As the parents of an addict, when life was in complete turmoil, we sought professional counseling. To this day, I am so glad we did. Someone once told me to get help before you need it, that was referring to marriage, but we applied it with our son.
All parents want to believe what their child says, all parents want to believe the best in them, and almost always see in them what others can’t. It’s our job as parents. It’s innate. It’s also what causes so many parents to unknowingly enable their children. For us we were so fortunate to have wonderful advice and ears that heard it.
I will never forget the day my husband and I walked into counseling for the first time regarding our son. The room was bright and airy, and the window was open a little with the curtain blowing in the wind. It was a comfortable environment with a sound machine and mints and pretty paintings on the wall. Yet, everything in my actual being was uncomfortable. I was a stay-at-home mom for many years, and it was who I was. I was a failure at this time, because my son was heavy into drug use and did not want to stop. So in my thoughts, it was my fault. And that was a weight I could not bear.
We found a love seat and two comfy chairs on either side of the little sofa. We walked in together and sat down on the love seat, I pretty much sat in my husband’s lap, nestled under his arm, and began to cry almost immediately. I was angry. Anger is so much more pleasant than deep sadness and as long as I stayed angry, I could breathe.
Our counselor, Kathleen, stated that the fact that we sat in the same seat together was actually a good sign. She informed us how hard this is on a marriage, how it ranks up there with losing a child. It is in fact the death of a dream, the loss of a dreamed of future and the very real fear of actual death. She gave us some statistics of how many marriages result in divorce when something of this magnitude happens in the family. She praised us for our strength so far, and we worked through some practical steps to take in our near future. We went together as a couple quite a few times, then eventually I went by myself.
Our counselor, along with others in our life, helped us know what enabling looked like, helped us to make a plan on how to deal with him, how to be a united front, and how to love him in the hardest way I have ever done. I highly recommend you get help if you are struggling in this way, and if you don’t like your counselor, look for a different one. Don’t stop taking care of yourself, even if your family is falling apart, you are a crucial part in keeping your ship afloat.