This is one of those posts I wasn’t sure I was going to write. I’ve been sitting on it for quite a while. But with this being Red Ribbon Week, I felt now might be one of the best times to finally sit down and open up.
As many of you know, Rapunzel’s biological father passed away a little over 2 1/2 years ago. It’s a complicated story–one for another day–but the long and short of it is that he was caught up in addiction. Addicted for close to 18 years to heroin, we lost him to a drug overdose. I don’t talk about him much, because as you know I’m married to Prince Charming, and my relationship with Rapunzel’s father was like living in another lifetime: one I choose not to dwell in.
But I can’t completely ignore the fact that I spent two years of my life with him, and most importantly, that my daughter is affected by addiction. This is one battle I will stand with her to fight against, and I hope you will too.
But the purpose of my post today isn’t really to reminisce about old relationships and experiences. My goal is to reach out to the addicts still living: those deeply entrenched in addiction and those in recovery.
To the addict:
I just had to tell you that I get you.
I don’t consider myself an addict. I never have and never will try illegal drugs. I drink from time to time, but I don’t drink often. But the thing is…I’m addicted to other things. Love. Food. Soda. There are a lot of people out there that will judge you and think that they are better than you are, but really they’re not. They’re probably addicted to something too.
Romans 3:22-24 says:
22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
Anyone who lies, who cheats, who steals, who lusts, who overeats, or who hates–is a sinner. The fact is, we all are. Those who judge you for your sin are only fooling themselves. We are no different from one another. We are the same.
Anybody who is on a life- or health-sustaining medication has to admit that they are no different than you are. It doesn’t really matter how you got to this point–whether you started self-medicating just to feel okay in your own skin or whether your doctor prescribed your medication. If you are dependent on a drug, illegal or otherwise, your dependence is the same.
I tried once or twice to stop taking my depression meds cold turkey. It was not pretty.
I was dizzy. I was sick to my stomach. Because I didn’t feel well, I felt like I couldn’t function; I just laid on the couch all day feeling miserable. And I was easily irritated just because of the fact that I didn’t feel well. I would have done almost anything to stop feeling that way. (Which is why addicts steal from and hurt the people they love.)
This is part of the reason that addicts can’t just stop doing drugs. After you try them, your body depends on them. And when you try to stop, it hurts. I never really understood addiction until I felt that pain. I’m so sorry it took me so long.
Here’s another thing: I continually struggle with my eating habits. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to get it right. You know I try. And I know you try. More often than not, you don’t like this cycle. You know how it hurts your own body. You know how it hurts your family, but it’s so hard. You try and you try and you try, but sometimes it seems like you’re on a merry-go-round that never stops. You want so badly to find help, but it just doesn’t seem like it’s coming from anywhere. Sure, people try to help you, but they don’t really know how. Scolding doesn’t help. Enabling doesn’t help. Guilt trips don’t help.
So what will help? I don’t know. I’m not the solution to the problem. I just wanted to tell you it’s okay. And what matters the most isn’t that you succeed but that you try and fight as hard as you can every day just to get out. I really think that’s all God really wants. That’s all I really wanted.
I’m sorry it took so long for me to understand you. To my friends who were stolen away from us too soon (because there are many), I’m sorry I didn’t encourage you more. I didn’t have faith in you. But I’m going to make it up to you. If I can help another addict fight a little harder, if I can encourage one more addict, if I can share a little more love, I can at least rest well knowing that I may have extended someone’s life by one more day, one more hour, one more minute.
Know that there are people out here that get you. And that all we want and all that God wants is for you to keep fighting.
That’s what counts.