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.


  1. I love that your son's coin includes Shakespeare: To thine own self be true. During my chemo year I bought a necklace with a circle stamped with that quotation. I knew I would recover, and I also knew chemo would change me in ways temporary and permanent. I still wear that necklace a lot, along with another by the same artist that says, We know what we are, but not what we may become. Cheers to you and your family, working your program, living your lives. Peace.

  2. Congratulations to all of you. What a wonderful milestone!
    For the longest time, I couldn't read your blog. It hurt too much and sobriety for my child just seemed impossible. I was sure we were going to lose our bright, beautiful boy to addiction. Days were spent waiting for the call that he was dead. I felt that Hope was the thing that was killing me (to paraphrase Denis Leary), yet I couldn't totally turn my back on it.
    Yesterday he celebrated 90 days clean. I don't know what's coming in the future for us all, but today is sweet. He's trying hard to get his life back. I'm glad you went back for the Hope stone. I may get one myself. Never give up.

  3. Wonderful post, Dean! Congrats to your son for his great accomplishment. Love the hope rock. It is well worth the money to have that reminder every day. All the best.

  4. Anonymous... Congratulations on your son's 90 days!! That is so awesome!! Never give up hope. One day at a time. For all of us. Positive vibes and hugs heading your way! :)

  5. Congratulations to your son. Mine also celebrated his year clean recently. One day at a time. What a year it's been - scary, wonderful, growth,and peace. Most of us never think we will see this day. I want to offer hope. Have you seen The Anonymous People film? I would highly recommend it. I also have found support and education through Families Anonymous.