Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I (we) did not cause this.

So many of us mention having feelings of responsibility for our kids' addictions.

I think we all share those feelings.... I tried so hard as a mom. I babysat kids at home so mine had playmates, I had income, and mine never had to go to daycare.

I worked in transcription from home, to afford private Christian education for them both. From kindergarten to high school graduation. Thatsalotta typing.

I drove for every play, every sport event against rival Christian schools, every after school activity, every evening football game. I had pajama parties, teeshirt painting parties, pool parties, after game parties.

I snooped. I found paraphernalia and assumed it was experimentation.

I saw her getting thinner and listened at the bathroom door after meals to rule out bulimia.

I home schooled the last two years of high school at her request, because the school we trusted was full of drugs.

What a surprise to find out years later, she was supplied by my pastor's son. He turned her on to marijuana and certain other items. She turned him on to speed. This all was before she was 18. (More about my pastor's son, later in another post.)

My point is that we do everything in our power. We try. These are our precious children. But they make mistakes.

They knew it was a snake when they picked it up (drugs) and it had the potential to bite (become addiction). With the naivety of the young, they assume it (addiction) will not happen to them.

One time. That's all it takes.

I'm understanding now, that it was not all about me. Or my job as a parent. That my kid took a hit of this, or a hit of that, thinking "yeah, yeah, say no to drugs, ha, ha"....

She'd heard it since the days of red ribbons on the playground - it was kind of like any other thing she heard from parents or authority figures - not really important, not really to be believed, yeah, yeah, whatever.

And when speed entered her body, ironically, her mania calmed and she felt more normal. For a little while.

But when heroin came along - the first time, the very first time, she turned to a friend and said "I am in trouble." She was "home". She felt so good, mellow, calm.... And she knew right then, she'd be back.

My husband still struggles with the fact that this happened "on his watch." This started while she was still a kid, and has continued for almost nine more years now, and he's been unable to "fix" it.

But not for lack of trying.

Anyway, for some reason I just felt like I had to mention this. We all think we should have somehow prevented this. But we couldn't. We are all pretty damn good parents. We have our faults, but we love our children and we want them happy and healthy, and we went into parenthood determined to do it "right".

I'm realizing, gradually, the choices she made are not our responsibility.... even if made "on our watch." She made a choice. A bad decision. She took a chance. And she got bitten.


  1. You are sooo right on here. We each make our own choices...and if it feels good...we do it again. I can understand clearly how we blame ourselves as parents when things don't turn out as we planned. Your story just proves we can't shield them from the world to protect them. You have come a long way in acceptance and wisdom.

  2. Your awareness and acceptance inspires me so much in my recovery. I needed this today as I am sure others who will read it will also. It is a sad part of parenting, but I try and remember that my own parents didn't force me to do anything I shouldn't have been doing, and couldn't have done anything to stop me either; sometimes that helps me too.

  3. Mom of Opiate Addict - that is a really helpful way to look at it: my own parents didn't force me to do anything I shouldn't have been doing, and couldn't have done anything to stop me either..... That is so true!

    Tall Kay - my oldest told me I'm developing a speech impediment.... I keep opening my mouth to say something and offer a solution to her problems (snicker!) and I (usually) end up gaping like a fish and nothing coming out of my mouth... I told her it was progress! Every time she sees me stuttering to a stop, "it's progress, thank you very much!"

  4. Thanks for writing this. I have worked every day of my life. I took a week off after my daughter, and 6 weeks with Andrew. I love my work, it is me, but I always juggled everything with school. I never missed any parties (well, very few), we had great Christmas and vacations. But in my heart I have always beat myself up for not staying home, not sending Andrew to parochial school.
    I know we were good parents. Both of our kids tell us that. Still, I wondered...your post made me see that some things are unstoppable.

  5. A HUGE HUG TO YOU. This is so true for all of us! Its amazing to me that it just takes one time, but my son said the same thing.

    I guess the question is: if Red Ribbons, D.A.R.E., and all the other anti-drug stuff doesn't work, what does? Seeing what happens to other kids??

    I don't know. But you are right, we love our kids and did out best. I feel better after reading your post.

  6. Oh WOW! I did ALL of those things! All that you did. I read pretty quick but, I also sent them to summer camps, boyscouts, we camped, private lessons of all types...many fun family days...strong church involvement...every thing that I thought would give them a WHOLE and wonderful life. They had paper routes and mowed lawns. I continue to do this crap! Make check lists and second guess my self! God help me! This is why I go to Al Anon...

  7. I went through therapy for PTSD for over two years and one thing I learned without question is this: I can parent, I can teach, I can show... but I can't control.

    I can be blamed, I can be the excuse, I can be the enemy... but it doesn't make it my fault.

    When I finally realized how true these sentences were, I was able to breath again. MY relationship with my daughter is non existent because she chooses to avoid her family. It's not OUR fault. It's HER decision.

    Good for you sharing this.

  8. It's so similar to what I've heard at so many Al-Anon meetings: I didn't cause it, I can't cure it, and I can't control it--but I can contribute to it by enabling. Stay strong.

  9. Syd, that's the first time I've heard the fourth "C"..... thank you - That's good to remember!

  10. I'm writing really quickly as I have to go but I will come back & read some more. I'm struggling today with tears rolling down asking myself,What did I do to deserve this? I'm finding it hard not to beat myself up! I know it's no-one else's fault other than my husband but it's hard isn't it....

  11. Lovely post and excellent reminder & out look, Thank you.

    I did it all too, I feel, and gladly - and had such a close relationship with my children. I remind myself the other ones were raised the same and do not have addiction issues. One thing that still gets me is... heroin. Heroin? I never even saw that one coming. Your description of your daughter's first time is pretty much the way my daughter explained to me - oh, if they just hadn't ever tried it.

  12. This is very sad and scary as a mother of a very young child who is unable to give him all the things you did. What power or control do we have? none

  13. WHAT??? A bad choice? Not a disease?

    yeah. I'm with you.....heart and soul. bones, fingers, head, brain, legs, arms, every part of my entireness is with you on this one.