Before you give up, remember who is watching you.
As a men’s recovery coach, I’m always encouraged when I get a phone call from a father with an addicted son. That’s because the majority of them come from moms who are desperate because they’re losing both their sons and husbands through this crisis.
In most cases, a son’s path to addiction can be traced back to his relationship with his father.
What most fathers struggle to see is that they need their own recovery to heal from wounds passed on to them from relationships with their own fathers. This is seldom considered by a good father in the midst of a crisis because his focus is directed outward.
Most dads I talk with will spend an entire call venting everything their son needs to do until I’m able to mirror back some the wounds they’ve been carrying around. Wounds they’ve had buried since childhood from their own father. These things get buried so deep in a man’s subconscious that he doesn’t even realize he’s passing them on to his own son.
In most father-son relationships there is a deep longing for love between both of you that isn’t being met. This usually causes a stalemate that leads to anger and hurt causing you to retreat back to your emotional caves. Most likely, this downward spiral has been going on for generations in your family and it’s up to you to break the fall.
If this sounds a little crazy or scary to you, join the club because it’s a big one. It requires you to get vulnerable and may seem counter to what you think your son needs right now…a strong father. Most of the things we learned about being a strong man didn’t have the word, “vulnerable” in them so in order to help your son you’ll need to let go of the old bullshit.
It’s very likely that you may have to do some work on the relationship with your own father before you can expect your son to follow suit. This can be difficult if you have an unwilling father or if he’s deceased but it’s not impossible. There are pros out there who can help you with that if you’re willing. It’s important to remember that the healing comes from your effort to reconcile your own emotions and doesn’t require dear ol’ dad’s cooperation. Working through these things with a therapist can uncover some toxic shit that just needs to be exposed to the light for you to heal and move on.
Once you’ve looked at some of your own shit, it’s time to get real and be vulnerable with your son. It’s just as likely that he may be as unwilling as you were at first. After all, he’s been conditioned to the same crap you have over the years and it may require some persistent effort on your part before he’s willing to embark on this new journey with you. Remember, whether intentional or not, you betrayed that absolute trust every boy puts in his father at a young age and you must earn it back.
The good news is you both may find yourself on an amazing journey together where you both get to heal while fulfilling that longing for each other’s love and admiration. You may also find that the same helpless feelings you’ve felt around your son’s addiction have affected every other area of your life and suddenly your career, marriage, and health are mysteriously improving.
I’ve been on this journey with my own son for several years as we both continue to battle our demons. We didn’t speak for several years because of resentments we harbored toward each other. Inviting my son to accept me for the seriously flawed man I am has been a daunting task that started with me reluctantly owning and sharing my flaws with him. Today we’re able to cry together and be scared shitless together because together is the operative word.
I’ve never met a perfect father or a perfect son but I have been blessed to be part of a perfect love that exists between them. It’s there for any man willing to humble himself enough to access it.
Greg Boudle is a men’s coach, writer, and speaker. Find out more about Greg and his mission by visiting lifebeyondclean.com