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When I didn’t like my son

When I didn’t like my son

Isn’t it unnatural for a parent not to love his or her child?

This question came up in a conversation with a friend whose child is abusing drugs and alcohol.

She reminded me there were times during Jacob’s active addiction when I didn’t want to be around him. I even questioned how much I loved him. And I certainly didn’t like him then.

He probably felt the same about me.
Worse, he felt the same about himself.

My friend shared that her son was about to go away for inpatient treatment for 30 days. She couldn’t wait. She knew he would get the professional help he needed. But she needed that break, too.

She wondered – aloud – if she still loved her son.

A child who is abusing drugs is hard to love.

I didn’t realize it then. But when Jacob was out of our house in inpatient treatment, it not only gave him what he needed, but me, too. I needed those two weeks or 30 days to catch up on sleep uninterrupted by a 3 a.m. entry into the house, or delayed because I had no idea where he was, or doing what, or with whom.

That respite was as critical for me as it was for him.

I no longer feel guilty that I didn’t like my son during his years of abusing drugs. Nor that I was glad – for my own health – when he went away for treatment.

But today, what I realize is that I never stopped loving him.

Each of us working our separate programs – he in AA and me in Al-Anon – now many years away from that frightening, sad and scary time – the love we have for each other is strong.

And ironically – because addiction and recovery are forever part of our lives – it is even stronger.

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