By Gina Rhodes
As the mother of a son in recovery, I’ve learned it’s imperative for the entire family to embrace its own recovery too. What I mean by that is, when you’re dealing with addiction, you don’t just have a sick child. What you really have is a very sick family dynamic.
This is the time when you must find the courage to be honest with yourself—and with others. You must be open for brutally candid self realization.
There is no need to play the blame game here. No need to point the finger at anyone else. You only need to admit to yourself the part you have played as a parent with regards to your child’s suffering and drug addiction.
I truly believe trauma is at the heart of drug and alcohol addiction. I also know that, with some exceptions, this is a problem that is passed on from generation to generation.
The turning point for my son, as well as my family, came when my son’s therapist asked me to write about my childhood. He asked if I could send my writings directly to him to review and, at the proper time, he would share them with my son. At the time, I didn’t really understand what writing about my childhood had to do with my son’s recovery. I knew, as his mother, I would do whatever it took to help him, even if that meant revisiting my traumatic childhood.
At first I really didn’t know where to start. I figured the best place to begin was at the beginning. So I wrote about very painful memories that I had long since buried.
But in truth, those memories were never buried, never dealt with and, most of all, never discussed. I learned at a very young age to wear the mask of happy, well-adjusted child, young adult and now grown woman. It was all an act.
As I wrote, I was forced to look into the mirror. The person I saw looking back at me was a wounded, sexually and emotionally abused child. A child that had not been protected, nurtured or made to feel safe and loved.
I wrote about the time I finally summoned the courage to tell my mother that my stepfather had been sexually molesting me for years, she called me a whore and she accused me of trying to steal her husband away from her. I was only nine years old. She threw me out of her home and sent me live with my father. After that, I refused time and time again to see her or have any further contact with her.
I wrote about how I felt when, years later, I received a letter from my mother. In this very disturbing letter she said, “I should have slit your throat on the delivery table.”
All I ever knew was the chaos in which I was forced to “survive.” This was my normal. I subconsciously sought out unhealthy and abusive relationships because, in my mind, I was damaged goods.
It has taken me many years to learn to love myself, to know my worth and, most importantly, to gain the ability to forgive. I believe that you are only as sick as your secrets. When you let your secrets go, you can finally let the healing begin.
I am so grateful to share my personal journey on my path to recovery. I pray that by speaking out and sharing my story, I will help other families who have loved ones that suffer from the disease of addiction.