A mother wrote an email message to me: I called a woman I met in Nar-Anon and told her I was feeling complete despair. She told me that her addicted daughter was currently in prison, but she was taking care of her two-year-old grandson. “Look what I would have missed,” she said. “My daughter needs my support and this child needs my love.” Her words reminded me that I need to be present for my other children. They have their own journeys to make.

My reflection on the passage above: I got so enmeshed in my son’s addiction that I sometimes lost sight of my responsibility to myself and my family. Al-Anon helped me to find my balance. Prayer helped me to find peace. Through communication and honesty, we are healing.

Today’s Promise: I will not feel guilt for what I didn’t do or what I couldn’t do. I did my best. Today I’m doing a better job of taking care of myself and my family. I am grateful for our growth.


Mom Aeriona, Nonna Libby, Iysa, Uncle Jeff, and Papa Jeremy

A mother wrote an email message to me. This is part of it: I struggle with the concept of “family.” When I grew up, holidays centered around family get-togethers. Today, my shattered family does not resemble anything I ever dreamed possible. Holiday times center around my other children, with my addicted son on the fringe. Largely he seems OK with this, but for me as the “Mom” I always feel so torn and split…never whole.

My reflections of the passage: I continue to struggle with the concept of family. With both a divorce and addiction as part of our history, I feared that my children would never feel the comfort of an intact family. Just like the mother above, our holidays have taken on new shapes over the years.

I’m not sure any family is perfect and I know ours certainly is not. That doesn’t stop me from being committed to staying close to my sons and offering my security and presence. One day at a time, we’re learning to accept each other with our faults, forgive past hurts and celebrate our gifts.

Today’s promise to consider: Family systems evolve and change. I’ll hold on to the belief that my family will find a better place, a stronger place, because we survived life’s trials together – and will survive more of them in the future. It is in love and acceptance of each other that we find strength and solidarity.

COURAGE: Theirs and Ours

My son wrote this in Stay Close about getting and staying sober: I was terrified – faced with getting clean, again. With nothing but failed attempts to reference, sobriety felt impossible. It’s far easier to want to change your life than actually to do it. Following through with the process takes total courage and I was scared to my bones.

My reflection on the above passage: Dr. MacAfee says, “We know about addiction, but what we don’t know much about is the impact of abstinence.” He explains, “Addicts know how to live in addiction – in chaos, with court systems and legal problems. They know how to lie, deceive, and manipulate. What they need to learn how to do is live a transparent life – how to live clean and honest, how to live with serenity.”

Both addiction and recovery are traumatic. MacAfee explains that when the using stops a period of grief for all the lost time, the years gone by, the people hurt, the trail of destruction is inevitable. He said, “The grief will overtake you, Jeff, and it will be hard. But it’s also a sweet time. Savor it.”

Today’s Promise to consider: It takes courage to change: courage for the addict and courage for the parent. Today I will have the courage to change the things I can. Instead of pointing out how others need to change, I’ll start with me.


Jeff and Granddad Cataldi

A mother wrote me an email message. This is part of it: I am in the beginning throes of dealing with my son’s addiction to heroin. I was sure our love, hope and determination would help him put this in his past, but I now realize that his addiction is in our life, forever. It scares me to death. He is in his third treatment center in less than a year. My husband and I are discouraged, broke and afraid, but we will never give up hope.

My reflection on the above passage: We have very little control over much in life and no place is this more true than with our loved ones’ addictions and illnesses. Addiction suffocates the family and we feel fear, anger, discouragement, confusion, betrayal and unrelenting heartbreak.

We were sure that our love, hope and determination could make a difference in their lives. In time, we find out that we are powerless over far more than we’re comfortable accepting.

Today’s promise to consider: I will trust my Higher Power to provide for me and to keep my hope alive. There is a Tibetan expression that, “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.”