“What’s the story you never tell?” She asked.
I take a deep breath.
“It’s a long story.” I say as a I look away.
It’s an epic tale of a dark curse that spans generations. It’s the battle for my voice. The war on my heart. In my closet is the box that holds my silent voice, poured out in pencil and paper. In my closet is the stack of books I’ve studied for years. I do not share this stack of books in instagram “shelfies” or facebook posts. In my closet, a wall is lined with a sticky note plan of attack against a giant. What I know to be true, what I have uncovered, what truths need to be exposed. This is the side of my heart I rarely share. This is my soul mission in development. This is my grief.
In October, I joined thousands of people on the National Mall at the Unite to Face Addiction Rally to end the silence around my greatest source of pain. The disease of addiction.
I grand-daughtered in it. I daughtered in it. I believe I have a propensity for it. My college days were ruined because of it. I believe I carry it. I am a loyal friend to it. I dated it. I loved it. I still love it.
I know it intimately.
I am fluent in it.
Now I mother it. The worst sentence of all. The final straw.
These people I love are not addicts. They are people with beautiful sensitive, loving, kind hearts and a wicked disease that affects the brain.
The disease of Addiction.
With my son, it started with his friends, smoking marijuana “like teenagers do” and after the deaths of his two dearest friends within two years, his need to numb out the pain progressed. I contributed by taking him to the doctor for anxiety and asking for something to help him with the pain in his heart. He was prescribed xanax. My asking for a magic pill to heal his grief was the worst mistake I’ve ever made.
Addictions have a roots in traumatic events. The deaths of his friends sent him in to a downward spiral I wasn’t sure any of us were going to survive. Each time something big came down, something very difficult to bear, his addiction became full blown. Once disease was activated it took hold with a vengeance. Ninety percent of addictions start in the teenage years. He had generations of addiction fueling the fire. Addiction is a cycle that is perpetuated in generations. Genetic backloading, traumatic events and a society that numbs pain and celebrates with drugs and alcohol gave him the trifecta for addiction to flourish.
He is 22, there were days I would check to see if he was breathing. I’d look into to his eyes with love and hope and all the tenderness I had when he was a newborn baby, a happy go lucky kid, a boy of promise, heart, sensitivity, big love, of brotherhood and spirit. I know that boy is in there. I know he is not his addiction. I know that he is a powerful young man meant to do good things with his life. He is meant for peace and honor, enthusiasm, joy. Love.
“There is nothing you can do.”
“He has to hit rock bottom.”
“He needs tough love.”
“You have to wait until he wants it.”
Said well meaning friends and the anonymous people.
What do you mean there is nothing I can do?
What if rock bottom is death?
What is “tough love” exactly?
“It’s a disease of the brain.”
“It’s not your fault.”
Say the experts and professionals.
It is a disease that has tried to kill my heart over and over again. But what it doesn’t know is that instead of killing me it has making me strong and smart and brave. I’ve prayed, studied and prepared for this battle. I am devoting my life to it.
I made a decision to fight for my son’s life, my life, the life of my other children, for his brain and until he is able to choose to fight for himself. I decided I would not let him go without an all out war on his addiction.
I did something bold. Because I CAN do something.
We intervened. We intervened with compassionate love and a medical treatment plan. Most definitely the most emotionally challenging day I have faced thus far.
Gratefully, our son is in treatment. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t the first time. We are learning. We are finding that information, resources and answers are often ambiguous and outdated but there are pieces of gold and golden people on our path. A movement towards healing and understanding is growing.
What I understand very clearly that once it is in remission, the only way for it to stay that way is to remain abstinent and you need a strong community of support to hold you in its net. That is what I plan to create in my own life, in my community, in the greater community. A sober community for the people who have suffered in addiction, their families and friends.
I share this with you because I made a promise to end the silence around addiction. I believe this is the first step in ending addictions war on the people we love. I share this with you because I love my son, I love his friends, I love these children stuck in a dangerous cycle of addiction. They deserve a future.
I want to share our story so that others may find hope, help, compassion and community. I don’t have answers, but I do have ideas and theories and an evolution of acceptance on my side. I am willing to share my heart in service to the world. I am willing to devote my life to ending the cycle.
Addiction thrives in isolation, in silence, in shame. If you are fighting a silent battle with drugs or alcohol or you are a friend or relative of someone with the disease, as of right now, right this minute, I want you to know….
We are together.
Reach for me. Reach for someone. Reach for help.
We are together.
Recovery thrives in human connection and community. Let’s help each other recover. If you are a person in recovery, or a relative of someone in recovery show us how it works.
Feel free to share my story. Stories help and stories heal. Stories let others know they are not alone.
With Love from someone who understands,
As women most of us are caregivers. We wear the mom, daughter, sister, friend, boss, co-worker, and employee hat seriously, devotionally and with gusto. As women, most of us don’t put ourselves first when it comes to care taking. We run from obligation to obligation and try and catch our breath in an hour of yoga, pilates or a run and call that self-care. Maybe we sit down on our own couches once in a while after grocery, making dinner, lunches, a load of laundry, homework, driving to and fro and tending to the others. A lot of us are giving, giving, giving until we collapse in bed at night.
Here are five reasons why YOU deserve a solo retreat.
Join me and my friend Carla Vercoe in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. Just outside of Cancun and JUST BE. April 10-16.
We are making Magic in Mexico. More information and registration Here
photo credit: Casa Om
Family Recovery Advocate
I serve women seeking healing and transformation.
I serve people who have been impacted by addiction recover their lives.