June 5, 2012
My son’s arrest was in the paper today along with all of the gruesome details. The words “active meth lab” are never words that a parent wants associated with their child. Part of the reason addiction is called a “family disease” is because it affects the whole family. Part of the sickness is the secrecy and the sense of shame. My father was an alcoholic, and even though I don’t remember ever being told not to talk about his drinking, it was an unspoken rule. Somehow I just knew that it wasn’t normal, and that I didn’t want my friends to know about it. To get away from Dad’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality I learned to spend as much time away from home as possible and spent lots of weekends at my best friend’s house. Even my best friend didn’t know about Dad’s drinking. I didn’t ask friend’s to stay at my house because I was never sure what type of mood Dad would be in, and it seemed our lives revolved around the moods. I became an expert at reading non-verbal body language so I would know if he was in a good mood or a sour mood. If he was in a sour mood, my time was spent in my bedroom listening to music to drown out mom and dad’s arguments. I pretty much lived in my bedroom when I was home. Somehow I always felt to blame for their problems, because a lot of their arguments were about the “kids” or money. Hence the shame. I have carried that sense of guilt and shame into my adult years, and in particular with my son’s addiction. So I have kept his addiction a well-guarded secret from everyone, even my mom didn’t know. To be honest I didn’t even know the extent of my son’s addiction until about a month ago, so deep was my denial. But now, the cat is out of the bag in a very public way. No more secrets. Anyone who reads the paper knows now, and I’m sure will pass the news on to others.
I’m so glad I found Alanon. I feel so connected to the friends I’ve made there, and have learned that there really is no profile of a certain type of family or upbringing that leads our kids to addiction. I have questioned myself so many times about the decisions I made as I raised my son. His dad and I divorced when he was 4 and I’ve often wondered if things would have been different if we had somehow found a way to stay together, even though he was abusive and rarely home. But I listen to other parents of addicts share their stories and I learn that most of them were good parents who raised their kids in a stable home, and did their best to teach them values, and the difference between right and wrong. So, maybe it wouldn’t have made any difference at all.