A New Life House Father Shares His Story of Love and Hope
I am a peacemaker and a problem solver. For most of my life, those qualities have served me very well. I love people and most people like me. I like it that way! I am the human equivalent of a Golden Retriever…I love to make people happy! In my relationships, I can usually find a middle ground so I can avoid conflict. If you are reading this because you are dealing with an addicted son or daughter – you know where this is going.
All of these qualities that have served me well in my life, personally and professionally, got me into big trouble when I was dealing with a rebellious teenager; and even bigger trouble when that rebellion led to experimenting with marijuana, and eventually much harder drugs.
My son Caleb is an addict – it took me a long time to just be able to say those words out loud. There is not any middle ground here – but, for a long time, I was sticking my head in the ground, not wanting to face the reality. I did a lot of rationalizing on his behalf, all while he was slowly killing himself through a spiral that was taking him deeper into a world of drugs where I couldn’t reach him. No matter how much love and forgiveness I gave him – he only saw inconsistency and weakness that he could capitalize on to get his next fix, and his next and so on. You see, it wasn’t my son I was dealing with anymore – I was dealing with a drug addict who would do anything, say anything to satisfy his addiction. I had become his enabler and I was literally loving him to death. He no longer wanted to be a part of our family, and our family was being torn apart. I had no idea how to live my life without our son, but I didn’t have a choice.
In August of 2015, a miracle happened: Caleb asked us for help! We found a Wilderness program and he was willing to go. It wasn’t easy, but he had started his road to recovery. We also received some great advice from his counselor that we needed therapy as well. Our family dynamic was toxic and we all played a role in making it that way. If we really wanted him to recover, we had to learn all about the disease of addiction, and we had to embrace our part in the family problem so we could all heal. For me, I had to face that I was his enabler, and I had to commit to strong boundaries in case he returned to active addiction. I learned that my happiness can’t be dependent on his decisions and that I can hope he stays sober, but I can’t expect it. These are all very hard lessons and not ones that I wish on anyone, but if you are dealing with addiction in your family, it is reality. No amount of love or avoidance will change that.
After 71 days and nights in the wilderness where he worked very hard on facing his problems, he went to New Life House to learn how to function in this life while being sober. He has learned so much about how to handle the normal activities of life, success, setbacks, surprises, celebrations…all while being sober. He still has a lot to learn and experience, and he now has a great set of tools that will guide him through life’s ups and downs. He also has a great set of friends…brothers, another family who loves him and will hold him accountable. I am so thankful that Caleb made the decision to be sober, and I am so glad that he makes that decision again every day.
Today, our son is 18 months sober! He has his life back, and he has a very bright future. I have learned a lot about addiction, and the fact that it is a disease with no cure. He can manage it, and for now, he is doing a great job of that. I celebrate every day that I have with him because 18 months ago I had lost him as a son. Now, we are looking forward to a great trip together to watch spring training baseball in Arizona – truly a dream come true for me, his very proud Father!