Love is not found in boxed chocolates tied up with a silk bow.
Love is not found in a Facebook post with lovey-dovey pictures.
Love IS found in the quick breathe of a Mom who looks at her phone and sees the number of her child calling.
Love IS found with the expelled breathe of relief when the door to the treatment center or bus door closes with her child behind it.
Love IS found in the fallen tears on the pillow, alone, in the dark.
Love is seen when a mom looks into her hurting childs eyes as he lashes out at anyone who dares get between him and his master.
This life, this journey. We didn’t request to be in the club. But when we first laid eyes on the child, along with all the hopes and dreams to come; we unknowingly accepted the disappointments and pain that would surely come also.
The first time our child came home crying because someone was mean to them, we felt the fierceness rise inside us.
We knew instantly we would fight for our child’s heart. We knew we would do anything to soothe their pain.
Now they seem so far away. We can’t save them. We can’t bridge that gap to cauterize their bleeding heart. If we could, we would.
God knows we try. We try bandaid after bandaid.
It doesn’t work. The hemorrhage continues. It filters through loved one’s lives and relationships like hot lava flowing from a huge volcano.
We wonder when it will stop. How deep is that hole?
No one truly knows. So we forge through the pain.
Thinking we can’t go on.
But we will.
Because of that momma bond. Unbroken. Unseared. We will go on. And even if we can’t fix this boo boo. We can still love.
We love DESPITE the pain. We love THROUGH the pain. We love because we are Mother’s.
We carry love from the pre-mortal existence before earth and we carry it through the galaxies into the afterlife.
Not time, nor space can douse a Mother’s Love.
Throughout centuries and worlds of hardships- nothing has stopped a Mother’s Love.
Beware, of the Mother’s Love.
It can crush unimaginable barricades. Move mountains to plains. Change hearts to Gold. Make a meal out of nothing. Sew a complete fictional character out of strips of cloth.
This war might think it has been won. The victory flag being raised by the devil himself.
But he doesn’t and never will….. Know the strength of a Mother’s Love.
Yet it feels like an old version of a cable channel.
Where we are told what to be enraged about today.
What to fight about.
Who to blame.
Until a tragedy happens. Then it’s all kumbaya. Until we are told again who to be mad at.
Passion rules the human experience. After all:
If we don't stand for something we'll fall for anything.
My heart hurts. Because the thing I want more than anything remains just beyond my reach.
I’ve grasped and dug into the sand with every tentacle possible like an octopus looking for food.
I want my son back.
I want my family.
I never thought life would become so painful.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly blessed. I have people who love me. I have a husband who takes care of me. I have daughters who keep me afloat. But no one understands the pain.
Rainy days like today pull at my insides. I love the beauty. The freshness, the hope. Then my aching heart pulls me inside its grip. Like a mother duck leading her babies across the rainy road and one gets swept away.
I remember saying,”what magic?” (Because I certainly never thought of myself as ‘magical’)
They said: “The magic of when you’re deep in thought yet have that sparkle in your eyes with a wisp of child-like joy.
Or when you hurriedly bandaged up the cuts of your dog that got in a fight before your kids could see the trauma.
Or when you laugh at yourself falling off a rock.
I thought about that. Laughing, joy, carefree. Finding the magic.
If I could pick one word that describes my ‘persona’ the last few years it would be consumed. Not with magic but with saving my son and my family.
It’s been the most horrendous, exhausting journey I could ever imagine. Do I blame my son? No. Many others already have that role. My role, my character in this version of life seems to be the one who holds onto hope. With every last thread I can get my hands on, I hold onto believing in the power of miracles. Dare I say- the gift of magic.
You know, the funny thing about that magic is that it is always there like a never-aging friend. It can be plucked off its low-hanging fruit of life. However, most people don’t know where to find it or even that it even exists at all. As we get more bogged down with problems and life’s hardships, we become blinded to finding joy.
There are two superhighways to find it. I have spent my life walking the fine line of the division of the two. Trying to balance the responsibility of woman hood with the joy of childlike fun.
Like a pendulum clock swinging side to side, I spent so much time over the years seeing both of the sides of the spectrum and meeting in the middle the best I can. Both sides pulling at me with their energy of everything I wanted the most at the time.
The innocent childhood hopes and dreams gave way to new hopes & plans now riddled with so many expectations.
These expectations, interspersed with blankets of fear and mountains of tears, left me questioning the innocence and joy of life.
My heart now beats in the middle of all this, wondering how to maneuver the pain of the last few years with the possibility of living out my years in peace.
Easter has always been my second favorite holiday. I love the pastel colors, the tulips opening up to the hope of spring, and the colorful candy. Finding Easter eggs was my favorite childhood activity for some strange reason. I would make my mom hide them 2 or 3 times until she was sick of it. The fact that we basically had 2 rooms and a small yard to hide them in, meant that they were usually hidden in the same place too.
In my community, we had a tradition of “rolling Easter eggs” that my kids found out was not a commonly known thing, as they received weird looks when they ventured out in the world. I look back on the pictures of these times with such melancholy, and love in my heart, albeit with a tinge of sadness.
I have always felt a need to capture moments as they happen with the realization that the moment will never be here again. So 27+ scrapbooks later, I am left with precious memorabilia to look through on occasion. I can look at these pictures and really appreciate how precious life is, holding my sadness close but having hope for better days.
To every one who suffers during holidays and every day & those who are apart from the people they love-may you have peace and comfort knowing all will be well, in due time. Even if you don’t know what “well” means.
There is always a greater purpose.
And no- I’m not saying everything happens for a reason. None of some things should EVER happen. God doesn’t want people suffering. He doesn’t “make them suffer”. A lot of it is from free will of someone else or the person suffering.
I believe free will is important for human autonomy and for society in general. But that doesn’t mean others’ choices don’t affect us.
I’m reading a great book on how to deal with others’ choices when they cause you pain. It’s called: Letting Go, Rugged Love For Wayward Souls – how to love and forgive those who have hurt and abandoned you.
I will be putting a few paragraphs from this book into my book because it describes my son perfectly. Specifically this one:
Although I hate the term “Letting Go”, because it implies letting an unwell person flounder around needlessly. But I want to learn how to Love Ruggedly😎💯😎
As I was shopping at a discount and salvage store yesterday, a lady was standing in front of a palate of cardboard boxes as I checked out. She asked if I wanted a case of dinner rolls- for free.
Being Easter weekend (and even had it not been) I said “sure”.
The box had been frozen and was thawing fast. I drove home and proceeded to put my groceries away. When I saw how many ‘dinner rolls’ there were in that case, I quickly called around to see who wanted some. There were no instructions in the box, just a California company. I managed to divide my rolls up and put as many in the freezer as I could. The remainder I placed on cookie sheets to thaw out and bake.
A bit later, I noticed they hadn’t risen at all, so I heated up the oven and put them at 325 degrees. When I started to smell the dough cooking, I checked on them and they were obviously too brown. I tried to save them by scraping off the dark part but they were still dough-ee inside.
My daughter stopped by and since she worked in 2 bakeries as the bread baker, she said to cut a slit in them on the next batch. I turned on my air fryer and decreased the heat, and started my second batch complete with the much-needed slits advice in the top. They too quickly went dark with dough-ee insides.
Finally, after this failure, my husband called from Texas, and after hearing my baking adventures, mentioned that maybe they are scones. Yes! They are scones. Little square scones! It was obvious now. The lady just hadn’t known what these “free gifts” were.
I proceeded to heat up some oil and dropped my newly acquired dough knowledge with confidence into the crackling oil. They quickly turned dark and crusty with dough-ee insides. Obviously the oil was too hot. Next batch was better- a soft golden brown developed on the outside as my mouth watered, thinking of the butter and honey dripping off of them into my mouth.
When they had cooled, I eagerly sliced into the golden brown crust and was hit with more raw dough!
What the heck? How many times was it going to take me to get my reward from my ‘free gift’?
It was then that I realized how long it had been since I cooked scone dough. Years! But my memory was being forced back. After letting them sit outside the freezer for a while, I would take the little clumps and stretch them in all directions, as far as I could without breaking the tender dough, then gently lay them in the warming oil.
The skin would gently turn a light golden brown upon which I would turn them over to finish their lovely cooking into a beautiful display of breaded goodness.
How could I have forgotten?
Over the years my cooking and baking has decreased tremendously, so this seemed the likely excuse. But the more I thought about it, I started to see that I had forgotten my way because I was mistakenly told what my free gift was.
My gift wasn’t “frozen dinner rolls”. My gift was a mixture of soft flour and rich oils and butter and baking powder and a touch of salt, all immersed together, frozen, silently awaiting their chance to be dropped in the hot oil-not unlike the making of steel-just waiting to shine brightly into SCONES!
How often do we forget what our gifts are? How often do we veer away from our truth to chase some version of ourself or a false God who promises things that are too good to be true and end up causing strife and pain, not only to ourselves, but to others.
How often do we feel the ache of a soul abandoned by God? Who was the abandoner? How many times have we unknowingly crushed someone who loves us, because we were hellbent on some sort of personal satisfaction at all costs?
Or maybe someone has or is doing it to you. You feel the ache of who they used to be. You feel that they have forgotten who they are.
They've forgotten their gifts. Their gift to the world. Have you forgotten your gifts too?
Your gifts of love, of compassion. Your strength. How many times have you been told you are strong? But you didn’t feel strong. You felt weak, insignificant; ignored even.
You forgot your gifts. You lost sight of your power.
You were pulled into the pit of pityland where everything is gray, gray, gray.
How to get out? Where do we start looking for our “free gifts?” Our gifts that were lovingly handed to us by a greater power or by the generations of goodness that our ancestors contained of which led to the billions of cells that areYOU!
This video is of the Paralympics where all the runners are blind. They have partners who are tied together at the wrists! I don’t know the whole story but I know this video brought tears to my eyes.
You can find your gifts again. Your gifts are meant to shine. You can be an inspiration to those around you, even when you feel broken. Maybe the way to mend the emptiness and pain inside you, is to be of service to someone else.
A time comes in your life when you finally get it… When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out – ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on.
And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes you begin to look at the world through new eyes.
This is your awakening. You realize that it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he is not Prince Charming and you are not Cinderella (nor are you Superman and she is Lois Lane) and that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.
You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are … and that’s OK. (They are entitled to their own views and opinions.) You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that it’s not always about you.
And you begin to sift through all the crap you’ve been fed about how you should behave; how you should look and how much you should weigh; what you should wear and where you should shop; and what you should drive how and where you should live; and what you should do for a living; who you should sleep with, who you should marry, and what you should expect of a marriage; the importance of having and raising children; or what you owe your parents.
You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for your next fix.
You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a by gone era but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life. You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.
You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake. Then you learn about love. Romantic love and familial love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to walk away. You learn not to project your needs or your feelings onto a relationship. You learn that you will not be more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the man on your arm or the child that bears your name.
You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn that just as people grow and change so it is with love…. and you learn that you don’t have the right to demand love on your terms… just to make you happy.
And, you learn that alone does not mean lonely… And you look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a perfect 10 and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head and agonizing over how you “stack up.”
You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect and you won’t settle for less. And, you allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you to glorify you with their touch … and in the process you internalize the meaning of self-respect. And you learn that your body really is your temple. And you begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and taking more time to exercise.
You learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear. So you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play. You learn, that for the most part, in life you get what you believe you deserve… and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different from working toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.
You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom. You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people.
On these occasions you learn not to personalize things. You learn that God isn’t punishing you or failing to answer your prayers. It’s just life happening. And you learn to deal with evil in its most primal state-the ego. You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to building bridges instead of walls.
You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about; a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower. Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and to make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never ever settle for less than your heart’s desire.
And you hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind. And you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility. Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side you take a stand, you take a deep breath and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.
I wrote the following post 4 years ago before knowing how deeply my family would be affected by addiction and therefore how important connection, and the joy of memories would become.
It was soon after, that I began my deep dive into studying addiction. Little did I know the changes that would come and how much more “raw and isolated” I would become. At the time, I was very grateful for my relationship with my 2 older kids and my entire family. We were all doing relatively great but the seeds of despair had already started to show glimpses of discontentment.
Several studies have linked lack of connection to many struggles including suicide, depression, addiction, mental illness, self harm, job dissatisfaction & even the mass shooters in the news.
This lack of connection can be with community, self, family, a partner, a higher Divinity or society in general.
This winter has left me feeling very raw & isolated. Not due to the weather, but rather with some shadowy streaks of fear rising up. Fear related to instability & unsurity, lonliness,& the pressure to achieve certain results.
Normally, throughout our lives, when this turmoil arises in our belly; we have that go-to person in the form of a partner, a grown child, or our parents. That person validates our emotions and helps us find our center.
Sometimes this person is male. For the last 2 1/2 years, I have developed absolute respect for the men in our lives who carry so much weight. They are the pillars. Our strength. Our ‘please open this jar’ go-to people. They know the buck stops with them for the next house payment and electric bill to be paid.
They have to think if their child needs more medical care or higher college costs all while trying to be competitive & skilled in their career PLUS keeping the women and children safe & happy.
Until you lose that support it’s easy to take it for granted how much we all rely on each other.
Single moms know it, disabled people know it, parents of sick children know it, & people who’s parents have died know it.
In my journey of feeling loved, safe & finding joy, I’ve missed the listening ear of my parents tremendously. Even though they’ve been gone 11 years this year, it still leaves a big hole in your life.
My mom & I would sit & talk on the phone for hours. Sometimes saying absolutely nothing for minutes at a time! Can you imagine that today, in this busy world?
My 2 older kids are my phone pals now. They will lovingly talk to me for hours at a time. They always seem to bring me back to source, back to reality, back to Love. ❣️
I have become so incredibly close to those 2 humans the last year that it’s crazy. So grateful for them 💙💘
My point of this post on this international women’s day is to love on everyone around you today. The effort people in your life make just to keep themselves running & everything else humming is amazing. As a nurse, when someone has a stroke or a devastating illness, I see firsthand the amount of work it takes to keep one human functioning.
Look at what Mom’s do! Every day they keep families, husbands, households, jobs, cars & yards running in functional & beautiful order!!!
Hug your parents & kids today💝
Tell them what you notice about how they try to make things better. For themselves or others. Tomorrow they could be gone in an instant.
Thank you to my kids, their beautiful partners, & anyone who helps them be a higher version oftheir selves.
I’m incredibly grateful to all of you.
Facebook memories like this can evoke feelings of sadness. The loss that’s felt when a child veers away from the family. The parents who have suffered permanent physical loss know this sadness well. Facebook even has a filter which you can say I don’t want to see memories from this person or place or time.
But who wants to erase the feeling of better times?
Who wants to forget about joy?
Joy transcends. From a child’s smile to the fresh whiff of a newborn baby’s smell. From a steaming cup of coffee to the first buds of spring -revealed through the tiny tulip bulbs peeking up through the semi-frozen ground.
Joy washes over us in waves. Sometimes the waves are noticeable like the tingling butterflies we feel with a new love. Other times we are so busy in the moment that we don’t realize how precious and valuable they are until many months or years after.
As we dig deeper into our feelings during challenging times; its easy to get caught up in the sadness. The trick is to take the beauty of sadness and marinate it with the precious memories we cherish of our child. Then we can turn our pain into deep compassion and love. Compassion for ourselves. For all you’ve experienced. For the journey of a thousand miles of a momma who cares. A momma who just wants her precious family back. A momma who did the best she could with under suspicious and vicious odds.
A momma full of love. Full of memories. Full of joy.
Yesterday, I came within feet of my boy yet couldn’t hug him.
Yesterday I missed a call from my boy where I could have heard his voice for the first time in months.
How many moms would give anything to be able to do that?
When you are the mom of a substance user, these things are important because of the risk of premature or unwarranted death.
Yesterday, I still thought my boy could be gone, until I saw him alive and breathing in an almost interactive picture.
But I had to leave him again in the hands of faith and God.
Because of the wayaddiction weaves its tentacles into the crevices of people's minds, some things just can't be done the way you would if your loved one had cancer
With Cancer, you would enjoy every last minute and second with your loved one because hope is pretty much gone.
Addiction is more like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s together but with a cure out there leading you around like a dangling carrot.
The mind is under some sort of control, with moments of clarity. The body seems to be unable to stop certain behavior and actions. The mind then over- justifies the behaviors and downplays them. It might even lie about them.
Pride and shame work hand in hand when it comes to feeling like a failure. Pride says: “I can handle it, I don’t need any help, NO MATTER what evidence is presented.”
Shame says: “I’ve lost my hero/dad/husband/son/ uncle/entrepreneur status and the pain cuts so deep that I want to isolate and hurt myself worse.
People/society verify that feeling by treating me as a second class citizen, which then propels me to act worse and take riskier behavior just to survive”.
I used to think Cancer was the worst thing that could happen to a body and mind.
But I now know that cancer is usually temporary- sad & painful- but has a verifiable ending.
Addiction has brought me things that I may never have discovered.
I have crept into places and feelings that may not have existed. Because, you see, as long as my kids were doing well, and what society respected and expected; I could be proud.
But the minute the stigma of addiction hit my family, I had to hide my pain and shame. After all, how do you post the small success of improvement next to the graduations and promotions of others kids?
But addiction also has made me grateful.
Grateful for Hope. For Faith. For the possibilities of recovery and connection.
Grateful for my other kids, that despite all that’s happened, they have proven they can rise above the pain and thrive, possibly in the example and footsteps and honor of their brother, to make a life of joy for their families. After all, what speaks hope and healing better than by example.
I may not have been able hug my boy yesterday but he lies in my heart constantly, whether a few feet away or 400 miles away.
Looking for a surefire way to ruin your day, month, year, even all your golden years?
Try this… let’s judge yesterday’s actions with today’s information.
Take what you know today, with all your experience and knowledge; then look back over your life, make sure to focus directly on your parenting and sort through each detail. The next step is taking what you know now, with today’s information, and judge all your past decisions. Notice all your mistakes and say things to yourself like, I should have, I could have, and I would have.
See how that works?
Now that you are good and depressed, let’s talk about judging yesterday’s actions with today’s information.
As absurd as it may seem laid out in the above way, it is one of the primary ways that parents stay stuck, sick, and unhappy.
Many parents of substance users do this to themselves for years, always with negative results. This mentality of judging past decisions with new information fosters low self-esteem, depression, guilt, poor relationships, and even poor health.
The regret and guilt created by doing this can keep a parent engaged in a dynamic with their adult children that allows the child to avoid the natural consequences of their addiction.
Sometimes parents might judge others’ (spouse, schools, law enforcement, friends, etc.) past actions in relation to their child and blame them for their child’s problems and addiction.
This mindset succeeds in keeping the addict in the victim role rather than allowing the addict to take ownership over what he/she must change in order to recover.
This mindset is also often used by parents to avoid that persistent and scary (FALSE) belief that it is their fault that their child was given the curse of addiction.
If you can see the insanity in judging yesterday’s actions with today’s information, what can you do to change this mentality?
First and foremost, know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. This is where parent meetings are critical. Discussion with others who have walked this path will help tremendously; a burden shared is halved. There is a difference between knowing there are other parents out there who have dealt with addicted kids and actually spending time talking with them. There is enormous relief from shared experience and identification with others.
Educate yourself about addiction; anyone who understands addiction, knows it is almost never the parent’s fault and that the only way for addicts to recover is for them to take responsibility for their own lives. It is really challenging for them to do this and nearly impossible if the parents won’t let go, stop fixing everything, and begin to recover themselves.
Focus on today’s actions, dwelling on the past is never useful. Take todays new information you are learning from other parents and only apply it to today. When we apply a solution to the here and now it can really help effect change instead of keeping us stuck in the past. So, let’s try this again…. Looking for a great way to help you enjoy your day, month, year, or even the rest of your golden years? Try the above positive suggestions and remember that you are powerless over the choices of others but have the power to feel good about yourself as a parent right now!
As a Mom, going through this tumultuous journey of loving someone with substance use disorder; I often find myself in a quandary of confusion.
It’s as if I’m in some suspended cloud of anger and sadness, relieved when a ray of hope trickles through the misty light only to be followed by dark thunderstorms of disappointment again.
The steps seemed pretty straight forward at first. After the initial gut-wrenching shock of discovering the drug use of my son; the comfort (and naivety) that he’s an adult and can handle it, left me with a slightly aloof neutrality that it wasn’t my deal.
I mean how serious could a few extra pills be? He worked hard! He was always having back pain. He needed relief, in order to work.
Wow! Was I ever naive.
When the facts of how serious it was becoming- despite continued denial on his part- I found the strange foreboding “routineness” of being the Mom of a struggling substance user, set in.
And THAT was scary!
I couldn’t ignore the signs of impending doom, swirling around like a storm just waiting to hit.
I couldn’t just “wash my hands of it” like Pontius Pilate professed to in ordering the death of Jesus.
As the perpetual shoes kept dropping -a job contract lost; another of his businesses failed; then the marriage crumbles; I watched in sometimes shell-shocked horror at the devastation such a thing could cause.
The rehab failures, mixed with moments of clarity and hope, leave me exhausted.
“Walk away and you’ll feel better”.
“Go to a meeting, do self-care, live your life “.
It doesn’t seem to matter what mode of recovery my personal journey is at; I seem to be suspended in this cloud of perpetual uncertainty.
Will I be professing the “cure” as my son happily recovers? Or will I be in the mourning Mothers club of pain & heartache?
It takes me back to elementary school when we played tug-of-war. Will I be the cheering group with scuffed hands but happy smiles? Or dragging myself out of the mud in the middle trying to wash the heartache away?
Which team was I on anyway? Am I with the tough love crowd? Especially on those days when I’m being pressured for money from my son?
Or am I in the loving well- connection- above- all- group? In the middle, are the harm reduction lobbyists who are adamant about users’ rights & safety.
I’m running back and forth, I want to be on the winning team! And by winning, I mean I want my child to survive!
Above all, isn’t that goal?
My heart sinks every time I read ‘that post”. A mom who got “the call”.
I want to scream! No! I don’t want to be in this club! I want to show the gut-wrenching pain to all those people on Narcan posts who despise giving addicts more than one chance or ANY chance. I want to advocate for more help, for understanding. I want to break the stigma. I want to gracefully educate and come out feeling proud that we are making progress. One life might be saved.
I want to be that ONE. The one who finally found “the key” & pulled everyone together. I want results or at least palpable progress.
Just when I think I’ve gained some sort of empathy for my son’s and all substance users’ struggles, I’m hit with the accusations. Sometimes a stranger on Instagram, sometimes family and friends. That I’m the reason he still uses. That every time I use “defensive language” regarding him then I’m enabling. Every time I arrange rehab instead of jail, I’m enabling. (Which happened twice in 4 years).
I’m told that I’m wasting my time because he will never change & that I should spend my energy elsewhere. More than once I was cut off from family for how I handled the addiction.
This hits hard.
Rejected-not due to effort but to the direction of my effort.
As if addiction wasn’t painful or complicated enough, it gets to perpetuate its lies and havoc not only onto the addict but onto loved ones and how they “should” react or fulfill their roles.
I felt like my role was to give him one support person like everyone needs. I needed to be able to give him hope in the midst of all the darkness.
As my friend Johanna Richards states so eloquently:
“I enable my love and truth. I enable my love. I enable a safe place for him to have a better chance of feeling loved and being treated like a human being with worth and dignity.”
This is my goal.
Everyone gets to choose their response and I choose to love without regrets.
Even “tough love” when done with anger and spite stalls any progress. I read it all the time in the Mom’s groups. Unhealed pain manifests as bitterness and sometimes when they share screenshots of texts with their person, I can’t tell who the addict is!
Addiction loves to do that. Get its slimy hands between families, friends, bosses, even organizations. Divide and conquer is how it survives.
The underlying theme in all these interactions is:
If only he would quit using.
But I have come to realize that quitting is actually a tiny step in achieving actual recovery.
A necessary step, but only part of the process.
Treatment is the gold standard, but it’s a personal responsibility to recover. We have an idea that if we get them there-then the magic will happen.
All is well right?
But in true recovery form, as usually happens- a reoccurrence of use is imminent. Recovery is not linear and usually takes several tries.
The day after his 2nd rehab stay, he moved into an old clapboard & brick sober-living house in the worst area of downtown.
We were standing in line at the grocery store. He was so thrilled at all the new cereal flavors that had come out in the year or two of him being basically homeless or in jail.
He quietly said, with that far away, introspective look he gets in his eyes, “I wish Dad would fight for me. He acts like I shouldn’t have a job”.
My mother- heart sank.
As I watched this 36-year-old man trying to make sense of this un-make-sensible disease; I was sad. How could I explain to this newly detoxed brain, with raw emotion scourging back to life into places that he wasn’t ready to handle – that no one trusted him? That people hate putting their reputation on the line when statistically, responsible behavior in recovery, is a non-linear maze of disappointment.
He went on to say, “He wouldn’t even have that job if it wasn’t for me”. In his mind, he had done so much for others, for many years and felt abandoned, in a sense.
I felt for him. To have so much hope and the momentum of getting back to center but then constantly be told you might fail, like a certain recovery model preaches; must be daunting. To have people who don’t initiate their own recovery and work on responses and healthy boundaries; lay all the pressure on him to fix everything- must be devastating.
Rehab is a huge deal to him. He’s NOT a revolving rehab-ber, so this was a giant accomplishment to his independent, resourceful lifestyle.
But he had done the thing…
Get off the drugs, ✔go to jail,✔ go to rehab. ✔
“You’re still not good enough” or even “You are 100% useless” as one text on his phone said.
I sigh. This was his journey.
I can’t hold his pain or drive his recovery.
I can’t dwell in the negative, I just can’t. We’ve come so far.
I have to take care of me.
I need relief. I need feedback.
I go back to the support groups for comfort. When I hear the echoes of those same attitudes from hurt wives and mothers who can’t contain their pain and disdain for what they’ve been through; I quickly exit out of that group.
I need a more moderate group who understands the Mom side with compassion and hope.
All is well until someone mentions: “All drug dealers should get life without parole or death”.
Please God no……
If my son is only worthy of help when he’s ‘clean’ or not crossing a certain line in the jagged destructive course of addiction; then the other 50% of the time, it’s a toss-up as to his worth?
Is he surviving the best he can, day by day- or asking family for money? It seems, either way, he’s the villain.
According to some, if I’m not doing a thing for him then he has a chance -( to hit rock bottom) – even though – unrecovered, he has zero chance of keeping a regular job or getting money legally.
What happens in that gap?
If he can’t support himself, he certainly can’t support his kids. But that must be my fault too. I must have given him too many hamburgers when he was starving.
Ughh. The uncertainty and mixed messages that Mommas feel!
My goal was ALWAYS to get him back to his kids. In whatever way he could get healed and treated in order for that to happen. I never ever justified or supported him staying in his lifestyle. To do that I had to maintain a connection.
If I even so much as hint that connection works better than shame and punishment, then someone tells me I’m supporting his lifestyle.
What is a life worth?
Every single life in this convoluted mess of evil entanglement is of value. Each person is caught in their own version of the hell that it causes.
OTHER people in PAIN are not the enemy!
I want to have that blasted on every Billboard right next to:
NARCAN to overdoses is like AED paddles to a heart attack!"
It's not a "get out of jail free card!".
I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know how to help my son anymore.
What I do know is that my son never ever wanted it to be like this. The man who used to send his little girl flowers every time he worked out of town is now considered a dead-beat dad and it tears my heart out. Years of substance use and conflict has isolated him further. In the short window when he is detoxed and willing, he can’t seem to conform fast enough to recovery expectations with a complete rebuilding of his life.
He has nothing-unhoused, unemployed and yet expected to manage and fix ALL his relationships AND fulfil the court obligations.
When I hear from some that “he hasn’t called me, or done this or that”, I have to step back and accept the limit of recovery expectations.
If the determining factor for a relationship of an unhealed, skewed-thinking brain versus a healthy brain is for the unhealed brain to lead the way to healthy interactions, there’s going to be problems.
There’s a dynamic at work in ALL relationships that was there before the drugs, and now those issues need more attention than even before.
But the pressure seems to be placed on them, to fulfil our hopes and dreams for their lives as it relates to ours.
That’s a lot for one person.
The progressive nature of unhealed addiction mixed with the correctional system almost always leads to more crime.
A draw towards people and places who fill that empty hole that substances, or any addictive behavior fill.
For me, the justification for spending more money on a much-needed intervention at this point, is a hard sell. He’s facing charges that could be years in prison. Prison is expensive too, but so are funerals.
I think he feels like he’s stuck in a system that never lets them breathe freely without looking over their shoulder.
I see what that psyche has done to him. It changes a person. He’s hardened. Day by day, little by little and that saddens my aching heart.
Pain & trauma damage a soul. It causes cognitive dissonanceto maintain a core belief such as “I can’t function without drugs”.
So in his limited mind of engrained negative and survival pathways, he can’t win.
Sometimes, I understand why people stay in deep dark places. Although to us, it looks and feels scary, to them, it’s safety. It’s home. It’s acceptance.
No, I’m not justifying drug use. I’m justifying human beings in severe turmoil and trauma. If they didn’t have trauma before the addiction, they certainly do after it.
So, this journey of a thousand miles is truly just one step at a time.
There are days I have to literally force myself to breathe and count each step to get through the day. Some days each step is filled with angst, trepidation, & fear. But other days, I project hope into every deliberate movement and breath.
I envision the day when my hopes and dreams mesh perfectly with my sons.
When all things good and right come together in some kind of radical entanglement with the universe and God’s plan for him. To see little kids happy smiles beaming joy into faces of love is my ultimate wish. To have the love and understanding of family with everyone’s pain in the journey acknowledged, seen & heard with hope, moving forward in love.