Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Collateral Damage: Part Two

(To review Part One)

"Isolation, Alienation and Hopelessness"

According to a forensic psychiatrist on Oprah yesterday afternoon, these are the three most dangerous problems of depression. As I sat listening to this Doctor, it ocurred to me that these three feelings haunt the parent or the life of anyone who loves a prodigal. Yes, depression is a natural response to any longterm crisis, but isolation, alienation, and hopelessness are a daily struggle for those who are standing in the gap for their loved ones.

Isolation: "People just won't understand!" "No one else I know has these problems." "There's no where to go for understanding or help." How many times have I felt these thoughts at the core of my aching heart? Days go bye and I never speak out loud about the drama of my prodigals life. Weeks and months pass where extended family and life-long friends are not informed or given the opportunity to pray. As the years go bye, my world becomes smaller and smaller, putting the stress and the pressure of my prodigals life on the very family that is hurting through the process. THIS is isolation.

Alienation: Your prodigal is not invited to the usual school parties or church events, other parents avoid you, your pain is too raw for them; it's a little like death or cancer--to be around it reminds them of it's reality. And of course, there is the self-alienation that occurs--why bother going to that parents meeting, the problems your child faces won't even be addressed.

Hopelessness: As the world just keeps getting darker and darker, the thickness of that darkness snuffs out any light that tries to shine through! With every creative parenting skill, another failure. With every medical intervention, another defeat. Your logic begins to doubt it's ability to gain an understanding of the real facts of your life. When the foundation of your faith begins to are teetering at the gaping hole of hopelessness.

We can not underestimate the toll our prodigals journey takes on our hearts, our minds, and our souls. Living in denial only deepens our sorrow. It is a temporary aide, a short-term solution that only feeds our depression. Conversely, the hardwork of standing in the gap for our prodigals cannot be overestimated. For many, our place in prayer for their souls is their only lifeline.

For those of you who have walked in my shoes, what has worked for you when you were tempted to isolate? How did you avoid the alienation that a long-term struggle presents? What strengthened your hope and nourished your soul as you walked through the "valley" of your struggle?

(Part Three....coming) :)


Anonymous said...

Yes, excellent post on the reality of living with a prodigal (and other difficult situations). I didn't see Oprah, but having experienced many depressions, I'd have to concur with the "isolation, alienation, and hopelessness" as being very symptomatic. My own prodigals are grown and away from home, so my internal angst is usually kept to myself, as even my spouse doesn't seem grieved about their waywardness at times. In that respect, I feel alienated, isolated, sometimes hopeless.

But I have to keep praying, believing, and standing, remembering to leave the outcomes of those prayers with Him, for He loves our prodigals even more than we're able to. God is using my situation to refine my heart and make me more dependent on Him---that's for sure. Nothing is ever wasted. I get discouraged, go into denial, then back to the Lord with my heart-pain. I don't know what else to do.

I appreciate this post, as well as your loving heart to pray without ceasing for your prodigal. NEVER GIVE UP. It may take years, but the Lord hears our prayer and His Word does not return void. I know I've raised my three the best I knew how, in the love and admonition of the Lord, even to the point I was viewed as a fanatic, but if they choose to stray, I can only trust that one day they will, indeed, return to the Lord--even if it's after my death. Just a few short years ago, my oldest got baptised and now teaches SS. I've got two more to keep praying for, but even so, the oldest needs to grow. So prayer and submission is always necessary.

I remind myself of Zechariah 4:5-7...that's it's not by might nor by power, but by His Spirit.

Lord, hear our prayers, and touch hearts as only You can do...bring us to the end of ourselves.


Dawn said...

Oh, my goodness, we have lived parallel lives. I wish we could have known it sooner and be close in proximity so we could have shared the pain. I too stayed in isolation from people who would have prayed and not judged. But I couldn't risk that. I don't have any words of wisdom, but just praise that the prodigal found God and allowed me to tell his story. Keep on keeping on!

I saw Oprah yesterday and was so sad. At least we don't have a murderer of our family to visit in prison!

Morning Glory said...

Diane, I've been away from your blog for quite a while and have lost the continuity of your son's journey. It sounds as if he still struggles and I'm so sorry to hear that.

The comments by Vicki above are so, so true. We do the best we can with the knowledge we have in raising our children, but when they become adults, the decisions and choices are theirs alone. We pray they make good ones, but when they don't, as I've experienced with my own child, I realized I still cannot make the choices for her. As she herself put it, she had to be "sick and tired of being sick and tired." She had reached bottom and the only direction to go was up. Unfortunately for some, when they reach bottom it is fatal. In her case, it almost was, but she recognized what she had to lose and turned her life around, with a lot of prayer from the family and a lot of reliance on the Lord. It was a very long nightmare, but the path has been upward.

We have had to redefine the meaning of "normal" in our lives and are now beginning to find a measure of rest and peace in the newness that has come to us. Each of us had to find our OWN source of strength through the process and we all have learned and grown spiritually from this horrible journey.

God has been faithful and I see evidence that He is still in control. But the choices are still those of the child, and I can't control those.

Vicki said it well: He loves our prodigals even more than we're able to.

I'm sorry this got so long - I didn't mean for it to. I will pray for your own wisdom and growth and freedom, where satan cannot control your victory because of the anguish you are experiencing.

Gardenia said...

sometimes all i could do was just imagine myself laying on the ground holding on to the hem of Jesus' garment. that's all i could do.

no one knows the clawing wounds of your heart, the battle with fear of your mind, but others who walk the same path.

only remember - faith the size of a mustard seed.

Oh, I had to change from Diana to Dollface - got an online stalker who found my work phone. Decided to be more anonymous. (herlofty...)

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

that is a good description of depression. i totally agree.

I am so sorry for all the angst you are enduring.I will continue to pray for you. I am so glad that you have found peopel who understand and care through this blog. It is so important to have support and love.

I hurt so much for my brother too. At night I start to panic as I pray, so frustrated with a lack of progress and fear that he will never come back to the Lord. My brother is living a healthy life - he has just turned his back on God. Which to me is the worst fate possible.

God bless you and your family Diane!

As for my riding - I had far too much fear in me to become much of a rider. I got sick in January that winter of 87/88 and was too sick to ride again. Although Susan still did ride until she was eighteen. That was wonderful for me because I loved horses and missed them so much. So when I was well enough, I would be down at the barn with her, helping to look after her horses. The Lord really used the horses as a blessing for me during those sick teenage years.

Lisa said...

Hi Diane,
Forgive me??? I'm sorry that I've been absent--has it been a month already?? I've posted my sorry excuse on my reply to Cindy on my first post, so I won't ramble.

I like your post, and it has some good information! I've experienced depression from my brothers, husband and myself over the years and have come to recognize its symptoms now. So much so that I can comfortably ask my doctor to prescribe a low dosage of anti-depressants w/o feeling like a failure.

When my dr prescribed them for the first time for me years ago when I was in a VERY stressful time, I felt like such a loser. Big L on the forehead. I was even more depressed that he gave me such a thing! I remember walking out of the drs office with tears in my eyes...there must be more wrong with me, I said to myself. Pills, that's not the answer...I'm having some serious problems here. That can't be it! But I took them faithfully in some far away hope that it would help the hopelessness and isolation that I felt. Over the course of a few months, I did feel better and after six months, I was able to get off of them completely until a few years later when tragedy struck in our family. It worked again and I stopped with my drs advice again after six months or so.

I went in to my dr this fall and said, I need help. I've been fighting this for a year now (since my hubbie lost his job putting our family into a tailspin emotionally and financially as well as other issues). He asked how I wanted to do that. (I love my dr!) I said I think I need a low dosage of Wellbutrin esp for the winter months (in Michigan, SAD is a big issue). So I've been on them for over a month now and feeling so much better. I still have my days, but who doesn't? I have also talked with lady friend at church briefly about my experience when she refused to seek help and a couple of weeks later, she was on medication...still struggling, but trying.

Sorry to be so long-winded...I tried not to ramble...opps.

Take care, Diane and I'm so glad we found each other. I'll try to stay more close by.


Confused said...

Hi Dianne. Thanks for stopping by my blog. It looks like you have a great place here for yourself and others with your same experiences to help encourage each other. Makes me think of that verse "Where two or three are gathered (even on the internet:) Jesus will be with you."