January 10, 2011

Banging Your Head Against the Wall Over and Over

Tonight I was doing some reading out of my "Hope for Today" and flipped to a reading that really struck me.  I will not quote it completely verbatim but loosely. 

Could it be that all the pain and suffering I have been going through with Z for the past several years could have all been his fault?  Through Al-anon meetings, my sponsor and counseling sessions I have come to understand that I must take responsibility for my own peace and happiness.

Early in my own recovery I would often bring the same questions/problems to my sponsor, counselor or bring them up in meetings.  I would often liken it to hitting my head against the same wall over and over, that is what it felt like what I was doing.  I kept trying to "fix" the problems of my son's addiction by doing the same exact thing every time without it ever working, sometimes making things much worse. 

From today's reading there is an expression that was given that reads "an addicts behavior and your response the first time it happens is a fluke, second is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern."

What did this mean for me?  If I was still suffering in reaction to Z's specific behavior that has happened over three times, I needed to stop hoping the behavior would cease and instead, detach and start changing my attitudes, expectations and responses.

I have been able to see my own suffering was as a result of my own reactions to others which has helped me to be aware of my contribution to the problem.  Sometimes my part is bringing up something better left unsaid (like hey son, you look a little pale today; oh, so you are really doing well even though your pupils look like pin needles), etc.  Or sometimes I would start a serious conversation at an inappropriate time (this happened too many times to count and at too many locations to list).  Other times my part is harboring unrealistic expectations of others (especially Z) and of myself also.  When I am willing and aware and can see my part of the pattern, I can choose to respond in a way that will not cause me suffering.  There is no need to suffer because of the behaviors of others, I can only change my responses and attitude, which allows me to enjoy my own life.

"Thought for the Day":  The next time I react to another's behavior, I'll ask myself how many times I've reacted the same way before. (If I am always reacting, then I am never free)"

I must say that a little over a year ago, if you would have told me I would be writing something like this I would have thought you were a little crazy.  I mean come on, me being the problem, he is the addict!  What responsibility other than the guilt of creating an addict (which I know now is not my fault).  The relationship I had with my son one year ago is so very different than the one I have with him today.  We laugh and joke, I almost never get up in his life journey (notice I said almost as we all slip).  The pattern talked about above in the reading is so very true and I believe one of the most important elements in parents moving forward from their pain over their addicted loved one and the addict taking responsibility for their own journey and path they are on.  The pattern between Z and I was completely diseased for many years.  I don't think it has changed his addiction, but it has changed our relationship and a much deeper understanding of each other, compassion for each other and boundaries that are understood by each other.  I thank God and am so grateful for getting to a place where it doesn't have to be all or nothing.  I choose to have a relationship with my son whether he is clean or sober, again with boundaries.  He knows not to come to my home completely stoned out of his mind anymore.  Most days when I speak with him I can actually understand his words now and we both speak with much more respect towards one another.  This has made a HUGE difference in both of our lives, how happy we are, how much more peaceful life is and how much we love each other openly.  Acceptance that my son could be an active addict for the rest of his life, grieving that and then deciding if I wanted him in my life on life's terms was essential to me getting to this place.  Z is doing better than he has in years and is proud of himself.  I am doing better than I have in years and am also proud of myself.  I think for me, this is what it is about. 

So much gratitude to this blog community, my sponsor, my counselor and the Al-Anon program for helping me to get this far.  To helping me break the pattern.



Annette said...

Oh Renee...Awesome post!! I remember once I was going over all of my options for ways to "help" H. I was talking with a very dear Alanon friend. She said, "Yeah, but haven't you tried all that before? You know the definition of insanity...doing the same things over and over but expecting a different result." I got it.

I love your point about acceptance too... that is a key to our sanity in my very humble opinion of course. lol Accepting that active addiction could be the life my child chooses is tough, but it does set us free to love them unconditionally and to let their sobriety, if there will be any, be theirs. We can move on with our lives and enjoy whatever we do have with our kids.

Barbara said...

I'm glad you're posting again, you were missed!

I really like the "thought for the day" you shared here. I find myself doing better in this area but right now I am on the edge, could easily slip.

Syd said...

We say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over hoping for different results. No matter how many times I tried to stop the alcoholic from drinking, it did not stop until she was ready to stop. I needed to stop focusing on what she was doing and focus on what I was doing.

D said...

Glad you are finding continual wisdom and strength in dealing with your son. Yea! :) Let's hear it for all of us moms (and dads) who are gaining ground in our own peace, love, and wisdom! Praise God for his faithfulness to guide us along!

Heather's Mom said...

Great post! In the meetings I go to they say the same thing as Annette wrote above - the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Breaking the pattern - You have grown through your own positive actions. Excellent! I'm working on this myself (it IS a growth process, and humbling) so it is nice to read some inspiration :)
God bless.

Gledwood said...

I'm an addict and I wouldn't change places with you for all the tea in China!

(Or all the heroin in Burma, come to think of it, considering I'm off it (on methadone) just found out I really might have been self-medicating as I do have a dual diagnosis... o man not worth going into here. Just the pits. The absolute pits. Still I wouldn't change places though...)

Do they have an organization named AdFam or Adfam near by? It's for the families of addicts... Sorry if I asked that one before

addiction journal said...

i love this post!

patterns...the ultimate parent trap


addiction journal said...

i love this post!

patterns...the ultimate parent trap