How did I miss drug addiction signs in my own daughter? How could I have been living with a drug addict for so many years and not have known? My head spins as I try to figure it out day after day.
My little girl just left the drug addiction rehab center yesterday. Actually I still see her as my little girl ...but she's 21 and hardly a little girl anymore. Now I wonder if she ever was. The more I find out about our past, the more guilty I feel that she missed a large part of her childhood. The pain is more than I can bear sometimes. The only way I can handle the worst of it is to push it away by staying busy doing something that keeps me from thinking.
But I know that's not healthy for me nor fair to her, so bit by bit, over the last 2 years, I have been letting the information in and allowing myself to feel the pain.
It is the worst pain I have ever felt. I thought divorce had brought me the worst pain possible, but this far surpasses that. Losing a child or watching helplessly as a child suffers is the worst. And she is still my child, regardless of her age, and anything that brings her pain and unhappiness hurts me badly.
If it wasn't for my youngest son, born from my second marriage, I would wish that her father and I had never divorced. As much as drug addiction and alcoholism are considered diseases, I believe with all my heart her problems started with our divorce. And no ...people can talk until they're blue in the face about how staying in the marriage to her father would have been worse for her, but I don't believe that for a moment.
If you're reading this and you have children and are considering a divorce, stop and try absolutely everything you can to stay in your marriage. Divorce destroys children.
You may not see it at first or even for a long time. My children seemed to be ok with the divorce. They did well in school, they saw their father and I equally, they excelled at sports and had friends and appeared totally happy and healthy and "normal". There were no signs of trouble, certainly no drug addiction signs or signs of alcoholism.
But meanwhile, my daughter was living anything, BUT a "normal" life. If you've read the other pages of our site, you know that she talks openly about drinking alcohol at a very early age and about being introduced to drugs soon after. How did I miss the signs of drug addiction in my own daughter?
The only conclusions I've reached so far are that she was an incredibly good actress, was able to function normally outwardly even when she was high, and I thought she was too smart to do something so stupid.
I was very uneducated about drug abuse and drug addiction signs. I had never been around anyone that was addicted to drugs and never expected to be. It never entered my mind that it could happen within my own family. I didn't know that alcoholism and drug addiction were diseases. I didn't know that being "smart" had nothing to do with it.
I also thought we had an incredibly honest relationship. I had tried from the day my children were born to convince them they could talk to me about anything. I had started talking to them about drugs and alcohol at an early age. I worked long hours and gave up other things to make sure I could send them to a private school because I thought they would be more protected there.
Apparently, nothing I did was right. My marriage mistakes and my own weaknesses such as depression after my second marriage broke up coupled with my failure to see the drug addiction signs all led to disaster.
My daughter almost died 8 weeks ago. Today she looks healthy and happy and says she is happy. For that, I thank God. I also thank the drug addiction rehab center for helping her get back on the path to recovery.
I have much work to do on myself. I now spend too much time looking for drug addiction signs. I spend too much time feeling sad and angry. I worry too much and consequently I probably bother her too much. I spend an enormous amount of time trying to figure out how to make it all up to her.
But I'm progressing. It may be baby steps, but I'm moving forward. I'm still working on taking one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time. And I'm getting better at it.
If you have a loved one that has a drug or alcohol problem and isn't getting help, do everything in your power to help them know that there is definitely help and definitely hope. And if you feel as if this absolutely couldn't happen to you, that you couldn't possibly be living with a drug addict, think again. It can happen to anyone.
Know the drug addiction signs, be on the alert for them, and never take anything for granted. We are all vulnerable to this horrible disease, but there's help if you reach out for it.