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Nonna and Granddaughter

Researchers in Germany found that one third of the Facebook users they studied reported that time spent on the social networking site left them feeling frustrated and angry. The primary source of those negative feelings? Envy. Facebook sets the stage for envy with its endless opportunities to compare ourselves to others.

(Tricycle, The Buddhist Review, Fall 2015, pg. 104)

My reflection: The results of this study make total sense to me, especially during the holidays. When Jeff was sick with addiction, I flip-flopped between feeling joy and sometimes envy for my friend’s good fortunes. Silently I asked myself: Why them? Why their children? Why not mine? I felt deep sadness for my own disappointments and all the things they seemed to have that I didn’t. Smiling faces and snapshots of their family’s achievements were steady reminders that my son wasn’t doing similar great things and, in fact, was destroying himself.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will start the New Year with gratitude for what is good in my life. I will work to counter feelings of envy and jealousy by being joyful for other’s successes. Today I’ll remember that my life is my life and it’s all I have. There’s always something for which to be grateful.



IMG_0154I wrote this in Stay Close: During the Christmas of 2006, when neither son came home for our large Italian family gatherings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends didn’t know what to do. My brothers didn’t know what to say. They didn’t even know whether to invite me to the festivities. The cousins were confused; could they ask about Jeff or would it be kinder to leave him out of the conversation?

My reflection: I remember well that Christmas Eve Mass when my older brother turned gently toward me and said, “Not sure I should ask, but how is Jeff?” I looked at him as tears welled in my eyes. He just nodded as we both turned forward and left the question float in the air.

Today’s Promise to consider: During the holidays, let us remember that addiction can severely isolate us. We might feel ashamed and lonely because our lives are not as joyful as we wish they would be. I will avoid this treacherous place by being compassionate with myself and my family. I will find serenity in honesty and prayer.


heroinYears ago, Dr. MacAfee told me, Only by taking addiction out of the shadows where it does its best work and bringing it into the light will we be able to heal addiction. 

Reflection: Now more than ever we’re being forced to look deeply into the many ills that impact our societies. From the most marginalized groups to populations in the millions, countless hard issues are being addressed. On December 28, HBO will unveil a new documentary titled Heroin: Cape Cod USA where they expose the heroin epidemic screaming at America, focusing on eight young addicts. In 2014 alone, Massachusettes had more than 1,250 deaths from heroin overdose. These numbers are terrifying.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today and every day, let us join together to fight the things that degrade our families and tear apart our communities. We must continue to keep the spotlight on addiction, without shame and silence. Truth must win.




IMG_TM (1)Rachel Platten sings Fight Song and the lyrics remind me of something a friend wrote to me: One time during my career I was feeling like there was no hope. Just then a fellow employee told me a few words that I have never forgotten and I apply them to all aspects of my life, “It’s never over unless you quit.” 

My reflection: Fight Song and the words from my friend, “It’s never over unless you quit,” blend together with something my dad once told me. When Jeff was embroiled in his addiction, I asked my father, “When can I quit worrying? When he’s 18, when he’s 21? When, Dad?” His response was clear, “When you’re a parent, there is no quit.”

Today’s Promise to consider: Life can be difficult and addiction can be suffocating, but “It’s never over unless you quit.” The lyrics of Fight Song speak to our need to be strong for ourselves and those we love.



This is my fight song

Take back my life song…

And I don’t really care if nobody else believes

‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me


jeff_TM_22 (1)A mother wrote to me: I’m afraid. 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’ve given up hope. I can’t do this again.

My reflection: There were many times when I, too, felt like giving up on hope and giving into fear. When Jeff’s addiction rose up again and again, the pain was overwhelming and I felt suffocated. I didn’t know what to do.

Today’s Promise to consider: Hope can be fragile and fear can be powerful. But if we lose faith and hope, we lose our oxygen. Today, I’ll stay close to my loved one and allow him to fight his own battles. I’ll keep hope alive – for him and for me.

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