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How I’m Surviving My Daughter’s Drug Addiction

by Eric Jenican, Founder, Endorphin Warrior

baby kraig 1 week old 021

Welcome to the inaugural post of The Daily Warrior. This is a blog about strengthening yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, so I’m going to start it off by sharing what has made me feel…my weakest. Last spring, I found myself so low and so physically and emotionally exhausted, for the first time in my life I had a hard time functioning. For the previous year, I had been dealing with the anguish of my adult daughter’s drug addiction and in March she quit her attempt at sobriety, returned to her boyfriend and their drug-using lifestyle…and disappeared. We’d always had a loving relationship, even while she struggled with addiction, and then just like that, she was gone…relationship over…lost to drugs. No one in our family has heard from her since.

For several months I felt like a wounded animal with this big, gushing, open wound. I was overcome with such enormous sadness that I questioned how life could ever be the same again…having to live with such a huge loss and heartache. And while it is true that life will never be the same again (I have no idea what the future holds for my daughter), I have been able to heal and begin moving forward. I still have sadness inside. I miss my daughter a lot. Often, I wish I could just talk to her. But, I’m doing surprisingly well. Here are four things that helped me weather my emotional turmoil and begin feeling better about life again:

1. I gave up worrying. Would any amount of worrying keep my daughter safe? If I worried more would she choose recovery? Would worrying make me feel better in any way? I learned that all worry did was increase my anxiety, keep me up at night and leave me sleep deprived the next day…making matters worse. No good could come from my worrying about my daughter…so I gave it up.

2. I let myself be sad. Rather than avoid my feelings of sadness, I acknowledged that I was sad and let myself go through the feelings of heartbreak and emotional pain. Sadness is a basic human emotion. If we deny it, it will continue to fester and rob us of our strength. Instead, by acknowledging that we are sad and allowing ourselves to feel sad, we slowly lessen its grip on us. When I felt sad, I would acknowledge it and experience it by saying to myself, “I’m feeling sad. This is what sadness feels like,” and I would “sit” with it for as long as necessary. As I practiced this, over time, the power that sadness had over me grew less and less.

3. I shared my feelings. Fortunately, I have a very supportive wife, mom, sister and other family members to confide in. It is amazing how each time you honestly share how you feel it lets a little bit of the pain out. Yep, this is especially hard for men, but it feels a lot better to be authentic than to put on a false front. No one can “have it together” all of the time or go through life without emotional pain.

4. I accepted that life does not give us everything we want. This was really hard for me. This is my daughter we’re talking about, one of the most important relationships in my life. I’ll give up a lot, I felt, but not my relationship with my daughter. But when I realized that there was nothing more I could do to change the situation with my daughter, I had to accept that life does not give us everything we want…and be okay with this. It does no good to fight against life. It’s a better choice to face life just as it is.

Reflecting back on how sad and low I felt last spring, I’m amazed at how resilient we humans can be. In Southern California, where I live, we are famous for our wildfires. A few years ago, I was running a trail in an area that had been scorched by a fire only a month or so earlier. I was amazed at how green grass was already sprouting out of the black-charred ground. This is kind of how I feel now. I feel like this roaring fire of addiction has blown through my life and left me battered and wounded, but I’m coming back, just like the green grass after the fire. Warrior On!

Pictured: Eric Jenican, with daughter Kate, during better days.

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How has alcohol or drug addiction impacted your life?

Please share your comments about alcohol or drug addiction below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences.  We’re all here to help and learn from each other and your comments can help me and others as well.

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