ADDICTION AND THE HOLIDAYS

I wrote this about the Christmas of 2006: My family knows well the Hell of addiction, but we know only our own Hell. Those who love addicts suffer. The addict suffers. No one is immune. In our family, we each handled our grief differently. Jeremy held things inside, caught in that gap between loving his brother and hiding the truth and loving his brother and telling the truth. Tim and I suffered and responded in our own divergent ways. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, no one knew what to do. During the Christmas of 2006, when neither son came home for our large Italian family gatherings, 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: The holidays put the addict on center stage when the accumulated chaos of his or her life, and ours, causes excruciating public pain. It is during these family gatherings of joy that addiction often taunts and mocks us the loudest.

Today’s Promise to consider: During the holidays, addiction can severely isolate us, making us feel ashamed of all the ways our lives are not as joyful as they’re supposed to be. I will avoid this dangerous place by being patient and compassionate with myself and my loved one. I will find my serenity in honesty and prayer. I will not allow addiction to rob us of our peace.


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Penny
Penny
9 years ago

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you Libby and your family and to all who have suffered and are suffering the pains of addiction. I am so very blessed in so many ways, but the blessing that is forefront right now is the fact that my son chose sobriety over his addiction for the entire holiday season. This Thanksgiving and Christmas have been the best I can remember in a very long time. I am living proof that “staying close” and keeping the faith has truly brought me wonderful rewards. As I watched my son and his family celebrate, and I mean truly celebrate, my heart was so full of joy that I can’t find the words to describe it. So my best advice is “stay close”, keep the faith and remember where there is breath there is hope. Thank you God!!!

Libby Cataldi
Libby Cataldi
9 years ago

Dear Penny, We’ll stay close to our addicted loved ones and each other. Prayers for a blessed, peaceful and healthy New Year. Love to all!!!!
Libby

Jane
Jane
9 years ago

Libby I related to every word you wrote in this blog this week. We have had a decade of horrible holidays. I began to dread them. The pain of the holidays was excruciating because the happiness and joy of the season is highlighting how so very sad your own family is. What is supposed to be a time of peace and joy is a time of unrest and chaos.
This was the first “peaceful holiday I have had since about 8 years ago. Pain doesn’t last forever ive been told,but it certainly feels like a very long time.
Merry Christmas to all and for those of you still experiencing pain this holiday I will pray for peace for you. Know that the holidays will be over, some self care is in order, and stay close.
Love Jane

Pennie
Pennie
9 years ago

Tonight I am grateful, grateful my son is still alive after attempting intentional Heroin OD this morning. He was found and is now in the hospital – I was able to speak with him this evening. He is 37 has a wife & four children and this has been quite a ride for everyone – a ride that has lasted, in one season or another, over the last 17 years. I read “stay close” just last month & it is truly a gift for those of us on this journey – the first time I ever read of my own journey so exactly. It’s been a rough day and I thank you all for your prayers – my heart goes out to each of you and my prayers for you & those you love. This is my first post ever.

Pennie
Pennie
9 years ago

I just noticed how I can write “intentional Heroin OD” – Suicide is such a difficult word.

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

Dear Pennie… Thank goodness your son is alive!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Love, prayers and good wishes to all…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Coming to this site helps me to stay strong – To hold on – To stay hopeful – Even when things seem a bit hopeless. My 26 year old son is going through a bad stretch; I do not understand his hell, he does not understand mine. It is harder than ever to stay close to my son right now, but I will – Somehow. Somehow differently though. I’m grateful that I have the opportunity.

Pat Nichols
Pat Nichols
9 years ago

Our prayers go out to you Pennie and your son. We pray for his complete healing and recovery from his addiction.

I have a friend who son OD on heroin two years ago after a decade of addiction. He was in the ER and the Dr. told my friend that he would not live. What a heartbreaking scene but God had other plans. He not only survived but has remained clean and in recovery (mind, body & spirit) for two years.

Libby said, I’ve grown stronger as a mom: I’ve adopted a new motto — “Talk Less, Pray More” — and usually I rember to abide by it. (Stay Close, pg. 282).

I also try to remember this motto and when I pray, I pray not only for my child but for your child as well.

Pennie
Pennie
9 years ago

The loving support here keeps my hope alive and I too pray for us all your children and mine – we are all so connected. Thank you A. & Pat for your encouragement!Libby, thank you so very much for your deep heart opening to us all! I’ve realized how very alone I’ve felt for a very long time. We’re flying out soon to be with our son & family – I feel like we’re walking directly into madness & I’m gathering all the wisdom & strength I can hold to be full of love, boundaries, strength. In the midst of this we will be caring for our 7 & 8 yr old grandchildren who have their own issues. Please pray I remain sane & centered.

Hope
Hope
9 years ago

Dear Pennie -This is just devastating. I am so so sorry. I am praying for you, your son, all out children and grandchildren. Mightily praying. Without ceasing. I thank God for this site. Jane hit the mark in her words. I tried to cling to those I could be with in joy this year. But hard with a missing son. Pray. Pray . Pray. Sometimes, the fight for our sanity in the midst of their chaos feels hopeless. But it is not. And we, are not alone. Love to all. Our kindred and family here.

Pennie
Pennie
9 years ago

Thank you everyone for your powerful prayers – mine are with you also. Hope you say it well, our kindred family here.

Barbara
Barbara
9 years ago

Dear Pennie,

I am praying for you and your son. Stay strong and try to keep your spirits up for your grandchildren. You are a very special grandmother to care for them during this difficult time.

I will pray that your son gets the help he desperately needs for himself and his children.

Love,
Barbara

Barbara
Barbara
9 years ago

Dear Libby,

I, like Jane, related to every word of your message this week. The holidays are difficult for me because I miss hearing my son’s voice, calling me from prison, to wish me a Merry Christmas.

Jane, I’m so glad you had a peaceful Christmas.

Libby, I know this holiday must have been difficult for you and your family because your mother just passed away.

I’m praying for you, and all of us here, for a happy, healthy new year.

With much love,
Barbara

Jane
Jane
9 years ago

Penny my prayers are with you at this difficult time. I also experienced this a few summers ago when my son had a multidrug overdose across the country and we got the call at 10 pm one evening from an ER doc.once we knew he would survive, the next ,haul was will his brain be ok. It was a difficult time not knowing what he would be like when he came off the ventilator. He has recovered mostly, is sober today, but a bit of me died during that time, while most of me got even stronger if that makes any sense.
Feeling your pain and praying for your strength

Barbara
Barbara
9 years ago

Dear Pennie,

My son died from an overdose of heroin. I believe it was an accident, but I’ll never know for sure.

I can also relate to what Jane said in her posting. Some of me died when my son passed away. I read Libby’s book after he passed and the people here, on this blog, have been a life saving grace for me. Their loving support has been a Godsend. And, I will be forever grateful to Libby for starting this forum.

I’m praying you will find some peace through this difficult journey.

With love and prayers,
Barbara

Jane
Jane
9 years ago

As New Year approaches, the holiday I hate the most, I breath deeply and pray for peace and serenity for all of us and our loved ones.
Prayes and wishes for a quiet evening for all of you
Jane

Libby Cataldi
Libby Cataldi
9 years ago

The holidays are the perfect time for us to reach out and help each other. Barbara, thanks for your words of comfort below about Mom’s death. We had her memorial service on Friday while all the grandchildren were home for the holidays. It was lovely and the church was filled with her spirit. She was our pray warrior for Jeff, but even with her strong prayers, Jeff’s addiction lasted fourteen years. There are no guarantees with addiction and there is no finish line. I pray for Jeff and for all our children. I pray for us. Pat, thanks for the reminder to ‘talk less, pray more.’ It’s easy to forget.
Love to you all. Prayers for a 2013 of serenity and healing.
Libby

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

Dear Libby and all of you who continue to share your experience, strength and hope. It took me this long to respond to Libby’s meditation…the holidays have been incredibly challenging. I am so grateful that Libby has created this forum as few people understand the devastation of addiction and the toll it takes on the family.
My beautiful son relapsed 2 days before Christmas. His relapse also fell on the heels of giving my first ‘lead’ at an anniversary Alanon meeting. One of my messages in my lead was “my son is good, today.” I will celebrate his 7 month recovery, not knowing what tomorrow may bring.”
Christmas eve was, again, without him. However, our family pulled together and I never felt as if I was in ‘crisis mode’ as I was so many times in the past. I sat with my son in a beat up gym, held his hand while he was in active withdrawal. We cried together. My other two sons were also by his side, quiet and privately praying. I tried to comfort him in the only way I knew how. I still believe in him and know that relapse is part of recovery. I know that I would never have been able to ‘stay close’ to him in this way, had it not been for Libby, her incredible book and all of you who have held my hand through this process. If we can hold each other’s hand, why can’t we hold the hand of our loved one who grapples with this ugly disease?
I am SO glad the holidays are behind us. I wish all of you a happy, healthy, joyful and peaceful new year. As Libby always reminds us, ‘Let’s stay strong for one another.’
Love,
Nanci

Hope
Hope
9 years ago

It is New Years Day and I was in the middle of painting a chair -(a fun distraction- still no words from my son– for months ) I want to stay close –send emails not knowing if they land anywhere—but he is using and with a group where he fells accepted — and does not want contact — but as I was there, on my knees– I started thinking about Penny and wondering how she was and how her son was making out. And all of you.

And this site.

Anonymous–your courage gives me strength.

So it is a new year but we live one hour at a time sometimes. My prayers go out to all and each of us. I have one resolution this year. Every time I see a bird take flight—-I will imagine the bird is an angel — a prayer will be sent up and out for all who suffer because of the disease of addiction. I live by a river. There are a lot of birds.

I still have so much faith in the healing power of prayer. When I forget my prayers the world closes in and grimness takes over.

God bless Libby and all here in this forum. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me through sorrow as I keep working my way to acceptance and live with sadness but still, yes, keep joy alive. Hope-ing on, dear Hearts all.

Libby Cataldi
Libby Cataldi
9 years ago

Dear Nanci,

I’m so sorry to read about your son’s relapse two days before Christmas. He had seven months, and we will celebrate with you. Jeff always says one day is HUGE in the life of an addict. I love what you wrote, “If we can hold each other’s hand, why can’t we hold the hand of our loved one who grapples with this ugly disease?” Dr. MacAfee reminds me that relapse is part of recovery, but his words could never take away the pain.

We will stay strong for each other and for our loved ones. I’ll join Hope on my knees.

Love to you all.

L