A child in the throes of addiction is one of the most painful journeys a parent can take. We grieve and we hate, thrash and obsess. We try to fix, control, and manipulate that which cannot be fixed, controlled or manipulated. We are a mess.
Caring friends may ask us, “What are you doing to take care of yourself?” This makes us angry because we’re not concerned about ourselves. We’re worried about our kid and we need to do something about it. Taking care of ourselves seems counter-intuitive, if not frivolous and selfish. After all, the sky is falling and we need to hold it up.
What would taking care of myself look like anyway?
- If you ever needed support in your life, it is now. Get help. Talk with trusted friends, schedule time with a therapist, join a support group of others parents…or start one yourself. Discovering you are not alone is both healing and it offers hope. Practical help can also be gleaned from other parents as you share your stories.
- Enjoy your other children, if you have them. It’s easy to focus all your time and emotional energy on the child in trouble, yet your other children, maybe grandchildren, need you. And you need them.
- Practice Gratitude. Keep a journal or make daily affirmations. Focusing on that which is positive in our life reminds us of the bigger picture, and that we aren’t just a compilation of our problems. You are grieving, yes, but life is bigger than your problem.
- Give yourself permission to do pleasurable things. It’s all too easy to isolate, but don’t let yourself. Get out and engage with others, and do things you enjoy. Have lunch with a friend, or dinner with your spouse or partner. Go for a run, get a massage, play with the dog, plant flowers. See a funny movie and laugh out loud. Look at the stars, read an inspiring book, relax in the hot tub, play a round of golf or a set of tennis. Keep moving. Breathe. Engage in life.
- Try not to define your day, or your life, by what the addict in your life is doing— or not doing. Hard as it sometimes is to believe, your life is bigger than this.
- Pray. There is immense power in it.
Please share ways that you care for yourself: