Dear Father of An Addict:
By Lynn Mackin, family member and BALM® Family Recovery Life Coach trainee.
June 18, 2017
Dear Father of An Addict –
Today is Father’s Day 2017 and I am feeling overwhelmed with many thoughts about being a Mom. Perhaps that doesn’t make sense but, to quote my own dad, “Without mothers there would be no fathers.” For whatever that’s worth.
This day marks the first Father’s Day since roughly 2008 that I don’t live in fear for the health or life of my (adult) child who has struggled with addiction and co-occurring disorders. Today, by God’s grace and her strength and tenacity, she is in early recovery and has 9 months of sobriety. She is working a strong recovery program, which she embarked on of her own choosing on September 8, 2016. This road to recovery was, she would say, completely of her own choosing – unlike her three prior treatment attempts.
Today, she has been walking a recovery journey that began with a flight to a detox facility in Tampa, Florida that she would describe as very good for “easing” her withdrawal from a drug that would have taken two years to get off of on her own. She describes the process as “hell”; both the 12 days she was there, as well as the ongoing months following with PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms). Her body has been through hell both by drug abuse and its’ aftermath and yet she hasn’t turned back. She is an amazing woman. I am grateful and blessed.
She embarked upon this road with the commitment that she would do “whatever it takes this time”. She was afraid of dying from addiction. Following detox she has completed two and a half months of residential treatment, one month of day treatment, and seven months of outpatient treatment while residing in three different sober living environments. (Some were not so great and yet, she remained sober and committed to her program.) She is taking her treatment team’s recommendations and living them out to the best of her ability. She has a Sponsor, is working The Steps and attends AA/NA meetings. She is of service to others and looks for opportunities to share her Experience, Strength and Hope. She was recently asked to be a speaker at meetings at three of her treatment center’s (Hazelden Betty Ford) locations. Many days are difficult for her as she navigates life with the body she betrayed with substances and associated behaviors. And yet, she hasn’t turned back. She is a strong woman. I am hopeful and blessed.
On the family front, I have to be completely honest: Loving someone in active addiction was pure hell. It was consuming, frightening, and confusing. It was lonely and chaotic. It could bring me to gut wrenching tears and fears of her death. It divides families and siblings and former friends. But it never stole my hope. I don’t know if that was born out of denial, but I did come to understand that as long as there is life, there is hope.
Through The B.A.L.M. (Be a Loving Mirror) approach to Family Recovery I have learned how to Let Go – without giving up or giving in. (Letting go of the outcome.) I have learned how to get out of denial by focusing on “just the facts” without adding an emotional charge or using the past to inform the present. I have learned to let her own her journey, while I own mine. I have learned that she is a person, not a problem. I have learned that we are connected to each other on a level far deeper than her addiction, and I believe that fact helped drive her toward recovery. She wants a relationship with her family more now than she ever has and she is sorry for the pain her illness brought into our life. Of course, I don’t know her thoughts and feelings. I only know what she tells me, or what I witness. What I know is that she wants the opportunity for second chances: the opportunity to share what she has learned, and show us how she is evolving into a person who could be trusted, truthful, and counted on. All she is asking for is our time and our interest so she can find her way back. She wants to sit down eye-to-eye and heart to heart and know that we are still here after “all of this”. Progress, not perfection.
So now, on the Father’s Day, I live in the midst of answered prayers and so does my child. She is in recovery. She is committed to her program. I get to have a relationship with someone I never knew as she grows into the woman God will have her become. She is dreaming of a future now and trying to mend fences while dealing with the shame and regret that grew out of her choices. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that is. She is a work in progress and yet, she hasn’t turned back. She is a determined woman. I am hopeful and blessed and grateful for her strength.
Thank you, dear husband, for giving her to me. I am eternally grateful for her, for her sister, for you, and for the growth this journey has produced in me.
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