Not all addicts are the same. Some will cheat, lie, and steal their way through life just to feel that high within their veins.
Others struggle. They try to be the better person and they try to straighten their life up but they are constantly getting dragged back down by the weight of the world and allowing the narcotic charms of drugs to “fix” it.
Unfortunately, I have seen both of these characteristics within my parents. Yes, I said parents. My father was addicted to meth, and he was addict #1. He would do anything he could to get his high. He would say anything he needed to say. My mother on the other hand, has struggled with her addiction for quite some time now. She’s currently doing wonderful but for as long as I can remember my mother has been fighting her own battles with drug addiction.
Growing up in this atmosphere has shaped me into the person I am today, learning from my parents mistakes. When the people you love the most are addicts, you learn more about drugs and more about life than most would learn in a lifetime. Here are 10 of the most important things you learn:
- You learn that you cannot help them if they do not want to be helped. You can beg and plead for them to live a better life. You can search and destroy every single piece of drug and paraphernalia in the house… but they will not stop. They have to want it for themselves, and until that day comes all you can do is pray that God will open their eyes to the horrible life they are living.
- You learn that drug addicts make the best liars. Most of the time, it’s the drugs talking. They will lie, beg, and plead for you to give them money for the “power bill” or “food” when it’s actually just going straight into their veins or lungs.
- You learn how to say no. I’ve learned how to say no to those parties on the college campus and no to the boy down the street who keeps asking me to sneak out at night. I’ve learned how to say “no I’m not giving you money”, “no I’m not taking you to the house down the street”, and “no I am not going to allow someone to sleep in my bed when they are obviously using”. To a 17 year old girl, these are things I should never have to worry about, but I learned how to say no because “no” means that maybe they will go atleast one day without it.
- You learn how important it is to keep a promise. I can’t count how many times my parents have promised me something, and then failed miserably at keeping that promise. Whether it was a new pair of shoes, or a court-mandated visitation with my father, too many promises have been broken. I will never put anyone through the pain that my parents put me through with their broken promises.
- You learn the value of life itself. There is absolutely nothing more painful than to watch someone you love the most act the way that they do on drugs. I can’t count how many times I was scared to walk into the house in fear of seeing my father or mother on the floor lifeless. Or how many times I woke up in the middle of the night worried about whether or not they would wake up the next morning. Having addicts for parents teaches you that the future is uncertain, and that at any given moment you could lose everything that means the most to you.
- You learn how to love someone from a distance. No matter how much they hurt you, no matter what they do to you.. they are your parents. And you love them.
- You learn how to take care of yourself at a really young age. Countless mornings of waking up on your own, making a bowl of cereal, and turning on cartoons for yourself wondering where your parents are this time and when they will be returning home. Children who grow up in “normal homes” wake up to smiling faces and breakfast while their mom goes on a jog before starting off with her friends for a Sunday Morning Brunch. We wake up atleast 3 hours before our parents even think about getting out of bed. You become very self-sufficient and very mature at a young age because you have no other choice.
- You learn to be more careful when choosing a relationship partner. I know this sounds weird, and those of you reading this who have not experienced a drug-filled childhood will probably not understand. When you look for a partner, you’re looking for someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. Someone to be the father/mother of your children. “I will never let my children feel the pain that I am feeling” are words that have came out of my mouth thousands of times. Growing up as the child of a drug addict will cause to you be extra cautious about your s/o because you don’t want to end up with someone who will use and abuse drugs and cause pain within your home.
- You learn how to forgive. No matter how many times you say “this is the last straw. i’m done”, you know that you will someday forgive them. The pain they put you through is caused by the drugs they are addicted to. You see a part of them that no one else sees. You see the pain. The constant struggles. The internal battle within their hearts and minds. You learn how to be forgiving and loving despite the pain that they put you and themselves through.
- Most importantly, you learn that it’s not your fault. You are not to blame for any of your parents actions. It’s not your fault that your father chose to smoke meth rather than come to your first day of 2nd grade. It’s not your fault that your mother couldn’t make it to your black belt testing because she was detoxing from methadone. You are not to blame, and you will never be to blame.
Being the child of a drug addict has taught me to never blame myself for other people’s actions. It has taught me to strive to be successful with my life. But most importantly, it has taught me how to learn from their mistakes and become better than those who made me.