An addict writes: I’ve been battling this affliction for the better part of my life. I’m trying again and the task in front of me is daunting, terrifying and hideously familiar. However, I am reminded today that I can get clean, that there is something bigger than myself. If that isn’t a higher power at work, I don’t know what is.
Reflection: As a mom, I never really understood that I could never understand the pain of the addict, of my son. I was so immersed in my own pain and the trauma of our family that I couldn’t see the other side, what my son must have been feeling. The words above daunting, terrifying and hideously familiar begin to paint the picture of an addict’s life as he faces detox, sobriety and recovery. Compassion – we must stay compassionate. The journey into sobriety is theirs; we can only stay close and love them.
Today’s Promise: I will learn greater compassion for my son the addict. That does not mean that I will enable him or give him money that he could use for drugs. What it does mean is that I’ll love him through his addiction. Home won’t go away. I will not abandon him. I will try to understand his shame, his trauma.63
Thanks for the reminder that we will never really know the pain and anguish of the addict. We too easily get caught up in our own misgivings about their issues and want them to get a grip and take care of their problem. Addiction is hideous and hideous doesn’t have an easy solution.
This blog is a fine idea. Good luck with it.
This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!
I feel as though I just read my life story. I am also from Maryland and took your book to Italy when I went on a vacation last month. I did not read it until returning to my home in Maryland.
There are so many similarities, I am still shaking my head. I also have two sons. My older son, David, is the one with addiction problem. He is also several inches shorter than his younger brother, Andy. The boys are now 31 and 29. David was also at Father Martins in the late ’90’s and they sent him to the Boca House in Florida. He stayed there for over a year and I remember hearing the story about the guy from there who relapsed and the great surprise. David said that was one person who he thought would not relapse.
A couple of weeks ago, David entered a halfway house in Severna Park, this is his 15th shot at rehab. I feel that things are a bit different this time and can only pray. I did not think he was going to survive in 2010 and now I do have new hope.
I am also divorced and am a breast cancer survivor. I has a mastectomy six years ago and, yes, David is take some of my pain pills.
Andy got the short end of the deal many times. David required so much energy from our home that often times there was nothing left for Andy. I feel sadness that Andy’s life was so negatively affected by his brother’s behavior and try very hard to make it up to him.
Andy brings me much happiness and I thank him in many of our conversations. I haven’t been proud of David for the last couple of years, and now that he asked for help and went to the halfway house, I am proud of him.
I am also employed at an Independent School in Maryland.
Thank you so much for your wonderful book. It has truly had a huge impact on my life.
Thank you for reaching out here. The similarities in our stories are amazing, and it proves again and again that addiction doesn’t discriminate. It is everywhere and we parents suffer and keep the silence. Addiction suffocates us all.
David asked for help – this is a big step. Dr. MacAfee, Jeff’s therapist, once told me, “If we’d learn to deal with addiction with a candle instead of a flood light and hammer, we’d have better results.” I never realized how much Jeff suffered, too, and Jeremy.
We’ll stay close to both our sons and pray that our first-born sons stay clean, for themselves most of all.
With love and respect.
Excellent line up, Aliquot! Maybe next year, my book will make it onto the list! xox
I can certify that your headline “compassion
Great Website for Recovering People
thanks for the support site Libby and sons! I have been waiting for this to come on line. I too, have the “story” as everyone else. My son is currently on probation and out of jail in our home, and not even 20 years old yet, this has been going on for 5 years! He is also Bi Polar(or maybe just using that as an excuse), but he is definetly not “done” with the addiction stuff I can see this clearly. However, I do have the court system helping with “making” him stay clean, etc. I look at this as a God Send though it has been very difficult to have him locked up and then we he is home he is not emotionally or mentally well. We also try not to cross the line from compassion to enable, but it is hard to sometimes distinquish. It all has made me sooo sick myself, even with all the Al A Non, counseling and self help books including yours that I devoured in a week, BUT I am learning that he is sick, and just keep telling him I love him and will be there to help him if he is doing the “right” thing, but if not I know that I could have some tough love decisions to make thanks for the site again!
Your book and sharing has been so hlepful to me since I have been gong through 5 years of druguse,addiction and drug dealing with my 19 yr old son. Since being arrested in May for possesion of weed with intent to sell (felony) and then robbery (felony) he appears to be sober most of the time. Hoever he has a court date next week and it is hard to be compassionate right now because he was allowed to live with us until court and he is stealing from us so he must still be using. I am worried that he may just get probation and will want to live with us again and after 5 years of abuse, not sure if that is the right thing. He does not say he wants to be clean, only doesnt want to go to jail. He has a public defender and I will be in court, but so confused. Just venting I guess! I want the court to give him what he needs to wake him up!!! Hoping his higher power will intervene- I am sane because of Nar anon family groups-highly recomend that.
This was what stuck with me the most in your book. I realized it was ok to keep our arms and home open, he always has a safe haven to come to but we will not enable him. No more money and no bailing him out when he makes mistakes. But he knows that we love him no matter what, even though we are disappointed with his choices. I don’t agree with the “invervention” approach where you cut them out of your life if they don’t go to treatment. If we were to do that we wouldn’t get to see him, period. Thank you for showing a different approach, a more loving approach.
I understand the whole concept of loving and staying close, but why is it that everyone,including counselors, friends and family keep telling me that you need to just “let him go”, hit “rock bottom” and kick him out of your house? My 23 year old heroin addict is still actively using,has stolen from us and is nearly causing us to go bankrupt,but even though he is literally destroying my life, I still love him and only want this to all end. I go to nar-a-non meetings and see a therapist, but nothing seems to help.
To Libby & sons:
The support website is a wonderful follow-up from the eloquent book, Stay Close. Keep it up — it offers a powerful venue for parents to help one another. While I am not facing these serious issues as a parent, I am dealing with a 19 yr old daughter who is floundering, making poor relationship choices, and living a life style that I never envisioned for my youngest daughter. And, now she has brought a beautiful baby into the chaotic world she lives in. I am finding that in this situation, I must employ some of the same “stay close” strategies, that is: not feel responsible for her decisions, not enable her by rescuing her every time she needs money,and not trying to tell ehr what to do.
But rather, I am “staying close”, offering reasonable help, guidance in her new role as mother when she asks for it, but realizing that SHE must want a better life for herself and SHE must make some tough decisions about how to get there. I WILL be there to help if and when she makes the decision to go to some school, college or technical. I WILL try to help her get the needed resources for improving her situation. I WILL “stay close” –within a safe distance and with boundaries.
Thanks Libby….. you chose to use your pain and suffering in a way that helps other families cope in healthy ways with children who are living in situations steeped in chaos and self-destruction. Mar
You are so right that parents face these difficult issues each and every day, with addiction and without. Our children have to learn how to fight for themselves. I did a lot of damage by trying to rescue Jeff and it never worked. In the end, HE chose.
Jeff quotes a saying, “Never deny an addict his pain.” Another addict once told me, “I chose sobriety because I couldn’t live with the consequences of my addiction.” As Jeff’s mom, I had to learn to stay close but out of the way. Such a dichotomy, right? So counter intuitive.
Love you and we’ll stay close.
I love my son very much. He is a 23 year old addict living at home with us. My problem is the anger I have towards him.It is interfering with the love I have for him. I want my son out of my house,I can’t stand to see him throw his life away. He has no job, steals from us,sleeps all day, up all night. Most of my family have banned him from their lives. He has no true friends, he says he hates his life and wants to change, but then also says rehab centers do not work for him,he has been in 5 of them so far. I just can’t seem to comprehend the idea of throwing him out on the streets,I fear that will be the end. How do I stay close, but yet out of the way?
I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I’ve been there and I know how frightening, lonely and desperate it feels. I can’t give advice; no one can. He’s your son and you can only do what you can do.
Please know that we (everyone who reads this) will pray for you. Let’s keep our sons and our families in prayer.
You are not alone.
I am in a similar position as Lauire. My 21 Year old son has been in rehab for most of the last 3 years. I have lost count of the places. We were so hopeful after his last 7 mo rehab stay. He was home only a few weeks before he relapsed. I told him he had to leave our home,The hardest thing I have ever had to do. He ended up at a Salvation Army. It was the only place that would would take him. I fear he is still using and when they find out he will be kicked out. That will be hard because he will truly be homeless then. I don’t know how I will handle that. I am working on “letting go”. If I don’t, his addiction will kill me. Five years of pain and suffering have taken it’s toll on us all. I am so fearful of the future. I have prayed and begged and bargained . It is up to him now. Pray for them all.
I hate it when he looks me in the eye and lies. He knows I know the truth but yet he lies. I hate it when he swears and calls me names. I hate it when he breaks into our safe not once but twice and steals his own money from the safe to buy what? I hate it that we have to hide our money, keys, etc and yet he still finds everything. I hate that after 18yrs I still can’t leave him home alone. I don’t trust him. I hate it that he gets his paycheck and it is all gone by the end of the day with no answer as to where it went. I hate it when we borrow him money or buy him cigs and are told he will pay us back but never does. I hate it that I try to blame this on a mental disease when it is clearly drug addiction diseases. I hate it when he tells me that pot is not a drug. I hate it when I believe him. I hate getting tricked by him. I hate it when he says “When I turn 21 he can drink a little alcohol. I hate it when his sister says its always about him it always has been. I hate feeling her pain. I hate feeling his pain. I love it when I come here and read others stories and I don’t feel alone. Thank you Libby
Again, another reminder that our stories are all the same. Change the name but the story is the same.
Susan , you are not alone. I just discovered yet another peice of missing jewelry. I hate his addiction too! I am angry too. You are not alone.
Addiction suffocates our lives – and theirs. They are underneath all the drugs, the stealing and the lying, and they have to fight their way out. Let’s join together in prayer for our children, each other and all parents fighting this fight. Love to you.
Just when I was enjoying a few weeks of some level of peace….I spoke with a coworker today who’s daughter is also a heroin addict. She hasn’t seen or spoken to her in 7 years and yet she is here in this city somewhere. I cannot imagine not seeing my child for 7 years. It scares the life out of me that one could get to a point that they would cut off all contact. It scares me to think of what could come in the future. It is hard to not anticipate the worst.I cannot image yet I don’t judge her as I don’t know what the future hold for my son and our family.I pray it is not an ending like that.
I love Timothy’s coffee. Breakfast blend was good but I prefer Timothy’s Kona Blend.