HOPE IS FRAGILE; FEAR IS POWERFUL

by libbycataldi under Faith, Hope

A mother wrote to me: I’m giving up on prayer. 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, and violation of probation. Now it’s back to court and maybe prison this time. I’m afraid, and I can’t do this again.

My reflection: Why does fear seem so much stronger than hope? I don’t know, but there were countless times when I, too, felt like giving up on prayer. Often it’s easier to abandon hope and faith than to keep feeling crushed.

Today’s Promise to consider: When addiction’s chaos rises up again, smacks us, and knocks us to the ground, we hurt and feel despondent. It is then that we are in danger of giving up hope. But if we lose faith, all is lost. While it’s true that our loved ones need to fight their own battles, we can choose to stay close in hope and prayer. Today, let us make that choice.

“I DON’T WANT TO BREATHE MY FEAR INTO YOU”

I talked with a friend, whose son is suffering from substance abuse, and I was moved by her words to her son. “I believe in you,” she told him, “Sure I’m afraid of what the future holds for you and our family, but I don’t want to breathe my fear into you. I want to give you hope.”

My reflection: There is a song lyric that I memorized years ago, “Fear can be catching worse than a cold.” Research indicates that emotions are ‘contagious,’ and that negative emotions transfer most easily. When my son was in active addiction, I’m sure he saw tension in my eyes and heard anxiety in my voice, more often than he saw or heard peace or compassion.

Today’s Promise: It’s difficult for our suffering loved ones to carry our anxieties, as well as their own. When they are in the throes of their addiction, they are struggling with obsession, shame, and the chase of the drug. When they are in early recovery, they face countless fears daily – how to get a job, how to pay rent, and how to go the next day without drugs. Today, I’ll try to bolster my serenity and breathe hope into my loved one.

NEVER QUIT BELIEVING

A dad wrote to me: After 21 years of addiction, my son told me that during his darkest days he knew his family loved him and would welcome him back into the family when he decided to change his life. He told me that while he was working his 12 Steps, this knowledge – that home would stay close – is what gave him hope for the future. Never give up!

My reflection: My son once wrote to me, These last couple months have been trying – for both of us. Thank you for not giving up on me. You believe in me more that I believe in myself. You give me courage and strength.

 Today’s Promise to consider: Where there is life, there is hope. Let us never quit believing that recovery is possible. Addiction wants us to give up and give in. Let’s hold hands, work our own recovery program, and keep fighting the good fight. Let’s never quit believing.

ON THIS THANKSGIVING: HARDSHIP AND HOPE

by libbycataldi under Hope

The Japanese Philosopher Diasaku Ikeda tells us: Hope is a flame that we nurture within our hearts. It may be sparked by someone else – by the encouraging words of a friend, relative, or mentor – but it must be fanned and kept burning through our own determination.

Diasaku Ikeda, “On Hardship and Hope.”

My reflection: The saying, “Where there is life, there is hope,” gave me great comfort when my son was in the throes of addiction, but I never thought about hope as a decision. I looked at hope as something that was good to have, like a lucky penny or a four-leaf clover. I struggled to see how we have agency in fostering hope. Nevertheless, in my own way, I held onto the belief that Jeff would find sobriety.

Today’s Promise to consider: With addiction, we are bombarded with negative emotions. People tell us to hope, but sometimes that feels like a dream that will never come true. Diasaku Ikeda reframes the concept, reminding us that hope is a choice. Instead of being paralyzed by despair, let us nurture our hearts with the flame of possibility. On this Thanksgiving, let us believe in the infinite opportunities that are available for both our children and ourselves. Let us hope and pray that our suffering loved ones come home.

WE ARE NOT ALONE

A mother wrote to me:I’ve found strength in a very close Nar-Anon group and continue to attend meetings regularly. My husband, my son’s sister, and I are here for him when HE is ready to change. We know we can’t force him to change – we’ve tried. After three failed rehab attempts, we have nothing else to give him, only love.

My reflection: Dr. MacAfee says that addiction takes the healthiest parts of love and smashes them into worry, helplessness, and hopelessness. Waiting for our addicted child to return to us is like walking through hell, but there are hundreds of thousands of people who are suffering just as we are.

Today’s Promise: In family groups like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, we discover that we are not alone. We find other families who understand our pain, heartache, and powerlessness. Today, let us not isolate ourselves. Let us take the step to accept help from other parents who know our pain. Today, we’ll reach out our hand and trust that someone will reach back.

ADDICTION THRIVES ON FEAR

Dr. MacAfee wrote, The addiction story is a microcosm of isolation, fear, terror, confusion, and secrecy turned inward on itself in a never-ending litany of questions: “what went wrong?” “who is to blame?” “why can’t you stop?” and “why are you doing this to us?”  This drama is far more prevalent than most people realize, until addiction enters our homes and becomes a part of our own stories.

My reflection: Fear is a powerful force. When my son was in active addiction, I lived in fear. It did me no good and, moreover, my health and family suffered as I lived the daily trauma of anxiety. Only when I surrendered, stayed close, but out of the chaos, and acted out of love did addiction’s grasp begin to lose its hold on me.

Today’s Promise to consider: Fear exacerbates addiction, but it also exacerbates our fear of the pandemic, contagion, protests on the streets, gun violence, and a myriad of issues happening today. Fear can either mobilize us into action, or it can take over and paralyze us. Today, let us meet fear with courage, with strength, and with a resolve to accept what is and to move forward with hope. Love conquers fear.

 

HOPE IS THE LIGHT THAT LETS LOVE IN

A mom wrote this poem:

Let us see
there is always hope
for healing
that light appears
in the
deepest darkest
night
let hope
love
kindness
lead us
may we
never give up
the fight
for it is a fight
to keep hope alive
but hoping on
is the only way
we who love
our struggling ones
survive.

 

What I wrote in Stay Close: Our ending is in the present, in Jeff’s day-to-day choosing of sobriety. Can there be celebration in the every day, in the commonplace events and rhythms of everyday life? For us, for all the families of addicts, for the addict himself, we think yes. Jeff finds hope in his daily choice of sobriety because each choice, one day at a time, signifies that he earns the right to choose again – and again, and again. There’s freedom in choice. This story is not a promise for tomorrow, but a celebration of today. Our story ends in hope because it ends in beginning.

“Never quit believing, OK, Momma?”

“I won’t quit believing, Jeff.”

Never.

 

 

ADDICTION TAKES PRISONERS

A mother wrote to me: My son walked out of his fourth rehab, and in November of last year my husband kicked him out of our house, again. I couldn’t help but mourn. I lay on my bed and didn’t move for two days. He’s presently in an outpatient methadone program. His addiction has claimed him for five years. Methadone is not the permanent answer for my son, but he is doing better. His drug addiction has had such a big impact on our lives. I want to see him whole and clean and well again. His bruises on his arms are fading.

My reflection: Addiction affects all of us. Parents argue, siblings are confused and angry, and the addict is in his own world, chasing his next fix. Mothers cry until we have no tears left, and fathers watch helplessly, powerless to protect their families in the face of addiction. The entire family is immersed in sadness and trauma.

Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction thrives on chaos and pain. Not only does the immediate family suffer, but addiction spirals out to affect extended family, coaches, teachers, friends, priests and ministers. Especially now, during these troubling times, let us not be defeated. As families, we are powerless to stop addiction, but we can remain faithful and compassionate, while maintaining boundaries to keep our family safe. Let us stay close to our support groups. Let us keep faith and hope alive.

 

WE ARE NOT ALONE: IN ADDICTION OR ANY CRISIS

La Vogalonga, Venice, Italy

My son wrote this about his first rehab center (he was nineteen years old): I was shocked that there were no feelings that were uniquely mine. I still owned the details, but there was a community of other people across all ages that used drugs as I did and faced issues similar to mine. On some level, everyone was dealing with the same types of broken relationships, legal issues, and personal shame. I remember being comforted by the commonalities.

My reflection: Addictions have many things in common and this is one reason why Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon work. Within the group, we see ourselves and hear our pain expressed by others. We learn that we’re not alone. My son found comfort in this, and so did I.

Today’s Promise to consider: In our trauma, we find solace with others. In our stories, we learn. Today, I will acknowledge the addiction and allow myself to get help from others. I must give myself the gift of learning from other’s pain. Even though I resisted attending Al-Anon and family group meetings for several years, they became my lifeline. They didn’t fix the addiction, but they helped me to fix myself. I learned that I was not alone.

 

HOPE WHEN THERE IS NO HOPE – WITH ADDICTION AND DURING THESE TROUBLING DAYS 


2018 International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission, Dragon Boat Festival

A mother wrote to me, When my son was in active addiction, my mother always said to me, “Hope when there is no hope.” I have repeated this over and over again through the years, and it has always brought me comfort. She also said, there is no sense worrying – it doesn’t help anything, it doesn’t change anything, it just makes us miserable. Give it all to God. Hope when there is no hope. Amen.

My prayer for today: Today, let us join together in solidarity as we face the crises that confront us individually and as a global community. Today, let us help one another and reach out our hand in love and unity. Today, let us give our burdens to our Higher Power, the God of our understanding, because worrying doesn’t change anything. Today, let us hope when there is no hope. Amen.