Friday, May 16, 2014

Looking Back: Six Years Ago Today

A few minutes ago, I was looking through the MS Word file of the journal I used to keep before I started this blog. Here is an excerpt from the journal entry I made six years ago today:

Friday, May 16th, 2008, 5:42pm

How could I have failed this miserably as a parent? Tell me how.

F*ck everything. Just f*ck it all.

I admit that I, like my son, was pretty messed up back then. My son was 18-years-old and in his first rehab: the New Hope House for Men in Sault Ste. Marie, a city on the northeastern end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The place was a combination halfway house-rehab facility, and it was the only place my wife and I could find to send our son for his marijuana addiction. (Yes, despite what insurance companies told us--and may tell you--marijuana is addictive for some people.)

My son had been in Sault Ste. Marie for three weeks and kept calling and begging to come home. He even called my mother at one point and told her that the powers-that-be had asked him to leave and that she had to come pick him up as soon as she could. (That was a total lie, by the way. And it goes to show you how people with substance abuse problems think. Or, rather, don't think. My mom was 77 at the time and 350 miles away. But my son was asking her to hop in her car and come get him.)

I remember how crappy that day was like it was yesterday, the crappiness compounded by the fact that my wife and younger son were in New York City visiting her brother and his family.

I was home alone, mentally and physically exhausted. I was a complete basket case. I thought about my son's problem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I wondered why I couldn't fix it. I wondered why my son didn't want to fix himself. I kept going back to a passage I had read from poet and author Thomas Lynch:

"It hurts so bad that I cannot save him, protect him, keep him out of harm's way, shield him from pain. What good are fathers if not for these things?"

Needless to say, I felt a tremendous amount of guilt. Sometimes I wondered if my life was even worth living anymore.

I was addicted to my son's addiction and it was killing me.

After my son got out of rehab and came home, it was only a short time before he began experimenting with heroin. Our roller coaster ride started getting scarier, and it took me a long time to get to a place where I finally felt good about myself again.

Today, I am grateful every single day for how far everyone in our family has come. There's a saying that goes, "Recovery is a journey, not a destination." That is most certainly true. Thankfully we all eventually found the right road and chose to go on the journey we're now on.

"The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place." --Barbara DeAngelis


  1. Wow, it was the reverse for me 6 years ago-I was the addict, my parents the ones who were worrying to death! It is good to look back at things to keep it all in perspective. My life is so much better today and I thank God for it. Thanks for reminding us all not to forget the past so that we can learn for the future!

  2. I am a Psychotherapist in Cinnaminson, NJ and have written two books to help children cope with and understand alcoholism. These books were written at the request of a client who wanted to explain his alcoholism to his young daughter and was having trouble finding the “right” book to do the job.
    “Daddy’s Disease” and “Mommy’s Disease” have been on the cover of the “Courier Post”, featured on NPR’s “Voices in the Family” with Dr. Dan Gottleib, and on Take 12 Radio.
    I would very much appreciate your considering reviewing my books for your blog and would be happy to send you copies of the books if you are interested. (electronically or hard copy)
    Thank you so much for your time and for the good work you do.
    Carolyn Hannan Bell, M.S., L.P.C.