Thank you so much for your column and for shining light on this matter.
Addiction has been gnawing at the souls of our community for a long time. Yet, it still remains a disease that is swept under the table.
At first, when I found out that my wife of 21 years was addicted to pain killers I was relieved!
She has been suffering mood swings the likes of which I had never seen before, since our three-year-old son passed away about six years ago.
Soon after he was niftar, my wife fell into a deep depression. She went to doctors who prescribed painkillers to help her cope with his death. Apparently, once she was hooked my wife began taking cocktails of medications without my knowledge. As a result, our lives turned from tragic to chaotic.
We went from grief counselors to marital therapy. However, my wife’s behavior kept getting more erratic. She went from being a warm, caring & loving mother to a paranoid, angry & depressed person whom none of us recognized.
One day, our twelve-year-old daughter came home and found my wife passed out on the floor.
She called Hatzolah, and it was at the hospital that I was made aware of my wife’s addiction.
My wife was frightened that she had a seizure and agreed to go to a rehab to get proper treatment. I was told that her having been found passed out on the floor by our daughter was her rock bottom.
My wife is presently at an out-of-state rehab where the goals are to wean her off the drugs, and then teach her proper coping skills.
The last couple of weeks have been tough on all of us.
My children are ashamed that their mother is a drug addict – and miss her and how she used to be.
I am having a tough time coping with the guilt of not having realized how much she was hurting, and what was truly happening to my family.
Evidently, my drug of choice was to throw myself deeper into my work.
I am beginning to see that I was numbing myself in that way, and wasn’t there for my wife and children when they needed me most.
I have been attending Al-Anon meetings and placed our children into therapy. We are all trying to heal. Yet, I see it’s a slow painful process. The facility my wife is in will be hosting a “family program” next weekend. Thus far, I have already attended two family Sundays by myself and have found them to be highly informative and helpful. My wife looks better each time I see her. Her spunk for life seems to be coming back and I am really hopeful that we have just received a new lease on life! For this upcoming family weekend, my wife’s counselor wants me to bring our children.
Truth be told, ever since my daughter found my wife on the floor, she does not want to have anything to do with her. When my wife was in the hospital she didn’t want to visit, and is refusing to come along for the weekend visitation. When I try talking with her about it, she tells me that her brother’s death affected everyone in the family, but only her mother chose to be a “druggie.” I don’t know what to do? Do I force my daughter to visit her mother? I feel that if she would see for herself how hard her mother is working on her recovery, and how much better she looks, she will be able to let go of some of her anger and resentment. Do I force her or try to trick her into coming?
Trying to keep my family together
I feel so sorry for your predicament. My heart goes out to you and your family.
I am also very grateful and impressed that you are so forgiving and understanding of your wife’s addiction.
Addiction is a disease and is treated in the medical community as one. However, socially has yet to accept it as such.
Although your daughter is still young in age, she was obviously forced to grow up very fast.
While I am unaware of the nature of your son’s death and the events surrounding it, it is apparent that your daughter was also affected by it.
As you are well aware, your wife’s drug addiction has not only impacted you and your marriage, it has had a profound effect on your children. Children naturally look to their parents as a source of stability and comfort. The drugs robbed your daughter of these qualities in her mother.
Before being able to heal, your daughter needs you to understand that fact. As an adult you are able to trust and forgive your wife more freely based on your previous experience and relationship. However, your daughter has been deeply hurt and will need time to renew her relationship with her mother.
She needs to learn to be able to trust her again. She needs to re-develop a relationship with her “real mother’ and this will take time. Recovery for your wife is a life long journey. When she comes back home, there will be ample and adequate time for mother and daughter to re-develop and renew their relationship. As she goes through the twelve steps of recovery, she will learn about making amends to those whom she hurt.
Based on my experience, true remorse and regret is usually met with acceptance and love even if it takes some time.
While I do believe your daughter would benefit greatly from participating in the family weekend, conversely, if she is forced to attend she won’t be open to learn all they have to offer and might grow to reject and resent the process.
Your daughter needs your unconditional love and support right now.
Invest in her needs and may you be zoche to reap the fruits of your labor.Brocha Silverstein
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