BOOMER TALK: Loving them to a fault
There are no guarantees when our children are born that they will grow up to be happy, productive people. It is a heart-wrenching experience to lose a child into the vortex of drugs and alcohol and helplessly watch as they spiral down to a dark place that is unimaginable to most parents.
It could be likened to a death, as everyone’s dreams end.
The dreams are replaced with an emotional roller coaster ride of repetitive shattered hope that is exhausting and draining.
Hope, dangled on the thin thread of wanting to believe the addict will stop feels like it is an unreachable concept.
As the addict succumbs deeper into the disease, their personality changes, their thoughts becomes irrational and the individual, as they were loved and known by their family and friends, is completely unrecognizable.
My only child is now 40 and is still actively using and drinking.
He has been jailed, charged with assault, lost more jobs for peculiar reasons (it’s always “the boss’ fault”), raged and tried to lie and manipulate his way into or out of more situations than I can remember.
So when I came across Tim and Sandy Varga’s book, Loving Him To A Fault: Lessons In Parenting An Addict, I knew I had to read it. Then once I read it, I knew I had to tell you about them.
Parents (and siblings) of children who turn to drugs and/or alcohol often walk with feelings of guilt, shame and a convoluted type of “forgiving anger.” Their brains never shut off as they struggle to make sense of it all.
How many times have you heard people say, “The Smiths have the nicest kids, they were really good parents.”
I used to think this way until I had my own child.
My lesson is that good parents can and do have kids who go off the rails and the reasons are seldom clear.
Sandy Varga says she, “lives in fear of that next phone call,” explaining that she is, “uncertain if it will be good news or bad news.” That thin thread of hope can be tenuous at best.
Tim and Sandy’s book will touch the emotional nerve of any parent, family member or friend of the family who has a shared experience with addiction and hopefully provide a deeper understanding for those who haven’t.
Tim told me that he wrote the book to help others, but also to, “justify in my own mind that I had done everything I could, because I knew I could not live with myself if something happened.”
When you help someone, you are assisting and empowering them.
When you enable, you are taking on the responsibility for someone else’s actions, quite often “rescuing” them and disempowering them at the same time.
So when you observe yourself doing more work than they are, then you know you are enabling.
As parents, it is easy to slip into the enabling role because we love our children. We are programmed to help our kids, so when a child becomes an addict, it feels normal to continue to “help” more than we should and the line between helping and enabling becomes blurred.
Not surprisingly, when I spoke with Tim and Sandy, I found them to be caring, kind, normal people, just like the rest of us. Good people who have worked hard and only wanted the best for their kids.
Sandy and Tim’s courage in sharing their journey is helping to bring this topic out of the closet and will help other parents know that they are not alone.
If you would like to meet Tim and Sandy, join them at their book signing Sunday at Complete Health, 203–4412 27th St., from 1 to 3 p.m.
You can also find them on Facebook, or Google them if you are unable to attend the book signing.
Carole Fawcett is a counsellor, clinical hypnotherapist and freelance writer. www.amindfulconnection.com