One of the hardest things about “parenting through addiction” is that we never know exactly how the story will end. We see the stories about overdose. We know parents who have lost children to overdose, suicide and law enforcement intervention. Our son knows far more people who have died than we do, and so our fear that this story could end really badly is based in reality.
The counselors tell us not to rescue, not to enable, and not to blame ourselves. They tell us that pain is the key to our son receiving the “gift of desperation” which will hopefully create the willingness he needs to finally decide to “go to any lengths to get well.” But what about until then?
When we witness our son’s rage or hear him crying or see that look on his face when our decisions not to rescue finally register…that’s when I get afraid that the pain might just become more than he can bear. How many times have I said to myself, “If he kills himself because I didn’t get him out of this, I would never be able to forgive myself!” That mantra had become my justification for continuing to rescue and prevent him from ever receiving that “gift of desperation.”
Lately though, as I listen to the stories of other parents, I realize how common that fear really is and how many teens and young adults threaten suicide. Some act on it, but most do not. Some act on it and end up in the hospital. A much smaller number act on it and end up in the morgue. But many, many people with this disease talk about suicide and threaten suicide.
With help, I was finally able to muster up the courage to talk with my son about my fears. Now he knows how I will respond to threats of suicide in the future. I explained that I love him too much to risk being the one to decide if he’s really suicidal or not. If he were complaining of chest pains, I wouldn’t decide if it was a heart attack, I would call an ambulance or take him to the ER. If I have any concerns, I will take him to the hospital or call for professional help to come to him if I am worried that he might hurt himself or others. Before we ended our talk, I made sure he had a copy of crisis information I printed out for him and posted another copy on the fridge. Now he knows how to call the suicide hotline, find an online crisis service on the web and even how to contact the texting service for those in crisis.
Today’s Reminder: I now know that suicide prevention falls in the same category as substance use prevention. I am simply not that powerful. And I am not a professional equipped to determine if my son is suicidal or not. By talking about how I would respond to threats of suicide and giving him resources for support, I can rest easier knowing that those are the ways of protecting my son that are within my control.
www.hopeline.com This will connect you with a crisis center in your area.
Crisis Text Line: text the word HOME to 741741.
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!