by libbycataldi under Hope, Jeff

A mother wrote an email message to me. This is part of it: I’ve been struggling: Am I helping my son too much, not enough? My Al-Anon Sponsor told me, “Allow your him the dignity of facing his problems so he can think about where he was, how he got there, and work through what he has to do in order to put his life back on track. Then, he’ll remember both the consequences of his addiction and the sweet personal success and honorable hard work that took him out of the darkness and into the light.”

My personal reflection on the passage offering my thoughts today: A heroin addict of twenty-years once told Jeff, “Never deny an addict his pain.” I didn’t understand this for a long time; however, I understand now – Jeff needed to feel the effects, the consequences of his choices, of his addiction. By getting in the way of the consequences and by trying to protect him, we all suffered more, including Jeff.

Today’s Promise to consider: I’ll stay close to my son as he learns from the consequences of his decisions. He’ll remember his mistakes and he’ll also remember the sweet personal success of honorable hard work that took him out of the darkness and into the light.


A mother wrote an email message to me. This is part of it: My son is an addict and my husband and I barely functioned for almost three years. He earned a college degree, had a good job and a lovely wife – all gone. He went to rehab and spent one year in a halfway house. Today he has regained his life: a great job, a loving girlfriend and he just announced his engagement. Even though things seem good, I worry. I know that I should have a positive outlook, but the past haunts me. How do I ever begin to trust and live without fear?

My personal reflection of the passage offering my thoughts today: I also struggled with this paradox of how to trust again. I wanted to have faith and to give Jeff the dignity of his own walk with his Higher Power, but I still had a catch in my heart as I remembered all that we had been through.

Dr. MacAfee clarified this for me, “It’s OK. You’ve been vigilant a long time. It’s a pattern and it might never change. It’s normal. You’re a parent. Be patient with yourself.”

I wasted many years living in the past and fearing the future. I wasted valuable time thinking about what had happened and what could happen. Today I live in a space of gratitude that my son is good and I pray for tomorrow.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will have compassion for my son and I will have compassion for myself. I’ll be patient while I learn to release my loved one – to himself and his God. Today I will trust; I will live without fear.


Pappa Jeremy and Iysabella Carmela

A friend wrote a poem about hope and this is part of it: Looking far behind, Will never help you find what’s true…Because you can’t relive it, Or somehow try to give it, Another shot. Although you’d like to rearrange it, The truth is you can’t change it; It’s done. Good-bye. Not what you’d hoped, Or wanted…So start revising hopes and dreams, To fit what is, not what it seems…You can leave the past behind you now, And say instead a quiet vow, To make your future wish come true, By being strong, By being you.

My personal reflection on the message of the poem offering my thoughts today: When our children or loved ones suffer, we suffer. I was filled with guilt and beat myself up with questions like, “What could I have done differently? How could I have saved my son and my family from this tragedy of addiction?”

The lines above seem true to me. I can’t change our past: It’s done – Good-bye. I admit that it isn’t what I had hoped for or prayed for. But as Jeff wrote, “Addiction has changed my life, made me a different person, and in many respects my life is richer because I was forced to confront myself or die. My past is my past and I can’t turn this path around or change the footsteps that follow me. Drugs were my life, but drugs left me empty.”

For my family and me, we must continue to look to the future and be strong. I must be strong for my sons. It’s the best gift I can give them. It’s is the best gift I can give myself.

Today’s Promise for us to consider: Today I won’t look back in the rearview mirror. I’ll give myself the permission to leave the past behind and to look forward with hope.


A mother wrote an email message to me. This is part of it: Things are better at the moment, but we have ups and downs. I am working on the “loving with detachment” issue. I spend hours each day analyzing where I went wrong as a parent or what I should have done differently. I’ve been to Al-Anon, Nar-Anon and private counseling, but the pain is always there. The best advice I ever received was from my counselor who told me, “Keep on telling her you love her and mean it because you’ll never regret those words.”

My personal reflection on the passage offering my thoughts today: There is a Tibetan expression, “Even if the rope breaks nine times, we must splice it back together a tenth time. Even if ultimately we do fail, at least there will be no feelings of regret.”

The Director at San Patrignano said it a different way, stagli vicino – “stay close to him.” Loving with detachment was a hard concept for me to understand, but I understood clearly stagli vicino – “don’t abandon him, but don’t give him money.” This made sense to me and, in the end, this is what helped our family and my son.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today I will stay close to my child. Even if he is unlovable and certainly when he is at his worst, I will stay close.


A mother wrote an email message to me: My son is seventeen and in his second treatment facility – this time for ten to twelve months in a long-term facility. Skateboarding and trouble started at fourteen and we sent him to a wilderness program for four months. His sister is two years younger. She loves him, is loyal to him and she keeps his secret. I feel like a total failure as a mom and can’t believe our life has been taken over with addiction.

My personal reflection on the passage above offering my thoughts today: Addiction takes the addict by the throat, but collateral damage is rampant especially with siblings. They are caught in a space of loving their brother and wanting to help, but not knowing what help looks like. They keep the secret of the addiction because they don’t want to betray their brother. They are confused, hurt and powerless and don’t know what to do. As my younger son said about his brother, “I don’t know how to help him. He’s like Superman with kryptonite around his neck.”

Today’s Promise: I’ll talk to my children about their brother and listen to their fears, but I can’t force them to expose what they know. I must support them and love them through to honesty.