I posted these thoughts in June 2018. Lately I have noticed this particular post is being viewed fairly frequently so I thought I would print it again in the event you may find something in this post that speaks to your heart. Take care of and be kind to yourself.
The past is the past – time to let it go!!
Far to often we stay stuck in the past. What we did. What we regret. What we wish we had done differently. We constantly beat ourselves up with “what if I had only….”.
That is a sentiment what keeps us stuck. It keeps us regretting. It keeps us in pain. It keeps us in “blame” mode.
I know as parents our actions are with the very best of intentions. We make decisions based on the information we have at that time. We always have our loved ones best interests at heart.
And every decision you make as a parent is based on the deep unconditional love you have. Whether that decision is to help, assist, enable, show frustration or anger. Whether you say, “yes you can come back home”, or whether you say, “you have to leave” or “you can’t stay here because of your actions but when you are ready for help, I will always be here”.
Every decision you made, you made with the very best of intentions in mind. Whether it was to help your adult child who is addicted with a place to stay or help protect your other children from the kayos of their siblings addiction and have to say, “you can’t be here right now”.
Your decisions have always been based on the love you have and the information you had at that particular time. Your decisions were also based on what was known about addiction at that particular time.
If your loved one was struggling when tough love was suggested and that is what you tried, you were trying your best.
If your loved one was struggling when drug use was considered a moral choice and you treated it as such, don’t blame yourself. You were trying your best.
If your loved one was struggling with the concept of ‘they have to hit rock bottom’ and you thought that was the right thing to do, don’t blame yourself. You were only trying whatever you thought could help get your loved one out of the bowels of addiction.
Today we have scientific and medical proof that addiction is a disease. It is often a disease that runs in families – so there is a genetic component. We also know that addiction can raise its ugly head when there is no family history. No one can look at someone and say, “this person will become addicted”. One day, and hopefully not far off, science and medicine will allow that awareness long before it can become an issue and hopefully be halted. But that time is not yet here. Soon hopefully. But not today.
We know that the brains of those addicted are altered. The damage is there. The part of the brain – the frontal lobe, responsible for decision making, choices, is the part of the brain deeply affected and permanently altered. It has been compromised.
In my book Addiction: A Mother’s Story I quote Glenn A Hascall who brilliantly said, “The me in the mirror is not what I once was. The me in the mirror is not the final word on who I will become. The me in the mirror is simply a reflection of today”.
Whether you are the parent of a teen or adult child struggling with addiction. Whether you are the person who is struggling with an addiction. Whether you are a person who is in recovery. Whether you are a sibling. Whoever you are, however you reacted, whatever you did, this is a message for you.
Please go and get a mirror. A handheld mirror if you have one and find a quiet place to sit. Away from noise, bright lights, anything that might affect your peace and quiet time. This will only take a few minutes. Put everything else aside. Just take a few minutes to spend with yourself. And this is what I want you to do ……..
Sit quietly. Hold up your mirror. You are not going to be checking your makeup or your hair. You are not going to be checking for blemishes. What I want you to do is look at your eyes. Just your eyes.
Now say to yourself – whatever I have done in the past, whether is was with the best of intentions or not; whether it hurt or helped; whether decisions I made caused suffering unintentionally. All that is in the past. I cannot change my decisions of the past. They are past. I have to live with those decisions and so do those who were affected. But I will stop blaming myself, because that “me in the mirror is not who I once was”. Everything I did was with the best of intentions. If it was you trying to help the child you loved so deeply or if you are that person who struggled with that addiction. Or if you continue to struggle.
Just remember, everything up to this very moment is in the past. You can’t change a single thing. It happened. You felt the pain. You suffered. Perhaps you caused the pain. None of that really matters any more. Its done. That person is gone. Stop obsessing because that will only lead to continued suffering, pain, sadness, depression.
Keep looking in the mirror. But don’t think about tomorrow. Tomorrow hasn’t come yet. You will deal with tomorrow, tomorrow. Don’t ruin today, worrying about tomorrow. Tomorrow will come tomorrow and whatever happens you will deal with it then. Remember, today is not “the final word on who you will become”. If you get too far ahead of yourself, you only create anxiety.
Stay in the moment. Stay in this moment. Because this moment is who you are today. Right now. The “me in the mirror is a reflection of who I am today”. And you can decide who that person will be. And you can decide how you will act or react to anything today that comes up based on what you now know.
Whoever you decide “the me in the mirror” is today, let it be that person with information you maybe didn’t have before. Let it be the person you are going to be kind to. We have to be kind to ourselves. When addiction has taken over the life of someone we love, we often blame ourselves. “Why didn’t I see this coming”? “What did I do wrong”? Don’t go there.
And if you are the person who has struggled with addiction, be kind to yourself. You have beat yourself up long enough. The past is the past. You aren’t there anymore. The you “in the mirror” is who you are today. And it is not “the final word on who you will become”. You deserve help. You deserve understanding. You deserve treatment. Reach out and get the help you need for this horrific disease that is holding you hostage so you are able to live the best life you can.
Remember – we all deserve peace in our lives. But when we have someone we love addicted, peace is a distant memory and it is not something we can see ahead when right now everything is dark.
So look in that mirror and say to yourself, “The me in the mirror is not what I once was. The me in the mirror is not the final word on who I will become. The me in the mirror is simply a reflection of today”.
I wish you peace today. Take care of yourself and remember you are not alone. I truly care.