Jeff, Jer - Stairs CroppedHenri Nouwen, a Dutch-born Catholic priest and theologian, wrote, There always remains a choice to be made between the creative power of love and life and the destructive power of hatred and death. I, too, must make that choice myself, again and again. Nobody else, not even God, will make that choice for me. (Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life) 

My reflection: When Jeff was in active addiction, I fought against it with every fiber of my being. When ugliness happened (as it often does with addiction), I responded with anger, hurt, resentment and outrage. In time, I learned that, as much as I wanted to, I could not control his addiction. I also learned that fighting ugliness with ugliness was destroying me, too. 

Today’s Promise to consider: Jeff told me, Every day we’re faced with decisions about how to approach the world around us – with grace and positivity or with ugliness and impatience. Life is challenging and so many circumstances are outside our control, but the way we respond is in our hands. Today I will live my life with grace and positivity. I will choose love and life.


Libby, Louise, Jackie, Jackie and Teresa

Libby, Louise, Teresa, Jackie and Jackie

 A mom and dad wrote to me, After our son was clean for 18 months, we began sharing our story at a local treatment center’s family workshop.  First we talked with families, then separately with the patients. We always suggest Al Anon.

Last week, a young male patient, who had been lounging on the couch seemingly disinterested, spoke up.  “Excuse me, Ma’am,” he began politely. “Thank you for coming and all, but I don’t want my mom to go to Al Anon. I don’t want her in my business. She’s already too much in my life and I don’t want her in any more of it.”

Several fellow patients jumped in. “You don’t get it,” they chimed.  “That’s WHY you want your mom to go to Al Anon. It’s not for you. It’s for HER. That’ll get her OFF your back!”

My husband and I were surprised that in a roomful of addicts so many understood there was a program to help their families – and they were eager to learn more.  The visit reminded us, again, that addiction is a family disease.

My reflection: There are many support groups for families of addicts. Although I attend Al-Anon, there are many others. The support of my group is essential to my serenity. When I finally stumbled, broken, into an Al-Anon meeting, I found compassion and understanding. The people in those rooms helped me carry my burden.

Today’s Promise to consider: Sometimes our burdens become too heavy to carry. There are other people who will help. Families can learn to heal. Love, compassion and understanding are available in support groups. We just need to reach out our hand.



Photo credit: Ando Pndlian

A mom wrote to me, Even without the drug problem in my life, I have to let go of and accept that my son has to go on and have his own life. I have to let him make his own decisions and mistakes, but it’s hard to stay out of his way. I’m right in the heart of learning to “Let go and let God.”  Wanting to control is natural, but I know when I can finally surrender my life that it will take a big weight off my heart and I can begin to live a life of just loving everything and everybody around me.

My reflection: Much of what I learned through addiction can be applied to everyday life. When Jeff was drug sick, I wanted nothing more than to force him to stop. But I learned in Al-Anon, with professional help and through education that controlling an addiction is impossible. “Let go and let God” became my mantra.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today, I admit that I cannot control anyone other than myself. Today, I accept that my loved ones have to live their own lives and make their own mistakes. Standing back is difficult, almost impossible at times, but today I surrender my will and pray for their good decisions. God is in charge, not me.



jeff - 10A mom wrote to me: We had so many expectations for our children and us. Then, like a puff of smoke, they were gone. 

My reflection: I know this feeling of loss. When Jeff was young, he was a strong student, vice-president of student government, talented athlete, wonderful son and brother. We never dreamed that addiction would find its way into our home. We lost Jeff to drugs for fourteen years, but I thank the Lord that it was only fourteen years and not a lifetime. This journey steeled us together in a new way. A stronger way.

Today’s Promise to consider: Expectations, for me, are dangerous. Many of my biggest life’s disappointments stem from hopes I had for my children, myself or for others I love. When I release my expectations and accept life for what it is, I feel gifted with a renewed sense of peace. Today, I will pray for acceptance. I will relaxed my grasp on expectations.