A letter to my children, from an addict
This article was written by Greg Bufkin and published by Home of Grace
This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. But I know my children and the children of other addicts have questions. I will do my best to answer them. I seriously wish if you have more questions and for whatever reason, you can’t ask him or her, please feel free to email me.
I will do my very best to answer from an addicts point of view. I can’t speak for the one you love, but I can speak as an addict. We’re all pretty similar.
In preparation for this post, I re-read some things my kids typed a few months ago about how my addiction made them feel and what they thought during my active addiction. That was very difficult. Maybe one day I’ll share those things, but I’m not ready at this point. That’s difficult stuff to read. There is a great deal of hurt, confusion, pain, broken trust, fear, and other emotions.
Why do I need to answer these questions?
I am attempting to answer these questions because there are feelings I need to process for me. I need to answer these questions because they can linger in your mind, possibly leading to issues for you to deal with. There again is the ripple effect. You are dealing with consequences for choices you did not make. For that, I am sorry. So let’s jump right in.
If you’re sorry, why did you keep hurting us?
I finally stopped saying that I was sorry. I realized that it rang hollow. You have to understand that I didn’t want to be the person that I was. I didn’t even know why I used for a long time, much less how to deal with it. I literally asked God to kill me 2-3 dozen times because I couldn’t stop, and I was tired of hurting and disappointing people. I always started out with good intentions. I’ll include a link below for a more scientific explanation. Bottom line: It’s like there were 2 Gregs. Good Greg woke up early every day and firmly stated, “I am NOT using today!” Bad Greg woke up later and said, “Here’s what we’re going to do to get drugs today.” And good Greg said, “ok.” I didn’t know what I was fighting or how to fight it. I knew only that I was tired of losing the fight at every opportunity, and I preferred death to that Hell. That’s why I stopped saying sorry because I meant it 100% every single time I said it, but there was no way you’d ever believe it.
For more information on how addiction forms, check out this link.
Did it not bother you that you hurt us?
It absolutely did. This may sound like an excuse, but that is actually one of the reasons I continued to use. Every time I did something that hurt you or anybody else, I had very negative feelings. I didn’t know how to deal with those feelings. I didn’t like them. I didn’t want them there. The only way I knew how to deal with those feelings, and not hurt, was to take another drug. But every time I did, there were eventually more negative feelings, so I had to use again. I wanted so badly to stop hurting you. But I could no longer look myself in the mirror without feeling how horrible I really was, and I couldn’t handle that.
Why did you allow us to be put in bad situations (sometimes unsafe)
It was never my intention to put you in bad, scary, uncomfortable, or unsafe positions. And I believe I can speak for a great many addicts when I say that was never my desire. My brain got so focused on getting the drugs I needed that it never dawned on me you were in a negative situation. It either never dawned on me at all, or I reasoned that you were safe because you were with me. Or I believed I was invincible. Whatever the exact thought was I had at the time, I in no way believed anything bad would happen to you. But for many of you, it did. So from this addict, I’m sorry. I do not know how I can ever make it up to you.
Why did you and mommy fight all the time? It scared me and made me feel bad
We fought for a lot of reasons. ( my wife did not use, these answers might be very different if two addicts are in a relationship together) I stole money from the family. I went to places and hung around people she didn’t like. I took you places and around people she knew were not good for you. I embarrassed myself. I embarrassed my family. I created tensions between her and her family because she wanted to protect and defend me even though there was very little worth defending. I was very selfish. Even the good things I did were often seen as trying to balance out the bad I did, or make up for what I did, or build credit for future wrongs. Every good thing I did was seen as having a negative goal.
Are you better now after being in The Home of Grace?
I am really good right now. I don’t want to concern you, but my outlook now is “Make the next right decision.” I can’t focus on the endpoint or next week or next year. I have to focus on making the decision to do the right thing the next time I make a choice. If I keep making the next right choice, yes, I will remain sober and clean. But if I make a bad decision, then I can potentially relapse. That is why it is so important that I be open, honest, and transparent in all that I do. If you ever see me not being honest or open, please say something. Let me know that you noticed. Once again, that is not fair to put that burden on you, but this is a disease we have to fight together.
How do I know if you will STAY clean?
You don’t. I wish I could guarantee it somehow, but I can’t. I’ve known people that have relapsed after 20 years of sobriety. The bottom line is: I want to stay clean. I BELIEVE I will stay clean. I’m putting all of my effort towards staying clean. But can I guarantee that I will? No. I can’t even focus on that. I have to focus on doing the NEXT right thing. Relapse IS a part of recovery. It is NOT a part of recovery that we all have to experience. You can check out an earlier blog post on the subject for a more in-depth discussion at this link.
Where do we go from here?
If you have experienced the addiction of anybody, but especially a parent, you may have thought these questions and many more. Asking the questions is a very important part of YOUR recovery. If the person you knew as an addict is in recovery, then ask them any questions you have. They want you to be whole emotionally. They don’t want you to continue living in the Hell they escaped from. If the person you know is still in addiction, then write your questions down. You might save them until they get help one day. It won’t do much good to ask them now but one day it might. Write how each of the topics you discuss makes you feel and be as descriptive as possible. It might not get you answers, but I guarantee it will make you feel better even identifying the feelings. Lastly, it is always recommendable to find a good counselor. I believe a Christian counselor is the absolute best way to go, but any counselor is better than none. I never used to think I needed a counselor. I always thought I was good on my feelings, but Counselor David at the Home of Grace helped me find more healing in 10 sessions than I could’ve found in 100 years on my own. It DOES work.
To my kids. It is NOT your fault. You didn’t do anything to cause my addiction. You couldn’t have done ANYTHING to stop it. Please don’t ever think I was an addict because of you. I was an addict because of my own hurts and hang-ups. I love you ALL.
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