It’s said that addiction isn’t just the problem of an addict, but that it is also a family problem. Several years ago, I watched my college-aged son change from the sweet, funny, likable kid into this sullen, angry, person I didn’t recognize. I didn’t know what was wrong. Then I didn’t want to believe what was wrong. And then at the intake session of Matt’s first (of many) rehabs, I heard the word “heroin”. I felt like I’d had the breath knocked out of me. And at that moment, I didn’t have any choice but to know.
It’s a horribly painful experience for a mom, one I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. And I did all the wrong things. Armed with my healing “powers” as a mother, strengthened by the memories of skinned knees and tears wiped I knew that, with enough support and guidance, (and nagging and sadly, raised voices) I could help him heal. After all, I’m the MOM!
It was through counseling and Al-Anon meetings I learned that being a “mom”-constantly rescuing him from consequences -was actually hindering his recovery. The work “co-dependency” entered my vocabulary. I studied, I read and I learned. I’m not even beginning to take the first ounce of credit for my son’s recovery. HE did that. But my job was to get out of his way, to let him fall and not fix it for him. It went totally against all my motherly instincts, and it was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. It felt so selfish to let go! I had incredible guilt, but the support I received helped me stay the path.
Matthew beat the odds! He’s a statistical marvel. He’s been sober for almost 4 years and this past month he married the love of his life, Maddie, who has also battled her own addiction demons. They are also best friends, and they both know first-hand what the other has been through. They have found a house, and they both feel strong enough to leave the “nest”. There are no words to describe how thankful I am that he found the courage to fight his way back. I watched his struggle and his pain and I won’t even pretend to imagine how hard it was for him. Somehow, he found the strength to come back from hell.
Advice? I’m not qualified! I don’t know what to say to anyone who is in the position I was in a few years ago. It’s hard. Get professional help. Find support groups. Read! And never lose faith. And remember the Serenity prayer “Accept the things you cannot change”. Control is an illusion, you are not in charge. You can’t “fix” your child until they are ready to do it. It’s hard work. I really do think luck and timing play a big part in recovery stories. Don’t play the blame game. Find your peace as best you can.
And now-it’s time to thank Watershed for being there when Matt was finally ready to claim his life back. Thank you for giving him the tools and support he needed to grow and learn and come back to health. Thanks also for the support you’ve given me-long distance-and the support you continue to offer even after he and his new wife have moved forward. And most of all, thank you for giving me back my funny, happy, lovable son! I’m eternally grateful.
Lynn D. Memphis TN