The formative years

I’ve heard that the majority of a person’s personality is formed in their first two years of life. If this is true, is it possible that my inexperience as a parent is the cause of Laura’s susceptibility to addiction. It does seem like some people are just far more likely to use and/or develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol than others.

When Laura was born, she was my first child, and the first grandchild. She was so precious and instantly captured everyone’s attention. Now I wonder how constantly being of the center of attention affects the personality. Does is create a need or expectation that life cannot live up to?

In my experience with people in recovery I’ve learned that drug use is a symptom of some other underlying issue. The user is self medicating, trying to relieve a pain they feel inside… Pain that derives from a wound the rest of us are often unaware even exists. As a parent, I feel guilt for being incapable of recognizing that wound.

Matt has a different story. The first two years of his life were spent with his Mom, or whatever babysitter she left him with. His Dad, David, spent a large portion of that time deployed to the middle East. I find myself wondering how much different Matt would be today if David had been able to be a constant presence in his early life. I suppose it doesn’t matter at this stage in the game. We can’t kick ourselves for the past we’ve lived because there’s no possibility of changing it anyway. Honestly, I believe the vast majority of us do the best we can to raise our children. There will always be things we look back on and question ourselves but, if we did our best, what more could we do?

Sarah, my youngest child, had the benefit of my increased experience as a mother when she came into this world. I was older, had learned from some previous mistakes, and felt far more confident in my ability to make the right choices. Also, as my second child, she never knew a life that didn’t involve sharing my attention. Still, I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes with her too!

All of this leaves me pondering how much those formative years affect our propensity to develop addiction. I can honestly say that I don’t have the answers. I just hope and pray that other parents dealing with similar issues are able to relate to my ramblings and know that they are not alone in this. If we, as parents, can allow ourselves to be vulnerable and share the thoughts and feelings we’ve had, we can be a support to one another.

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