Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up."

It's been almost a month since I've posted anything here and I'm not sure why. Primarily, I think it's because things have continued to go well for my son, who is now coming up on 13 months clean and sober.

Thirteen months may not sound like a long time, but it wasn't that long ago that I was giddy if my son stayed clean for 13 days. For the parent of an addict in recovery, 13 months seems like an eternity. Personally, I still don't think I've gotten totally used to clean and sober being the "norm" for my son. But I am grateful beyond belief for every day. These days are gifts from God.

I also realize that my son will be working to stay clean for the rest of his life. His addiction isn't cured. He just has it under control. I know that today, or tomorrow, or three months from now, or three years from now things could change. But I don't worry about that like I used to. You have to live in the moment and concentrate on today. Like I've said before, the "one day at a time" adage doesn't apply only to the addict; it applies to his or her family and loved ones, too.

Although I am thrilled to death with my son's progress, I've also had some conflicting emotions lately. My son being clean and sober is an amazing thing. But I still feel for all the parents of addicts out there who are not experiencing what I am experiencing right not. I belong to many online groups for parents of addicts and see the pain and suffering that mothers and fathers are going through every day. These are parents whose children are still actively using. Some of these kids are living on the streets, some are in jail, some are overdosing. And some are dying.

I am all too familiar with the pain that a parent of an addict who is actively using feels. And my heart breaks for these parents. Granted, it was a long, hard road for my son--and our family--to get where we are today. But many of these other parents have been on longer, harder roads. Some have lost hope. Others struggle to get through each day. Again, I know that feeling. But I have been given a reprieve from it. At least for now.

If you read this blog, please take a moment out of your day to say a prayer--or whatever your equivalency of that is--for all of the parents and families of addicts who are still suffering; and for the addicts themselves.

Addiction sucks. It is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. It takes your loved one and changes them into someone you don't even know. It rips families apart, emotionally and financially. And it is physically and mentally exhausting for everyone associated with the addict.

Being the parent of an addict isn't something you ask for, just like being an addict isn't something addicts ask for. It just happens. And when it does, you deal with it the best you can. And you try to never lose hope.

Speaking of hope... A few weeks ago my wife and I were at the garden store buying a plant. At the cash register was a container of rocks with inspirational words etched into them. One of them said "hope." I picked it up and looked at it, saw the $3.98 price tag on it and thought that was too much money to pay for a rock.

A week later, something inside me told me I needed that rock. So I made a special trip back to the store, walked up to the register, was relieved to see that the "hope" rock was still there, and I bought it. Something about doing that made me feel better. The rock now sits on our dining room table as a constant reminder.

"Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up." --David Orr


Oh, I almost forgot to mention the party we had on July 6th to celebrate my son's one year of sobriety.

It was a great time. Very low-key, with just the right amount of people. It was great to see some people we hadn't seen in a long time. And to meet some of our son's friends for the first time.

We also had a local rock band called Destroy This Place play a set in our back yard. They were great and they were LOUD. But thankfully no neighbors complained or called the police. In fact, a couple of neighbors came by to check the band out.

The best part of the band's performance? For their last song--a cover of Nirvana's "Territorial Pissings"--they asked my son to come up and jam on the guitar. Which he did. And he loved every minute of it. The smile on his face made that perfectly clear.

A few days later, my son posted this on Facebook as his status update:

"On July 2nd, 2013, I celebrated one year clean and sober, and my life is beyond what I ever thought possible."

My son's 1-year coin.

Destroy This Place ripping it up in my back yard.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Guest blog post from my wife

Today is a special day. Our son has been sober for one year. It took a lot of years to get here. Addiction is not a quick fix, and the road to recovery tends to go in circles for a while before the lucky ones find their way out.

I feel incredibly blessed that our son has made it out of the maze and into the light. It is so wonderful to see him smile, hear him sing, and watch him get on with his life. He has a job and a beautiful girlfriend. He has fun with his friends doing things that young people enjoy: going to baseball games and concerts and eating out. 

When he was using, he spent a lot of time in the garage and a lot of time sleeping. He spent most of his time in the dark. I felt helpless and hopeless. When I walked into my first Al-Anon meeting I did not think anything or anyone could help me. Thankfully I was wrong. I learned how to live my life in the midst of craziness. It was not easy but I took little steps forward while our son seemed to be taking many steps backward. I didn’t want to leave him behind but soon realized that I couldn’t carry him with me. He had to follow his path and I had to follow mine. 

Today, after lots of small steps forward and many one-days-at-a-time, we can celebrate this wonderfully ordinary day.