Where to begin? I’d like to begin at the beginning, but where exactly is that? Would it be the day you were born? With that beautiful little bundle of love that was so anticipated, so cherished? Or would it be the first time you were tempted and decided to put a foreign substance into your body that would, from that moment, take over and have more control over you than anything else?
Who knew the fierce love I had for you was not the strongest force you would encounter in your young life? And how could I begin there, when I don’t even know when that was happening … and I wouldn’t understand that it had happened for so many years.
And as I sit here today, I still don’t actually know “what” happened. Even if I had the details of that first experience, would I truly understand? As of this moment, it has been (by my rough and probably ignorant calculations), nine years since then. During those years I know you have endured incarceration, beatings, a stabbing, arrests, court dates, life on the streets, estrangement and I’m sure feelings of abandonment from the family that truly loves you so very much – but has no idea how to care for you. I know the list is much longer but I am unable to list the rest because I truly do not know so much.
I can’t pretend to understand what this illness of addiction has put you through. I can see what it has taken from you in so many ways, but I am not foolish enough to believe I truly understand its power. Just as I know that you cannot understand the effect it has had on those who love you. I know you feel alone, abandoned, and frightened, but I do not have any real way of understanding the real depth of those feelings. And I am sure you have no clue the pain that the people who love you endure as we watch you struggle, knowing we can not help you.
We have tried … I have tried to make things better, as Moms do and that didn’t work. I have confronted you, called the police, had you arrested, taken your son away from you, gone to court to have you ordered into treatment, let you live on the streets, tried to force you to help yourself when I didn’t know what else to do, and the reality is that I can’t actually make anything better. I am powerless!
I foolishly believed that there was no force greater than the love I have for you, but I have learned that there is … drug addiction is bigger, stronger, and much more powerful than my love. You admitted yourself into treatment last evening. Will this be the time when we win? Who knows? Is it wrong to be hopeful after all these years? I don’t know if it is wrong, but it feels foolish and scary. Yet I can’t help but pray that this could finally be that time.
I know you think you are alone with your addiction and often physically you are, but emotionally you are not. It is not my illness, but the effects are shared. I hide what I am feeling. I hide the truth from those around me. I suffer the shame. I carry the blame.
I am your mother, and you are my gift from God, my responsibility, and my cherished little baby. I thought I could make everything perfect in your little life and I failed. I know this isn’t about me, but know I never saw it coming, and if I had, I would have done anything to stop it.
After I left you at admitting, I came home and tried to sleep. I told myself that this was a good night – a night to be hopeful – again.
I will never give up hope. I am afraid though ― fearful that this isn’t the end. I tried to sleep but I kept waking up screaming, but no screams were coming out, only silence … gut-wrenching silence.
I sat outside during the night in the pouring rain. Just for five minutes so I could experience a little piece of what you feel now that you have lost your home and live on the streets. Yes, I only lasted five minutes before I was inside in a hot shower.
That reminded me that although you are sick, you have an inner strength that keeps you going every day. You are in a constant fight against your addiction and the elements of the life you now live, but somehow you keep on fighting. I bet you can’t even see the strength you possess clouded by the effects of the drugs that make you a slave.
In my clear-headedness, I know there is no logical reason that you should be alive after all you have been through, yet somehow you continue to survive another day.
I have prepared myself over and over again for the call that tells me you aredead. I have to try to be ready for that moment, but just as often I believe that call will not come. I believe someplace deep in my heart that you will survive – that all you have been through is leading you to a place where you will do great things that will only be possible because of your suffering.
I pray you will hold on and find the strength to get to that place of greatness, the place where your journey through this hell will somehow have been “worth” it because you are able to look back on it and realize that because you made it through.
You are really a pretty amazingly, awesome human being with strength and fortitude that many others are not blessed to possess.
I pray you will find this place and use your experiences to help others who will unfortunately fall prey to this horrendous disease called addiction. And you will look inside your heart and somehow feel it was a part of your journey that brings you to the place you were meant to be.
When that day comes, we will celebrate together! And until that day, I pray that somehow you know that I love you more than you could possibly understand.
And in those moments when you feel most alone, I pray that somehow you know that I carry you in a very special place in my heart.
Praying that you find peace,
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.