I belong to many addiction-related groups on Facebook. One in particular is incredibly emotional. It's a group for mothers of addicts, and most of the posts there are gut-wrenching. Mothers--and some fathers, too--posting about the struggles they are going through with their addict children. People whose kids are in dire straits. People whose kids are overdosing and being sentenced to jail time. And yes, people who have lost their child to addiction. My heart goes out to each and every one of these human beings.
On occasion, though, people post positive things in the group. Last night, for some reason, I decided that I would be one of those people. I posted this photo of my son...
...along with these words:
"My 23-year-old son: 13 months and 5 days clean and sober. Love him so much and am grateful for every day."
I felt a bit guilty for posting something positive, but I wanted people to know that things can change. I also wasn't sure how the post would be received. I mean, I didn't think anyone would criticize me for posting what I did. But I'm always a bit paranoid, so I wasn't sure what the reaction would be.
As it turns out, there was nothing but overwhelming love. As I type this post, 207 people have "Liked" my post and 39 people have made wonderful comments on it. I was pretty moved by it all.
After reading over all the comments this morning, I decided to leave a comment of my own. I thought I would share it here:
"Thank you for all your wonderful comments. I have to admit that I was a bit hesitant to post this picture of my son and tell you how long he was sober. I know that so many people here are either still struggling with their child's addiction or, worse yet, have lost a child to addiction. In no way do I mean any disrespect towards those people. I just thought that my posting what I did would offer up some hope for people currently fighting the battle. Also, my son's sobriety doesn't mean my wife and I (yes, I'm a dad, not a mom) don't still struggle with our son's addiction. But we struggle less. And we have learned to put our lives and recovery high on our priority list. After all, the choice to get/stay sober can only be made by one person: the addict. We can't want it more than they do, although that was the case with my wife and I for many years. I am grateful every day that something 'clicked' for my son and that HE decided he was tired of being an addict. I also realize that it will be a lifelong issue for him. And I pray that he stays on the right path. If you would've asked me 5 years ago, I probably would've told you that I didn't think I'd EVER see my son stay sober for more than a month, let alone more than a year. But my wife and I never gave up hope. And, for what it's worth, the change occurred in our son after we finally set a boundary--you can no longer live in our house--and, more importantly, finally stuck to it. Almost a year in a sober living house did wonders for our son. When he finally decided he wanted to move out of the sober living house after 10 months of sobriety, he asked if he could come home. My wife and I stuck to our guns and said no. We did not want him to come home and fall into the same bad habits/routines he had before. So now he's living with his girlfriend and her mom and step-dad. And he's happy. And we're happy. And he's slowly but surely maturing into the 23-year-old man he is. I'm sorry for rambling, but I wanted to tell those whose kids are fighting the battle or have lost the battle that I pray for each and every one of you every day. Please do not burden yourself with guilt. Remember: You didn't cause your child's addiction, you can't cure it, and you can't control it. Remember to take care of YOURSELF. Lastly, never be ashamed, because you are not alone in dealing with this disease. I will end this lengthy post with a quote from my favorite writer, Anne Lamott. This quote inspires me every single day of my life: 'Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.' Peace and love to every single one of you. Feel free to reach out to me anytime if you'd like to chat."
If you read this blog, please pray--or whatever you do--for all the parents of addicted children out there. Being the parent of an addict is something that's unimaginable and can only really be understood if you are one. But trust me: We need all the positive thoughts and prayers we can get.