Addiction Like Cancer

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, Photoshops a collage to illustrate being lost in the wild woods of addictions and cancer.“How’s your daughter doing?”
“What’s your son up to these days?” I’m afraid to ask my friends. Because too often there’ll be a scrunching of brows over eyes suddenly filled with torment, followed by a torrent of emotion, the significant word finally gushing out – “addiction.”

“My daughter is….” “My son … heroin, meth, …addicted,” people who know I “lost” a child send me emails and personal messages online. Offline, I hear it going around the table during introductions at bereaved mothers’ gatherings. Almost every day there’s another heartbroken parent. Waiting for The Phone Call. Preparing for the worst. Aching. And OMG, I hear the pain.

I remember that pain. It isn’t so different from when your child has been diagnosed with cancer. Your heart sinks into your gut. And there’s little you can do to get rid of this scourge. You start wondering how you contributed to it, what was the something you did or did not do. You’re angry, sad, and ready-to-embrace-whatever-might-help scared.

Addiction, like cancer, is a deadly disease. Mostly, what I remember from plodding through the wilds of cancer, is fighting for my daughter, for her health, her life. Fighting and worrying. And loving. You love so hard it tears the breath and light from you.
“We will never be out of the woods,” one mother told me. And it’s true.
“You don’t want to be out of the woods,” I wrote her back. “Because then you’ll be in my neck of the woods.” There’s no more worrying here, but –

There’s nothing I can tell them. “I’m sorry,” I say, the same words people said to me when my daughter died.

The only thing that helps, either side of the forest, is knowing you are not alone. There are gazillions of us crying for our children, praying for our children, singing to the moon hoping our children know we will always love them. However they are. Wherever they are. Or are not.

If you are the parent of a child with an addiction, I humbly share your tears.

 

What do you do or say when someone is in pain over a loved one’s addiction?

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14 thoughts on “Addiction Like Cancer

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Thank you, Robin. It’s so true that addiction and cancer bring despair to mothers and families–and there is so little we can do about either. Sometimes cancer can be treated. Sometimes a child recovers from addiction. Sometimes there is no saving them or protecting them or ourselves. Your remedy feels right to me. Love our kids. Love each other. Keep remembering.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      You always wrap things up so nicely, Elaine. I lost that word, despair, and you located it for me. And yes, that’s what it’s all about – loving each other and remembering. Ooops – I think I remember that Vic’s birthday is – like today?

      Reply
      1. Elaine Mansfield

        Today’s the day. Interesting that you remember. Of course, I’ve been thinking about him a lot and missing him and being grateful we had time together. It’s still astounding that they aren’t alive, isn’t it?

        Reply
  2. Annette Corth

    Robin,
    Very touching, as usual. I must be leading a charmed life. I have never encountered a person with a drug addiction problem. However, being enamored with chocolate and most things sweet, I can understand the power of addiction.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Well, as a fellow foodie, Annette, I’m pretty sure we’re both addicted to good food and especially chocolate. I mean, I dare you to go for a full day without. It’s almost impossible for me, although I seem to have gotten down to just one dessert a day. Most days. Not counting chocolate.

      Reply
  3. Joann Giovannone (Jo)

    Robin, to any parent who has lost their child, I just hug them as hard as I can, tell them I’m very sorry and that I wish more than anything I could take away their awful pain. Only we, the parents, can truly understand the true depth of this pain and heartache and grief of losing our children from this world. I know in my heart, our son IS still with us, just not in the way we want/wish him to be. He shows us with signs he sends us, dreams he invades with messages to give us to other people who didn’t even know him when he was alive but met me after thru TCF and he was with my husband 2/15/16 when Jerry had a N.D.E. (near death experience) and was going in and out of conscientiousness, the back and forth life & death struggle, staying here or going to join our son. Nick got through to him and said, “Dad, it’s not your time yet. It’s not your time”.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Whoa, Jo. That is precious, about your husband and Nick’s message. It offers so much hope. Hey, I just registered for the retreat at the end of July. Will you be there?

      Reply
  4. Lynne Taetzsch

    Beautiful, healing feelings beautifully expressed.

    My stepson almost died from an overdose a few months ago. He is just coming out of drug rehab after going through physical recovery for a couple of months. I will see him soon. All of his family, including me, have hope for him to make it, but we also know we are not in control.

    Still in the woods.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I’m wishing you luck with your stepson, Lynne. The woods are huge but there’s light between the trees. Wondering if anyone IS in control at these times. A completely different way of living, not being in control. Keeps you on your toes and you can’t take things for granted. Being in control isn’t everything, it’s just more comfortable. Maybe. But I think simply loving another creature is being out of control. Hugs.

      Reply
  5. Wendy Bennett

    Wow. Wow. Wow. This hit home- hard. I just lost my adopted daughter, Jennifer, in November. I’ll spare u most of the details, but I had adopted her at 14, (I was in my 30’s) when I saw her eating out of a garbage can in downtown Sarasota. She was pregnant, & her drug addicted parents had thrown her out… I took her in, & neither of our lives were ever the same. She was addicted to crack & as hard as we both tried, she just couldn’t shake it. The thing that resonated for me in what u wrote is I did feel all alone in this battle. Most people just felt I brought it on myself- by adopting this street urchin. Since she died, people have been kinder, but the sense u r all alone during the nights when u fear the phone will ring, or scraping up enough money for another rehab stint, or bailing her out of jail- well, that bottomless pit of anguish never really goes away
    What I mostly want to say after reading your poignant post is THANK U… U, once again, made me feel more connected to u, if that’s possible. Love u soul sista… More than words can say. U r an angel. 💕

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Yow, Wendy. I had no idea about Jennifer. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. The bad parts, I mean. Because I know that adopting someone is very rewarding at times as well. I’m thinking I’ll have to “adopt” some young single mother who could use my help. And after seeing the movie, The Lady in the Van last night, I may even have to consider “adopting” some crazy older person – except that I seem to have already been doing this for some time. Anyway, the thing is – there’s only so much one can do to help an addiction. Addiction is mighty big and strong. Without ongoing major outside help, it can pull us all under. There are some things love alone cannot fix.
      Now I have two sister-Wendy’s. Thanks so much for sharing this. Hugs!

      Reply

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