What parent hasn’t wished their addictive teen would simply disappear? “Antarctica is lovely this time of year; we’ll send your gloves.” As for visions of sprinkling arsenic on their Hot Pockets, well…
Terrible bad mean selfish parents. Or perhaps not selfish enough. All parents have felt this surge of bitter resentment. Who’ll dare admit that outside of group or individual therapy or in hushed whispers to a best friend? ‘Cause otherwise you’re ripe to be reported to social services.
As if bankrupting your savings on therapists/private schools/wilderness programs/escorts/lawyers/residential treatment centers, shredding your relationships (what must the divorce rate among parents of teen addicts be?), undermining your work performance (yes the boss is a jerk for not understanding why you can’t concentrate) and ingesting way too many Ho-Hos (don’t they stack neatly on the treadmill?) isn’t sufficient (plus of course their addiction is all our fault), you feel guilty for expressing feelings of normal anger.
Why? Because we’ve ceased to exist as independent life forms. Everything is sublimated to the sick child fighting a terrible illness. Any reason we parents talk to our cereal spoons?
Yet we’re still breathing, more or less. And there must be times when you think of yourself first because if you lose your mind, you’re no good to anyone. Dead heroes might make stirring role models, but lousy parents; who’ll drive them to the mall? How can you make coherent decisions half-addled? How can you expect your child to have normal feelings if you don’t?
Martyrdom does have its appeal, but not long-term. You must find ways to separate yourself from the craziness. Go to the movies. Shop ‘til you drop. Have a date with your partner. Sneak off for a glass of wine. Okay, okay, I know, but we’re only human. Guess what? If we don’t take their calls or check the morgue every 10 minutes, life will go on. It’s imperative ours does, too. We are entitled. Because when they get better, and they will, it’s important that you and your family members recover, too — we all need a life to return to.