The following is a letter from a mother to her son regarding her journey through her son’s addiction, recovery and future.
When you were a baby, I used to hold you in my arms and tell you that you could be the president one day, if you wanted. I knew it was true. You had your entire life in front of you. You were speaking in full sentences, reading, and walking before others your same age. You were so smart.
Fast forward to your senior year in high school when we discovered there was a problem. We got substance abuse counseling for you and were told you were fine to go to college. You were so fortunate.
Two years later, when you went with us to move your sister to college, and you told me you needed help again, I could hardly believe it. We knew how important college was, so we found a recovery program that allowed you to stay in college and attend the outpatient program. Thank goodness we found a program that would “fix you” in 6 months and you could graduate from college so you could move on with your life. At the same time my friend put her son in New Life House, a program for 17 months. You were so lucky you didn’t have to give up 17 months of your life to learn how to be sober. You were going to do it in 6 months because college was very important and you were so smart. (We really believed this!!!) You graduated from that program and once again, we were told you were “good to go.” We were thrilled that you were going to be able to get on with your life.
Time went by and there were some false ups, as we remained in denial, and many downs. There were mostly downs, sleepless nights, lots of prayers, and continuous worry and stress. The promises of the previous program didn’t work for you. I remember praying every single day that you would live to see the next. I thought about how horrible life would be if you didn’t live. That’s how scared I was.
You rarely came home. Once when you did, I told you I always thought of you when I looked up at the full moon. I told you we were looking at the same moon, no matter where we were, and to know I was thinking of you each time I saw it.
It took years for us to get out of denial, hit our “rock bottom,” and realize you were going to die if we didn’t act. We made many calls to different programs, interventionists, and professionals. We came and checked out New Life House and immediately knew what you needed. We told you the only place we would support you going to was New Life House. When you refused to use the train ticket we sent you to come meet with a psychologist, because you said we were trying to kidnap you, we went instead and met with him. We continued to work with the psychologist, doing everything he recommended, until it happened. Our next dream for you came true.
New Life House took you in. You were skin and bones, surly, arrogant, and confident you would convince everyone you were fine and didn’t need to be there. We weren’t even allowed to visit for several weeks because you were so nasty. You only liked two people in the house at first and couldn’t stand anyone else. Then you liked two others. Time went on and each week you would like one new person. Each time we visited you, we saw amazing changes that brought enormous pride, happiness, and gratitude.
Now when I look back at the last four years, which is when we hit our “rock bottom,” I realize what saved your life is when we “let go and let God.” Nothing changed in the cycle of alcoholism for you or for us until we realized our part in the cycle. We were in such denial, yet we truly didn’t realize it, as we were so ignorant toward alcoholism. Finally having the courage to tell you we would no longer support your alcoholism was the hardest thing we ever did, yet it was the decision that ultimately saved your life.
You have been given a second chance at life, and it is wonderful to see what you’re doing with it. As always, we will be looking at the same full moon and you have no idea how comforting it is to me to know that you’re looking at it sober!