Exploiting Guilt | A Letter To My Parents

The following is a letter that was written by one of the alumni of New Life House, two years after he first came to us.  We’ve changed his name (for privacy reasons), but otherwise the letter is as he wrote it.

Dear Mom,

I don’t know how it happened, but I needed to write this to you.

I needed to be honest with you. 100% totally, completely, honest.

Somehow, I became a terrible person.

Somehow, I became a professional B.S. artist.

Somehow, I became an awful son.

Looking back, it started small. Little white lies that I was able to convince myself would never hurt anyone. Hey… I was having fun. There was no harm in that (or so I thought at the time).

The summer before high school began, and I would take the $15 you gave me for the movie and that extra $5 for popcorn, and spend the day smoking weed and drinking beer in the park.

When you would ask me how the movie was, I would mumble some response and walk away.

Who cares…” I would think, as I went and hid in my room.

You wanted me to have fun with my friends.

I had somehow convinced myself that I was. Even at that young age, I used your kindness to get high. 


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Kids can be selfish. I took that to another level.

I loved getting high.

If I had to tell a “little” lie to make that happen, so be it. If I had to manipulate you guys to get my way – I was okay with that. I was already an addict. We just didn’t know that yet.

I became a master of self-justification.

I had started lying not only to you, but to myself as well.

I became the busiest person in the world. I always had places to go, things to do.

Of course, these places and activities required money – Your money.

I could have won an Academy Award for the stories I told, the lies I wove, the absolute bullshit that came out of my mouth, and that you would accept from me.

I thought I was fooling you. Even if I wasn’t, I didn’t care. I just wanted to get high.


Kids can be selfish.  I took that to another level.

John New Life House Alum

Remember that “camping trip” that I went to the summer after 9th grade? You and dad took me to the store to buy my tent. It breaks my heart remembering the look in your eyes, how excited you were when I chose the grey one.

All you ever wanted was for me to be happy.​

I just wanted to get high.

That was one more of my lies.

One more time I took your love for me and turned it against you.

What was I really doing?

I was spending three days at a rave party.

Every cent you gave me went to cocaine and ecstasy.

I took your unconditional love and support for granted, never pausing and thinking how devastated you would be if you found out. I wish I could say that was as bad as it got. I wish I could say I didn’t cause you even more pain and heartbreak year after year.

It got worse. That was just the beginning.

I doubled down on my b.s. I didn’t care that it must have been killing you inside. I remember the late-night conversations – I would stand there in front of you…

Blurry eyes.

Slurring my words.


I didn’t care about the tears in your eyes. The pain you must have felt, questioning me.

I wish I could take that back, but I can’t.

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I didn’t care about the tears in yours eyes…

John New Life House Alum

Of course, did I stop there?

Hell no.

I wouldn’t, I couldn’t sober up before I came home.

It would be late – hours after my curfew, and you would be lying awake in bed, praying that I would get home safe. I always made it home (I don’t know how… )

Reeking of booze, blurry eyed, and slurring my words.

You would be there, waiting for me, even though you had to work in just a few hours.

I was the most important thing in your life, and you wanted me safe.

I didn’t even want to look at you.

I had always been a good student, and an athlete. As we know, that stopped. You had always liked my friends.

They stopped being my friends.

I didn’t care. I had new friends. Friends that I shared a passion with – getting high.

You tried to tell me that you didn’t like them. That something was off about them. I didn’t care.

I had become a con-artist, and you and dad had become my mark.

It didn’t matter that I was your son – that just made it easier for me. I didn’t care that I knew I was hurting you.

I needed money.

You had money.

If I had to hurt you to get it – fine. If I had to lie to you – fine. If you caught me – you were the bad one, not me.

Looking back, the way I treated you was disgusting.

I was a full blown addict.

I still needed you to buy me clothes, make my bed, do my laundry. I still needed you for everything!

Not once did I realize that you needed me, prayed for me, to show up for you as a son. How did I keep getting money from someone who I hurt time and time again? How did I force you to believe me? How did I manage to keep you playing my selfish game, when every part of you wanted something better for me?

I had become a con-artist. You had become my mark…

John New Life House Alum

You loved me with everything inside of you! I turned that purest of emotions into a leverage for emotional extortion.

I used every drop of your love to squeeze money out of you. Month after month, I bled you dry emotionally, to continue financing my drug abuse. I was so self-obsessed that I was blind to the pain it brought you to see me failing in life.

I was flushing my life down the drain and the only thing that mattered was staying high.

As long as I could stay high, nothing else, not even the way I was destroying the family, mattered.​

I am so grateful for the day that everything changed.

I hated you for it at the time, but I don’t know if I would be around today if it hadn’t happened.

You stopped giving in.I can only imagine how hard it must have been for you, the strength that it took to stand your ground. You loved me so much you couldn’t keep participating in me killing myself.

Thank you for putting your foot down.

You saved my life. No longer would you give in to my demands.

I am so sorry for the hurtful things I said to you then, the way I tried to make you feel guilty for caring about me. For the first time, my words, my screams, my cries, my threats, and my tantrums had no effect.

Thank you for refusing to give me money.

Thank you for telling me I needed help.

Thank you for making treatment my only option.

I wish I could take back telling you I hated you. I never hated you – I was just terrified that the drugs I had become so dependent on might be going away. I told you I felt manipulated – thank you for caring enough about me to not give in.

Thank you for not folding when I said I felt abandoned, betrayed, and lied to.

Thank you for loving me so much that even when I screamed and clawed, you didn’t budge.

With nowhere else to turn, I did what you said.I went to treatment. That was when everything changed.You gave me the opportunity for a second chance at life.I learned how to live a life sober.

I learned how to help others, and about creating real connections with people.I learned to have passion for my life, and I started believing in my own potential.

I write this letter to you now, with over 2 years sober, to say this:THANK YOU.

Thank you for doing the hard thing, and holding a line with me.

Thank you for making one of the most difficult decisions of your life.

Thank you for not giving me what I thought I needed, and giving me what I actually needed – a second chance at life!

I love you,