- Friends & Family
submitted by: Susanne Johnson
Debby always thought she had a great relationship with her daughter, but her life turned around when she learned about her daughter’s suicide attempt. Debby didn’t know why her daughter would have done this, and her feelings at that time were horrible. “I was pretty blind, just like a lot of parents,” Debby says. “I didn’t see the signs.” Before then she thought her daughter just liked to drink and was not aware of the serious struggle she was in with cocaine and alcohol. Debby knew that her daughter was unhappy with life; her relationships were bad, but she had no idea that her daughter was using drugs. Debbie was shocked.
When she was younger, Debby worked as an assistant at an alcohol and drug rehab center, and her mother was a recovering alcoholic. Her experience let her feel not completely helpless, as she knew that there were ways to help her daughter. However her experience was mainly focused on alcoholism, and she felt lost in the drug area and without much of an idea of how to deal with this. Debby says, “If I would have been aware of this at an earlier stage in life, I would maybe have reacted differently and gotten some counseling for her or intervened somehow, but moms and dads are the last ones to find out.”
Her husband, stepfather to her daughter, stepped aside for the most part and let Debby and her daughter deal with this problem. Debby was glad to have the enormous support of her siblings, as they were there whenever she felt the need to talk. Stigma prevented Debby from opening up in front of friends. She remembered a friend who was always referring to people with addiction issues as bad and calling them ‘druggies.’ This memory was stuck in her head, and she didn’t want to talk to friends and embarrass herself, her daughter or the whole family.
Debby went to support group meetings and bought every book about addiction and cocaine she could. She wanted to learn the best way to deal with her daughter’s problems. She educated herself, and she went with her daughter to counseling as she knew she had been an enabler. “I didn’t do much; she did it all herself,” Debby says. “All I could do was be there if she needed me in her recovery and be supportive.”
As she tried to be a loving supporter instead of angry, she stuck with the mantra, “Never give up on your children.” Debby has been into running for seven years, and she has attended the Heroes in Recovery run in Nashville five years in a row. She ran it with tears in her eyes each time, praying and wishing that someday she would be able to run it with her daughter. This year mother and daughter ran this race in unity and for recovery.