I remember the first time a counselor suggested that I go to Al-Anon or another parent support group in our community. I was so insulted because — not only was I not asking for help for myself (I was there to get help for our 2 sons) – but I felt like she was saying that I must be the problem and that I was really the one who needed help! I begrudgingly attended one Al-Anon meeting, which was full of wives who talked about themselves and all the ways that they were getting along just fine, all while their husbands continued to drink themselves into oblivion every night. I left reassured that my instincts had been right the first time – that Al-Anon was not for me.
But when my older son entered treatment for his heroin addiction the first time, I was required to participate in a family education program. It was there that I first began to realize that I did need more than just information about how to help my son. When other parents shared, I could really relate! It was as if they were sharing MY thoughts, MY feelings, and MY struggles. It began to make sense why I was required to participate and that I might actually get something out of it.
Since then, I have come to appreciate that those other parents are exactly what I need. I really need to hear their stories and share mine. And as they share, I realize that I am not to blame for my sons’ addictions, but as they have gotten sick, so have I. So now, when parents ask that same question I asked, “Why should I be the one coming to group? Why should I be the one getting help, especially if my child isn’t getting any help?” I can share my experiences from my heart. I have come to value deeply the connections I have made with other parents. We may not hang out or go to dinner together, in part because we are scattered far and wide, but we can learn together, cry together, laugh together, and share ideas, experience, strength and hope.
Today’s Reminder: When a new parent comes into our group, I will remember that they probably don’t understand why they need to be there and they may feel insulted, just like I did. I’ll also remember that, behind that righteous indignation, I was also terrified. I will have gratitude that I can share from a place of experience and healing, with confidence that I have walked 100 miles in those moccasins and, as I listen, I am reminded of how far I’ve come and my gratitude for other parents who joined me on the journey.
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, and a weekly online Endurance group with parents just like you. 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!