Dear Addiction, Letter from a Mother- Part 2
A lot has changed since I last wrote….
As I look back on the last year, I ingemination taking my son to rehab on that cold February morning. There is no preparation for dropping your son or daughter off at rehab. Parents drop their kids off at friend’s house for a sleep over or camp, they take them to their first day of 1st grade. I remember taking Eric to school 14 years ago. I had that “lump” in my throat. I could have bawled my eyes out. Worried- Will he be ok? I couldn’t believe he would be gone all day long. Is he ready? What if he needed me?
Nothing can compare to taking him to inpatient. I will never forget standing in the lobby of the rehab facility. I listen to the therapist speak to my son. She nonchalantly asks what his drug of choice is. I hear him answer, “HEROIN”. She is unaffected hearing this. Heroin was a stranger to me, a death sentence. I had heard my son say this for the first time 5 days earlier, but this time, it’s louder. It’s making my head hurt, I feel like it’s going to explode. My complete body is shaking, my eyes water…
I look at my son. He looks nervous, similar to how he looked on that September morning years ago when I left him at school. Except, this look is more complicate. He isn’t wide eyed, excited to meet his new friends and teacher. He isn’t wearing a new outfit or new tennis shoes. He was told to use comfortable clothes. But in addition, he looks slightly relieved in a way. Relieved, that he knows he belongs here….
My husband & I stand by and watch the therapist inspect his duffle bag. Looking for the obvious, no drugs or alcohol. But also, no hair spray, mouth wash, cell phones, opened packs of cigarettes. As she is calmly explaining my son’s stay in rehab to us, I want to scream, “You know what? He is different from all of the other kids that have come here, he gets it, he is MY SON and he will be a success story” As if she would believe me… I look directly into her eyes as she speaks, wondering “Are you a mother? Do you realize what this is doing to me? Do you care that I have not slept in 5 days? Does she know what it feels like to stand over your child’s bed while he is detoxing from a highly addictive drug? I watched him shake, he hurts from head to toe, he is miserable. Who is this person? THIS IS NOT MY SON! Tell me someone is playing a horrible joke on me. Where is the hidden camera? Tell me this was a cruel test of a mother’s love. I passed with flying colors right? NOW GIVE ME MY SON BACK…….
Eleven months later, I not only have my son back, I have a mature, confident bright eyed, happy young man who is determined to keep you out of his life- for TODAY, anyway…. One day at a time. This has become my personal motto. This isn’t to say I don’t care about the future or am being careless or irresponsible. What it method is, for Today, I will be the best person I can be. I won’t estimate others. I will love my husband and my 3 beautiful children for who they are. I will love myself for who I am. I will remind myself that I am human, that I will make mistakes and hope to learn from them. If it wasn’t for you, I would nevertheless be stressing over things that are out of my control. Trying to “fix” others and not know myself in addition as I do today. So, for that, I thank you. Funny isn’t it? A few years ago, I hated you, despised you, I resented you for what you did to me as a child, how you made my brother seem to be nervous all of the time, how you made my son unable to look anyone in the eye. Now, I am thanking you. It is amazing what time & knowledge can do to a person. I no longer am trying to control others and am caring for myself- guilt free too!
Resentment is shared for family members of you. It is easy to be angry at you. You have caused many people a great deal of pain & heartache. Holding on to anger only allows you to have strength over my emotions. I won’t allow you to have that. Anger takes up too much energy. It’s distracting. I have found positive ways to cause my energy. I took action; I learned about you, I volunteer for The Alliance Against Drugs. I now say HEROIN, slightly nonchalantly, just as the therapist did. I continue spreading the information about you and let others know there is hope and help. I won’t keep quiet or keep you a secret. If I kept quiet, how could others learn from my experience? Isn’t that the purpose of life? Sharing our experiences, our knowledge with others so they, too, can learn from it? Keeping silent would send my son the wrong message. It would tell him I am embarrassed or ashamed of him. I would not want to do that. A big part of the first year of recovery is spent getting rid of the shame & guilt because of you. I have to let my son know that I also forgive him. He needs a clean slate. I think we all do. I don’t want to add to his “mental baggage of negativity”. I want to help lighten his load of guilt. Forgiveness is really saying- you hurt me. Please don’t do it again. And, just because I am forgiving you, it doesn’t average I trust you. I am apprehensive to give you the opportunity to do it again. Forgiving someone is fear of being unprotected again.
I am on the road to recovery. It’s a wonderful journey. Just as all journeys can be bumpy or have detours along the way, mine is no different. My family is rebuilding our foundation. You taking control of my son was similar to a tornado hitting our house. The 5 of us were left standing, feeling alone, with no roof or walls to protect us. We are each, slowly putting brick by brick back on our house. Slowly, but surely, we are dealing in our own way. There was more silence than fighting about your existence. The quietness was difficult. You paralyzed me emotionally. You caught me with my guard down and as a mother my concern was getting my son the help he needed. I was in survival mode. This kept me busy, so busy, my daughters felt abandoned. Feeling this way, produced hostility. I now know, how important it is, to be forgiven. I have apologized for my emotional absence. It is really hard when you apologize to someone and are truly sorry for something, but that not being enough or sufficient. I can not change the past but I can learn from past behavior. Forgiving or letting go of the pain is a course of action and will take time. I continue to pray that my daughters will forgive me soon. They are exceptional young woman with big hearts, so, I wait patiently.
These relationships are worth waiting a lifetime to be forgiven… My children are the center of my heart, they are precious people. I am proud to be their mother. I am so happy that I have learned to accept them for who they are instead of who I thought they should be.
You are nevertheless present in my life, always will be. But, now, you are a strong, positive force, a learning device, so to speak. Today, I will continue trying to be the best person I can be. You are my inspiration to help others.
That’s it for now, I’ll be in touch.
PS I think I’ll call that therapist and let her know, that TODAY my son is a success story…….