jeff_italy_09_smallA mother wrote to me: Tonight we had our son arrested under the mental health act because we were so concerned with his safety. He broke down and said that he wished he could die. We didn’t know if this was drunk/drug talk or if this was a cry for help, but I knew we had to take this seriously. This was the hardest and most painful thing I have had to do in my life. We had the police come to our home and handcuff him and take him to the hospital’s psychiatric unit. When you watch the police take your own son away in handcuffs because you called them, a little piece of you dies.

My reflection: Addiction is a monster and it changes our children into people we don’t recognize. It wreaks havoc in our lives and twists our love into unimaginable shapes. We don’t know what to do in the face of addiction, but we try our best. We do what our hearts tell us to do. Are we right or wrong? I’m not sure there are answers to some questions.

Today’s Promise: Every minute of every day, addiction kills little pieces of our families. Today, I admit that I am powerless to change my loved one, but I am not powerless to change myself. I will search for my strength and I will find my balance. I will pick up my cross and carry it.


TM05 (1)A mother writes: I have three sons. The oldest is an addict, and the younger brothers don’t want anything to do with him. Sometimes it’s more than I can bear. Our family is on the verge of imploding as a result of the addiction. When addiction is present, everybody is out of control, everybody lives a joyless life and everyone is lost. I know my son must help himself, but while I wait and watch, I must say – I am in despair.

My reflection: Despair, out of control, lost: all words that describe a family dealing with addiction. Brother against brother, father against mother and everyone against the addiction as we are tossed into a ring of fire. What to do? Al-Anon and other family groups help us to know that we are not alone.

Today’s Promise to consider: I admit that I am powerless over this disease, but I also know that every member of my family is affected – and I must to be sensitive to their needs and fears. I will do my best to provide a strong role model for my family, I will learn about addiction, I will keep strong boundaries and communicate with honesty. Together we will find our way. I will stay close.


TM23 (1)Jeff said to me, I read a passage this morning about how we are often slaves to our conditioning – events of the past, boxes society creates for us, people’s expectations and past hurts. Our minds recreate those stories constantly and lay them overtop of our current lives, typically without us realizing it.

My reflection: This thought of recreating our past or expecting the same story to happen again resonates with me. For years after Jeff’s recovery, I was looking for the lies to reoccur, examining his eyes for any indication of relapse and trying to gird myself for what might happen. Instead of enjoying the healthy moments with him, I often carried the old stories and hurts forward.

Today’s Promise to consider: The past is the past, and although it invariably shapes us, we need to learn from it and let go of it. Carrying former hurts on our backs like a turtle carries his shell helps no one. Today, I will not live in fear that the past might reoccur. I won’t waste precious time with my loved one.


jeff_TM (1)A mom wrote to me, As I anticipated, my son relapsed. Not that any relapse is ‘good,’ but this one was terribly frightening. My son has lost about everything. My husband and I (not always on the same page) went to his apartment last night. I held my son in my arms and BEGGED him to choose life. I know I can’t do this for him. I’m just so painfully sad.

My reflection: I would have sold my soul to make Jeff well. Relapse after relapse felt as if it were our life’s sentence. Only at the end of a 14-year addiction did I realize that I was powerless to change my son. He had to make the decision to change. I needed to stay close.

Today’s Promise to consider: For many addicts, relapse is part of the process of recovery. Dr. MacAfee says that relapse isn’t failure, but it’s one step closer to sobriety. For today, I’ll pray that if my addicted loved one relapses, he makes it back safely. As a mom, I will use my energy to stay close, continue to love him and pray.


TM.3 (1)Dr MacAfee told me: Parents need to know that their suffering is legitimate and the result of loving their child. I have heard dismissive and searingly hateful comments thrown at parents that they are victims of their own suffering. The stories of addiction are heart wrenching: murders, fatal overdoses and debilitating consequences. There are no volunteers to these heartbreaks. No one would sign up for these experiences.

My reflection: Nobody welcomes addiction into her home, but it happens. I didn’t volunteer for a 14-year journey of addiction, but the heartbreak deepened as I loved my son while he descended into the world of drugs.

Today’s Promise to consider: There are no volunteers in addiction. There are no volunteers to the heartbreak and suffering that addiction heaps on us. We simply love our addicted child or spouse or parent. When we love another person, we open ourselves to pain, as well as to joy.