I am the mother of two addict sons and I choose to remain anonymous both to protect them and myself from the judgement of those who do not understand. I am writing this because I feel there needs to be an awareness of the perception many people have of addicts. My sons are not drop down drunk homeless people who the world sadly throws away. They are contributing members of society who have been very successful in their fields of work. In fact they are amazing young men who have both been emotionally abused by a distant father and have had to grow up in difficult circumstances. They had to deal with adult issues when they were very young. This being said they never blame their past for their present condition. They are brave warriors who have found solace in substances that medicate away their pain. If you saw them you would not suspect that they are addicts, like many others they have been held prisoner by substances that at times have made their lives feel near to normality.
In my very darkest hours, when my sanity was slipping, I wondered if my sons actually knew the extent of my pain or was the abundance of theirs sucking the life out of them. I have wondered if I would ever feel the freedom of joy again and the release of the sorrow that stayed contained in me. I have spent so many nights tossing and turning in the bitter darkness with toxic thoughts consuming my sleep. Even the small hours brought no relief. I have had so much fear mount within me and there have been times when I would rather hide out in the plains of forgetfulness than enter the real world. I have told myself that my own sanity is at stake and knowing all the details of their addiction would surely destroy me. I have come so close to the precipice of my mind and just one step would throw me into the place of madness.
The growing feeling of doom has ambushed me when the nights where too long and the days were tormented. I have felt pain in my entire body right down to the sinew. I have even played out their deaths many times in my mind, the tears stung my eyes and the devastation was raw. Even the imagined words of condolence rang like agony in my mind, but the sorrow has always spoken of my utter admiration for them. Speaking out my pain has brought intense grief, unwanted grief. It has been a road that only held sorrow and I never wanted anyone to know the pain that consumed me daily.
I admire the courage that made my sons survivors even in the most desperate times. There was always a faint flickering of hope within me even when my mind was full of them and their struggle with addiction. I would like to erase the dark part where the nightmare of addiction began.
I recall them as vibrant children, full of life, playing with their friends and I long to go back and erase the troubled past.
It has been incredibly difficult for me to watch them come close to destroying their lives and be robbed of their joy. I have had to seek my own wise counsel to overcome my pain.
My journey has taken me into the rooms of both AA and Nar anon where I found gracious, non-judgemental heroes who have turned their lives and wills over to their Higher Power. Some of my Christian friends had an adverse response to a “Higher Power” statement because it is too loose a name for a mighty Saviour, yet I have heard stories of addicts on the precipice of death being rescued by God (some call Him God).
In those rooms I have seen brave, wounded souls with so much pain tell their stories. I have glimpsed some of the torment and bondage that is addiction. The people I met there are true warriors who faced their own inner darkness in order to find serenity. It is a place where I truly believe an addict can find serenity. Sadly the Churches I have known do not offer a solution, they oftentimes ladle out more shame and “out” the addicts. On my journey I have also come across writings and blogs by addicts either in recovery or seekers of recovery. I have used both the 12 steps and these insightful writings to discover a serenity of my own. I am thankful to those who are brave enough to share their stories, to stare down the demon of addiction and help me to not feel alone on this cold planet. A blog that has been very helpful to me has been soberboots.com.
The one thing I have had to do in my own recovery is to let go of my sons both physically and emotionally, even though it felt as though my heart had been ripped out. My first step being that I admitted that “I am powerless over the addict and that my life became unmanageable”!
I did get an incredible sense of relief when I realised and acknowledged that the God of the Universe is actually in control and I could at last surrender my life and my will to Him. I have also come to believe that He can restore my sanity.
Brennan Manning a lifelong alcoholic who spent his entire life ferociously battling the demon of addiction was uncomfortably transparent about his weaknesses and failures. This made him a prime candidate to teach us something of God’s scandalous grace. Many addicts that have crashed and burned and as a result have come to terms with their own powerlessness can teach us something about God’s grace that many wouldn’t have known otherwise.
Even in spite of the pain I wouldn’t change my sons for the world. They are my heroes and my reason to keep pursuing the scandalous grace of my Saviour.