I think I knew to the week when my son Chris began hitting bottom.
It was a little over three years ago, and he had become increasingly erratic and difficult to reach. At one point, after having had a week’s worth of calls and texts go unanswered I had my daughter call his roommate to make sure he was still alive. During another phone call his speech was so groggy and slurred at 1:00 in the afternoon it sent chills up my spine.
Things came to a head five months later when he called to ask for more money. I reminded him we had just sent him his monthly school money four days previously, and told him I knew something was wrong. And to please tell me what it was.
Silence. Then … “you know.”
The old saying “my heart sank” doesn’t begin to capture the feeling I had at those two words. My insides and my heart really did sink – a feeling so powerful I can recall it today. Two years earlier my husband and I had found out our son was using drugs, but we let him off with stern lectures and a signed contract that if he did it again he would go to a sober living house.
“Okay,” I told him. “You have a choice. Sober living or we quit supporting you.” He asked if he could think about it for a while, which speaks to how deep in his disease he was.
The next day he agreed to sober living. I was elated, then panicked. Now what would I do? There were only about a million sober living facilities out there. How would I ever pick the right one? Intuitively I knew it would be an incredibly important decision.
Then I remembered his friend. Brian had gotten sober some years earlier but I couldn’t remember where. So I did what any other desperate mother would do. I stalked his (private) Facebook page. Which had exactly nothing public on it except a reference to New Life House. That was miracle #1.
After checking their website, I knew I had found the right place. My phone call was returned by Brett, who let me know they had one bed available. Miracle #2. I like to think I wasn’t shrieking when I replied “HOLD IT FOR US! WE’LL BE THERE MONDAY!” But I can’t be sure.
Chris told me later that he came close to not returning home. I can only say thank God he came back, and that was miracle #3. He detoxed in Phoenix during 115-degree weather while attending our niece’s wedding, and during the drive back to San Diego. The following Monday we showed up at New Life House and his sober journey began.
Of course it wasn’t smooth sailing from there. He hit plenty of bumps, walls and obstacles of his own making. At month seven he came very close to leaving the house, but had a last-minute change of heart and didn’t. At month 12 he tripped up again (Chris likes to say he really got his money’s worth out of New Life House). Through it all, the management of New Life House never gave up and kept working with him. And as parents, we kept working with the management and following their lead. To any new parents of New Life House members who are reading this, my ESH is this: trust the house managers. They know what they’re talking about.
Chris’ father and I are so immensely proud of how far he’s come in sobriety and how hard he’s worked for it. Knowing the ups and downs he’s faced has made us appreciate his efforts that much more.
Today he’s coming up on three years sober, is living and working in Los Angeles, has a girlfriend, stays involved with the house, and is happy and busy. All the things we had hoped and dreamed for him when he was young. I know that he wouldn’t have this life today if he had gone to any other sober living facility. New Life House literally saved his life.