Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
The Valentine’s Day Card You Wished To Get From Your Addicted Child.
Every February 14th, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. This special day is a time to acknowledge our abiding love for each other and those special friendships. But if your loved one struggles with addiction you might not see them on Valentine’s Day and the likelihood of getting flowers, chocolates, or even a phone call, are slim. Chances are, the only heart you’ll be getting this February 14th is a broken one.
So what does one do with a broken heart on Valentine’s Day?
It might sound crazy, but here’s my suggestion. Take a sheet of red paper… and start coloring. Create the card you wish to get from your addicted loved one. Use your imagination. It might go something like this: Dear Mom and Dad. Over the years, you’ve given me so much. As a young person, I didn’t think about your feelings. Or how difficult it must be to raise a child. The endless hours of hard work and selflessness you put into me and I’m left wondering, did I even notice? I see you now and know you blame yourself for my addiction. Part of me is glad for that, but another part, the integral part, is saddened by your willingness to take ownership of my actions. There were many times I manipulated you into thinking your parenting skills caused me to use drugs. I did that for selfish reasons. If you felt guilty, you would give me more, but it wasn’t true. You didn’t cause my addiction any more than you could have caused me to have cancer. Honestly, you have many strengths but you’re not powerful enough to give me a disease! I know you’ve spent countless hours racking your brain trying to find that one moment where it all went so wrong. But there wasn’t one moment. There were many. I’m not even sure myself when it happened. Maybe it was the first time I took a toke. Or perhaps it was the first time I got drunk. Was it the first time I snorted heroin and lied about it? Maybe it was when I stole from you and broke your heart. Sometimes I think addiction is my punishment for all the horrible things I’ve done to you and the rest of our family. I know I hurt you, and I’m sorry. You are good parents and you tried your best. It must be heartbreaking to raise a child that struggles with addiction. You’ve cried a thousand tears, and lost endless hours of sleep over me. What goes through your mind when I don’t answer your calls? You have no way of knowing if I’m alive or dead. How do you function with that kind of stress? It amazes me that you can still put one foot in front of the other, given the difficult circumstances you’re living under. If I were you, I’d be a puddle. I don’t do anything without drugs. But you take it all on sober and with a broken heart, too boot. Honestly, you amaze me. It would be so easy for you to hate me and cut me out of your life. But you do neither. It seems in spite of all the crap I put you through, there’s one constant – your love for me. Seriously, somebody should give you a medal. I doubt there’s anyone who’s ever been braver. But I don’t have a medal, or even flowers, or chocolates. I can’t promise you I’ll never use again, for my sobriety is a day at a time, but what I can give you, is this: I give you permission to take your life back. I give you permission to smile and laugh and not always feel so overly responsible for me. I give you permission to go on holidays and dip your toes in the ocean. I give you permission to spend time with the rest of our family and talk about anything other than me. I know it sounds presumptuous of me to give you permission for anything. You’re adults, you don’t need my permission, except… I think you do. Your guilt imprisons you in the same way my addiction imprisons me. We’re all trapped. I feel bad about my addiction and watching you flail, doesn’t help me at all. This Valentine’s Day card is a proclamation of sorts. I proclaim that my addiction is not your fault! I take sole responsibility for my actions and in doing so, have a far better chance of achieving sobriety. From this day forward no more – you give – I take. It’s time for me to stand on my own two feet. This February 14th I’m giving you the best gift I can – freedom from the bondage of my addiction! Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you spend some well-deserved time together. Love your addicted – but working on my recovery – adult child. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 888-601-8693