The day you realize someone is not who you think they are — nor are they becoming who you hope they’ll be anytime soon—is a painful day.
It’s also a powerful one.
This is the day that living in the reality of truth can begin.
Seeing truth is especially important when it comes to those to whom we are the closest.
Over lunch some years back, my son’s teacher advised me to never take the “Not my child” attitude that many parents have. Before you know it, she cautioned, that can be your child. Your child might even be the ringleader!
When it comes to negative actions of those I care about, she taught me to always stop and ask, “Could this be true?”
It’s important to remember that although our kids might be angels in our eyes, they are human. Which means they are capable of failure, deception, ignorance, foolishness and recklessness.
They are also capable of redemption and restoration if they do take a wrong turn.
All kids go through seasons and phases of life that have nothing to do with who we believed we were molding them to become.
Which means yes – your son or daughter may one day lie, connive, manipulate, turn people against you, steal and even engage in unhealthy substance use.
Realizing that puts you ahead of the curve and can protect you from a blindside.
Many parents cannot accept that their kids are capable of lying, manipulating, or being at fault for problems. The blinders are on and they are on strong.
This thinking can cause us to miss important clues that something needs looking into.
By now we know that dysfunction and addiction can be — and are — happening everywhere, to everyone. We see it everywhere.
Even to “good families.”
It’s critical to know that while addiction is not a moral failing or a result of parental error—it does drive people to do things they many times would not ever do. Once it takes hold (regardless of how that came to pass), a person can be completely transformed.
Anyone is susceptible to an unexpected life event that could lead them down a despairing path. And we never truly know what goes on in anyone else’s mind, or what might send them in a direction we would never have predicted.
Which means anyone — including your child, husband, wife, mother, father, best friend, neighbor, anyone—is capable of engaging in behavior that would shock you.
That does not mean we need to live in fear, or give up hope. It means we are wise to be open, aware and sensitive to signs, intuition and unexpected possibilities.
Resistance to seeing the reality of a loved one — which is particularly difficult when it’s a son or daughter — will not serve us well. Nor will building a mental shrine to an innocent phase of the relationship, or believing they are not at fault for wrongs they might actually be choosing of their own volition.
“There can be no healing without truth.” ~Desmond Tutu
Truth is transformative.
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We need to see the best in those we love. We also need to see the truth.
Truth will set you free.
Having the willingness to acknowledge and examine the truth is the first step toward improvement. Once we look at things as they are, we can begin to formulate plans toward progress.
Allow yourself to ask the hard questions: Is it possible my son is lying? Could our daughter be manipulating us? Could nefarious drug or alcohol use be happening? Is it possible a relapse has occurred, even though I’m being told something different? Could my wife be keeping harmful secrets? Might my trusted friend or coworker be deceiving me? Could there be more to this situation?
It’s when we face the possibilities of a truth – any truth – we might be denying that we can roll up our sleeves, gather information and support, and come up with healthy strategies for managing the reality we might very well be faced with.
We can then find the way to solutions, sanity, peace, and progress.
“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”~James Garfield
Great advice once given to me: Consider all possible scenarios, prepare for the worst, hope for the best, believe in breakthroughs, and never give up!
Annie Highwater is a Writer, Speaker, Podcast Host and Family Advocate. She has a particular interest in family pathology and concepts of dysfunction, addiction, alcoholism and conflict. Annie published her memoir, Unhooked: A Mother’s Story of Unhitching from the Roller Coaster of Her Son’s Addiction, in 2016. Her story sheds light on the personal challenges facing the affected parents and family members, and illustrates how family dynamics both help and hinder the recovery process. Annie’s second book, Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache was published in August of 2018. She resides in Columbus, Ohio and enjoys writing, long distance running, hiking, the great outdoors and visiting her son in California as often as possible.