IMG_0977Tara Brach wrote: We can too easily ignore or dismiss people when they are of a different race or religion, when they come from a different socioeconomic class. Assessing them as either superior or inferior, better or worse, important or unimportant, we distance ourselves. As a result, those around us – even family and friends – can become unreal, two-dimensional cardboard figures, not humans with wants and fears and throbbing hearts.

(Tara Brach is an American psychologist and proponent of Buddhist meditation. This passage is paraphrased from her book, Radical Acceptance.)

My reaction: Jeff once told me, “Society loathes addicts and addicts loathe themselves.” It has been my experience that addicts are severely marginalized and minimized. They’re often viewed as part of a ‘throw-away society.’

Today’s Promise to consider: Addicts are often disregarded and considered a menace to society. While this can be true at times, as the mother of a recovering addict, I never quit believing that my son’s humanity was alive underneath the disease. Today, I’ll treat everyone with tolerance and love, recognizing that even though he might feel different from me, she is God’s child with wants and fears and a throbbing heart.








IMG_0705Father Dan at Camaldoli Hermitage told a story: about a nun, who was being faced with an unpopular decision in her community and, therefore, afraid to voice her opinion. Her recurring dreams played out this fear.

In her dream, she was being chased down an alley by a huge, menacing figure, but the alley was a dead end. Each night, in her dream, she cowered against the wall at the end of the alley and under the shadow of the monster, afraid to turn around. Finally, one night, in her dream, she turned, faced the monster and pulled out of the holster at her side two guns and aimed them at the demon. It melted and became a beautiful prince.

My reflection: Father Dan explained that our dreams give us access to our unconscious and play out the conflicts that we experience in our everyday life. In the dream sequence above, when the nun finally found the courage to speak out in community, her tormentor melted away. When Jeff was in active addiction, terror plagued me and my dreams played out those fears, until I, too, faced the demon.

Today’s Promise to consider: Finding our voice is an important part of our recovery and maintaining health. There are times when I’ve been afraid to voice my opinion for fear of rejection or an angry response. Holding my voice back feels like a cancer slowing growing inside me. Today, I will say what I need to say in love and with respect.






JB - 2.jpgA mom wrote to me, My son was living at home, staying off drugs, working at a job and working out, but he left today. I told him I loved him with a heavy heart! This was our last time of letting him live with us…now he needs to be the change if he wants it. Love and detach…stay close… hard. We offered him treatment. My prayer is that he stays safe. God give me the strength to accept this.

My reflection: Loving and detaching – I struggled with this dichotomy for years. How could I love my son and detach at the same time? But in the end, it was the blending of these two that made the difference in my son’s life. I learned to stay close, but out of the chaos. I answered his calls and texts, but I finally moved out of the way.

Today’s Promise to consider: Dealing with addiction is counterintuitive: I need to stay close and continue to love my addicted child, but I also need to protect myself from the consequences of his choices. Today, I will accept that he needs to make the decision to change his life. I need to accept, surrender and pray for strength, for both of us.










Jeff and niece Iysa

Jeff and niece Iysa

A mother wrote to me: My son was a star athlete in high school and at age seventeen began his downward spiral into this insidious disease. I taught in the school district that he attended so it was doubly hard getting calls just about every day from the RN to take him for a drug test. He fell asleep in class or didn’t even show up for school. I blamed myself – his dad and I had separated before this nightmare began so I assumed he took drugs to medicate himself or to use as a band-aid.

My reaction: We parents often blame ourselves for our child’s addiction. When our child is broken and ill, we would rather point to anyone, even ourselves, before we blame our addicted loved one. We feel powerless and assigning fault comes easily in moments of crisis.

Today’s Promise:Many experts say that addiction is an illness. Who is to blame for this illness? I will blame no one. Our family is affected by addiction. I will accept it, find strength in God and my recovering community, and go forward.