With Mother’s Day right around the corner, many of us will be running to the malls or the flower shops, looking for that something special for Mom. We may gather together for a meal or take her out for one. Whatever Mom wants. This is her day. Whether spending time together in person or by phone, all across North America, Moms will be celebrated.
But not every mother will celebrate with flowers. Some mothers will not celebrate at all. Mothers of addicted adult children, have a particularly difficult day ahead of them. It’s likely they won’t hear from their children and if they do, it may be a rushed – “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Can you spare twenty bucks?”
If you don’t have addiction in the family, it’s difficult to understand the nature and severity of this complex condition. Addiction is a tragic and painful experience. It’s different than cancer or death. For families grieve a loved one that still lives. Unlike cancer, your community does not rally around you. Instead, you may feel judged, isolated and protective of the family secret.
Everyone in the family is affected, but no one more so than the moms. I asked mothers what it was like to have an addicted child. How did they cope in general, and more specifically, on Mother’s Day? I received an overwhelming response. Clearly, moms are ready to talk.
Here’s what mothers of addicted adult children want you to know.
“He’s still my son, my child and I love him. Nothing will ever change that. In my heart, I remember that daredevil little boy, who rode his big wheel down our steep driveway and did burnouts at the bottom. He loved monster trucks, tractors and construction, equipment. He’s sick, but those parts are still there, even if only in my heart.”
“I never realized my child was an addict & I didn’t realize I was an enabler.”
“It’s heartbreaking to watch!”
“It’ the worst pain I’ve ever had!!”
“Knowing if they overdosed and died, it would shatter my life into pieces that I could never put back together.”
“I want people to know my son is a good person with a good heart. He is not a label (junkie) He is a human being, with an addiction.”
“An addict is still someone’s daughter, son, wife, husband, mother, father, and they are loved.”
“That even the littlest things you do for them can be enabling. As difficult as it is, you have to figure out how to love without enabling. Something I’m still struggling with daily, even after 14 years.”
“Enabling literally loves them to death.”
“My son had cancer it was a tough fight for his life. But now facing his addiction I realized the fight with cancer was a piece of cake. Please pray for everyone fighting addiction. Hate the addiction, not the addict.”
“That no matter what, we still love them but we refuse to help them kill themselves. We brought them into this world and we can’t contribute to how they go out.”
“That through it all, good or bad, happy or sad, the love we have for them is always there. That will never change. We remember the person they once were and may not understand or know the pain but pray they know that if they choose, they can fight to live a happier and healthy life. We would be right there by their side through their fight.”
“I wanna scream loudly…he’s still my son.”
“I try every day to help him.”
“All my sons do some sort of mind, mood altering, chemicals. I’m in recovery for 8 years; I’m learning not to enable them and to love them unconditionally.”
“I love him. I want my son back…I’m dying watching him kill himself.”
“You need to plant your own garden. On all holidays, but especially on Mother’s Day- if your son/daughter ignores you or otherwise makes you feel unimportant, try to disengage enough to separate the addict from the addiction.”
“It’s heartbreaking not to be able to share Mother’s Day with them, plus this year it falls on my birthday. And 3 yrs that my wonderful mother in law was buried. My son feels so guilty because he wasn’t there for her he was so messed up. But he is clean and has a lot of regrets.”
“Years of going thru this will cause you to lose yourself.”
“The indescribable pain and the feeling of loss, as in a death…. it’s like grieving that person constantly… the pure hell…”
“That sometimes we grieve for our child, who is still alive. For the man he could have become, should have become, would have become.”
“My heart is breaking into a million pieces.”
“I want people to know that addiction is a disease. They need to stop judging and have more sympathy. One of the things that hurts the most, is hearing people say to parents, “You should be proud of raising such a great son or daughter. You did such a great job.” Of course, I don’t hear that comment about my job with my son because he is an addict.”
“The guilt I carry every day when I thought I was helping protect and save my son from this horrible disease, but I was killing him, being his enabler. Now I realize what I was doing wrong. I need to work on me while he is away working on him. I want to be able to do the right things as a parent, not as his enabler.”
“That first and foremost they are loved. Although the first drug they put into their body was a choice, after that, it became a disease. And that no matter what I did, or how I responded to him and his journey, he has to WANT to get well. And last but not least, there is recovery, and their lives actually can be beautiful.”
“Never give up hope. Many do recover and go on to lead wonderful productive lives. Although it may seem like the heartache will never end, it can and does for many!!”
If you’re sitting beside a phone this Mother’s Day, willing it to ring, please know, you’re not alone. One in seven families will experience addiction. The best way to help your child is to take care of you. Reach out. Seek out safe, nurturing people, who can share your pain. Let yourself cry. You’ll feel better when you do. Attend a family program at a rehab facility. Join an Alanon, or 12 step group. Focus on self-care and good memories. Take a walk. Exercise will greatly improve your mood. Buy flowers, or have a bubble bath. Above all, never give up hope.
Happy Mother’s Day, Lorelie Rozzano.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. (615) 208-2941.