As an addictions counselor, I'm inspired by the courage and determination that people are able to summon up to help them cope with chronic, complex, often life-endangering problems.
I'm sharing an example below from a mother who is kind (and brave!) enough and willing to share her story so others may have a better understanding of the rollercoaster journey that so many like her take. Her story is similar to many others with addicted children, but this is her unique path. The love of her child, her personal spirituality, along with courage and determination have supplied the hope for her to move forward in her life:
My youngest child has always held a special place in my heart. Like most mothers to their children, my son and I have always been connected to each other through a sweet love and complex bond. There was nothing I wouldn't have done for him...but I couldn't follow him down a path of destruction
and harm, the direct result of his drug addiction. This child of mine is now a 25 year old man struggling with a heroin addiction, a criminal past which included a year in prison, and a record that I still cannot believe belongs to him.
During the past 8 to 10 years, I slowly evolved into someone I no longer recognized. Traveling that nightmarish journey of my son's addiction found me fearful all the time, never knowing if he would overdose and die or be the cause of some other kind of heartbreak. My pain was obvious, the isolation from family, friends,and activities felt safe to me. I barely laughed or even smiled anymore. It was a crazy way to live. Shame, anxiety, fear, sadness, depression, sleeplessness, or too much sleep became the new normal to me. The raging inside of me and dealing with the craziness of a drug-addicted son took me so far down that I was certain I would never know a peaceful breath again.
Slowly and eventually, I was fortunate enough to recognize there were others around me who also walked the same path with me and, if just for a short while, that showed me ways of coping. Probably my greatest advocate was my own certified addiction therapist. This was someone who gave me a place to feel safe in saying whatever I needed to say, knowing I would not be judged. As well as being someone to listen to me, therapy was an invaluable educational, mental and emotional resource.
Stumbling my way to safer ground, old positive habits began to emerge. I went back to prayer and joined a meditation group--two things that are particularly soothing to my soul. Through prayer and meditation I began to feel some peace and hope and was less isolated from others. Journaling is another tool
that is useful for me to sort through my thoughts and feelings. In doing this I learned how important it is to identify the bevy of emotions that washed over me. Personally, if I can understand the dynamics in play rather than allow myself to be tossed carelessly around, I heal much quicker.
As important as anything else I learned to align myself with those I could talk to about my son. The positive aspect for me is that addiction tends to run in families and mine is no different. I have two sisters I can talk to who really 'get it' and bounce ideas off of and cry to. At the end of the day I know they still love me and son, and in return I try to be a safe compassionate shoulder for them.
At the time of this writing my son is in his third month in a long-term residential drug program. I have the most hope I have ever had for him with this program. This is his fifth or sixth drug rehabilitation program stint. I miss him more than I can express, but to be honest, I know that nothing will ever be the same again.
He can never come home and live with me.
Just because nothing can ever be the same again also means it can be much better than I can imagine right now. Our bond remains intact and my love and hope for him is a constant in my thoughts.