Sunday, May 13, 2007

Let me off this roller coaster!

In general, life is like riding a roller coaster. For most people, weeks go by without any major issues--life's looking good and it's a smooth uphill ride. Then problems at work or with the kids make it feel like you've taken the steepest dive on the Blue Streak. You hold onto your stomach until once again, issues are resolved, your "car" has pulled out and you're on the uphill climb.

For mothers and families of those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it's certainly a roller coaster ride--except unlike a "normal life" ride, the ups don't come as often and the dips are a whole lot deeper.

Understanding that addiction as well as codependency have spiritual components can help both the addict and family members survive the addiction roller coaster ride.

In his book The Addictive Personality: Understanding the Addictive Process and Compulsive Behavior, author Craig Nakken says: "Addiction is a spiritual disease. Everybody has the ability to connect with the soul and spirit of others. Because addiction is a direct assault against the Self, it is also a direct attack on the spirit or soul of the person suffering from an addiction. A person's spirit sustains life; addiction leads to spiritual death."

I believe this statement also applies to the life of a mother and other family members who love an addict. Life can become so difficult that we can miss out on the beauty of the sunset, the laughter and smiles of friends. We need the support of others who understand and care, and we need to find our own spiritual balance.

Twelve-step programs speak of reliance on a Higher Power, and I write from a Christian perspective because that is my personal belief. In the 14 years of coping with my child's addiction, my faith in a God who loves and cares for me and my family has sustained my hope, even as we walked through the darkest valleys. And the prayers of friends and loved ones have encouraged me.

Anyone who has ever attended a 12-step meeting is familiar with the first four lines of the Serenity Prayer. Here are Reinhold Niebuhr's words in their entirety:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you in the next.

When you're holding on for dear life as your roller coaster takes a sharp dive, or just seeking balance for the day ahead, remember and repeat those words. Pray for strength, courage and wisdom. And remember to ask for the help of a caring and compassionate friend.

Then when you're steady on your feet and ready to reach outside yourself, consider lending a hand to one of the many organizations and groups that are working to share messages of hope and truth. One of these is Mothers Against Methamphetamine, a national faith-based organization whose mission is to educate the public about methamphetamine and other drugs.

In all, you'll be much better prepared next time life's roller coaster whips you around one of those turns and down a long, deep dip.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Your post is beautifully written and I know it will touch many mothers and other family members. Congratulations on creating a space for those going through this.