The most surprising lesson I have learned from substance abuse is unconditional love.
Unconditional love is the willingness to work through all the discomfort I feel because I see my teen suffering, and I want to fix it, and I can’t fix it, but I keep showing up with love in the face of that discomfort anyway.
I have learned that unconditional love is more of a gift for me than the person I am giving it to because in order to love unconditionally, I had to become vulnerable.
A word that used to make me shudder at the thought of it.
Vulnerability seemed weak, and small, and unstable.
The anger and numbness that I used to protect myself from the pain and discomfort of substance abuse felt safe, strong, and stable.
This was a lie though.
I couldn’t just numb myself from the pain.
The side effect was that I numbed myself from joy, connection, and excitement to name just a few of the feelings I lost touch with.
The more I learned about vulnerability and leaned into it, the more the numbness faded.
It was like stepping out of a cold, dark, gray world into a world of warm sunshine, color, and light.
Unconditional love allowed me to start living my life in a much more fulfilling way and showing up with love always feels better than showing up with anger or numbness.
It’s not easy.
It didn’t happen overnight.
It took a lot of work on my thoughts and motives, but I would not have found the value of vulnerability and unconditional love without the pain of my teen’s substance abuse.