How is a parent supposed to live with the fear of losing a child? This difficult subject was brought up with a group of my friends in recovery.
The Struggle Is Real
Mary shared how she was struggling to control her worry for a son who was suicidal.
Bob said he was trying not to worry about his grandchildren’s safety because they live with a mother who abuses pain medicine.
Rhonda had tried multiple times to get her son into rehab and now he was back on the streets. She lived in fear of getting a call he had overdosed.
I struggled with an overwhelming fear of having one of my children call me to say that someone has died. My heart races when my phone rings, because they never seem to call with good news. It seems to be news too awful to put into a text.
Why Worry Is Not Loving
What can recovery offer all of us struggling not to drown in a sea of worry about our children? Some ideas my friends shared helped and I thought I would share them here. We aren’t alone. Many hurting parents are tempted to be consumed with worry for their children.
Worry is not proof of one having love, it is only proof of one being afraid.
Sharing Strength, Hope, and Experience
These suggestions are not from a professional. They are personal stories. In my circle of recovered friends, we share what works for us. We meet regularly to share our hope, strength, and experience.
- Mary: Since my brain is going to think about something, I give it a slogan to play with. I keep a list of slogans handy. Whenever I feel worry trying to overcome me, I recite one over and over until my mind calms down. It can take 1-100 times, but it always helps me. I call my son daily, sometimes twice, but I know I am powerless to stop my son from committing suicide in the end if that is what he chooses.
- Bob: My grandchildren are my world. It breaks my heart to think they are not in safe hands when my daughter-in-law abuses pain pills. I learned in recovery to accept reality on reality’s terms. This is the situation and I refuse to lose myself in an endless cycle of worrying. I share my concerns with my son, but he is in denial. I let my grandchildren know they can call me anytime. I am powerless, but knowing my grandchildren have a Higher Power who loves them keeps me sane.
- Rhonda: It is my greatest heartache to know I fought so hard to give my son a good life only to watch him give it away to alcohol. I have been living this struggle for five years. Without recovery I’m not sure I would have made it. The 3 Cs helped me so much: Didn’t cause it, can’t control it, can’t cure it. What I do is say three things I am grateful for every day. This keeps me in balance. No matter how tragic I think my son’s choices are there is much to be grateful for.
- Me: I struggle with a constant fear and worry that I may lose one of my children as I did my husband suddenly to the disease of addiction. When my phone rings I immediately go into imagining the worst scenario. I am picking out flowers for the funeral before I even say, “hello.” As if getting a head start on being traumatized is somehow helpful. That doesn’t help, but what is helpful is to do the following: First, I admit my helplessness. Second, I recite a slogan, “Progress, not perfection.” I get a little better every time I face the phone ringing and telling myself, “No matter what, it is what it is” before I answer. That is progress for me. Third, I open my hand and blow softly into it. This is my symbol for letting my children go and letting God. Instead of worrying, I use that time and energy to build a better life.
I know so many parents worrying about their adult children during these days of rampant addiction. The risks are real and the stakes are high, but recovery is about stopping addiction from taking two lives. When parents spend their days wringing their hands, they are held hostage by the disease. The parents lives can also be lost. I want to live a peaceful life. Not worrying is the most loving thing I can do for myself and my children.