Man covering his ears while woman is yelling behind him

Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.

Resentfully Yours (Addiction In The Family).

It’s 3 a.m. and you’re wide awake. Reality sits like an elephant on your chest. Your son/daughter has not come home, again. You want to cry, or wail, or pound on the walls until your fists turn bloody. But you restrain yourself. You know it won’t change anything. Your husband snores lightly beside you. For one crazy moment you want to reach over and strangle him. Rage percolates in your belly, as you stifle the urge to shake him awake. There’s no point in waking him up. Your child’s addiction doesn’t seem to affect him, the way it does you.

You’re torn. What should you do? Overwhelmed and indecisive you try to come up with a plan. Should you get out of bed and start looking for him? What happens if you find him and he doesn’t want to leave with you? And what if he comes home while you’re out looking for him and then leaves again?

You imagine your child lying dead in a gutter. Your logical mind knows this is likely not true, but at 3 a.m., logic is out the window. For the ten thousandth time you think back to the signs you missed along the way. Was his/her addiction your fault?

You’ve heard it said addiction is a genetic and environmental illness. Does that mean every time your child witnessed you taking a drink, you were putting a nail in their coffin? You’re not an alcoholic. Neither is your husband. So how did your child end up with this illness? If only you could find the answer to your questions, maybe everything could be made right. Your mind races conjuring up worst possible case scenarios. Your thoughts turn away from the gutter to the morgue. An icy chill spreads up your spine.  Maybe this time, really is the time.

Unable to stay in bed one minute longer you get up. Even though you know your child is not home, you check again. As you look into their messy room, you think their neglect reflects on your life. Exhaustion sweeps over you. For just a minute, you give in. As you lower yourself onto the lumpy ball of tangled sheets, you remember a time not so long ago when a small child lie there.

Back then, the sheets were clean and cool. You see their tousled little head sticking out from their blanket. You’re crouched there beside them reading their favourite bedtime story. But one story didn’t end with a goodnight kiss.  Your child was never satisfied with one story, they always wanted more. Please Mom, just one more! Their young voice rings in your ear as you stare down at their filthy, unmade bed.

Please Mom, just one more – has become their mantra. Only they don’t say please.

Maybe that was the sign you missed? This obsessive need for more. More toys, more stories, more TV, more electronics, more money, more, more, more!

It was as if your precious child had a great big hole that could never be filled. Everything you poured into them, leaked back out. To compensate, you poured in more. Looking back there were plenty of times a firm hand was needed and you tried. God knows, you did your best. But you’re left wondering if your best, was nearly good enough.

Saying no to your child became a marathon event. While other kids graduated high school and went on to university, yours dropped out. When other kids were out getting jobs, yours was sleeping all day.  While other kids were accomplishing great feats, yours was out getting high.

Even though your adult child still lives at home, you rarely see them. And when your paths do cross, it was in anger and frustration. You don’t talk to your child anymore, you nag, yell and threaten them.

Speaking of yelling, you wonder if your marriage is on the rocks. Your child isn’t the only one you’ve been yelling at, lately. Your husband is getting an earful too. Come to think of it, so are the rest of your friends and family. It’s like there’s a volcano waiting to erupt, inside of you. If you have to hear one more story about how good someone else’s kid is doing, or what your kid is not doing, you might just explode.

Barley a day goes by where you don’t want to yell at the whole goddam world. You’ve never felt this angry or resentful, before. You’re at the end of your rope and you don’t even use drugs! But use them or not, you feel every bit as sick as your addicted child.

Sitting in your child’s darkened room it occurs to you – you might be waiting for the wrong person to come home. While your physical body is present, you can’t remember the last time you felt like you. You’ve become cynical and paranoid. You realize your home does not consist of four walls. Your home is your body, your thoughts, your emotions and your spirit. And your home… is a toxic wasteland.

Yes, your child has much to change if they want to get well. But so do you. Perhaps going out into the night isn’t the best idea. Another yelling match won’t help, either. But there is good news. By now you know what doesn’t work.  Perhaps it’s time to learn, what does.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1 888 614-2379.

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