Loving An Addict

Loving an addict….
It’s just another normal day in my life.  Wake up, rally the kids, get out the door, and go to work. I’m relatively new at the office.  Less than 4 months in fact.  That’s pretty much as infant as it gets when working in child welfare.  Professionally speaking, I have zero experience.  None.

I live in a small rural area in Ohio where the “opioid epidemic” is out of control.  I don’t mean it’s a nuisance, or a pain in the side to taxpayers – but, it is of course.  What I really mean is it completely out of control.  There are families that simply cannot put it down and see the beautiful and tender faces of their children in terrible distress.  Parents aren’t even trying to get their children back from children services anymore.  In with the opioids, out with the children. The battle isn’t even fought.  Parents are waving the white flag and walking away childless without fighting the good fight.

I know addiction quite well.  I watched loved ones die slow and agonizing deaths from drug and alcohol addiction.  “Sad” isn’t the word I’d apply to that.  “Devastating” isn’t even profound enough a word to describe it.  I still haven’t found the words to impart the deepest pain that exists when you watch a loved one slowly taking their own life – not by suicide, but by addiction.
Every. Single. Day.
As a child, I could not understand what was happening to all those people I loved.  I was oftentimes startled by their love and laughter one day… and then rage and anger the next.  A beer can was a sure sign to hide or find an excuse to leave.  If I happened upon that odorous smell then I knew that things could go bad real fast.  But, what I didn’t know was the long term effects of drugs and alcohol.  For a very long time, I didn’t even know it was called a drug or alcohol.  I just knew it was there and those using it were unpredictable.

Nonetheless, their addictions did not stop me from crying endless nights for them – for their sufferings.  Their addictions did not stop me from hurting as I saw them sick and dying.  And then, as we laid the first in the ground, I was enraged.

I spent most of my adult life trying to show some grace to those battling addiction.  I love and honor the person each are meant to be – free of the addiction. No addict wakes up each day wanting to chase the high or bottle.  Addiction is how they have grown accustomed to coping with their own trauma.  It probably feels more like the addiction is chasing them.

I have loved many addicts in my lifetime of 40 years.  There isn’t anything someone can say to change my mind about that kind of love.  It’s raw, painful, innocent, full of grace and absolutely, at times, mostly enabling.  It’s a love that believes that love does conquer all.  I’ve prayed thousands of hours for their changes, their health and their abilities to overcome the struggle of addiction.

I’ll never forget when my uncle passed away in his early 30’s.  With his last breath came the realization that no amount of love can save someone.  And it wasn’t until later in life, that I struggled with accepting I cannot change an addict.  But, it doesn’t stop me from wishing that ten little fingers and ten little toes would stop a parent in their tracks, to take inventory, to make changes and to give those sweet children the best chance this tough world has to offer.

With addiction comes broken spirits of the many children left parentless.  They are fragile and traumatized.  They yearn for their parents, even if that means taking all the dysfunctional parts of that life.   Because, that’s their normal.
– Carmen 
Not Just Nearly Learn happiness, But Really Learn happiness

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