What’s it like? To know your child has been taken over by a drug, by alcohol, by anything at all that claims a part of their life and makes it their own. The spirit that lives through them, that takes control and takes them on a journey ‘out to sea’ gradually bit by bit, the shore getting further away. And even though they feel that they could ‘swim’ back any time, the reality is that the further they swim out to those depths, before any one realised it could possibly happen to them, they are out of their depths and there is no turning back.
It has them in its grip, no longer treading waters with the hope of one day just swimming to those shores and landing back on their feet, ready to take their life in their hands. They are dancing with the spirit of addiction out in the ocean, out in the depths and addiction has won!
‘The spirit of addiction’
a human curse,
bestowed on this planet with a kindly stare
that says all we need to do is want,
it forges its way in our homes
and our hearts,
with promises already broken,
it longs for us to give out our hand
to take it on board,
any thing goes
so long as we keep wanting
addicted to the very soul of dysfunction
for when it has us in its grip it knows we will not rest
we will strive to fulfil that appetite
strangely not understanding
it will never fill that hole
it will never satisfy
what is really missing
from our bellies
so plough up the earth
take all for your need
drink yourself stupid jack up that sleeve
the spirit will haunt you
it knows your greatest weakness
is to IT,
its own part of you
that you have become
that IT now owns
no longer yourself
your in its control
its won the battle to possess your soul
so give your self to it
let it win its next goal
and give in to life and the spirit you hold
turn over the dust-can and pour out its worth
and know there is nothing but you and its curse.
And parents pray that one day, something will happen, anything, to just make them see how futile it is and how lost they are! But who wants to hear that from their parents?
The voice that says “just one more” is so much stronger, because it can avoid the shame, the guilt, the disappointment, the possibility of failure. It can fill an emptiness that nothing else quite seems to reach, the emptiness that needs to be numb! Maybe even thinking its so much more fun!
So it keeps our dear ones out in the ocean, avoiding facing the work that really needs to be done. Mothers and fathers watch from the distance, sometimes trying to rescue, sometimes trying to give words of wisdom, sometimes going to groups and learning ‘how not to help’.
‘You can put a blanket over them to keep them warm, but do not carry them upstairs to bed.’
For years parents care for their children, hoping they are doing the right thing, trying to get it right for them. Often not quite saying or doing the right thing, but learning, hopefully, setting boundaries, giving information and trying to steer them along the path.
But also ‘not’ learning at all sometimes and making the same mistakes over and over. Many parents not even being there for their children at all, how then do they fill that empty hole?
Some of the worst dysfunctional families bare the strongest and most successful of children, and some of the most successful and nurturing of families bare the worst addicts, or dysfunctional children! Of course it depends on how we view success, for me it is a sense of their own worth, knowing their soul purpose, good communication skills and healthy relationship to others with integrity and with an idea of who they really are.
There is no knowing how our children are going to turn out. We cannot know, as we watch them through the years changing from babies to toddlers, taking their first steps, going to school, becoming teenagers, all we can do is love them for who they are and hope or pray that they will be happy.
When they don’t or are not happy and turn to substance to fill their holes, their emptiness, or their loss, we often wonder what we did wrong.
Parents can accept that maybe they did nothing wrong, or could have done better, or differently. They may simply blame their young adolescent with disdain for ‘showing up’ the family.
They may have agreed that it is the others journey and nothing to do with them at the end of the day.
But a mothers or fathers guilt is not so easily remedied!
They can be kidded continually into believing all is ok, they can be hoodwinked and told to turn a blind eye, until they cannot believe it any more and fully face the challenge in themselves, to look at themselves and ask what its all about ‘what did we do, or not do as parents?’
I recognise the need for support for parents, on a deep level, like a really deep level! To face the possibility of having made mistakes. To hear from others how they too got it wrong, to grieve the lack of knowledge they never had from their own parents. How to deal with the thoughts like..”is he or she killing themselves / wasting their life?” Or even “how am I going to cope with the funeral when it comes!!?”
And then once their own stories are told they can support each other and explore their anger and frustration; anger at the system, the manufacturers of alcohol and drugs, the sadness at seeing their loved ones taken over in this way, fully facing their own responsibility in the creation of this problem. Have we said we are sorry to our children, have we done what needs to be done on our side to fill that empty hole?
Once parents have done their own work and only then, can we speak out and say to the governments and the manufacturers who make profit from our young people’s naivety, saying ‘Its not ok! What the hell do you think you are doing?’ Wake up, it is our future and all our children’s future you are playing with’
When the love of my boy takes me
to the deepest darkest places of my very soul and being.
When the turmoil strikes my belly in my
heart and I can no longer see straight ahead
or remotely into the distance.
When all thoughts stop and the gut wrenching pain
becomes my food, my breath, my yearning for peace.
When all else has fallen away and I am left
with nothing to cling to but a quiet phone
that I long to ring.
A screen with a sweet face of a man
I no longer know
I’ve never lived in a city before, until I came to one this year. I am so shocked to see how much alcohol and drug abuse there is on the streets.
There is no point telling our kids off and making it hard for them, they need easy to get to rehabilitation areas, to have communication groups more at hand, information leaflets handed out to them. And again manufacturers need to get wise, compassionate and more educated about what they are actually creating.
Parents do not need to hide their own stories away. We cannot fully know if any one is to blame, but those that feed on the dysfunctions of the innocent, preying on the holes they are unable to fill themselves, pouring in those liquors and drugs, to top up their own bank balances feels to me to be a criminal act.
Something needs to change, more education, more open and real stories shared amongst communities, more possibilities for the youth that prevent the need for substance abuse, we need stricter laws that prevent clubs, pubs and shops supplying to our youngsters.
I am very angry with the manufacturers of alcohol, for their lack of responsibility towards our young people or even the older amongst us, but its the teenagers who are so easily influenced that I concern myself with. Its so easy to go to a club with a small amount of money and be given umpteen poisonous drinks that they swill down like lemonade. In fact it is encouraged! There is no real education in schools on the real impact of it all in their lives. Simply telling them not to do it is useless. Teenagers are natural rebels, they have to be, it helps them move away from the family restrictions, to set up in the world by themselves, to create their own rite of passage if no one else is there to do it for them.
So who needs to go and talk to the teenagers about the possible harm that can occur through too much drink or drugs. Well I believe no one but those who have experienced it for themselves, those who have been out to the ocean and danced with the spirit of addiction, those who have been involved in the ship wreck of their lives and have made that small raft and paddled back to shore, those who made the decision not to die, but to make something of their lives.
Those who are willing to tell how it was, to share the pain and the ugliness of what they had been through.
I hope to hear stories like this from one of my own children, if he has the courage to stand in front of teenagers and say, ‘this is who I was, but I decided to live, to make something of my life.’ To really tell it how it is and face the demons in himself that call to the spirit of addiction to fill its hole.
To share those stories with others ….. but mostly at first to do it for himself, not for me or any one else. But simply for his own precious life because he choices it.
Yes, I am the mother of an addict. I know how it feels, its hard to own it, but I am, because it is not something I wish to hide. It sits at the deepest part of my soul, the pain, the turmoil, the confusion and all the questions I have asked, including the one of ‘what did I do wrong?’
For now I can only look at my own story, my own heart and what this affliction does to me and my family and also to let the world know my own thoughts and feelings on this subject. I know what the young teenage mum didn’t get right, I know how she failed and I’ve said I am sorry countless times. If I could change anything in my life I would do my best to change this story.
But I’m also the mother of an amazing being. What is dysfunctional is only one truth and one layer of who I know he really is. Underneath that dysfunction is a soul with a beautiful heart, deep wisdom, a song to sing and a talent that is extraordinary.
This is the truth I mostly believe in.