Friday, March 16, 2012


You may have noticed a post disappeared from the blog. I allowed myself to be censored by someone who was uncomfortable with the content of my last post, and with my posts about this recent crisis in general.

I'm not 100% ok with that and I'm not happy that I took the post down, but it seemed to be the right thing to do. To be honest I thought about deleting the whole blog and never writing again. I thought about bottling up all my thoughts on this and adoption and everything else.

 It is my belief that *not* talking about addiciton, and *not* documenting how it hurts not only the addict but everyone around him/her, has contributed (at least in part) to patterns of addiction being perpetuated amongst my loved ones.

If you can't name it you can never beat it.
If you dare not speak it you can never triumph over it.
If you are so afraid of the rest of the world knowing your private pain you will die alone.

A few weeks ago I attended a parenting workshop geared towards adoptive parents--but so much of what was covered is applicable to all relationships. Especially the complicated ones, the ones marked by trauma.

And I'll just go ahead and say that addiction is TRAUMA. For everyone who loves the addict. For the addict. For the people who love the people who love the addict. And so on.

The main premise of the training was that all behavior stems from one of two primary emotions: love or fear. Those who have experienced trauma, who come from "hard places", live most of their lives in a state of fear/near fear. They are much quicker to shift from coping with stress to being overwhelmed by it and to reacting in fear. A person who has not experienced trauma may have the same daily level of tolerance for stress as a person from a "hard place" but the person from the hard place starts *each day* with his/her stress cup filled almost to the top. Thus the amount of outside stress needed to push that person into fear-based behaviors can be very small.

Fear drives us to fight or flight situations. It makes us shut down completely. It makes us tear into the people we love and try to destroy them before they can hurt us.

 If I reject you first you won't have the chance to leave me. If I make you cry first you won't be able to hurt me. I'll spit on you and curse at you before I ever let you know how much I need you. I'll pick up a bottle and drink myself into oblivion so that you never notice all the *other* ways I am a failure.

Right now those of us touched by my loved one's addiction are busy fighting each other. It is easier than fighting the addiction itself. We have no control over our loved one or his/her addiction, but we absolutely have control over our own anger and our own fear based behaviors.

We are trying to find a way to be vulnerable and sad around each other, instead of trying to one up each other in a pageant of bad behavior. We are trying to extend one another the benefit of the doubt and to treat each other with grace.

A good friend who has walked this road said "Relationships and addiction are complicated."

Yes. Yes they are.


  1. In adoption talk that is "Triangulation" manipulation of adults. So.. ya. you hit it on the head.

  2. Shannon--it is amazing to me how so much of the "adoption related" stuff I've been reading is applicable to this aspect of my life. Attachment issues, triangulation, "beyond consequences"...

  3. Nora, I really found that I was able to understand and help Nate through his ptsd issues because of the trauma I'd been through myself. Understanding that their behaviors stem from fear and loss (and having experienced trauma) allows you to really BE THERE for them and not just react to the behavior and the feelings it brings up in you. You're going to be able to really help your little guy and feel his pain...but I'm still sorry for what you're going through. I am there with you, sister. Addiction bites.

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  5. Nora, I can't tell you how much it has helped me that you're sharing openly here. I'm dealing with addiction right now in someone I love fiercely...and...I'm not sure what to say, but...thanks.

    1. Oh Courtney, much love to you. It really stinks, doesn't it?

  6. Keep writing, what you have to share is so important. So many families struggle with addiction and your willingness to share and be open is helpful. Thanks for your wisdom.