If you’re the parent of an addict, or you wonder if your child has a problem, then you must read this. Written by my daughter, Renee, about four years ago, it’s powerful and sobering. She’s in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, self-injury, struggles with mental health issues, has been the victim of rape, and is a suicide survivor. There were many times I didn’t think either one of us would survive. Wherever you are in the journey with your son or daughter, don’t give up. Hold on. STAY.
“I was on my way home from the beach today when I received a text from a friend informing me that they had relapsed on heroin. They were coming off a two-week bender. My heart seemed to stutter, as if it started to cry before I could. A tennis ball lodged itself in my throat and I struggled to swallow. Then anger rose up inside of me from the depths, doing it’s job, protecting me from the pain. (It’s easier to be angry than to be hurt.) I sat in the back seat of the car the last thirty minutes of the trip home, shaking my head in silence and fighting tears, when the anger subsided.
I got home, and as I was going outside to smoke a cigarette, I received another text, from one of my dearest friends. They were letting me know they had six days sober after a binge that nearly cost them their life for the umpteenth time. Flash. Me completely losing it, full-blown panic attack, ripping at my hair and screaming. “No,” I whispered inside myself, “You don’t need to fall apart, you need to be a friend.” I allowed myself to cry, be held, then re-evaluated the situation. Practice what I preach… I’ve been practicing loving myself. I have learned that we create out of necessity.
The words and actions I value, and strive to show others, are what I myself, need the most. What are they?
Grace, compassion, understanding, and love.
It’s harrowing to love an addict, hell, it’s painful to love another human being…but someone loved me when I was a seemingly lost cause, when loving me was synonymous with significant pain. My heart won’t let me turn away or give up on my fellow-man, no matter how forlorn, how many times they fall, disappoint, or lose hope in themselves. I am compelled to believe in them, to hope for them, as others did for me.
Many people become disheartened and turn their backs. This isn’t always wrong. We do have to take care of ourselves, but I just simply can’t turn away. If anything, loving another being in all of their beauty and tragedy, for all of their softness and every abrasive scratch, is healing – because in doing so, I love myself.
I often recount the story of another very close friend of mine who is a heroin addict. He started trying to get clean when he was eighteen. When I met him in treatment he was 25, and now, nearly seven years later, he’s still struggling, in and out of rehabs and prison. This could be a tragic story, but I see it differently. I see it as a testament to my friends strength and character.
How easy would it be to get tired of the fighting and the falling and give in to that beast, riding it to the bitter end.
How easy would it be to off yourself after so many “failed” attempts.
My friend continues to fight, to brush himself off and get back up – and that is anything but tragic. It’s inspirational. It gives me a very real and practical hope. A hope that we all need.
My motto is: “Hope is not about perfection or resolution, it’s believing in the process.”
So, dear friends, dear anonymous out there, who keep getting sucked back in; dear mother, who has grown weary and disillusioned; dear son, who takes the lit cigarette out of your father’s hands when he drinks himself into a blackout; dear sponsors, who keep watching one after another, stuck in the revolving door; dear counselor, with your hands thrown up; dear humanity… STAY.”
Remember this Bible verse, dear parent:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified or discouraged, for I will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8)
Our Maker and Sustainer, Mighty God, Omniscient One, Lord of Peace, God of Love, God of Life, God of Light, our Hope, our Strength, our ALL – will help us believe in “the process”. Give our children the hope they need to “stay”. You are the God of Hope and New Beginnings.
In the Name of the One who is Life indeed.