IMG_8282-2 2A mom, who has two addicted sons, wrote to me, Today is my older son’s 8th anniversary of sobriety! He turned his life around at age 20. Unbelievable! So much to be grateful for.

My reflection: The trauma of addiction changed me forever. Even though Jeff has been sober for seven years, I am quick to project into the future, trying to prepare for any potential calamity, whether it has to do with addiction or not. My Dad used to tell, “Don’t build straw men,” meaning that worries are often unfounded, made of straw. The best antidote for my worrying nature is to stay in gratitude.

Today’s Promise to consider: When I begin to feel worry and concern – both real and projected – I need to step back and do an inventory of all the good things in my life. Feeling grateful is the oxygen I need to breathe easier and to better serve my family, community and myself.



jeff - dark.jpgDr. MacAfee told me, In the world of addiction, losing a child is the terror that threatens parents. When death happens, there is never closure. In time, a parent can not think about it, but it’s always there. A mother once told me, “I sleep now because the worse that could happen has happened.” Parents try to live with the pain and go on, but the pain is never alleviated. It never goes away.

My reflection: The above conversation happened because I asked Dr. MacAfee to explain the idea of, “A time to mourn and a time to dance.” I wanted to understand the shift from grief to acceptance, and eventual contentment. As we talked, I realized that even today, after seven years of Jeff living a sober life, I can still feel the knife that cuts through my body when I remember his active addiction years. What must a parent feel who loses a child? The pain is unimaginable.

Today’s Promise to consider: Grief does get better, lighter. In time and with spirituality, the grief subsides. Today, I acknowledge that addiction reigns terror and destruction. If the worst happens to me and my family, I must put one foot in front of the other. I must go on.






Lib - Tree - 1_1A mother wrote to me: I’m afraid and I’m giving up. Recovery was going well, I thought. Making meetings, new job he likes, nice girlfriend…I was beginning to trust and hope. In the last week, money taken from my purse, relapse, violation of probation. Now it’s back to court and maybe prison this time. I can’t do this again.

My reflection: Hope is fragile and fear is powerful. I wonder why fear seems to be stronger than hope? I don’t know, but I do know that there were times when I felt like giving up on prayer and giving into fear. When addiction rises up again and again, knocking us to the ground, we feel crushed and confused. But if we lose faith and hope, all is lost. We need to stay close to our children, but our children need to fight their own battles.

Today’s Promise: I am only human and sometimes I feel as though I can’t go on. But I will and I’ll go on in hope. I refuse to sacrifice my life at the altar of fear.

“We can’t be armor for our children. We can only be supporting troops.” Irwin Shaw



IMG_1082A recovering addict wrote to me:
27 months.
Upward, outward.
Freedom, Choices.
The miracle of contented sobriety.
From the fiery wreckage of one life, the sprigs of a new life emerge…
for me, for my family, and for those around me.
Hope is available through God-dependence and service to others.

My reflection: This young man’s words are full of promise and gratitude. His chains of addiction now broken, his life is an example of sobriety in action. This is powerful and reminds those of us who love addicts that a sober life is indeed possible.

Today’s Promise to consider: When we feel desperate, at our wits-end, and ready to give up, let us remember that where there is life there is hope. For today, I’ll hold on to this recovering addict’s words, “From the fiery wreckage of one life, the sprigs of a new life emerge…Hope is available through God-dependence and service to others.”



Jeff shared a story with me: “One day an Elder told a novice to go fetch a guinea hen. When he returned with it, the Elder told him to pluck it. The novice obeyed, and when he was finished, the Elder said, “Now, put all the feathers back.” Bewildered, the novice finally protested, “But it’s already plucked! I can’t put the feathers back.” “Correct,” the Elder replied, “and it’s the same when you say bad things about your brothers. You pluck away at their reputation, and if you keep on, it may be lost forever.”

My reflection: Gossip is a part of any community. I remember how awful it felt knowing that people were talking about Jeff and our family’s problems. In fact, in Stay Close, I wrote, “Convinced that Jeff was a major topic of conversation in the school, I spiraled into a kind of paranoia.”

Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction is perfect fodder for gossip, but it is destructive and does no good. Today, I won’t be a part of it and will refuse to pluck away at someone’s reputation or integrity. I’ll be mindful of what I say and will respond with compassion and respect.