Graduation | A Mother’s Story Of Her Son’s Recovery
Woo Hoo! I’m a proud Mama of a graduate! Zachary is doing great and ready to embark on the rest of his New Life. I am so proud of him and am grateful for the support of the New Life House staff, all of his New Life House brothers, their families, and the graduates who continue to give back.
Before Zachary became a part of New Life House, he had spent the previous year in and out of other programs. But nothing was working and Zachary continued to spiral downhill. His father and I were distraught, running out of money, and unsure what more we could do. After getting kicked out of a program in Utah, Zachary found himself homeless. We gave him a choice –he could continue to live on the streets or agree to go Montana to the Wilderness Treatment Center. He chose the latter.
At WTC, glimpses of my funny, sensitive, caring Zack began to poke through the dark fog that had engulfed and smothered him for far too long. He started to find himself and said he was ready to change. I wanted to believe him but I had no idea if he would quickly lose himself once again. New Life House was recommended as a place for him to go to give him a chance for long-term recovery and sober living.
As much as I wanted our beautiful son to be nearby and become a part of our daily lives again, I couldn’t allow Zack back to come back into our home. I loved and missed him but all my trust in him was eroded. And I knew he needed to be in a safe place where he could get a fresh start, somewhere that would provide him structure and support and where he would be surrounded by people who could help him. His father and I liked what we read on the New Life House website and what we heard when we talked with the staff and with other parents whose sons were living at the House. So, when he finished the program at WTC, he was dropped off at the airport to catch a flight to LA. Flying alone, I was cautiously optimistic that Zachary would make his connecting flight and arrive at the Los Angeles airport. I was also bracing myself for the phone call that would tell me that he never showed up.
Good news! Zachary arrived at LAX and made his way to Reality House. I was relieved but I can’t say that I was happy that Zachary was there. I didn’t want to feel anything. I was tired of crying, tired of being angry, tired of spending money I didn’t have, and tired of the strain on my family and my health. I was simply tired. I hadn’t given up but I had let go. It was now up to Zachary to choose to walk down a new path to a new life.
From the onset, my expectations were exceeded. During my first visit, I was impressed with how the guys carried themselves and interacted with one another. I saw immediately that this was the “real deal” – a place of understanding and caring. There was structure, accountability, respect, shared purpose, and comradery. I was hopeful, for the first time in a very long time.
In the first weeks after his arrival, it was really weird having to talk to Zachary while some unknown stranger listened in to every conversation. After traveling 3000 miles to visit my son after not seeing him for three months, I was frustrated that I could not go out to dinner alone with him. But this is a system that relies on guys watching out for the other guys. And it works. It makes sense. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Zachary has had to learn, to earn his privileges, “own” his failures and mistakes, and to give back. There have been chores, writing assignments, group meetings, excursions with families, trips to feed the Homeless, and trips to Knotts Berry Farm. After several months at the House it was time for him to find a job, then go to work, and then keep the job. This is a place of shared accountability, where giving back is expected and valued. It is also a place where strangers become friends and family, where we share our sons and celebrate their success stories.
My shy, silly Zachary can still be shy and silly but thanks to New Life House, he is healthy, happy, and no longer lost. He has now graduated and has such a bright future ahead of him! I love him dearly and am so proud to see the poised, articulate, responsible and confident young man he has become.