My mother passed away last year at the age of 84. The reason I mention this is that her life, like yours, was impacted by addicted loved ones. At age seven she watched her alcoholic father die on the living room floor of their modest home. She then, along with her mother and 4 older brothers, moved into a basement apartment where she spent the next 10 years growing up. Sadly, my mom watched as alcohol abuse and dependency crept into her brothers’ lives. My mom, however, managed to avoid their fate. As I have reflected on her life I am struck by a number of qualities that my mother possessed that allowed her to be a true survivor of a family riddled by addiction. I believe these qualities are worth mentioning.
Courage – the willingness to make difficult decisions, no matter the cost. The ability to venture into new and uncharted waters believing life can be different…better! Today we call it “boundary setting.” Then it was called “backbone” or “grit.”
Faith/Hope – a bedrock belief in God and an unwavering trust in His providence. A clear sense that life has purpose and that this purpose will be providentially fulfilled. It is the “True North” needed when life is unclear and confusing. It is from this wellspring that courage flows.
Love – a sense of being connected to others as members of a community (family, friends, church, etc). As a member we should avail ourselves to the wisdom, care and support of others as well as generously return these gifts to those in need. A willingness to bear with each other’s shortcomings and encourage each other to be our best!
The journey of addiction and recovery is not one for the faint of heart. It requires courage, faith, love and more. I hope you will think about how these qualities can be lived out in your life and the lives of those in your community.