Midwestern Mama observes the fragile nature of her son’s recovery.
It seems today there is a quiz for just about everything. Some are quite fun and lighthearted, and others get at deeper findings … albeit in nine simple, multiple-choice questions with the option to share the results on Facebook.
Admittedly, I’ve taken my share of these and generally agree with the assessments, but that’s just it – these quizzes are easy, occasionally even insightful, and I enjoy the feedback. If there were a nine-question quiz that would sum up my son’s outlook, I think the finding would be: Fragile.
Ever since I started keeping notes, logging observations, and blogging about addiction and recovery, I’ve believed that situations resolve eventually, that there is potential for improvement, for transformation, for better days ahead. That’s my orientation to life. For my son, it’s another orientation altogether.
I started writing real-time accounts about my son’s addiction and our family’s experience because it seemed that there were really only two narratives out there: 1) the horrific, after-the fact story of the addict who died; and 2) the heroic, full-on, recovery story. What was missing was the story that is far more common, the story that’s still unfolding – either of addiction in progress or of recovery in progress.
Our story is still in progress. There are still many chapters to go. We don’t know what will happen next, and so I continue to write about what is going on now, and share it with you in hopes that it resonates in some way with your own experiences, and that together, we will be less fragile and grow in strength.
I am pleased that my son is six months sober. It is his longest time of sobriety yet, and even more importantly, it is one that he embraces. Thanks , in part to Suboxone, the sobriety aspect has the easiest part of recovery. Now, without drugs, he’s facing the realities and aftermath of the past five or six years: debt, academic probation, tickets, deteriorated friendships, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and more.
Everything he does takes extreme effort and the result is exhaustion. Nothing is easy. But he’s plugging away at it. We are supporting him, but it’s not easy to watch him struggle.
A few tips that are helping, include:
Keep repeating the Serenity Prayer, and it really does help.Think about each part of it.
Ask open-ended questions and share personal experiences, feelings to see if he wants to talk – usually not.
Listen without offering advice.
Help with somethings – simply being nice (do unto others type of things) but try not to enable.
Give him space.
However, I’m as concerned today about his mental health as I ever was about his addiction. Recently, he completed a series of psychological evaluations and is working with a therapist on mental health, including depression and social anxiety. The evaluation confirmed several things, validated others, and raised our awareness that he is still at risk. In short, he’s fragile, and it’s going to take time and effort to build up his strength from the inside out.