Remember the healthy ones

Remember the healthy ones

We all know addiction can affect those nearest the person with the disease.  Parents and spouses suffer mightily.

But what about others in the family?  Or even close friends?

One of the questions I face frequently after a book talk is, how did your daughter react?

When addiction entered our household, nothing was the same.   My dawning awareness of Jacob’s abuse of alcohol and drugs in high school uprooted every sense of “normal” I’d known.   Shame, guilt, fear and isolation took over – and for my husband as well.

Our daughter was no longer living at home.   Fifteen years older than her brother, she was newly married and starting a life 3,000 miles away.  Both the distance – and my determination not to burden her – protected her from the worst of the disease.

Still, it wasn’t until years later, when Jacob was well into years of recovery that I grasped the full extent of how his addiction affected her.  At first, she was furious with him.  Lacking understanding of the illness, she blamed addiction on him.  She couldn’t comprehend why, when he had “everything,” he would knowingly toss it all away.

Later, she resented how his addiction caused her parents such anguish, let alone a drain on their resources.

But it wasn’t until much later that I heard her story.

Mom, I was facing a small crisis in my workplace.  I really wanted your advice.  But I didn’t feel like I could ask you.   You were so obsessed with Jake, and I understood that.  It just didn’t feel like it was the right time to bother you with my problem.

 It makes me sad today that I wasn’t there for a child who yearned for my advice because I was too obsessed trying to force it on the one who didn’t.

Addiction takes its toll on everyone in a family.   Let’s never forget that the healthy ones need us, too.




2 Replies to “Remember the healthy ones”

  1. This is an excellent post and a very important reminder. I can relate to it a lot and am trying to give attention to the “healthy” ones in our family. Thanks for the reminder.