I am now adding a new title to my parenting role.

I am the mother of a child with a disease. A disease that sits silent, a disease many won’t understand.

I am the mother of a child with an addiction.  

This disease does show warning signs, but many times as parents, we do not want to see them or want to believe them. Then, for many, it is too late.

This disease is not like other diseases that allow for more acceptance. This disease, we hide from.

No one knows what to say nor do we know how to say it. So, we isolate and we sit in fear of the next phone call. The unknown is no longer exciting, it is filled with dread. I know I did not do anything to cause this, I know it is not my fault, yet, the inability to fix it is a real struggle.

RELATED: Drug Addiction Stole Him Away

While this disease has taken over your child, it also has attacked the family unit, everyone is impacted and the momma bear instinct to protect is at its highest. The fears of what my middle daughter has been holding in and the wish for my daughters to have a relationship that is healthy somedaythese are the things that now take up my space.

BUT, in this all, is a momma bear who is also so tired (so tired) and so scared, and also needs to take time to take care of herself. Let’s be real, many of us don’t succeed in this on any given day, so how do we do this in the midst of another crisis.

This disease is hard. Hard on us all.  

Wondering if your child will succeed in their recovery, and if they will have a healthy and safe lifeit all becomes a moment-by-moment experience. There is a loss of calm and a gain in chaos. It is hard to not run toward denial.

I am a holder of hope. I have always held hope. Parenting a child with autism has taught me a lot about breaking barriers and believing in new limits. I remember my child’s hopes and dreams, I remember her fierce determination to get what she wants. Now, I hold hope that she can find that same determination and that her wants will be the same as minefor her long-term recovery. For her ability to see her potential. 

This disease has robbed me of sleep, it has robbed me of answering unknown calls, and it has robbed my family of what was all familiar.

I don’t stop loving my child now that this disease has hit home, she still has the same incredible qualities she always had.

Love is love and that never changes, but with addiction, there is a whole new playbook.

She has a lot of work to do to, and I pray she does it. I believe she can. The real issue is her believing in herself. 

Parenting is one role that when we take on, we truly never know what will come our way. BUT we also know we will never quit. Quitting is NOT an option.  

Hope. Hold Hope. 

RELATED: Love the Addict So Hard it Hurts

It has been over three months since the start of this journey, but in truth, the signs have been there for a very long time. Today is the day I decided to write and this is a deeply personal and very emotional share. Our daughter is in treatment and our family is taking the steps to care for ourselves as well. In one of my groups last week I heard two things that stuck, and they were the reason I decided to write:

1. There is no shame in this disease. If it were cancer, people would be knocking on your door with dinner.

2. Sharing your story may be exactly what someone needs to know that they are not alone.

I am sharing so I can let go of some of the shame, and in hopes that someone out there now knows they are not alone.

Carissa Garabedian

Mom of three, wife, avid reader, and writer of all things autism.