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Archive for September, 2016

MACAFEE’S WORDS OF WISDOM: Saints in the Making

doc_0802-1*This is the first in a series of monthly posts that will source my many conversations with Dr. MacAfee over the years. 

A friend, who works in a recovery center, wrote to me:  Thought I would share something really cool with you. I am sitting under a tree right now at an animal assisted therapy center outside of Denver. There are animals all around and ten of the guys from the treatment center. I just overheard, from a distance, one of my guys saying that addicts are saints in the making. How cool is it that Dr. MacAfee seems to be right here with us. I never met him, but those words that you shared in your book from him are really important. The guys do need to know that they are Saints in the Making!

My reflection: When my son was in rehab, Dr. MacAfee told me, “I’m honored to do this work. I believe that addicts are saints in the making.” As I left California, Jeff and Dr. MacAfee, I felt hopeful for my son’s recovery. I was grateful that Jeff had made the decision to live a sober life. I realized that we were both choosing. He was choosing sobriety. I was choosing to believe him and to live in the solution.

Today’s Promise to consider: Dr. MacAfee believed that addicts were saints in the making. He said that people in recovery often came back with fervor to live a sober life, to contribute and to make a difference. I have talked with many recovering addicts throughout the world, and I know that Dr. MacAfee was a wise man. Thanks, Doc.

 


“I’M TIRED OF OTHERS JUDGING ME”

img_tm-1A mother wrote to me: I have seen firsthand the fallout caused by my son’s addiction. He has not progressed to harder substances, but legal troubles abound. He is currently facing a felony for a stupid bar fight between two drunk kids that he doesn’t even remember. I realize my son will do time in jail and that I can’t fix it. I’m not sure if helping him get legal representation is “enabling.” I’m tired of others judging me, and him.

My reflection: Where is the line between a helpful comment and harsh criticism? It’s easy for others to judge us and our choices. It’s easy to itemize what we should do or should have done differently. The reality is that most people, especially those without first-hand experience with addiction and alcoholism, have no idea of how deeply tricky is this disease.

Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction is a lonely journey, but I will walk this walk with my child and my family. Other people have many things to say, but I will find my help in Al-Anon, spirituality, and with professionals. I must stay strong and stay close.


RELAPSE AND STAYING CLOSE

Photo credit: Mikele Roselli-Cecconi

Photo credit: Mikele Roselli-Cecconi

A mother wrote to me: My eighteen-year-old son is dying in the next room. It started with severe headaches that became an every day occurrence. I took him to an internist who prescribed for him oxycontin. He became addicted in a matter of weeks. He lost thirty pounds, had black bags under his eyes, and did nothing but lay in his bed. We found a rehab center, but after two weeks he signed himself out. He is home now and trying so hard, but he is quickly losing faith as his body is turning against him again. I am so afraid that he will never get better and will die before my eyes.

My reflection: When relapses happened with my son, I thought that treatment centers were the answer; however, he never stayed very long and constantly walked out before his time was up. Their response was always the same, “We can’t keep him if he chooses to leave.” I, too, lived in constant fear that he would die.

Today’s Promise to consider: We want to save our children. It’s instinct. It’s what we do as parents. But drug addiction is powerful and it doesn’t let go easily. Today, if my son relapses and asks for help, I will steer him toward recovery and other recovering people, not necessarily with money, but with emotional support and love. I’ll stay close.

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DREAMS ABOUT ADDICTION                            

tm-lightSeveral years ago, I wrote in my journal: Last night, I dreamed about one of my favorite uncles who was always kind to me as a child. But in my dream he had lost his nose because of cocaine use. I awakened in tears with the image of my addicted son holding me while I was asking him, “Is this what you want for our family?”

My reflection: Worry found me, even in my dreams. During the days, I was able to squash my emotions and generally ignore them. I went to work and did what I always did: I smiled and acted as though everything was OK. However, at night my fears found me. My dreams are just dreams, but they carry crucial messages that I need to honor.

Today’s Promise to consider: My dreams were signals that I needed to protect myself from the chaos of my son’s addiction. Over the years, I’ve learned to be grateful for the thoughts that visit me at night. They help me to visualize my fears and respect my frailties.


RECOVERY HAPPENS: “NEVER GIVE UP”

TM_1696 (1)A friend of mine forwarded me a letter written by her son. He wrote: The moral of this story is: Never Give Up. Life is an absolutely terrifying phenomenon, but there is always hope hidden somewhere. On July 28, 2012, I remember sitting alone in a drug induced state, watching the sunrise and praying for a god to kill me. I prayed for no afterlife so the pain, the inner anguish, could finally end. This was the moment when I had an epiphany. I thought that instead of slowly watching myself die, I would give life a chance. I checked into rehab and I got clean. Turns out that was the easy part. Staying clean, that’s where shit gets real. I had to figure out who I was, better yet, who I am. The answer didn’t happen overnight. Hell, it’s still an ongoing process. I had to accept that I’m an awkward guy, a people pleaser who doesn’t want anyone to find out that I’m just an asshole with a big heart, and a nervous wreck who tries his best to remain calm. Then something magical happened: I realized that I wasn’t alone. One day I woke up and thought, “Holy damn, I can relate to other people without the use of drugs or alcohol, and they might even like me for who I am?!” And that was a beautiful thing. Life is a beautiful thing. I never thought I could make it to four years clean and sober. With the right attitude, essentially anything is possible.

My reflection: This young man calls out many important parts of the recovery process and delineates the numerous epiphanies that happen along the way. I often hear addicts talk about the rays of hope that enter when things are at their worst and the personal bottoms that ignite the gift of desperation where real change takes hold.

Today’s Promise to consider: This young man’s words remind us all that with addiction there is hope and that sobriety is possible. He discovered that life can be a beautiful thing. Our prayer is that all our suffering children fight for and embrace life in recovery.

 

 

 


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