You didn’t cause it
You can’t control it
You can’t cure it
These words changed my life forever, because they forced me to look at my parent’s addiction differently.
1. You didn’t cause it.
When I used to confront my Mum about her drinking as 13 year old, she would say “You would drink too if you had a daughter like you”. These words not only hurt me, but also sincerely had me believing I caused her to drink. Ludicrous, now that I think about it but addicts have a way of inserting toxic thoughts into their children’s minds.
Ten years later I was 23, I remember confronting her about her drinking again, she said “We only drank after we had kids, having kids was so stressful, we needed something at the end of the day to chill out and having a drink worked”. These words also had me sincerly believing I caused her to drink.
Now I see things differently. I know I didn’t cause their drinking. I didn’t open three bottles of wine every night and force my mother and father to drink them. The choice to drink rested with them and them alone.
2. You can’t control it
It took me years to understand that all the little things I did, trying to control my parents drinking, did not work.
I tried tipping bottles of alcohol down the sink, my parents still drank.
I tried hiding alcohol from them, my parents still drank.
I tried making them feel guilty and threatening to stop talking to them, my parents still drank.
Attempting to control them and their drinking did not work. I had to forfeit control. I learnt that I can’t control their addiction and now, I don’t even try to.
3. You can’t cure it
When I was a child I use to think “I’ll be really good and maybe they won’t want to drink”. Mistakenly, I thought I could cure it.
When I left school I undertook a social work degree in search of the answers to cure their drinking. What I learnt however was, I can’t.
The thing that will ultimately cure their addiction, is them deciding to sought out help. I can’t cure it.
I can get on with my own life and put my energy into making sure I break the cycle of addiction and dysfunction, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.