Monday, March 9, 2015

Guest Blog: "No One Is Immune"

I've written here many times that addiction is a disease that affects the entire family. Today's guest blogger takes that sentiment one step further, by relating how her son's addiction even affected the family dog.

Today's unique video guest blog comes from Anita Devlin, whose son, Michael, has been sober for more than four years. Anita and Michael are the co-authors of the book S.O.B.E.R.*: A Story of Addiction Told By a Mother and Her Son(*S.O.B.E.R. stands for Son Of a Bitch--Everything's Real).

Anita prefaces her video blog with these words:

Writing a cost letter to someone in treatment is not what it sounds like. It is not about how much the addiction cost you in monetary value, but rather what it has cost you emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. As a family and as an individual, you have lost things along the way.

I reached out to my son Mike’s best friends and certain family members, asking them to write to him as well. I wanted him to receive letters from people I knew were going to tell the truth about the destruction he had caused. It was not the time for flowers, poems, or fiction.

I remember sitting at my laptop and looking at our family dog, Skilo, who had loved Mike so much, but was more afraid of him as his using progressed. Yes, I wrote Mike the cost letter below, but since I was menopausal, I thought I had a right to do it. I never imagined how huge the impact would be for anyone that reads it.

No one is immune to the octopus of addiction.

(The following is the text of the letter from Skilo to Mikey.)

Dear Mikey,

Maybe this is the first time someone in treatment has received a letter from a family member like me. I feel that I am a part of this family and that your behavior has affected me as much as anyone else. I came to live with you six years ago, which is when I think your drug problems were beginning.

I can remember living in Georgia, watching my eleven brothers and sisters being adopted, and I was left all alone because I was the smallest and the weakest. No one wanted me, and I was scared. One day I overheard a conversation on the phone about a family’s dog passing away and that the one left behind was very sad and lonely. They were looking for someone to keep him company. I had no idea where Cape Cod was, and I was petrified to go on an airplane by myself. I only knew that I was on my way to live with a special family and a boy named Mikey.

It was not long after I arrived that your dog Brewster passed away. I knew that the family dogs were closest to you. Winston would sit every day with his nose through the fence waiting for you to come home from school. You would take them for rides and play together in the backyard for hours on end. I also know that you were the one that would help them get up on Mom and Dad’s bed at night when they were old and in pain and couldn’t get up by themselves anymore.

When Brewster passed away, you and I became best friends. I would wait for you to come home from school and whistle our private sound so that I could follow you. We would swim together and play lacrosse together, and I would snuggle up with you to watch movies. I would always wedge myself between you and your girlfriends on the couch because I knew I really was your “only” girl.

I was the luckiest dog on the planet.

One day that all changed. You went away to college, and when you would come home, it wasn’t fun anymore. You ignored all of us and were mean and angry all the time. There was no more playing in the backyard. There was just a lot of fighting and yelling. Now instead of laying with you on the couch, I would instead lay with Mom so she could squeeze and hold me tight. She would cry so hard that my head would be soaked from her tears. This happened all the time. You would just create a big mess and leave. I couldn’t wait for you to go away.

There was a time when I would get so excited when Mom or Dad would say, “Mikey’s coming home!” But now when I hear you are coming home, I start to shake. I know you see me hiding in the corner or outside behind the bushes. I know you see me with my tail between my legs as I tremble. Your yelling and screaming at Mom and Dad has made me want to jump out and bite you many times. The only reason I didn’t was because I may have been sent away, and Mom would not have me to cry on anymore. I am supposed to have unconditional love, but instead I hated you.

I hear Mom, Dad, and Alex talking now about how you are away somewhere because you want to get better. I hope you do because I miss the Mikey I first came to live with. I am getting older now, and soon I won’t be able to run around in the backyard or swim anymore. I too am going to need help getting up on Mom and Dad’s bed at night. So please get better and come home before it’s too late. I’m waiting for you.


Your best friend, Skilo

Skilo and Mikey


Thanks so much to Anita Devlin for contributing to my blog, and for offering such a unique perspective on the effects addiction can have on a family.

If you'd like to be a guest blogger for "My Life as 3D," get in touch with me via the "Contact Form" in the righthand column of the web version of this blog. It's right under the list of "Most Popular Posts." Tell me what you'd like to write about and why. Unless it's just totally out there, we can probably make it happen. My only requirement? You must write about something that's somehow related to addiction/recovery.

I look forward to hearing from some of you soon.


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