The Things Moms of Addicts Do For Love
I heard an old song the other day, “The Things We Do For Love.” I got to thinking about the things mothers of addicts do “for love.”
We lie. Yes, not just the addicts, we lie too. We lie to ourselves about how bad things are, or that we have some magic ability to save them. We lie to the people around us. You tell a friend, “She’s doing better,” when you know she isn’t. A family member ask how you are, and you say, “I am doing fine,” when your world is falling apart. I lied to my husband, for his own good, I rationalized. I didn’t want him to know that I had opened my wallet one more time, after we agreed that I wouldn’t. We spend years teaching our children to be honest; insisting upon it in our relationships. Then our children are in the belly of their drug addiction Beast, and we start to lie.
We make excuses. Mothers of addicts are professional excuse makers. I made excuses for my daughter’s behavior, or lack of action that shocked me just as the words escaped my mouth.
We spend money we don’t have. I once put my daughter’s rehab on two credit cards. Of course, at that time, I would have sold blood, or given up a lung to try saving her. How many times have you paid off your child’s tickets, court fees, or given them money in lieu of using those funds for something else you needed?
We allow danger into our lives. I hear all the time that addiction is a disease and we should support the addict just as we would if they had another disease. The problem with that argument is that drug addiction causes the “patient” to lie, cheat, steal, and yes, to invite danger into their lives. When the danger enters their lives, it enters ours as well. Would you ever invite a drug dealer into your home, or a gang member, or someone you know you cannot trust in your home? Of course not. I unknowingly allowed a drug dealer, gang member and someone I couldn’t trust into my home. He stole from us, shot my daughter, and changed my life forever – not for the better. I spoke with a mom not too long ago who explained that her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend were living in their basement. They began to smell something that they identified as heroin. Her daughter and the much older boyfriend were smoking heroin in her home! This mother would never have allowed anyone to smoke heroin in her home, yet she found herself unable to put a stop to it.
We allow ourselves to be abused. Thankfully, Jordan has never been physical with me. However, she has abused me verbally on several occasions. Worse than that, I have allowed her to manipulate me. I have put up with her lies and attempts to convince me that there was something wrong with me, in an attempt to twist the facts. I allowed by own daughter to emotionally abuse me for years, something I would have never tolerated from anyone else.
We choose our addicted child over our other children and our spouses. Most moms would walk over hot coals for their children but as moms of addicts, we wind up choosing our addict over our other children, our spouses, and importantly, ourselves. On a couple of occasions, I attempted to rationalize my focus on Jordan over Sean by explaining to Sean a familiar biblical story – the Prodigal Son. In principle, I understand and agree with the concept in the story. Sean is very bright and he understood as well, but as the non-prodigal child, he was angry.
We can tell ourselves whatever we want. We may be physically present in our other children’s lives, but most of us have put our addicted child way before our other children, not just physically, but emotionally, financially and mentally.
We live in chaos and drama. I had a fair share of chaos and drama as a child, and I have worked hard to live in a world that is far from both chaos and drama. I made sure that my children lived in a peaceful home, feeling safe and secure. Mission accomplished, until the Drug Addiction Beast showed up. Slowly but surely, my life became filled with chaos and drama.
When our children become addicted to drugs, they change. Gone our little girls and boys, who are replaced by one who lies, cheats, steals, and manipulates. Your adolescent, teenager or adult child reverts to a toddler who want their way, no matter what. Standing before you is a stranger, willing to do or say anything to get more drugs. Our children change when they become drug addicts; when they are controlled by the Drug Addiction Beast, and we step into their chosen life of chaos and drama.
We change too, when our Codependent Enabler Beast moves in with us. We trade all that we have worked hard to become, to maintain, and accomplish. We no longer live in peace and security. We seldom find joy, balance, and happiness. We sacrifice our health. Instead of living the life we want and deserve, we choose a life of lies, excuses, danger, chaos, drama, financial burden, and choosing our addict over the other people we love.
After more than a decade, I woke up I realized how insane this way of life had become. I made a choice to begin loving myself again, and to love the others in my life at least as much as I love Jordan.
I changed the things I do for love. How about you?
Valerie Silveira is an award-winning author, international speaker and Beast slayer. Through the devastation of losing her daughter over and over to the addiction Beast, and finally losing her to a senseless murder, Valerie empowers others to stand up and fight for their lives. She is the creator of Nine Actions to Battle Your Beast and the Still Standing Sisterhood membership program. Valerie uses her books and Sisterhood to guide women in their quest for happiness, peace, and purpose. She builds up women of courage who stand strong against any Beast in their lives.
Until her death in August 2016, Valerie chose to call her daughter Jamie, “Jordan.”