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 crumble.....you 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) :)