Throughout my son’s addiction, we made every effort to stay in touch and we worked at understanding the complexity of addiction and its grips. In this 2012 column, Midwestern Mama talks about why this is important an even shares an insight from Chicago Bears player Erik Kramer. These strategies made a big difference for our son and our family.
You’re familiar with the concept of the elephant in the room – the thing we all know is there but that we ignore or pretend it isn’t there. Sometimes we do this to retain harmony. Sometimes we do it to avoid conflict. Sometimes we mention the elephant but then change the topic. Sometimes, we know it’s an exhausted topic with nothing new to add. And sometimes, we say to heck with the elephant and just talk about it anyway — it ends up being a one-sided conversation or a two-way disaster. The elephant for our family is anything related to our son’s addiction, treatment and recovery.
We get along pretty well with our son these days unless we bring up his situation. Goodness knows, if we don’t bring it up, he won’t. That’s when it gets really uncomfortable because the challenges continue and his choices continue to have undesired consequences.
Our son’s counselor at the recovery program (a halfway house) recommended a 90-day treatment plan. He’s completed 6o days but wants to be done. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have housing and moving back home is not a good option – in anyone’s opinion. He made the decision two weeks ago and today is his last day there. He hasn’t shared this with us directly so it’s really dicey to bring it up.
Without housing, it will be difficult for him to keep his employment. Without employment, it will be difficult for him to pay for housing. This cycle has happened several times before. In the past, it has escalated his drug use. I know one thing that is driving his desire to be out of the program is he believes he can drink and use recreationally without it leading to abuse. As much as he dislikes structure and accountability, he withers without it and he’s not all that motivated to go to meetings or counseling – doesn’t find value in it he says. All this points to an unfortunate truth – he’s still struggling and he’s not ready or open to help from his program, AA, NA, his counselor or from us.
I want to talk to him about it – his feelings, his concerns, his needs, his worries, his hopes, his plans. I’ve reached out to him with no response until this morning. The reply was pleasant enough, but it entirely avoided the conversation on any level.
Yes, the elephant is still here.