A mother recalls her journey through her son’s overdose, learning about codependency and how she let her family heal through Al-Anon and letting go.
As I sat on the floor of the bathroom holding my son’s lifeless body, a million different memories of the past 18 years flashed through my mind; that beautiful blonde haired, blue-eyed boy running around at a hundred miles an hour, yelling, laughing and just being little. The boy, who started his fishing career at the age of 2, sitting on the edge of the couch holding just a shoelace for a fishing pole; the boy who grew into an amazing fisherman. The boy I could just sit and watch fish for hours because his fishing techniques are just fun to watch. That boy, over a few months’ time, turned into a boy I didn’t seem know anymore. A million questions also flashed through my mind. How did this happen to us? How did my beautiful baby turn into a meth addict? What did I do wrong to make him turn out this way? Why us?
We had been living in a war zone since our son had got ahold of meth. He had been using marijuana for a few years and we thought it was just a phase. He was also experimenting with other drugs, but we were unaware of it. He was still going to school and working and functioning like he always had at both, so there was no cause for alarm. It wasn’t just a phase, yet we had an addict brewing in our house and we didn’t even realize it. Nothing could have prepared us for the wrath of methamphetamine. It hit our house like a tornado and had all of our lives spinning out of control. The sleepless nights, the fighting, the screaming, the threats, I could go on and on. I felt like I was a prisoner in my own home. With my husband working out of town, I was afraid to be alone with my son but I also didn’t want to leave him alone in our home. I was afraid for him to be alone with his sister and she started spending more and more time at her friend’s houses. Luckily, my brother and his family live on the same property as us, so I had help when I needed it. Our family tried everything we could think of to fix this problem, but nothing was working. I am his mother; I am always supposed to be able to fix the problem, right? Wrong.
Lucky to be alive after his overdose, there was no more bargaining with him, no more fighting, no more trying to fix a problem we had no clue how to fix. Within 48 hours we flew him to a rehab in the desert of California, where it is 120 degrees and there are snakes, tarantulas and scorpions; just a tad different from our beautiful state of Montana. He wasn’t happy about it but he went. He wouldn’t hug me when we left. He wouldn’t even say goodbye to me, but for the first time in I don’t know how long I was able to breathe. I knew exactly where he was and I didn’t have to worry about something happening to him.
While he was in rehab, we flew down for the family counseling weekend. I had been told by his counselor that it would be intense, what I didn’t realize is that I would walk away from that weekend a completely different person. One thing I learned was that I could have won an award for my codependency skills. Honestly, I didn’t even really understand what codependency was until that weekend, but now I am pretty sure that my picture should be next to its definition in the dictionary. I was as much of a problem as the drugs were and I needed to change, our whole family needed to change in order for our son to change. I wanted a better life for us and it was full steam ahead. We started Al-Anon after that weekend and I also started counseling on my own. At Al-Anon, I didn’t feel alone. Everyone’s story was different but they are also the same and we were all there for the same reason. We went faithfully every Monday. To this day, we still go every Monday. They give me hope and at times I give some of them hope. Al-Anon is a great support system for anyone dealing with a loved one that has an addiction.
We learned that rehab is just the first stepping stone in recovery. Being sober and being in recovery are two different things. Now we needed to find the next stepping stone. While researching different sober living facilities my sister in law stumbled upon New Life House and after our initial conversation with the intake coordinator, we looked at each other and said, “This is it…this is where he needs to go.” Period. End of subject.
New Life House was the best decision we have ever made. I can’t say enough good things about the program and I truly admire everyone that works there. It makes me so proud to see how much he has grown and matured in the time he has been at New Life House. Talking to him now is like talking to my son, the young adult; I have never had a conversation with the young adult before. It’s a pretty awesome feeling. I feel truly blessed that he is alive and has been given a second chance at life. We are so thankful that our family is able to provide him with this opportunity. New Life House is his second chance and I am excited to continue to watch him grow and succeed.
It’s pretty normal for a person to say that they wish any bad situation hadn’t happened to them, but this time I choose not to say that. Without this period in our lives nothing would have changed. We would still be living life as our little family of four who were all disconnected from each other. Living separate lives even though we were all living together in the same house. It feels strange to say but my son’s addiction has changed our lives for the better. It has brought our family closer and it has made us stronger than ever. It has made me see life in a new light. I have learned so much about myself and I will never be the person I was before. For the first time in a very long time I am not nervous to see what the future has in store for our family. I am excited.