Scars. Everybody has them. Some are hidden, some are not. Some are deeper than others. Some fade over time, others remain. Regardless of whether or not you see them, they are there. And each one tells a story.
My three year old asked his daddy about his scars yesterday. Daddy told him that was a conversation for another day. Our three year old moved on. My mind can't seem to let it go.
With having two addicts as parents, chances are high that one, two, or all three of our boys will, at some point or another, become addicted. It's likely that they all carry the gene. This fact doesn't scare me. It's a sobering reality that many parents face. What scares me is the speed and fury at which their disease will progress once it has them.
My husband and I both had fierce diseases. Not that everyone's disease isn't fierce, but we both hit very low bottoms in a very short amount of time. I started drinking at 18 and by 21 I was walking and talking with a BAC of .49. I had to have lethal levels of alcohol in my blood for me to function "normally" after only three years. Upon waking, I immediately had to take a drink to stop my whole body from shaking. I lived through two overdoses and an alcohol induced coma. My husband's disease took a little longer to progress but within a few years of active addiction he was on a daily suicide mission.
The fact that we have fierce diseases that want us dead, fast, does not make us more addicted than others. But it does make me afraid for my kids. It is absolutely terrifying to think about the degrees of hell through which they will walk before reaching their points of desperation. To think of the physical and emotional scars that they will either bury or carry with them when they are through.
Our boys are way too young to hear this right now, but this is what I would want them to know about mine and daddy's scars.
My dearest child,
You are a miracle. Each and every breath you take is proof that miracles happen. Proof that God exists; that life wins and love sustains.
You see daddy's scars every day. They are deep. They are ugly. They look painful. They were painful. But what you don't see is the beauty behind them. They hold a story unlike any other. A story of hope. A story of redemption. A story that we want you to know.
You see, mommy and daddy's scars are not just scars. They are battle wounds. They are daily reminders that we survived war.
It was a brutal war. A war that should have taken both of our lives. A war of good versus evil. Of darkness versus light. Of life versus death. A war that took place inside our heads but blackened our hearts and tarnished our souls. A war that cost us our freedom, our families, and ourselves. But it was a war that when won, gave us new life and abundant freedom.
This war has a name. It's called addiction. Millions of people fight this war every single day. It has claimed many lives and continues to take people out daily. It's sneaky. You don't know you're in it until it already has you. It lies. It makes you think you are in control while it completely dominates you. It's a thief. It will rob everything you have and leave you with nothing. It is lethal. It won't stop until you are dead.
But there is a way out. This doesn't have to be your story.
The genetic odds are not in your favor. You undoubtedly have the propensity to become addicted. But hear this, my sweet child: There is another way. And you don't have to walk through hell to find it.
I pray every day that you won't have to fight this war to know life as we now know it. That you won't ever succumb to the demons inside, as they try to convince you that life is not worth living. I pray that you will never experience the depth of pain that daddy and I did. That you will never know what it's like to sink a knife into your wrists or smell skin as it melts underneath of a lit cigarette, desperately trying to release the monster that has engulfed you.
But most of all, I pray that if you ever find yourself in that place where the pain becomes unbearable and death feels like the only way out, you remember our scars. And know that there is always another way. That the battle is worth winning. That your life matters. In your darkest day, in your most excruciating moment, hope will show up.
Our diseases brought us unimaginable darkness but yours doesn't have to. You can find peace without going to war. You can find hope before becoming hopeless. You can know freedom without being chained. You can find happiness without knowing despair. And you can live a rich, fulfilling life without meeting death.
Let us be your way out. Let our story be your escape. Let our scars be your saving grace.
This article was first published on the author's blog Feelings and Faith.