Who hasn’t been a Mama Bear for her beloved family?
I know there has been countless times the world has heard my roar on behalf of my four children.
When the systems illness of substance use disorder first began to impact my family, I had a Wish List compiled of all I wanted, so that all my bear cubs were safe, happy and healthy.
I wanted a peaceful future and long term recovery strategies.
I lived in full-on Mama Bear mode to make that list a reality for my son, who was struggling with the disease, and the rest of our family.
But despite our family’s best efforts, and the best efforts of those we sought to help us through, the symptoms of the disease in our lives worsened.
My family knew too well many symptoms of late-stage addiction: grief, anger, addiction cravings, misunderstanding, despair, and broken hearts.
After many years, I reached a place where I had to quietly surrender the outcome of that Wish List to God. That surrender happened while I was hospitalized with a painful infection and exhaustion. Laying in a hospital bed for several days of much needed healing and rest forced me to take time out to quietly recalibrate how to best love my family. God and I spent a lot of time together.
I didn’t stop being a Mama Bear, but I realized I needed to allow the outcomes of my son’s own disease-driven choices to help him to find his own path to recovery. I did so with love and open channels of communication with him.
Our family never stopped trying to help our son and brother find a recovery solution. But I recognized that part of my call in the journey was to stay within the guardrails of life on life’s terms and not try to force answers that were not yet ready to be born.
Looking back with the benefit of time – that has thankfully has brought long term recovery to our family – I know Mama Bear love is always powerful force for good for the family God has entrusted to us in this life.
How have you been a Mama Bear for your family?
Please share here. We can all be inspired by our collective experience, strength and hope.
Nancy and her son, JP, are co-authors of Unchained: Our Family’s Addiction Mess Is Our Message. Their book tells the true story of JP’s descent into opioid and alcohol addiction to recovery to become co-founder of a national treatment healthcare system.