IMG_0170.TM (1)In the 1950s, a few highly trained pilots in the US Air Force were set a life-or-death task to fly at altitudes higher than ever before attempted. Going beyond the earth’s denser atmosphere, a plane could skid into a flat spin … and then start tumbling. The first pilots responded by frantically trying to stabilize their planes. The more ferociously they manipulated their controls, the wilder the ride became. They plunged to their deaths. Until Chuck Yeager inadvertently struck upon the solution. When his plane began tumbling, he was thrown violently around the cockpit and knocked out. Unconscious, he plummeted toward earth. When the plane reentered the planet’s denser atmosphere, Yeager came to, steadied the craft and landed safely.  

(Paraphrased from Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach, Ph.D., pgs. 49-50.) 

My reflection: When Jeff was in active addiction, the last thing I wanted to do was take my hands off the controls. When I was growing up, my dad used to say, “You gotta make something happen.” In the face of addiction, I tried desperately to make something happen and save my son. Helpless and distraught, fourteen years later I learned to let go and let God.

Today’s Promise to consider: When facing active addiction, it is often necessary to take our hands off the controls. We can stay close and love our son or daughter – that never changes, but he or she needs to make the decision to change. Today, I’ll pause and admit that I’m not at the helm of my child’s sobriety.




IMG_3400.TM (1)Last week, I spent a few days at New Camaldoli Hermitage, a working Benedictine monastery, located on 900 acres high above the Pacific Ocean in the Big Sur. Silence is required and there is no cell service or internet connection. This mountain sanctuary offered me an opportunity to reflect on all that is happening in my life. I felt God’s majestic presence and heard clearly Father Cyprian Consiglio’s message that this season of Lent is a time to be quiet and to nurture our inner life. It is the period to, “sink back into the source of everything….That time when we let what we think of as our real self dissolve, break apart, in order to find our real self.”  

My reflection: When Jeff was in active addiction, I rarely (if ever) took time to simply be quiet and to reflect on my life. My head sang a song that sounded like, Do something now! Take control immediately! Don’t just sit here! I wish I had attended better to my needs. I wish I had taken a sacred pause.

Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction rejoices where we are frenetic, but we can’t give addiction that power. When I am at my wit’s end, anxious and distraught, I need to remember to quiet my soul and sink back into the source of everything. Today, I’ll take some time – even two or three minutes – to stop, reflect and feel the presence of my Higher Power.


TM.3 (1)A mother wrote to me: My son has been in and out of addiction for years. He was very popular in school, graduated from college, and we thought all was well. We never would have believed he would fall into such depths. There have been many times when we thought he was winning the battle in his recovery, then – BAM – he would relapse. No one who has not lived the pain of a child in addiction can imagine the helplessness a parent feels. We have done many things right, but many more wrong.

My reflection: Denial happens. Even in the face of hard facts, we parents can continue to deny. Even when my son relapsed time and time again, I wanted to believe he was well. Even when he continued to lie to keep his addiction, I wanted to believe he was telling me the truth that he wasn’t using, again. “Trust me,” he would say. And I would.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today, I will see with clarity the facts of my child’s addiction, for his good and my own. I will forgive myself for my mistakes. The only road to healing is one of truth and forgiveness.


IMG_0174.TM (1)A recovering addict told me, I changed my life when I surrendered. Finally, I realized that I kept repeating the same story over and over – drugs, get caught, prison, get out, try again without drugs, can’t do it, so drugs again, prison again. It was my 4th time in prison, and I was stuck. I couldn’t see myself outside of prison. It was always the same story. In the end, I admitted that I needed help.

My reflection: The Big Book tells the addict that Step One is, We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. I remember Jeff trying in vain, over and over, to control his use. He never could. Similarly, I tried to control the addiction, forcing Jeff into treatment centers and cutting him off from family money. Nothing worked.

Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction was bigger than both Jeff and me. Real change only happened when we both admitted our powerlessness. Just as the addict has to surrender and admit that he needs help, I did too. I was powerless over my son’s addiction and my life had become unmanageable. This was the beginning of my healing.