A Gift I Never Thought I’d Get From My Kids
I was recently rewarded for patience and prayers hoping my kids would see the truth about my marriage break up. Not my side, he said, she said, just the reality of how my husband’s drug addiction impacted their lives and mine. Unfortunately, I know most parents never get this gift whether they are patient and silent taking the high road or make a point of expressing their side of things to their kids.
I was quietly sitting with my 19 year old son last week when he asked “How did we not know Dad was fucked up all the time?” I probed for clarification. I knew his father had been a drug addict for his son’s entire life, but his dad had painted a picture of it not being all that serious. I have been careful about not bashing their father since we separated three years ago because I know that anything negative I say about him will only come back to bite me.
My son said his brother had come across an old video of their father and he was clearly very fucked up. I took the opportunity to mention that his father had been abusing narcotics since he was in his 20’s. He had presented a story to the kids that he only became addicted after I had a devastating stroke in 1999, and in his battle to cope, had turned to drugs. In fact, he had abused drugs for decades and had developed an addiction to OxyContin slowly over time.
Anyway, back to the conversation. I said “I don’t know how we didn’t know, and I’ve often wondered myself how as his wife I didn’t know he was addicted. I reassured him that he and his brother weren’t the only ones who didn’t know.
Next, he said, “When I saw that video I realized that Dad wasn’t present for my entire life”. I was amazed. I had felt this way about the situation for years but had never mentioned it to my kids. I hoped they would come to the realization on their own someday. I had no plans to ever explain this to them. I was expecting it to take a lot longer for them to come to this conclusion. According to the the addiction story from his father, he became addicted after I had the stroke when I was pregnant with the son I was having the conversation with. It started after he was born and continued until he finally got sober about 3 years ago. I knew the struggle had been going on much longer, but I didn’t want to imply that Dad was a liar to my son.
I didn’t disagree with him about the not being present part because it was a clear factor in the breakdown of our marriage and I had lived with a partially checked out husband for decades myself. I saw no need to point this out to my son because it now appeared clear that he was sharp enough to draw his own insightful conclusions.
He went on to talk about his own struggles in high school with drugs and with a girlfriend who was an addict. These experiences helped him to see the story about his father more clearly as he grew up. I commended him on his maturity and intelligent insight.
I think I was successful in containing my sense of glee at my kids seeing the truth on their own without making myself look like a bad guy by illuminating it for them.
I just about fell over from what he said next. “You know, Mom, I can’t ever get those years back.” I didn’t jump for joy over how smart my kid had turned out to be, but that’s how I felt. At the same time, it was profoundly sad to think about my sons figuring out that their dad’s drug problem was way more far reaching than anyone previously thought.
Thank you for reading :)