Monday, January 6, 2014

The Journey of Parents in Recovery

We're all in various stages of recovery, some of us days in, some of us years, some decades into the journey. This journey has fits and starts and detours. It is a never-ending mystery tour with challenges, joys, victories, failures, surprise destinations and compelling players.

And this journey we are all embarked upon is a gift, a gift presented to us by our addicted children.

My journey, as with the odysseys of many of you, began even before I realized I had taken any first small steps. My road was paved with denial, anger, sadness, more denial and constant contention. There was no sure footing. My inclination to control everything became the dominant aspect of my personalty. My goal was to prevent my son's eventual downfall, no matter the cost to me, my family and others who cared about me. My behavior did nothing to prevent my perceptions from becoming reality. Slippery slopes became rain-soaked hillsides like those in movies where the hero slides helplessly as he flees his antagonist.

My antagonists were fear, depression, anxiety, anger and pain that daily stalked me through the darkness and dangers of my own self-imposed tropical forest. My son's pursuers, many the same as mine, were emboldened by the pot and prescription drugs he chose as self medication for his anxieties. His demons, as with the demons of any addict, were more merciless and relentless than mine could ever be. 

I became a controller, a rager, manipulator. I was feared in my household and wanted it that way. I became my own self-fulfilling prophesy of a person blind to his own futility and pathos. 

I will admit that I am and have always been a HUGE Star Trek fan. In a 1989 episode of a The Next Generation episode ("Time Squared"), the Enterprise is caught in an energy vortex, a sort of interstellar quicksand with seemingly no escape. The ship is not the first to have been caught in the snare. The captain and crew realize they should have known better than to have been so entrapped. Even at maximum "warp", the Enterprise cannot pull away. Every effort applied to free the ship only tightens the votex' hold, threatening to tear the Federation's flagship apart.

It's not until the counter intuitive decision is made to surrender to the vortex and plunge headlong into its center that the ship is released and once again free to "explore strange new worlds."

Twenty years or so later this message was lost to me as I watched my son in his own downward spiral. I was fighting against HIS vortex. I was tearing myself apart.

That was then and this is MY now. As I look out the window on a cold January late afternoon, I notice a slight reddish hue in the far Western sky that is a stark contrast to the newly fallen foot of snow and record low temperatures outside. Years ago, trapped under the relentless canopy of my self created jungle, my own heart of darkness, I would never have been able to notice this beauty - too busy fleeing my pursuers to notice any light, any life outside the shadows.

At some point, just a few years ago I came to the realization that I had been beaten by my son's addictions. I had been captured, tortured and beaten by those relentless pursuers. I had no choice but to surrender, to trust in something. I plunged into my own vortex of sadness, shame, anger and fear, and found myself on a new course. My destination is unknown but thick with the optimism of hope. There are still hillsides to navigate, but now these are less steep, more sloping than those from my former self-imposed jungle. Now there are plateaus and the occasional mountain peak from which I can survey just how far I've journeyed and how far I've yet to travel. 

The roads ahead are often obscured, sometimes by bright sunshine, sometimes by fog, mist and rainfall, and far-off new jungle canopies. I no longer even bother to lay in any specific courses. So much have I learned, and so much do I have ahead of me to learn. I know and I hope that most of the time, somehow, I, and the son who has brought me to these places will be fine. 

This TRUST thing will be discussed in future posts … believe me!

For now, "trust" that I bring only my experience and those of multitude of parents who have shared their stories over these past few years. It is an ongoing dauntingly exhilarating journey - worth every anguish.

… keep coming back.