Where did I go wrong? – Madeleine Visagie

THE 3 C’S:

  • You didn’t Cause it;
  • You can’t Control it;
  • You can’t Cure it.

Part of the process of coming to terms with the addiction of someone you love, is a period of blaming yourself, and believing that there might have been something you could have done to prevent it. I unpacked the 3 C’s that I learnt about at TOUGHLOVE® in order to get a better perspective of my role in my daughter’s addiction.

1. You didn’t cause it:

I remember going through a time of examining what I had, or hadn’t done as a mother, that may have caused my daughter to start taking drugs. When I heard a recovering addict sharing at one of the TOUGHLOVE® meetings how it wouldn’t have mattered what his parents did or didn’t do, he would still have used, I started to understand that I was no more than a bystander in this drama. It was my daughter’s choice, no matter what her life circumstances had been, to start taking drugs.

Learning about the social pressure and acceptability of doing drugs enabled me to gain an understanding of what our youngsters face. My daughter started taking drugs with her boyfriend of that time who strongly influenced her (starting with Ecstasy and spiralling through Magic Mushrooms, GHB, Crystal Meth, Khat and Cocaine); yet I cannot take the easy way out by laying the blame squarely at his door – she could have said NO.

2. You can’t control it:

I am often asked what I would have done if I had learnt of her drug abuse before the crisis which forced her to face her addiction. The reality is that there is nothing that I could effectively have done to stop her behaviour, other than join a TOUGHLOVE® group and start learning about the valuable tools that would empower me in an untenable situation.

One of the light bulb moments I experienced was in connection with my daughter coming home in the early hours of the mornings after a night out:- 3 or 4 am. I felt helpless, and spent many nights unable to sleep until I heard her staggering in. I learnt through TOUGHLOVE® that I was entitled to set firmer terms for her living in my home, including a curfew so that I could get a decent night’s sleep, no matter that she was over 21. I began to take control of my home environment a step at a time, and it felt good!

Once she had left rehab, I found myself trying to control her recovery. As long as she was attending her NA groups, seeing her therapist and doing Twelve Step work, I was safe.

My world was contained and I could prevent my carefully constructed peace from being disturbed. Finally facing the fact that it was only my own recovery I could control, and having to let go of my investment in hers, enabled me to gain authentic peace.

3. You can’t cure it:

I can’t say with conviction that my daughter will never take drugs again. The road of recovery is one that she chooses to walk each day. Yes, my fears are rekindled if I see her stressed or depressed, and wonder what it may lead to, but I have worked on my own recovery enough to maintain a degree of ‘disinvestment’ in her choices. I know that I am more empowered than I was previously, and I know that with my group’s support I would be able to weather any crisis better than before.

Walking this journey with someone you love having the disease of addiction is not easy. It takes courage, humility, wisdom and strength. It has moments of vulnerability and pain, but above all else it says much for the sheer survival spirit that we parents have within. Nobody can call us quitters!

My peace and hope for her future lies in this excerpt from the Narcotics Anonymous manual:

“We cannot change the nature of the addict or addiction. We can help to change the old lie “Once an addict, always an addict”, by striving to make recovery more available. God, help us to remember this difference.”