Jul 192011
 
whale

 

I think often about the Monkees with addicted family members and friends. I know how hopeless it looks. How far gone they can seem. How angry and confused you feel.

Early one morning during my drinking days, I staggered home drunk and high, and found my mom and dad sitting in the family room waiting for me. They were as blurry eyed as I was. Bubba looked right at me and said, “Glennon. Do you even love us?”

And my heart imploded into my own chest. All I could do was whimper a slurred yes but I knew how hollow and weak and false that yes sounded to each of us. Because love is as love does and addicts don’t love, we destroy. It is hard for others to believe that we can love the things we are destroying.

But I remember that moment vividly and I recall how my heart felt in response to my dad’s question. My heart was broken deep and hard with love for my parents. I loved them in that moment, when I was a hopeless drunk and treated them horribly, exactly like I love them today . . . wildly, frantically, solidly, all.

I don’t know how that works, I’m sorry. I just know that it can be true. Your addict can love you madly and still keep hurting you.

Addiction just does that. It’s evil, addiction.

But addicts are not. As a matter of fact, whenever an addict writes to me about how she is so lost and shameful that she’s certain God can never love her I always say, really? Because I think God loves us the most. I really do. I know a whole lot of addicts and outside of the whale, they are some of the kindest, brightest, most creative and passionate people I know. It’s the sensitive soul that feels the need to escape the harshness of reality. And so whenever a parent writes to me about her addicted child being “special” I always think, Yep, I know exactly what you mean. I really do. It’s like this:

For now, let me say this: measure the hate you feel now, and the shame. That quantity is your capacity also to love and to feel joy and to have compassion.

                                   – I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.

It’s true…where there is great pain, there is the hope for great joy. With great shame comes the possibility of great redemption.

Sometimes I think this blog is for families of addicts. I want you to know, mamas and daddies and sisters and brothers and daughters and sons of addicts – that even when I’m not writing specifically about addiction and recovery, I’m still writing to you.

When I write about my marriage, or my children, or my friendships, or this crazy, typical, magical life I’m leading . . . the message underneath, meant for you, is:Look! There is hope! I was hopeless . . . and now I’m so hopeful I’m ridiculous. I’m just ridiculous with hope.

I am not perfect, I am not always well or stable or happy or kind or peaceful or content. And as I may have mentioned…I’m generally a little WOOOHOOOOO!!!

But I am myself. I am living this tough, confusing life as myself. That’s the best I can do. That is thrilling. I just want you to know that it is possible.

And I think you need not wait till your addict starts living before you do. It is okay for you to live while you wait. It’s necessary, really.

I’ll end with this passage from I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. It’s a conversation between a therapist and her patient – a young, brilliant girl who is deciding whether to hold on to her mental illness or let it go and try to Live. Scary decision.

Well, did I ever say it would be easy? I cannot make you well against your own wishes. If you fight with all the strength and patience you have, we will make it together.

And what if I don’t?

Well, there are lots of mental hospitals, and they build more every day.

And if I fight, then for what?

For nothing easy or sweet… for your own challenges, for your own mistakes and the punishment for them. For your own definition of love and sanity- for a good strong self with which to begin to live.

That’s enough, right? That’s all we can ask of ourselves. To allow ourselves to live. Addicts or not.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  15 Responses to “A Message from Inside the Whale, Part Two”

  1. Thank you Sharyn for sharing that passage with me. I struggle with alcohol and pain medication. Was sober for over a year and then relapsed after my brother in law and father died suddenly within 2 months of each other. Been back to my counselor every week since January. I sneak alcohol by drinking cooking wine. Yes, the stuff with all the salt. That way I don't have any booze bottles to hide. I know what I have to do, I just lack the courage to put it in play.

  2. Anonymous –

    You're not alone. Whether you believe in God or not, I love Romans 7:15 and 19… it's the story of everybody's life. "I don't understand myself. The things I don't want to do, I end up doing — and the things I hate to do, I keep doing. …I have the desire to do what is good, but I lack the ability. I don't do the good I want to do, but the evil things I want to stop doing, I keep repeating."

    Sometimes I think the Monkees is really just a nice name for Jerks Anonymous. You're in good company here.

    Much Love,
    -Sharyn

  3. anonymous…

    watcha struggling with? tell me sistah.

  4. I'm trying.. it's so hard. Everyday I wake up hopeful and every night I got to bed a failure. I hate this disease.

  5. Thank you, Glennon. For being here for those whom most of society wants to ignore or hate. I'm sure you know Anne Lamott. You remind me of her, frequently. She is one of my favorite writers and, of course, a recovering addict.

    I am fortunate to suffer no addictions, but have a special compassion for the addict and, especially, for those whose addiction spurs them to abuse others. I know it sounds odd, but those who abuse other people damage themselves terribly. It tears up their soul. And there is so little help, so little compassion for them. And the work they must do if they are to recover is so huge, so overwhelmingly enormous, that recovery is almost unheard of.

    But it is not impossible. And I believe every abuser who wants to recover, who begins to make amends, and who makes a start on repairing the holes in their own soul, improves our world's well-being in large and important ways. And only compassion (along with the knowledge and strength to avoid becoming part of their problem) can help.

    Obviously, I need to write about this in my blog, as I have already written too long-windedly here. Just, thank you.

  6. just changed the pic so it'd be less confusing:)

  7. duh, this is part II. THe picture threw me off, lol

  8. Jen, they're on the last post…this is a new one.

  9. Where did all the comments go from yesterday? I was hoping the anonymous girl who was trying to go a day without drinking updated us.

  10. I love coming to this place.

    I pray earnestly for my sister & this exact realization of truth of who she is and the story she has the capacity to live out, "measure the hate you feel now, and the shame. That quantity is your capacity also to love and to feel joy and to have compassion.”

    Never ending thank you's for your woohoo and sharing what it's like to be yourself through your lense.

  11. I think we just had a moment. That was punch-in-the-gut lovely. Jenny, thanks for sharing about your son and your helaing. G – you know, just thanks.
    loveyou

  12. Dear Jenny,

    A few days ago, a dear friend of mine told me about you and your son. I wrote this post, and the last one, for you.

    Love,
    G

  13. Glennon, I feel every time I read your blog, that you were sent to me when I was at my lowest point, filled with such complete sadness and worry about my son, an addict, and my other two children, who suffer as well by association and our whole family. I began to feel hope, that here is this amazing woman, wife, mother, so so smart, so frickin funny and just so completely open and honest. You and your writing has restored so much hope for me. Because if you could overcome your addictions, then so can my sweet, funny, handsome son. And I think this time he will. And I think you are so right to separate the addict/addiction from the person. When our son was in rehab the first time, I had to write to his addiction. That was a hard letter, it took conscious thought to direct that hurt and hatred to the ADDICTION, not to my child, but it was so so empowering and that is when I feel I started to heal.

    I am sorry this is so lenghty. This sounds so corny, but oh well, you have helped me so much. I just feel in my heart that you have helped so many others too. I hope that all of the wonderful comments you get are able to help you too when you need it. Love to you.

  14. Glennon, I spent years being addicted to this and that. I finally had the courage to quit when I accidentally smoked crack. Yep, accidentally. I thought I hit rock bottom when I would flirt a little here and there to get the drugs. But, I knew in my "crack is whack" moment that if I was taking anything just because it was being offered without even asking what it was…I was in big trouble. Today, I'm totally clean and sober. Except for the occasional overdose on Snackwell's Devils Food Cakes. So glad to have found you.

  15. Love it, G! Planning to share it on my family's webpage:)

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