Tradition has taught us the holidays is about coming together with family, friends, and expressing gratitude.
Six years ago, during a holiday gathering, I realized something peculiar was up with my youngest son. His demeanor was changing ever so slightly. I bookmarked the behavior and continued to do what I do best…stay busy. A couple years later, after he’d left for college, I discovered my son was struggling with low self-worth which resulted in substance abuse. His behavioral shift was indescribable and his spark for life was gone. Denial and fear owned my soul. Gratitude was not in my toolbox.
A medical leave from school, a couple of thirty day IOP’s, (intensive outpatient) and a much later intervention (new lingo for me) led him to a sixty-day wilderness treatment program followed by a recommended one-way destination to a long-term sober living facility. Where would my son go? Sober living? I envisioned yucky/dirty halfway houses. My denial paralyzed me. I wanted my son safe. Honestly, I simply wanted him back and the nightmare to go away. No part of our upcoming journey was in the parenting books I’d read. How can a parent prepare for the unknown?
Thankfully, wonderful people, who’d gone before me, led me to choose New Life House: his final destination.
This year (a couple of years later) the holiday season is different. I learned the meaning of gratitude via New Life House. What is gratitude? It’s my belief gratitude is an affirmation of goodness. The affirmation of good things in the world, gifts, and benefits we receive is healing. I’ve learned the sources of goodness are outside of ourselves. Other people, or even higher powers, if you’re a spiritual mindset, gave me many gifts, big and small, to help me achieve the goodness in my life. Gratitude brings me happiness, boosts feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure, enthusiasm, and other positive emotions. Because gratitude not only encourages me to appreciate gifts but to repay them by strengthening bonds between people who chose to help me out and extend those same gifts to those who need help with their journey.
Understanding gratitude invites me to look at how I’ve been supported and affirmed by other people. It also leads me to extend genuine thanks to New Life House and the numerous family members for supporting me and my son throughout our recovery journey.
New Life House has given me my precious son back. He’s found his voice, he’s learned to look at life with gratitude, he’s regained his ability to reveal his kind and oh so gentle heart. His spark for life illuminates in his smile. Yes, like all of us, he’s a work in progress, but the difference is he is sober, aware and cares. He continually makes an effort to do the next right thing as he helps his fellow man. He is embracing his beautiful life.
To say Thank you to New Life House is saying THANK YOU to each and every person (families, staff, and volunteers) who have touched our lives in so many beautiful ways. With a grateful heart, I’m wishing you and yours an abundance of love and compassion this holiday season.
Grateful beyond measure,