I have a friend with long time recovery who each day posts encouraging thoughts on social media.
They take just a second or two to read. But those few seconds carry a great deal of truth about the nature of substance use disorder, families caught in this systems disease and the power of recovery.
One recent post really hit home for me.
It was an image of a rock with these words painted on it:
Yesterday is heavy. Put it down.
I know in my own life and through the conversations I have shared with countless families struggling with addiction issues that the past can be a place of terrible pain.
And where does all that ruminating on past pain and regrets get us?
Just deeper in the sink hole of the family systems disease of substance use disorder.
Healing from the struggles my family faced my son was in heartbreaking circumstances because of the disease of addiction took a long, long time. I was incredibly weighted down by memories and regrets about those years. Some felt like rocks stuffed uncomfortably in my shoes and pockets. Others felt like boulders pressing down on my back or crushing my chest.
For a long time, I could not escape those feelings.
They colored my everyday world a dismal gray that prevented me from seeing all the good that was happening in the life around me.
It took a lot of support to finally live in a place of peace of mind. That support included the compassionate wisdom of our beloved family counselor, Dr. Bill Cipriano, recovery professionals and family program specialists from the rehab our son attended, 12-Step fellowships, and faith-based communities.
Our family of six made a decision to try to understand what we went through together and find ways to journey with forgiveness and hope together.
Quite unexpectedly, once my son’s life in recovery gained some traction, I felt a call in my heart to co-author a book with him to share our family’s hope-filled recovery story. Writing Unchained: Our Family’s Addiction Mess Is Our Message was at times painful. Who wants to relive in writing such a painful past?
But in some grace-filled way, sharing our family’s story in our book became a tremendous place of healing and opened up opportunities for us to help other families struggling with the systems disease of substance use disorder.
My wise mother had a saying: “Look at the past, but don’t stare at it.”
My hope for every family in the midst of an addiction challenge is that we can learn from what happened to our families and move toward a recovered life together with wisdom from that learning.
How can do you deal with memories of the past in your family’s struggle with addiction?
What has helped you on a journey toward hope?
Please share here. We can all be helped and inspired by our collective experience, strength and hope.