Monday, May 27, 2013

Apologizing to Your Children

Is it the parent's fault if their child becomes an addict?  Sometimes addicts come from wonderfully well rounded and supportive families, sometimes not. There is a myth that all addicts have bad parents.  Most intelligent people realize that's wrong - addiction does not discriminate and no one is immune.   If you are a parent who truly did the best you could and your child still became addicted, then this post isn't for you. This post is for the rest of the parents, those who can share the blame, intentionally or not for their child's addiction.

If you were one of those who did drink and dope when your kids were young and then they followed in your footsteps, please apologize. If you neglected them or allowed them to be abused, please apologize. My father and I are not very close, but one of the things I will always remember was his apology a few years ago for his behavior and drug use when I was young. It wasn't long and heartfelt. It was just a simple "I'm sorry that I did all that" and I felt like he meant it. I thought I had moved on already, but those simple words were more healing than I could have imagined.

Your child may not be in a place yet where they can or are willing to accept your apology, but when they get there knowing you said it and were sincere will help with their healing and most likely yours too.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Baby Beans

When our oldest daughter was about two she started carrying around a bag of dried beans. She called it her Baby Beans. She slept with it and wrapped it in blankets. When the plastic got holes, I'd sweep up the spilt beans and duct tape the holes. When there were too many holes, I bought a new bag. She was the sweetest, most kind hearted, intelligent child I ever layed eyes on. She was completely innocent and trusting like all little children - and so undeserving of the hell she had to live in later. She's now 20, in college, and seems to be doing pretty good. She acts like she has forgiven me for what she witnessed and the neglect she suffered during my addiction, but I don't know if I will ever be able to forgive myself. There are times the weight of the guilt becomes almost unbearable, like a couple of nights ago.

I was cleaning the pantry and picked up a bag of dried beans. Memories of tiny, brown-eyed little girl wearing a pink night gown, sucking on a pacifier, and tucking in her baby beans flooded me. This should have been a fond memory. If I had truly done the best I could as a mother, even with mistakes everyone makes, it would have been. Instead, I was bombarded by feelings of shame and guilt. I shut the door, sat on the floor, and cried until I couldn't cry anymore. I tried to change my perspective and think about the positive things now, but I just couldn't. All I could think is that I should have played her with her more and rocked her and the beans to sleep. I shouldn't have sat on the couch getting high. I should have put her feelings first instead of constantly worrying about a grown man. Later, I should have protected her from hearing the filth spewed from her father's mouth and sounds of fighting and crying. I should have made sure she was always safe and protected instead of getting high to escape my reality and leaving a small child to face hers alone.

I can't go back and change anything. It's too late. I know all I can do is the best I can from here on out and pray that she is more resilient than I am in overcoming the trauma.  Recovery is great. It's much better than the alternative. Everyone benefits especially those that depend on you. But, still, there are some days that just suck.