My son is a drug addict. No, my son is a recovering drug addict. Thirty six days of sobriety. I think that my body has felt every moment of those thirty six days. Tidal waves of conflicting emotions have washed over me.....breaking down old ideas that I have perceived about myself, my life, my values, my ability to control, etc. Many things that I have imagined, that I might say to friends and family like, my son is a college graduate, he is a doctor or lawyer or businessman, he has a wonderful new girlfriend.....never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that what I would have to say is that my son is a drug addict. After all, it's usually all about me. I didn't dream this for him, teach it, plan for it, hope for it so, how could this be? I guess that now there's only time for the bottom line. It is what it is, now what?
This all began years ago--years of wondering why he behaved the way he did, why he seemed to be regressing instead of progressing, why he had such increasing contempt for his parents, less and less initiative, no friends ever coming to the house, unable to sleep, or unable to wake....the list went on and on. But, I had reasons--ADHD, sleep apnea, immaturity, etc. But 37-38 days ago, after much prayer for an answer to the question, "what, my Lord, IS the problem?" It became quite clear that this was probably a problem of substance abuse. The family disease. This disease has taken this family and turned it on it's ear. We've been paralyzed by fear, been hopeful, been thankful, examined and re-examined so many things. We've cried and worried and fretted. We've panicked and let go and grabbed on again and tried to talk ourselves down. This is a big scary, long road that we are traveling down. It;s winding and often dark with opportunities to get lost. I want a straight, short, well lit path with the greatest navigation system ever made, telling me what to do at every turn. I've been mad, heart-broken, heart sick, hopeful, hopeless, worried and mostly, very, very tired. I feel like a four year old who wants to stamp her foot and yell as loud as I can that I do NOT want THIS! But, I have this. It's mine and I am begrudgingly trying to take ownership of it. There are brave moments when I feel like this is an onion that needed peeling all along. Maybe, just maybe, if we deal with all of our behaviors as a family and individually we could become an amazing family.....but, today is day thirty six, it's early in this process. I'm still so scared. I will for today, chant the AL-anon mantra of the three C's, I didn't cause it, can't control it, and can't cure it. I will pray that God gives us all strength and perseverance and the good sense to be quiet and hear his words for us(His will) and have the courage to follow it. I love my son so much. I am thrilled to see the young man he really is. I've missed him. I'm afraid of losing him again. I'm so proud that he wanted help and is working hard at it. I know that change is hard, it is for me. I'm proud of him for making those very difficult changes. But, I'd make any change, I mean ANY change, in this world, within my power, if it meant that he and his sisters were restored to health and love and comfort. Nothing means more than family. I've always said that a lot, but TODAY, I mean it with all of my heart and soul. I want less things and more experiences with my family. I'm not even sure that we know how to be a family, maybe that is my prayer for today.
I am titling this journey Praying for Henry. I guess it seems an odd title. Henry was my dad's dad. His name is the only one I will ever use. Any other name will be changed so that I respect the privacy of others. Henry was an alcoholic. I never met him. He died long before I was born. My father didn't talk a lot about him but what he did say usually came from a place of hurt and regret. I know that he was a share cropper who never was able to rise above and buy his own home because the drinking took all of his money. I know that he was mean to my dad when he drank. I know that he was physically abusive to my dad until one day when my dad told he that him that he was now old enough and big enough and that he would never allow him to lay another hand on him again....and he didn't. I know that his drinking robbed my dad of his education because by 8th grade, he had to go to work in order to help put food on the table and could no longer go to school. This caused a lot of embarrassment for him. Addiction is a family disease.
When my family converted to the catholic church, we were taught to pray for the souls of the departed. This was a new concept to a former Baptist. In the beginning, I prayed for my parents and for the grandparents that I knew. Then as time went by, I thought that maybe Henry really needed my prayers. So, now every Sunday, Henry is one of the first that I pray for. I think that on some primal level, that I know nothing about, that my heart yearns to help and support the Henry's of this world. I know that I can't fix them but maybe someone needs to pray for that soul, the one which is hidden by the disease of addiction. I wish Henry had had AA and a 12 step program. I wish he had recovered and my dad had gotten to know the real Henry. But, he didn't, so I will pray for his soul and the soul of his great grandson.
Last year, while researching my family tree, I discovered that Henry's dad had the same first name and the same middle name as my son. He even lived in the same county that we live in. What are the odds? This is MY family. This is perhaps a lesson or many lessons that God has for me to learn. I will open my mind today, on day 36, to God's will. I will pray for much needed courage to keep walking this scary, long, dark path. And, everyday, I will pray for Henry.