Jeff, Libby, cousin Ferdinando

A mom wrote to me, I wrote to you a few years ago about my son’s gambling addiction. As every parent, we barely functioned for almost three years. After his marriage of two years ended, he went to rehab and a halfway house for some time. Today, he has a good job, met a great girl and seems to be doing well. He just announced his engagement and even though things seem better, I worry. I know I should have a positive outlook, but the past haunts me. How do you ever begin to trust and live without fear?

My reflection, I once asked Dr MacAfee this same question, “How do I learn to trust again? The past is hard to forget and I worry what might happen in the future.” The good doctor said, “Your feelings are normal. You’ve been vigilant a long time. Be patient with yourself.”

Today’s Promise to consider, Trusting that a recovering loved one will stay well and not return to the chaos of addiction is difficult. Most of us have been deeply scarred by years of turbulence. Today, I’ll be gentle with myself. I’ll breathe, acknowledge my fear and move toward releasing my worry. In doing so, I learn to live with trust. My loved one deserves this effort. So do I.

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8 years ago

This blog is exactly what I needed this morning, thank you for such perfect timing. My son’s been home from prison for just under a month now and all the old behaviors are back. His AND mine. The original plan was for him to go to a half way house and then he was released early because Prop 47 passed in CA and bam, here he is with me. The situation isn’t healthy, he needs to move to a half way house and this blog confirmed that for me. Have a blessed day.

pat nichols
8 years ago

Our addicted children, who have accepted recovery, understand and respect our boundaries. That is, boundaries set out of love and not punishment. In other words, our “appropriate” boundaries are for us, they protect and keep us healthy. At least, that has been my experience.

I trust my addicted child who is nearing two years of being clean and sober. However, I know relapse could occur at any moment and my trust could be violated. I believe that allowing trust to be redeveloped in stages, over time, is healthy for everyone.

So, let’s say I go home this evening and my fancy expensive TV is missing – what would I do? I would call the police and file a report giving details of the likely thief. I would reset my boundaries and we would begin recovery over again. If that happens, I will be just fine!

I am at peace. I understand addiction and I understand my place in this process. My past scars have healed and I have made my amends to all those who I have harmed and forgiven all who have harmed me. That’s my recovery, one that results in a continuing life of peace and serenity.

If you are a parents of an addicted child then I suggest you visit the parent support group, “” as all the support and literature is specifically tailored for parents and grandparents. There are face to face support group meeting as well as online forums.

Addiction has no right to take our lives away!

In prayer for all who suffer from this disease.

8 years ago

I have totally enjoyed all of your beautiful meditations. They all are so perfect for my life as well. I too have a son… Jeffrey who will be coming home to us after 5 years of encarceration. He went in for burglary, but the underlying cause of the stealing was for addiction. My son seems so well now, but we worry too about entering back into society and learning to live, making good choices. It will be difficult and I have put a binder of all your beautiful meditations together for him and had you sign your book for him to read. I pray daily that our relationship will begin to heal and we once again can be close.

Ann R
Ann R
8 years ago

This post resonated so with me! My son has 15 months in recovery and is very involved with the program. He’s a college student and still lives with us. I have recently found myself worrying about relapse when he stays out very late at night and doesn’t communicate with us. It just triggers the feeling from the old addict “hiding ” behavior. I pray for continued recovery and faith in his recovery. Intellectually I know I can’t do recovery for him and I must pursue my own relationship with God. I will trust in Him!

8 years ago

Thank you all.

Pat, always your words ease my heart when I need it and it matters — Veronica my prayers especially as you finally see your son liberated and try to adjust. For you Carri, realizing your boundaries and the healthy thing to do is an amazing realization. Hard and brave. And you Ann, trying not to let fear creep in as recovery goes on — such a moment to moment fragile thing.

I need to share something.

My son on methadone now about a month and in a day goes to rehab finally.

He is doing… well.

I share this because there was a time the thought of my son on methadone was no different than him being on an illegal drug.

But this is different. He is not depressed. He is legal. He is being treated with dignity. He is opening up and sharing. He has a way of coping. He is acting in true good faith.

And yet …..

As for trust. I visited him the other day. Before I left he said — um– you left your purse and left the room. I did something. And he gave me forty dollars. Dropped his head. “I don’t even know why I did that,” he said. ” Maybe I was going to buy and use. I am so so so sorry. ”

I heard the truth of those words. “I don’t even know why I did that.” I hugged him and said old habits die hard. I had not one ounce of anger. None. I also did not take it personally. Will I count money in my wallet again before next time I visit? Probably.

So it goes. There was time this all might have stabbed me or gotten dramatic. Not now maybe because I know the path to all our recovery is so twisty.

One thing this disease has taught me, though, is how VERY much of what my children do or do not do is so NOT about me.

Only others dealing with addiction in their relationships would know this on the spot confession by my 34 year old son is a small victory in the path to his recovery and our family recovering Trust.

I hope you tell this at your meeting tonight I told him. I really do. Say your mother was proud of your choice and courage.

And I was.

Again , we loved ones of those who deal with addiction live in different worlds- worlds where words like courage victory and success are defined in terms we never dreamt of maybe. But they are still real. Very.

Some one once said to me, maybe with good intention, how much lower do you have to lower the bar ? ( she meant my standards.. or whatever we measure our happiness by I guess. ) I got angry. I threw the bar away a long time ago, I said, Best thing I ever did.

Did I ever think I’d be think about hiding my wallet form my child? Never. Or happy for a confession? Never.

Trust is earned in action not words. In the present moment too. And keeping a heart wide open to the possibility of healing is often hard work.

Trust in themselves first and self forgiveness must be the VERY hardest thing for the recovering person.

They hurt the most in al lot this even if it seems/appears they do not.

My prayer right now :

God, please today, grant space and peace in the hearts of our struggling loved ones whether they are in active addiction or in active recovery. . Let them feel YOUR unconditional love for them so they TRUST enough in themselves to keep hope alive. Help us keep them close in spirit if not in person and loving them no matter what.

8 years ago

All of these posts are healing for me. I have been grieving the loss of my son lately. It seems to come and go. Just recently, I have so missed the sound of his voice over the phone. I even miss the “collect” calls from prison.

As I read this week’s meditation and the posts thereafter, I felt a strong urge to cry. I let it happen and afterward I felt so relieved that I am not in this alone.

Pat, your words are always heart felt words.

Joy, I am so glad that you and your son have found some peace while looking at a long road ahead. Thank you for the beautiful prayer.

Dear Veronica, how I remember all the times my son came home to us after incarceration. I remember the worry every time he left the house. But, we cannot let addiction suffocate us. It is the addict’s choice, no matter what he/she chooses. As Libby always says, stay close but out of the chaos. I will pray for you and your son. I hope that someday, you will become close again as you heal. For, it’s the courage to heal that is foremost important in the long road of recovery, for the addict, and for the parents.

Dear Ann, congratulations on 15 months of sobriety. That is huge. It’s so difficult for us, as parents, not to worry when our children are out for the evening, no matter what age they are. You’re right, all we can do is pray when they are out. Pray for renewed faith in them. I remember how difficult it was for me to trust my son when he was gone. And, when he returned, I was always looking for signs of drug use. It’s so hard to find that trust and faith, isn’t it?

My dearest Joy, I loved your post this week. You are so special to me.

Dear Jane, I have thought a lot about you lately. Please know that you and your son are in my daily prayers.

Thank you Libby, you are truly special to all of us here.



8 years ago

Barbara :

You give and give and give us all so much here — despite enduring the worst nightmare– the one we all live in fear of even as we try not to — of losing a son and then a grandson to this demon disease. I have wept for you. How can you be so giving and loving. Barbara? It is miraculous. In your saddest times please know that your light and love for us shines through every honest word you have written . It is
not fair you have had to suffer so much loss-nothing is fair about this disease but Barbara, if this even helps a little– all you have suffered is not in vain, it really is not- for your response to loss has been one of compassion and love. You help us all manage and think and rethink and act in ways we ay never have found. You are a Healer — like Libby and Jeff you have given so many of us HOPE and are a big part of my every day recovery. I hug you and hope you feel the loving arms of the God you have so much faith in – around you. Love love love to you today and every moment of the day. Amazing the bonds that shine through our words here. What Libby has done …so grateful.

8 years ago

Dear Joy,

How precious you are. Thank you for all your kind words.

Hugs and love,


8 years ago

After so many years of dashed hopes and dreams my ability to trust has been significantly impaired (not sure if it even exists at all any more).

I miss my daughter immensely and I wait and hope for a call everyday but I also fear what that call may bring. I find myself hoping again that she is getting herself clean or at least trying to figure stuff out. This I know could set me up for disappointment but as a parent it seems to be the natural recourse, to hope for the best over and over again.

Will I ever trust her, I’m not sure how to begin but I assume like everything else it will take time. What I do need to hope for is a chance to try.

Pat, thank you for your inspiration.

Joy, I love your story about your wallet. It is one many of us can understand and appreciate as a huge accomplishment for your son.

Thank you all for your posts, they always help me feel better.


8 years ago

Thank you so much for your meditation regarding trust. We think that our beloved son is better, but how do you ever really know? And, when he’s visiting our home, as much as we enjoy his company and love to see him, we still carefully monitor his movements here and lock our bedroom door so he can’t steal from us again. Hopefully, someday, we will be able to fully trust him again. Your book and your reflections continue to offer help and hope to my wife and me.
Thank you