How is the relationship between a mother and her son affected by alcholism and addiction?
Join us as Amy shares her experience, strength, and hope (and particularly hope), as we explore how her relationship with her son was affected by his alcoholism and addiction. She says “I do wanna clarify, you know, I'm gonna use mother, son cuz that's my experience. But, this can be a parent of a child. It could be a dad and a daughter. It could be a parent of a teen or a young adult or even, you know, an adult child. So it's just the relationship I wanted to focus on. Cause it's unique and the way the disease affects this relationship is unique.”
She says, of the generational nature of the disease, “It can go way, way back, and I think that's common and certainly, I am no exception to that. I am a great-granddaughter, probably beyond, granddaughter of the disease. I'm a daughter of the disease. I married the disease and I gave birth to the disease.” And, “about a year ago, I was asking my higher power. When is this gonna be over? I've got 32 years in Al-Anon and ACA, I kind of did them side by side in my recovery work. All my family's in recovery, which is a beautiful gift. When are we gonna be done? I got a really loud and very clear answer, that you will never be done. There will always be the presence of this disease in your life. And right in that moment, I went into acceptance and surrendered, Step one and two. … I guess my my choice is how do I respond to that reality? So that's why I've been in the program for all these years, and it will be a lifelong partnership for me.”
She came into Al-Anon because of her husband's alcoholism, and when she realized her then 10-year old son might be affected, “And I got completely overwhelmed by fear. This fear rooted in me that I'd walk back through that door as a mother, having to deal with my son, that I was gonna come back in having to deal with his addictions.” And then, “that happened. Okay. It manifested. But, you know what I found out was I was walking back through that door as a different person. I had everything I needed to face that horrendous challenge. … Now, I didn't know it'd be 25 years of it.”
There were years when she didn't know where he was or what he was doing. “I was so worn down and I didn't know if my son was dead or alive. he did move out of the area, which was a blessing. And I believe he was protecting us from watching him in this self-destructive, lifestyle. And I'm grateful. I'm so grateful. It was one less thing that I had to face.”
She was feeling hopeless. “A minister at a church I was attending at the time offered counseling. And so I went and I told him this story and I said, I don't sit in toxic, negative stuff very long. I wanna do something about this. and he gave me a really neat suggestion that I'd like to share.
He said, when you think of your son, don't think of a drug addict, Shooting up and toothless and all that.
He said, think of him full of light, thriving, healthy in recovery, living his best life. He said, if you can't do that right now, he said, go home and find a picture of him when he was a little boy before the active addiction, because that's who he truly is under the disease. That's the light.
That's the person who's under that disease. And I said, okay. Cause I do good on homework. I go home, . I found the picture and it opened that crack in the door to rebuild the hope and invite it back to my heart just to crack. And it was enough to get me started.
Amy shared something that she would do when she found herself looping down into obsessive thinking. “I would bring my focus right to the here and now, and I'd ask myself some questions to stop the loop starting. Is it happening now? You're driving a car, did you get the call? Are you driving to the morgue? No. Do you need to do anything about that? No. So, let it go. It's not happening right now, so don't waste your time and focus on something that's imaginary.”
Her son did “hit bottom” and ask for help to recover and find sobriety. And, of course, both of them wanted to rebuild their relationship, really, to build a new relationship. When he came home from rehab, “I sat down and we had a heart to heart talk about it, and I. first, you need to know that you are unconditionally loved . Just know that, but there's no trust from your lifestyle and your behavior. There is no trust with any of us right now. So , you have to decide, do you wanna rebuild that trust first?”
Her son has been sober for about 5 years now, and their relationship continues to grow. “We talk, openly and we talk about recovery. We support each other in recovery. Not every family has that. … it's a beautiful thing. And the funny thing is we can go to family holiday events. I'm so happy to be able to experience that in my life. I really am. It's huge.”
She talked of “breaking the choke chain that this disease has had on our family for generations.” And I suggested that they were forging a new chain of recovery, instead.
Readings and Links
Her second reading was from Hope for Today, p. 366, December 31.
A listener asked about a talk that I had mentioned in a previous episode, about a workshop on applying the Steps, Traditions and Concepts in the family. This 2 hour recording can be found at https://www.recoveryradio.net/episodes/traditions-and-concepts-in-relationships-afg-wks.
Another listener wrote about COSA Recovery, and the “Healthy Intimate Relationships” meetings for couples recovery that she discovered there. COSA is a Twelve Step recovery program for those whose lives have been affected by compulsive sexual behavior. HIR (or Healthy Intimate Relationships) is a style of blended meeting in which both COSAs and sex addicts are welcome to participate fully, with or without partners.
Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email email@example.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Music from the Show
Sara sent us this song. “I just wanted to pass along our song we wrote for someone who is suffering with an addicted spouse. So many feelings are felt when you love somebody who is so dependent on alcohol that they can't see how they're treating you, and anger is the leading emotion both me and another have felt. So, I thought maybe this song could help others feel like that unpleasant feeling is 100% normal, and it isn't their fault for feeling that way.”