I put my mother through hell when I was bound by the crippling disease of addiction. I was in a dark place, full of terror and despair, but my mother was too. She would lay awake at night struck by the terrifying fear that the phone would ring, and this time, I wouldn’t wake up. She’d send me desperate texts throughout the day, begging me to get help because the thought of me sticking a needle in my arm was far too much to bare. She would cry to my father each day because she couldn’t stop asking herself, “what did I do wrong?”
Mom, you didn’t do anything wrong.
If I could change the things I put my mother through, I would. If I could make her believe that she did everything right, and I mean everything, I would. Also, if I could reassure her that I am doing everything I can to stay sober and rip her anxiety away, I would.
To any mother who blames herself for her daughter’s addition: your daughter loves you. She may not be able to show it, the obsession she is facing may be too strong that all she can convey is hatred, but she loves you. She appreciates all the times you made her favorite dinner. Your daughter appreciates the fact that you always answer the phone. She remembers how you would make her soup and cover her with a blanket when she was sick. She knows that you are scared but she is incapable of understanding the detrimental effect her drug use has on you right now. Beneath her addiction, your daughter is grateful for you and loves you.
Your daughter is sick and suffering. She is utterly incapable of stopping on her own, and if she isn’t fully ready to get sober, nothing you say or do can make her do so. She is unable to show her love for you because her mind tells her that drugs are more important. Her mind tells her that her drug use doesn’t affect anybody but herself. Her mind is full of this baffling insanity that she isn’t able to control, and the hardest thing you will ever do is watch your baby suffer in this way. As difficult as it may be, don’t beg her to stop, don’t beg her to come home – this will only make her more defiant. Tell her you are there for her when she is ready to get help. Reassure her that you still love her too.
Remember that she is sick.
Your daughter is ashamed. She feels as though she let you down and that she is unlovable. She doesn’t yet grasp that a mother’s love is irrevocably unconditional. Your daughter doesn’t understand that despite the ugly reality she is facing, she is still the very image of perfect imperfection in your teary, tired eyes. She has no intention of hurting you and she doesn’t believe that this disease will kill her. Her mind tells her that she is different. Her cunning mind is telling her lies and she doesn’t know how to make it stop. She feels scared. She feels hopeless.
I know that you feel that way too.
As cliché as it may be, if you love something, you must let it go. The only way your daughter will want to get sober is if she experiences depression, loneliness, and despair. Understanding addiction is impossible to do if you haven’t been there yourself, and it may be the hardest thing you ever do, but you must allow her to face her demons without your help. Then, only when she is ready and willing to get better, can you step in and help her.
To the mother reading this, please know you didn’t do anything wrong. Your daughter loves you. Your daughter is sick and your daughter is ashamed. Also, your daughter is scared, and I know you are too. Please, don’t blame yourself. Don’t question what you did wrong. I promise you have done everything right.