Forgiving Myself…

My children were deeply affected by growing up in a home with active sexaholism. They have had to deal with some rough times and have developed some dysfunctional ways of relating to others. I am afraid that my youngest child will become an addict. My oldest child has worked through many issues and is doing much better. Today I know that I can’t protect them from themselves, and I don’t want to enable them either.

Feeling overwhelmed by guilt during early recovery, I continuously allowed them to blame me for their problems. I thought it would be harsh to confront them, but eventually, as I grew in my recovery, I began to see that I was enabling them to stay stuck in “blame” and victimization.” I learned that just as I cannot continue to see myself as a victim, they must abandon the victim role if they want to live happy and healthy lives. I cannot accept their accusations and continue to live in shame and guilt, while trying to stay “sober” in my recovery. I have had to just let go and let God.

S-Anon has taught me that I did the best I could with the tools and skills handed down to me by my parents. I believe I will always feel some pain, wishing I had gotten into recovery earlier. When I finally forgave myself, it was a great relief. I have learned to look at what is going on with my children as a part of their “journey” in life, knowing that no one escapes the problems inherent in his/her own journey. I cannot afford to enable them by accepting the blame for all their troubles. I know they are doing the best they can at this time, and I pray for them both, knowing they both have a deep and abiding faith in God. Today, I validate their feelings—but I also tell them that it is their right to feel the way they do — but also tell them that I hope that one day they will choose to stop feeling victimized; and as adults, get help and move on.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 91-92.