By Gina Rhodes
When you have a loved one who is suffering from the disease of addiction, you are constantly on edge. You walk on eggshells every day, your stomach is in knots and you have many sleepless nights.
You are careful with what you say. You don’t want to “rock the boat.” In many cases, you just become numb to it. You feel shame, heartbreak and, at the same time, helpless. You may find yourself living this existence for years. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It might feel as though it will never end, but from my personal experience, I know it can and will eventually end. You must do your part.
If you are fortunate enough to send your loved one for treatment, you must also realize that it is now your time to change the family dynamic!
You don’t just have a sick child or loved one — what you have is a very sick family dynamic. This dynamic must change or things will remain the same. The situation will only get worse. You must take this opportunity to educate yourself, to attend as many Al-Anon meetings as possible and to embrace the fellowship that you find there. You are not alone.
We have all been on airplanes and listened to the flight safety briefing. In that briefing, flight attendants tell you to put on your oxygen mask first and then put one on your child. I think this is a perfect analogy. You will be of no help to anyone unless you help yourself first!
Your loved one must not return to the same family dynamic. The majority of rehabilitation/detox treatment centers have a family program. I know it’s imperative that parents participate. It will take time, patience and an open mind. Whether or not your loved one remains sober, you will find the tools you need to eventually EXHALE.