Addiction Lead to Recovery, and Recovery Lead to Being a Good Dad
“Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people” - Roy T. Bennett
The human brain has the nightmarish propensity to dwell on the negative experiences of the past. Defeats, losses, shame and guilt construct an intellectual quagmire of negativity, often waded into hip-deep at 2am (usually when you have something important to do early the next morning). For many years, my life prior to recovery (and even in early recovery) was entrenched in this quagmire, chronologically stored and miscategorized beliefs under the banner of shame and guilt.
I am a better man because of my years of struggle. I am a much better father because of my years in recovery. Recovery has forced me to prioritize and redefine my life. To roll my sleeves up and mold the person I want to be. Picking and pressing together the values and traits I see around me; forging a template of the person I want to be. I see someone exhibiting altruistic kindness, I make a mental note and add that trait to the template. I see wisdom, and a hunger for understanding, I make a mental note and add that trait to the template. I started building my template 9 years ago, and it is still in a perpetual state of construction. With every day of sobriety comes additional clarity on the patterns of my addiction - AND the path of my recovery.
It turns out the template of the man I want to be doubles as the template of the father I want to be. Honesty, willingness, humility, love, responsibility, discipline, service - These are all foundational principals of recovery - And they are also values that I want to both demonstrate and instill into the young, moldable minds of my children.
Recovery has given me a lens unto which I can recognize, accept and work on my flaws. It has given me a roadmap for addressing these issues as I go, and the ability to accept that neither my failures nor my successes define me. I strive to model this process for my children. Gift them with the ability to see the middle ground in life; the place that lies between perfection and failure. I am human. I am able to exhibit an extensive amount of patience and love, while occasionally succumbing to moments of impatience and anger. The trick is owning those deficiencies when they pop up, especially when I inadvertently direct them towards my kids.
Every parent has their occasional moment. Moments where emotions and circumstances coalesce. Moments where I am not the father I want to be. The work truly lies in recognizing this when it happens, looking my kids in the eye, and not only explaining what happened, but going a step further and explaining the emotions behind the action. “I was scared when I saw you being rude to the server at the restaurant. Scared that I am not a good father - That fear turned into anger, and I yelled at you. That wasn’t right. It’s important to treat everyone the way you want to be treated. This applies to the way we treat someone serving us food, but it also applies to the way that I treat you. I’m sorry”.
The idea outlined above is straight from the pages of the AA Big Book, specifically Step 10:
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it."
The interwoven philosophies, ideals and guidelines of a solid personal recovery program have become ubiquitous with my personal parenting philosophy. In the early days of my recovery, shame and guilt bent my thoughts towards the hypothetical wish that I had never tried drugs or alcohol. I wished more than anything that I had never experienced the strife and pain of active addiction. I am now blessed with the gift of perspective. If the hypothetical wish of my early recovery had come true, I can all but guarantee my parenting would be significantly different, and significantly worse. I think about this often. I can say without hesitation that I am a better person, and a better parent because I went through active addiction.
At Foundry, we know that addiction is a problem that affects every area of your life and therefore requires holistic solutions. We don’t just teach skills to help you abstain from drugs and alcohol; we teach skills to help you live a happier, more purposeful, more connected life. To learn more, call us at (844) 935-1508.