The Parent’s Journey
Illustration by Jon Wealleans
“Progress – not Perfection” (A slogan central to AA, Al-Anon and other 12 Step fellowships)
“It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you deal with it” – Tony Robbins (motivational speaker and self-help author)
This journey is a process. We make some progress, then we falter, then we re-set our compass and make progress again.
There’s a dynamic tension thing going on which is emotionally draining. We think we’ve restored peace to our household, then shit happens. We feel we’ve lost what we’d learned, that somehow we failed; then we feel sad or defeated. But after a while, we gain some perspective, our spirits lift a little, and we are ready to learn more. That’s how it goes. No-one said it was easy.
The tips and tricks in these pages will, I hope, help all of you who are on this path.
All journeys go better if we take time to understand what we are experiencing. In this section of the site I will:
- Focus on exactly what Addiction is.
- Outline a basic Plan of Action (which you can find in more detail in the main section of the site “Plan of Action”).
- Aim to help you understand what is happening to your family because of Addiction.
- Outline the stages we go through in our journey as parents of an addict, from our denial right through to our recovery. My aim is to show that you don’t have to get stuck (unless you choose to do so).
- Talk about the effects of Addiction on the Family.
- Give you some coping strategies and opportunities for personal growth.
These pages are based on a combination of personal experience and professional wisdom that I’ve gleaned from experts who work in the field of Addiction. This is my personal take on how a family can navigate the minefield of Addiction.
None of us would have chosen this path, would we? Have you ever felt that envy of friends who haven’t been given this to cope with? I have. The disease of Addiction brings devastation in its wake. Sarah Graham, an Addiction Expert and Counsellor (see her Q&A sessions in Plan of Action/For Your Teenager/Sarah Graham Q&A) calls it ‘a War Zone’. But when you realise one day that you’ve actually drawn a boundary with your addicted child, or done something for yourself that has brought back your sense of wellbeing – oh boy, is that a cause for celebration! I aim to help you work towards that day – and beyond.
And there’s something else I have to tell you. When the fog of devastation clears a little, what we have is the most incredible opportunity – to grow as human beings. You don’t have to embrace that opportunity. The choice is entirely yours. But if you do take it up – I promise you that in time, you will appreciate the gift of life in a way you never thought possible. Along with the highs and lows, life becomes brighter and most of all – it has meaning.
What I’m driving at here is that the more you practise the tips and tricks in these pages, the more you’ll experience a kind of alchemy. It’s a sort of practical, spiritual and psychological mixture. Keep practising and you will affect the energy web that swirls between and around your family – and eventually, you will realise there’s been a shift.
The Holy Grail we are working towards in the Parent’s Journey, is Serenity. This is true of all 12 Step recovery programmes and I make no apology for replicating that goal in these pages.
What do I mean by Serenity? My feeling is that being able to cope with the daily challenges that Addiction presents does lead to a feeling of inner peace. Sure, that feeling comes and goes, but we can return to our Serenity as we become more practised at coping with challenges and as we learn to take care of ourselves.
The aim is first of all to get to know what Serenity looks like. As time goes on, you will feel serene more often.
When the words here sound like gobbledegook, worry not. Take what you like and leave the rest. You may just find that after a while you re-read something in these pages, and for the first time, it makes sense.
You can leave whenever you want. We’re not in school here. And I encourage you to search everywhere for the strategies that work for you.
But when you need a port in a storm, I’ll be here.
The following post is taken from my daughter’s interview with Tommy Rosen (see his bio