James has graduated New Life House, and he will soon be living on his own. The day I feared would never be, is here. I’m in a state of happiness, utter joy and so profoundly grateful. I know recovery never ends, day by day, year by year. As parents of addicts know, there is a daily feeling of anxiety and uncertainty you don’t understand until you face the truth head-on, and even then, it is hard. I am a single mom of three wonderful boys. Their father was not involved in their lives by his choice, which made me feel I needed to somehow make up for his loss. Our house was chaotic to say the least! James is my middle son, he always sat back, took everything in, and seemed to be on the right path (that’s what I wanted to see). His older brother was taking a somewhat wobbly path, but was doing “okay,” and his younger brother was struggling with undiagnosed autism. I was working full time, and thankfully I had the help of my family. I was never able to be on top of everything all of the time and was always in a state of chaos.
It took me years to realize the severity of James’s addiction. I wanted to believe he was okay. I wanted to believe he was telling me the truth. I wanted to believe he was not stealing from me. I wanted to believe he was where he said he was. I wanted to believe my child – my baby did not use. I sat with him through panic attacks, and delusions, I supported him and cried with him. Cherished the fun times, knowing in my soul, something was not right. While I worked, I worried about my boys. Would it mean I was a bad parent? What did I miss? I felt like a failure. What would my family say? What could I have done? These are all normal feelings….BUT all of this was not about me at all. It was plainly the monster of addiction and the torture it brings to everyone around it.
The universe works in mysterious ways. The summer of 2015 was filled with turmoil and heartache; everything was falling apart. James and his younger brother were both struggling. This ultimately lead to my youngest being diagnosed with autism; my youngest son began his journey in Utah in an incredible school for autistic children. James was not doing well. I had tried to help him to get sober on several occasions. The cycle continued. Because his brother was in Utah, I decided to do the hardest thing a mom could ever do. I took James to the grocery store, filled up the fridge, and pulled out of my driveway in Charleston, SC at 7 pm, headed for Utah to spend Christmas with his younger brother, and to start my career as a travel nurse. I remember it vividly as I type. Hugging James goodbye was the hardest, and possibly the best thing I have ever done. I was praying he would hit rock bottom without my support. And he did.
I was working in Idaho, close to my youngest, and would frequently get phone calls from James. He was delusional, paranoid, and scared. It was getting worse. I was so afraid. A few months later he finally took my offer to get on a plane and come stay with me. Away from his friends, and his life. HE made the decision. I’ll never forget him standing in my apartment, picking up the phone and calling Betty Ford. After a few hurdles, he flew out to get help. After a week they said he was done at Betty Ford. Now What? I was told about New Life House, a sober living house. His doctor recommended he stay at least a year. Weren’t those for homeless druggie crazy alcoholics? Did MY son belong there? I did some research and frankly what else was I going to do? It at least looked like a good place online. James and I talked on the phone while he was at Betty Ford. He begged me to come to Idaho first, and then he promised he would then go to New Life House. I followed the advice from his doctor. Tough love, and a great decision. He flew directly to New Life. They picked him up from the airport, and then the true healing began.
New Life House is full of love, hope, and promise. I’ll never forget walking in on my first visit. The positive energy, the love, the acceptance. It gives me chills as I type this. I knew he was where he needed to be.
Did I think he would make it this far? To be honest, I was not sure. I remember reading others stories that inspired me and gave me hope. I listened to young men talk in Saturday’s Family group, they were real, raw and honest. So Inspiring. During the months he grew and he blossomed slowly into the fine young man he is today. He decided to be called James (formally he went by Chandler) to have a fresh start. James is many things. Independent. Wise. Thoughtful. Loving. Successful. Honest. Funny. (Oh so funny!) By finding his true self, he has found his voice, and in turn, taught me things I never realized in my 48 years on this earth. I know New Life House saved James’ life. New Life House has guided the way to allow him to independently discover happiness, and goodness in life. The staff, members, graduates, and alumni give unconditional acceptance and love. They are honest and real, always with respect, and caring. They provide the brotherhood James needs and will always have. Words can’t do it justice. It’s a feeling. A wonderful one!
Because of James’ recovery at New Life, I have developed the courage to focus on me, my life and being the best mom and person I can be. I always knew I needed to take care of myself, but I was too wrapped up in my “story.” A busy single mom of three kids, no dad around, no child support, working hard to pay bills, had to do this, had to do that. During my later visits with James at the house, he would sometimes say things to me that would silently bother me, mostly about not needing my help. One night it hit me… he didn’t need me! He was growing up, becoming independent, taking care of himself. That’s the goal of parenthood, and he is almost there. Since that ah-ha moment, as a mom, I realize the easiest thing, and what I have mistakingly done, is to do everything make it easy for them. I have finally learned I cannot save my children. They have to save themselves. James has shown me this. I know without a doubt I love them and will always accept them for who they are. I know I have and will assist them in receiving the opportunities for them to make the most of their life, but they are the only ones who are able to do it. I am their biggest cheerleader and will be here to support them in their positive goals and dreams. They have to make their own way, to feel confident in themselves, and therefore their future life. New Life House has been the guiding light for James, and because of them, I have a new found relationship with my son. I am so thankful.