Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
What My Child’s Addiction Taught Me.
He came into this world without a peep. After a long and arduous labor, my child was finally here. The doctor cut the umbilical cord and the nurse plopped the tiny pink and white baby onto my chest. His dark blue eyes blinked open. He looked up at me and I swear my heart stopped. It was love at first sight. The overwhelming emotions upon seeing him brought tears to my eyes. I cried. I laughed. I was scared. I couldn’t believe this perfect, beautiful baby was mine.
I stared at him in awe and vowed to give my life for him.
The nurse whisked him away and carried him over to his bassinette. As she toweled him clean, I heard his first cries. My heart broke, I felt fiercely protective of him. If the doctor hadn’t been suturing me I would have jumped off the birthing bed and pulled my baby from the nurse’s rough hands.
Maternal instinct set in. I would save my child no matter what.
At least that’s what I told myself then. But no parent can spare their child the difficulties living on this planet brings with it. Tougher still, my child would grow up with a mother who struggled with addiction. My son walked and talked early. He was fearless and independent. He didn’t like the word no and seldom responded to it. He was curious about things and he was always getting into mischief. By the time he was in grade two, he was labeled a ‘troublemaker.’ He had difficulties focusing in class. He wanted to be on the playground. He wanted to be free. When he was 13-years-old, he started smoking marijuana. He was very bright. Smart, like a fox. He knew how to manipulate whatever situation he found himself in. By 14, he was doing acid and harder drugs. At 16, he was using daily. He began stealing and committing other serious crimes. My son was lucky. He got caught. It could have been so much worse. The judge sentenced him to 18 months in juvenile detention. As I sat in the courtroom watching, I couldn’t help think the judge had sentenced the wrong person. It was me who should have been going to jail. I had failed him as a mother. While he was serving time, I got help. Going to treatment did more than get me clean and sober, it also taught me how to live a healthy life, be a kind and loving person, be a hard worker and ultimately, be a better mother.
My child needed me. He had always needed me. But he needed me now, more than ever.
While I was attending 12-step meetings, he was spiraling out of control. Guilt ate at me. His addiction was my fault. I talked with other mothers whose children were addicted. Those mothers were not addicted and also experienced guilt. I found out it doesn’t matter if you’re the best mother in the world. No matter what your parenting skills are, you will still struggle with feelings of guilt. My child’s addiction taught me many things – like when I gave him money, I hurt him. He never told me this. His actions did. No matter how he justified it, or how I did, my money helped him buy drugs. I fed the monster that lurked within him. The one that lied and manipulated and was killing my son. I vowed I would quit feeding this monster. Instead, I would starve him and hope he would move on. Maybe if I wasn’t such an easy mark, maybe if I couldn’t be manipulated, maybe if I had support for the enormous guilt I was feeling, maybe if I could share my thoughts and feelings with other mothers, I wouldn’t keep trying to rescue my son. If I could lessen my discomfort, and changed my role and responses, he would have a better chance.
It wasn’t easy. Sometimes I wouldn’t hear from him for months.
My child’s addiction taught me to question my own behavior and conduct. I couldn’t help him if I was reacting impulsively to his demands. If I made my decisions based on guilt or fear rather than facts, then I was doing what he was… avoiding emotional discomfort through the easiest route – enabling. My child’s addiction taught me patience. Nothing in his world was how I wanted it to be. I couldn’t love him better. I could only hold onto faith and reach out for help. I had to keep learning and taking directions. I couldn’t ask him to get help if I wasn’t prepared to do the same. Stepping outside my family circle and working with professionals and support groups was my lifeline. My child’s addiction taught me no means I love you. As the old saying goes, a happy addict is an enabled one. Learning how to set boundaries and stick to them is crucial. Saying no to your child’s addiction and yes to their recovery by offering treatment, is giving them a second chance at life. My child’s addiction taught me there’s no shame in getting well. It’s not easy to tell people your problems. There are many who do not understand. But there are safe people to talk with. Vertava Health has a team of professionals working 24/7. They will answer your questions and point you in the right direct. The only way you can fail at recovery is to give up and quit trying. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 888-601-8693