Posted on January 1, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , |

My younger son, Brian (25) is home for two weeks over the holidays.  He is a strong, gentle spirit who has always been the “glue” of the family.  He faithfully practices daily meditation and is intentional in the way he lives his life.  He’s a committed vegetarian, has not drunk alcohol or ‘smoked’ now for over a year.  He graduated from Stanford and is a successful documentary filmmaker.  He truly believes that positive thought, love, and ‘cosmic energy’ can bring peace to the world as well as to individual lives, including his sister’s.  I haven’t the heart to burst his bubble and talk to him about the reality and power of addiction – how the brain receptors physically change and the deep craving dominates any logic, will power, or rational thinking.

A few days ago, Brian caught a glimpse of an email I sent to a friend, saying that I had lost all hope of Hayley ever recovering.  He sent me this:

Mom, don’t say you don’t have hope.  Even if you feel discouraged.
Always have hope.  Anything is possible.

It’s important that we as a family create that space in our minds for the outcome we want, without being attached to the actual outcome.

Just a post or two ago, I had claimed that I was going to try to be more positive and hopeful.  And yet, deep down, it’s not what I truly believed or felt.  I have detached from Hayley to the point of thinking of her as dead.  I was being painfully honest with Brian when he asked me if I truly had given up on Hayley.  When I said yes, that I thought of my daughter, as I once knew her, as ‘gone’, he was devastated.  He said he was so disappointed in me – – – that I must try to always remember the essence of Hayley – of who she still is deep inside.  He reminded me that if Hayley knew or felt that I/we had given up on her, what incentive would there ever be for her to even try to recover?  Brian also was adamant that our negative thoughts do have a deleterious effect on the recipient of those thoughts.

I’ve been getting through my days by detaching emotionally from Hayley.  It’s easier than loving her.  I thought I had found a solution to being consumed by the pain, guilt, and tragedy of Hayley’s addiction. I still think about her constantly and her sordid lifestyle – but it’s so disgusting and revolting to me, I’ve erected a shield of protection – a barrier to feeling any tenderness or compassion towards her.  It’s just too painful to love her and hope for her return to a ‘normal’ life.  In fact, for at least the last ten years, I don’t really have many positive memories of Hayley.  There were always crises, dramas, disappointments, and anxiety.  So, I’ve been conditioned, I guess.  If I don’t expect (or hope for) any thing, I won’t be let down – – – again.

And then, Brian reminded me that a life without hope is truly not worth living – that there is always the possibility of anything – even recovery.  And that our thoughts can actually have an affect, either positive or negative, on those we love or come in contact with.  Hmmmmmm – – – I’m going to consider this – and try to find my way towards regaining some hope – if not for myself, or for Hayley, then for Brian.  I promised him.

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11 Responses to “Busted”

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Your son sounds like a wonderful person. I hope you take as much comfort and joy from him as possible.

That being said, I always thought that this insistence on positive thinking when taken to it’s logical conclusion is just another way to blame the victim.

Did my friend Vicky die of Cancer because she did not think enough positive thoughts. Shame on her!

I had very very positive thoughts about my daughter the heroine addict. She was the best in almost everything she did until mental illness struck at 16. Even then, she continued to be the very best at almost everything until the age of 20.

The drugs brought her down, the mental illness brought her down. I did not cause it or create it. Nor can I control it. Those are the three C’s of alanon.

I am not advocating telling your daughter that you have no hope. That would be cruel.

Many people who believe in positive thinking have just had the good luck not to have it tested. I used to believe in it too.

Thanks for this input, Anna. I’ve wondered for several years if my daughter has an undiagnosed mental illness/personality disorder – specifically, Borderline Personality Disorder. Much of her behavior aligns with the BPD criteria. However, now I’m wondering if her chaotic behavior was due to drug abuse entirely. What came first, I guess – the chicken or the egg? I would almost feel relieved, in a way, if there was a mental illness diagnosis that explained her heroin use, numbing and erratic behavior, deep emotional pain.

I also identify with you, it’s easier on the heart to not have hope. My clean daughter gets angry with me when I am not as optimistic as her in my addicted daughters recovery. After numerous relapses, I don’t think I have the strength to do more than pray. As far as you giving up and her having no reason to try, she needs to do it for herself not for you.

Thanks, LeAnn. I know that real recovery has to be initiated by my daughter and not me. However, I feel she is so trapped in her addiction and lifestyle, that she is completely overwhelmed as to how to get out of it. And, that she prefers the heroin haze to dealing with the ‘real’ world, as an adult. My son, Brian, said that by us not intervening with Hayley, we could be giving her the message that we’ve given up – and, therefore, she would have no incentive to go it alone, towards recovery. I don’t think of Hayley as ever being very strong willed. I think I might have to write about all of this in my next post. Stay tuned.

I agree with Brian too – but I identify with you. My son’s addiction is “new” compared to your daughters but its still unbearable at times. I have to force myself to not think about statistics or I truly would lose hope.

I’m glad you have Brian and I do hope that Hayley comes to the end of herself and chooses the hard but possible road of sobriety….

Thanks, Barbara. I visited your blog – very impressive. Can’t believe how extensive it is. Would you mind listing my blog site? I’m trying to flesh out my blog, but it all takes so much time. Your art work is beautiful! It looks as if you’ve done art all your life. Keep it up – it has to be healthy in dealing with the roller coaster of emotions as the parent of a drug addict. Stay in touch.

Brian is very wise!
“And that our thoughts can actually have an affect, either positive or negative, on those we love or come in contact with.”
Also our WORDS.
I don’t always execute this like I should, but I know it is true.
Thanks for sharing this reminder 🙂

I agree with Brian that our thoughts and attitudes can affect others, even when the words aren’t spoken within their hearing and they have no access to the thoughts. I almost said that I have no idea why I believe this, but actually I think I do. Here is what it has to do with: I’ve been diagnosed with cancer 3 times and I have many friends who have had cancer diagnoses. Whenever I hear someone (or find myself) making a hopeless or discouraging comment about someone’s chances for recovering from cancer or living longer, I feel extremely sad and a little angry. It’s because I HATE the thought that someone might have said something negative, discouraging, or fatalistic about my chances for recovery at some time. I hate that anyone might have put negative energy about my health into the universe. I have worked hard to remain hopeful, positive and energetic in the face of frightening diagnoses and I strongly want everyone who knows me (whether they even like me or not!) to cheer for me, to wish me well, to say and think only positive things. I know this can’t always be the case, but it is what I wish. Somehow I feel that I will be empowered by this energy. Because of my experience with cancer, which I realize is not the same as addiction, I try very hard with myself and with others, to have hope. The hope may not be for a “cure” and, of course, none of us will get out of this life alive, but a hope for peace and strength regardless of circumstances. And so I wish it for you, Peg and for Hayley and Brian and all of your family – may you have peace and strength.

Donna – thanks for the new perspective on maintaining hope. Hope for peace, and strength, and serenity – for myself, as well as my daughter – and any one else who is experiencing pain and uncertaintly. You are always so supportive and encouraging to me, I periodically forget about the ‘weight’ you carry around. Please know what an inspiration you are to me. Your positive thinking has been tested, and there you are – – – full of grace, and hope, and still so generous with your good cheer. You are forever in my heart, and I send you positive energy every day. XXOO

I know. I cannot truly say I have given up all hope, but more that I am a total realist. I know the statistics. I know there is very little chance for her to get and stay clean.

Doesn’t mean I don’t pray for her to do it though. Yes, I still think of her as dead, remembering the fond memories and not looking for any new ones.

That’s the only way I get through the day. If I didn’t, I would quite honestly collapse into a fetal position of quivering emotionalism and self hatred for any part I played in her being a heroin addict, even as my intellectualism tells me whatever part I actually PLAYED was, at best, minor.

For me, and ONLY for me, thinking her dead and going through a mourning process allowed me to move on from the guilt, the drama, the anguish that was consuming me.

I have no expectations of her behavior now, I have no ‘agenda’ for her to get ‘better’, I have no investment in her recovery. It is all in HER hands, and those of God.

But hope? of course I have hope. It’s just not something I have present in my mind in an active way. It’s not something I take out and dust off every day.

It’s more of a metaphorical – IF someday….THEN…..maybe……

I think hope is a tenuous word, which, like many, doesn’t even begin to touch on what the mother of a heroin addict feels.

Hope that world peace happens? Sure! Hope that world hunger is eradicated? Obviously. Hope that everyone can find a way to neuter their pets to stop the animal population explosion? Of course. Hope my addict daughter gets and stays clean? DUH !!

But, will any of those things happen? Can I directly or indirectly effect any of those situations? In some small way, yes. So, in my small ways, I do effect what I am able.

In the large ways, with hope, I leave the rest to God.


You are speaking from my soul. I could have written this. I go through the same experience. Just add two little children you have never even seen. My son who has never smoked, drank or done anything illegal in his 30 years of life (he is a pastor) tells me the same thing as your son. So, I also hope for his sake.

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