We know intellectually it’s a disorder. There are many studies now that prove that. The behavior makes us angry still.
At first, when Charles was misusing substances, I’d regress to yelling which was unproductive. Those were not my proudest moments but I caught on that it was only adding to my child’s shame and driving him to use more. His drug use started because of his sleep disorder and also numbed his feelings of suicide.
I didn’t know any of that. And finding out the underlying cause of his drug use took years. He never sat down and told me, “Hey mom, I’m depressed.” It was only after his death by suicide that I knew all of his underlying pain.
The addictive behavior though was maddening. I watched someone I loved engaging in all these self-destructive episodes. Nothing I did could stop it. Which also made me angry.
How many times did we have to drop whatever we were doing to address a crisis? It was always a shock to see police on my front porch, get a call at 3 am that he had been in an accident or in the hospital. I never knew when the day would explode in my face which left me on edge.
My initial reaction was always shock, sadness, and anger, usually in that order. I learned that I needed to manage my anger and not direct that emotion towards Charles. Because it was not helpful and escalated his “defense anger.”
Over and over, there were times I was jerked out of something normal into crisis. Most other families seemed to be sailing along and hitting normal milestones, while ours was in anguish. That made me angry.
I suppose a lot of the anger I had was fueled by helplessness. I didn’t do anything wrong, why am I suffering consequences? Because what our loved one’s do does affect us.
Some of you have had funerals you never expected to plan, children you never expected to raise, astronomical rehab bills you never budgeted for, cars you didn’t expect to have to replace.
I yelled at walls, screamed at the windshield, cried myself to sleep. I found solace in my families anonymous group and in running or walking. That was what I needed many times to pour water on the burning anger.