I recently learned from a fellow blogger that September is National Recovery Month. You can read about it in detail at this website: http://www.recoverymonth.gov/.
I think it’s important to raise public awareness of the enormity of the addiction epidemic in our society. I also think it’s good to celebrate recovery and give hope to the hopeless. We all know that the stigma that society associates with addiction is very real, and is hindering the process of raising public awareness. I am coming to realize though, that I am part of the problem. Speaking strictly for myself, as I’ve tried to work through my own issues as a POA, I’ve come to realize that I also carry around a self-imposed stigma. I have let my fear of what others might think of me and my son keep me silent about his addiction to anyone outside of my blog and my Alanon group. I am coming to realize that I need to start working on that within myself.
When I first learned my son was an addict I was overcome with so many emotions. I was knocked to my knees with the feeling that I had failed him, and somehow caused his addiction. As I processed those feelings over the next few months, and have met other POAs, I’m starting to realize that there is no stereotypical profile for addicts. I’m learning that I can’t fully help my son recover until I work through my own emotional baggage and stop blaming myself. In other words, I have my own type of “recovery” to work on. I find that when I’m drowning in my own guilt, I tend to want to enable. If I’m honest with myself, the enabling is more to soothe my own guilt than to help him. As I struggle with on my own issues, it helps me understand a little more how hard it must be for my son to change his habits. Our lifelong thought patterns are deeply ingrained and not easy to change. I have a long way to go, and I still catch myself having “what if” moments, but through the sharing of fellow POAs, and with God’s help, I’m making progress.
I’m trying to come to the point when I can “come out” of the POA closet I have placed myself in, and start sharing my story with people outside of my Alanon group and my blog. My dad was an alcoholic, and I grew up under a shroud of secrecy and shame, not really understanding why, just knowing that somehow our family was different, and we shouldn’t talk about it. It’s hard to break through that barrier of shame, but I’m coming to realize that in order to help other POAs, and addicts I need to share my story. I know there will be people who judge us, but until people realize that addiction can affect anyone, nothing will change. So, when I say the line from the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me courage to change the things I can,” I am realizing that although I can't control what other people think, one of the things I can change is my own attitude about sharing our story.
As I have read blogs of fellow POAs, addicts, and recovering addicts, I feel a special connection with so many of you. Even though we have never met face to face I rejoice in your victories, and grieve over your setbacks. The enormity of the problem, and the pain caused by addiction is almost overwhelming at times. I am just beginning to learn how many people are affected by it, and why it is being called an epidemic. But in the midst of the pain, there is hope. We must cling to the hope that lasting recovery does happen, even against seemingly impossible odds. My son is going on 90 days clean, and 4 months ago I wasn’t even certain if he was dead or alive. Yes, it took an arrest to get him into treatment and help him get clean, but the Lord has a way of taking what is meant to work against us, and turning it into something good. I know he will have to fight this addiction the rest of his life, but for just this day, he is safe, he is clean, and he remembers what it is like to feel normal without being high. Where there is life, there is hope.
The POAs I have come to know are some of the strongest and most compassionate people I know. I have learned so much from each of you, and I will be forever grateful that you have shared your journeys. While it’s true there are some who will judge us and point fingers, I look at all of you with the utmost respect and admiration.