I squeezed the foam earplugs between my fingers and stuffed them into my ear, leaning my flushed, tired face against the cool airplane window in relief.
As the foam expanded, the sounds of the chattering women behind me slowly faded- thankfully. I wanted silence.
I watched the snow-covered tips of the Oquirrh Mountains get smaller and smaller.
I was headed to Phoenix for a much-needed reprieve/retreat with a group of Moms of children with substance use disorders.
The thought crossed my mind of what I would say if someone asked me where I was headed.
I mean it’s not exactly a proud moment like it would be if I said, “Oh, I’m going to an event for Moms of sterling scholar students.”
If I were going to a childhood cancer retreat, it would likely be met with support and sympathy.
As it is, I usually just say “vacation” if I’m doing anything substance use-related.
Of course, times are changing a little. When vulnerability is exposed in the right circumstances, you will immediately find “someone who knows someone” with substance use disorder.
Some social media recovery Influencers -who reach a lot of people, are helping with their memes on understanding addiction; but the service they deliver is misleading at times.
What others think is not my concern right now. I am in survival mode, hoping to advance to Thrive-mode soon.
As I landed at the Pheonix airport, I was met with several flashing billboards advertising a casino or similar:
“Reclaim what is rightfully yours-You do you!”
That’s what I needed!
I needed to reclaim my peace, my sanity, my sense of direction!
I wanted to feel empowered in my co-dependency so that it turned to healthy pro- dependence, just like the book of a similar name.
I wanted relief from my emotions being based on someone else’s actions that I obviously couldn’t control.
I wanted to feel joy again even as my son is still deep in his addiction having lost everything he worked so hard for.
I wanted to stop this suffocating feeling of disappointment and pain that HE must be feeling.
I wanted to not care so much, or at least act like I didn’t care so much.
I wanted my little family back. I wanted my youngest son to UN- Disown me for “helping the tweaker”. I wanted our family to go on trips and have loud funny parties without there being an elephant in the room. I wanted to be able to talk about my oldest son without tip-toeing on eggshells.
To say his name again.
To say it with relief and admiration at what he’s overcome.
To just be free of the chains of addiction that not only grab the victim but also everyone who loves and knows them.
Yes, I know that’s a lot to expect from one conference or one weekend.
But it’s a start. It’s moving forward.
It’s meeting women that all have something in common. People who you don’t have to hide your situation from. People who you don’t have to bite your lip or hold back your tears when they talk about how well their kids are doing.
Sun, water, fresh air, bunnies, quails, even cacti were my heaven this weekend.
The logistics of traveling and inconveniences of housing with no hot water didn’t stop me from sucking in every ounce of strength and wisdom from these women.
Don’t be fooled by broken hearts and contrite spirits. They can do wonders with grief and pain. These women taught me perseverance, grace, love, and faith in the unknown.
Women from all areas of America, from different faiths-and at least ONE with no faith- came together and worshipped in their way, to thank God and accept and honor his will with grace.
Women who have lost a child to substance use, taught ME about hope. How could that be? How could someone who has experienced every mom’s worst nightmare teach about HOPE?
With grace and God’s help, that’s how.
People who have the worst pasts often end up with the greatest futures.
As my weekend ended and I said goodbye to these ladies, the most often phrase was “Let’s keep in touch”.
With social media these days, that’s easy to do. But the reality is, we will all go home to our situations. We will cry and yell and dream and hope. We will feel alone and forsaken at times.
It’s up to each person to find their peace, no matter what they are facing.
As I was leaving, one of the younger ladies, who I felt such a pull to- for her faith and talent; pulled me aside with a piece of paper and said, “I’ve been praying for you and I came up with the color green and the flower lily because I think your heart is PURE and I love you.”
I rushed away, through the 5 hours of security, flying, ubering, and made it to my neighborhood. As I trudged up the driveway, tired and worn out, I looked down at my flower beds lying bare in the cold dirt. There amid such brown barrenness, I see the Green tips of my spring Lilys and tulips braving through the frozen ground.
Blessed are the pure in heart. (& we ALL are pure on heart).
Thank you, Brianna.