Dr. MacAfee wrote to me: One of the gifts that you and Jeff share is the rare and open dialogue between afflicted and affected. This has been sincerely earned. When people meet on the common ground of truth, difficult though it is, healing happens.

My reaction to the above: The Big Book of AA says that sobriety can be found only through rigorous honesty. This was hard for both Jeff and me. Jeff had to be honest with himself about his addiction, and I had to be honest with myself about the mistakes I made. I also had to find courage not only to talk with Jeff about all that happened, but courage to listen and the compassion to understand.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will have the courage to find the common ground of truth. I will work with those I love to have the tough discussions required to heal. Difficult as it is, I will wade into the rough waters of discord in order to get to the other side where healing and understanding can take place. I will try.


A mother writes: My son is still on the revolving road to recovery. He has been in detox three times, rehab (both inpatient and outpatient), in a sober house, involved in AA with a sponsor and is presently trying the suboxone route with individual counseling. My heart is broken, but I will find my courage.

My reaction to the above: The addict must learn to live in abstinence and that’s a new and scary place for him. He knows how to live in addiction, but abstinence requires skills that are foreign to him.

Relapse happened often to my son. I understood in a deeper way when Jeff wrote about a friend who relapsed, “I know that place. He was in pain, and it was too much. He used to kill it. Then he needs to keep using because the addiction has kicked in. An addict loses all sense of free will; you’re thrown back into the space of obsession, of always needing something more. I’m sure he’s scared and confused.”

Today’s Promise to Consider: Relapse scares me as a mom, but I will remember that it’s also frightening for my loved one. Learning to live in abstinence is his goal. Having the courage to stay close is mine.


Our family is growing and learning, for ourselves and for baby Iysa.

A mother wrote to me: My daughter, addicted to heroin when she was fifteen, is still struggling with her recovery at eighteen. I can distinctly remember my response to crisis and insanity: justification, enabling, making excuses, detaching, not detaching, hurt, anger, love, hate and feelings that I had failed as a mother.

Working my program through Al-Anon has shown me that I can be a leader, an example and a student, all at the same time. I am not expected to be perfect. I am learning to judge people less often, enjoy moments of appreciation for little things, connect with and delight in nature, give and receive unconditional love, pray for people who make me angry, instead of yelling – sometimes!, be grateful often, and acknowledge that I’ve been blessed. I am thankful for my growth in Al-Anon.

My reaction to the above: When faced with an addiction or any trauma, it’s hard to stay grateful, but this mother’s words reinforce what Dr. MacAfee and Dr. Grant say: Suffering can be redemptive and transformative.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will be grateful for this day and I will accept hardship as an opportunity to grow. If I slip, it’s OK. I’m not expected to be perfect and I can try again. Learning is a lifetime journey.






Continued reading after my conversation with Dr. MacAfee: Dr. MacAfee recommended reading, “Trauma, Addiction and Spirituality,” by Robert Grant, Ph.D. In fact, he mailed it to me. Dr. Grant writes, “I’m interested in authentic suffering. I don’t try to take it away from people. It’s often the only thing powerful enough to keep them on the journey of transformation.” 

What does one learn from trauma?: Dr. Grant continues, “One thing (we learn), and this is something that addicts know from their substance abuse support groups, is that we are not in complete control of our lives. We are limited and finite. Secondly, there are no guarantees in life. This is in spite of how hard one works…Things can go wrong. (Thirdly), there is no security in an absolute sense….everything can be taken away in an instant. I believe in the power of redemptive or legitimate suffering.”

Today’s thought to consider: Dr. Grant offers, “There are only two things that matter: the care and love of other people, and a connection to ‘something greater than ourselves.’”