Most parents remember Linda Blair as the child actress whose portrayal of Regan, a demon-possessed child, in the movie, The Exorcist. It was a stunning and terrifying movie that I will never forget. Even though I am not a person who really believes in things like “spiritual warfare” or exorcism, I do understand that addiction is kind of like demonic possession.
When I do allow myself to think about what a demon would do, I conjure up things like “it would lie and tell someone to jump off a cliff,” or “it tells someone that everyone is against them,” or “promises to love them or protect them or save them at the same time it’s actually hurting them.” If I think about the disease of addiction as an entity that has its own voice and its own agenda, that actually helps me have more compassion for my daughter. It makes sense to me that the voice of my daughter’s disease might tell her lies like, “I know how mad you are at them, but remember that a little bump of cocaine will take all that anger away.” Or “They don’t really love you anyway. I love you like no one else can. I can make you feel better than any of them ever can!”
Or maybe the disease is like an abusive boyfriend who gets mad and says horrible things like, “No one else could ever love you because you’re just a piece of s&%t. I don’t even know why I bother keeping you around. And you are so ungrateful for everything I do for you too! You need someone to teach you a lesson, little girl. And if you really think you can go running to the police or running to your mama or your girlfriend, you just remember that I wouldn’t think twice about telling them what a lying, thieving, slutty b@#*h you really are! And if you are stupid enough to think you can live without me, make no mistake, that will never work because no one would have you and you sure as hell can’t take care of yourself!” And then, after hurting her, he says, “I’m so sorry baby. I don’t know what gets into me sometimes. You are so beautiful, so special, so important to me, and I just don’t know why I do the things I do when you’re the best thing that ever happened to me. I promise, baby, I’ll never hurt you again.”
When I think about the ways the disease lies to my daughter and says things like that, it helps me to redirect my anger towards the disease itself and to have more compassion for her. I know that she is hurting, feels trapped and sees using as a way to get away from all that pain. I know that she chose to use for fun at the beginning and that she never meant for it to turn into addiction. And I know that the disease is affecting her behavior and the ways that she relates to me and how she tries to live her life. She is at its mercy until she can escape, heal and find her true self again, and I know that she can only do that with recovery.
Today’s Reminder: When I find myself so angry at my daughter for her behavior, I will try to remember that – just like the child, Regan, was under the control of the demon – my daughter is under the control of a powerful disease. I will remind myself that my sweet, precious daughter is still in there and that, until she can experience relief in recovery, she is being held captive, is at the mercy of the disease and literally unable to remember those parts of herself. I will continue to hope for recovery while never losing sight of the power of the disease.
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!