. Now we are charged with the other part of the slogan, “Don’t leave once you receive the miracle. Hang around to let others see the difference it makes in your life.”