"The word 'listen' contains the same letters as the word 'silent' " ~ Alfred BrendelLet's face it. The Addiction just can't keep quiet and is an unwitting carrier of messages we can use to carry us along our recovery pathways.
I can remember before the start of my recovery, one afternoon after I had thrown away my son's stash of pot I had found not so well hidden in the back yard, The Addiction shouted, "I'm gonna FUCK YOU UP!"
I didn't hear the message. At the time I couldn't have. I only felt the anger The Addiction was spewing in my direction and continued the confrontation. I was too caught up and enveloped in the crap of my son's dive into his disease to really hear and grasp what I was being told:
The Addiction was going to destroy me, if I allowed this to happen.And for years that is exactly what transpired. The Addiction "fucked me up" for a long time all right.
It requires a change of heart, soul, attitude and behavior to separate our children from their dependencies, to be able to listen to the siren call of The Addiction without being lured into its various traps. It becomes too easy to steer toward the challenges and beckonings Addiction's anger spews at us. We're the PARENT after all! How dare my son, my daughter speak to me this way.
We have to remember it is The Addiction talking, discharging its bile and bitterness. There is no need to revisit the effects of drugs and alcohol on the adolescent AND developed brain. We must be mindful our dependent one did not choose this life. He didn't wake up one morning to proclaim, "I'm going to trade in my life for pot," she did not inexplicably arrive at the conclusion one evening after dinner with the family to dive headlong into heroin dependency.
Our children are not living the lives they wish in their dreams and hopes to live. You'd be disappointed and bitter too. You'd feel isolated, ashamed. caught - all of these. You would allow The Addiction to ambush your interactions with the ones you love, who love you.
Imagine for just a moment what that life must be like.
The Addiction has so much to tell us about our children, about ourselves. To achieve its ultimate goal of permanently separating us from our children The Addiction becomes a manifestation of evil. But we can learn from this constant babble if we hang in there, remain as silent as we can be, and just listen.
This may be a poor analogy but it took me a while to realize that when my children were very young and I was transporting them and their friends to various events, games and outings, if I just shut my mouth and let them jibber jabber I learned much more about their world than when I would attempt to insert myself into the conversation.It's not always the words we need to notice, the details can be in the delivery, the previously unimaginable obscenities, the constant unspoken volleys of hatred shown through body language, negativity and disappearances. Negativity is the go-to fortress of The Addiction within our children.
I bore witness to my son's masked presence very early on in my recovery.
We were at lunch during a Parents Weekend at his therapeutic boarding school. I had chosen a little diner outside the town where the retreat was being held. It seemed like a safe place. He ordered nothing and The Addiction hit me with its best shot - or shit. One of the event's moderators had prepared us parents for this. As I sat listening to the "F" them and "F" this, and they don't "F-ing" know what they are talking about, and you're such a "F-ing" tool for buying into this shit, I remained silent. I took it.
It was the longest lunch hour of my lifetime and all I had ordered was a sandwich and chips. I tasted nothing.
As we piled back into my rental for the drive back to the retreat, my son emerged.
"I was really good at baseball, wasn't I dad," he asked out of nowhere, his eyes wide as if he was about to cry.
"You were better at baseball than football or soccer," is all I said.
(He was REALLY good at baseball.)
We returned to the weekend in silence. My son had emerged. Through my determination not to engage I had exhausted The Addiction long enough for my son to break through, if just for a moment.
The Addiction's message is clear. It wants to divert us from our lives while maintaining its hold on our son's and daughter's lives and their preoccupation with lifestyles they never wished for.
Hear the call of The Addiction, listen to its desperate demands for us to engage. Begin to recognize the malevolence of the disease to which our children have succumbed. Then refuse to steer into the rocks, refuse to play its pathetic game. Exhaust The Addiction!
Our kids are in there. They'll emerge when they're ready.
"We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say." ~ Zeno of Citium