Question for Meg:
This really difficult question comes from Linda, whose 37-year-old daughter is an addict. Linda says, “I want her to accept my help, but she only wants money. My heart is broken and my head is spinning.”
From the rest of Linda’s description, the question I hear clearly is “What should I do?”
First of all, I’m very familiar with your situation Linda. My ex-husband struggles with addiction, and the toll it took on our marriage and our kids, was brutal.
Ironically, the hardest part wasn’t trying to figure out what to do about his drug use. The real challenge was changing my own thinking and behavior so I could stop being a part of the problem. In short, I had to be willing to feel my own pain.
As a mother, there’s another whole layer of grief and despair I can only imagine. But the solution is still the same. And it starts with being willing to go all the way through the pain of doing the right thing.
Here’s what I want you to see. The guilt and fear of not giving your daughter what she wants aren’t real. But they are definitely fueling the sense of responsibility you’re feeling, and prompting you to try and rescue your grown daughter from the consequences of her addiction.
These feelings of guilt are really the projections of your despairing, terrified mind that’s just trying to protect itself. It’s trying to keep you distracted from the pain and fear of choosing to stop enabling your daughter. But if you can’t feel this pain, you won’t ever be able to transform your fear of allowing her to experience the consequences of her choices. Just like you, without the pain of this experience, she won’t be able to heal or grow either.
Here’s what I learned when I shifted my attention away from my guilt and started allowing myself to feel my own pain. I was surprised to find that, while my grief and uncertainty were definitely very painful, they were also somehow liberating.
Unlike guilt, grief and uncertainty can heal because they give your emotional process on the stable foundation of reality instead of the very shaking ground of reacting to your mind’s attempts to avoid guilt.
So, the reality is your daughter is an addict. And her best shot at recovery is rehab. But even then, it’s still a long, uphill climb without any guarantees.
I will, however, offer this assurance: if you’re willing to feel your grief and uncertainty over what might happen if you change, you’ll create a real opportunity to transform your role in the situation. It will give you a real chance to become a part of the solution instead of the problem.
Read my Blog Post:
Take good care of yourself, Linda. I hope this helps. : )
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