I once shared a story, about a student who opened up to me. (You can read it here.) Sadly, a couple years later, that student died in a car crash. He had been drinking and was high on drugs. I was deeply saddened to hear of his death, and yet I wasn't completely surprised.
This week, a mother came into the office. I asked her how her daughter was doing-- "A" had graduated in 2008. "Mom" shook her head and my heart sank.
I clearly remember "A", because she was a beautiful girl... a cheerleader and a great student. She was one of our TA's (teacher's aides) and so I got to know her. Something happened, towards the end of her senior year. I could see it. It was the same time that my son was going through his rehab. In fact, I was very open to "A" about my son's addiction to oxy and heroin. I remember "A" listening to me, and sense she was reaaaaaaally listening to what I had to say.
Fast forward. "A" is now living in another state. I had seen her a couple of years ago, and she looked completely different. Really different. She had lots of tattoos, and she remarked to me that her "mother was going to kill her" when she saw it. Yep, I thought-- this won't go over well with her mom. Her mom, in fact, is a beautiful woman-- classy. Dresses very nicely. I knew her since she, herself, was a little girl. I don't know her well, now, but she's always been friendly towards me.
When "J" shook her head, I could see the pain in her eyes. It made me so very, very sad. I wanted to hug her, but I didn't. I didn't want to draw attention to her. She knew.... she understood that I understood.
I remember that same bravado I had to keep... when my throat would constrict, and the tears felt like they were going to explode. I'd shake my head, and compose myself.
I can't cry. No, I cannot break down.
It's bad. "A" is in jail, as is her boyfriend. It doesn't look good. Dealing drugs and fire arms. Ouch.
It's so hard to believe that this gorgeous young woman, in the cheerleader's uniform is facing felonies.
Her mom said she's had to let go. But, I could see the pain...
"Let go". Can we really do this? How can a mother, who gave birth to this baby, let go?
I gave "J" my blog address. I hope she comes here to read. She's a smart woman, and in talking with her I can tell that she's pretty much up-to-date on what's involved in being the parent of a drug addict.
If you are reading this, "J", I want you to know that I have been praying for you and "A". As I was praying for you, I got to thinking that addiction has long tentacles. When a loved one is an addict, it affects everyone in it's path. It's like finding out that someone you love has an incurable disease. It's like a cancer-- you can only hope and pray that the treatment will stop it, and it will save their life.
Yet, we must prepare ourselves that we could lose our loved one. Oh, how I remember that pain and terror myself. There was a point, where I feared for my son's life. He was hanging out with some pretty shady people, and I was so afraid he'd end up being shot and left for dead.
I could not fathom the possibility that my son would end up in jail. That never happened-- and, believe me, I thank God for that more than you could ever know. According to my son, he had many very close calls, but he got lucky... they didn't find the "stuff".
The most painful thing that any mother can be asked to do, is to "let go". To be told that we must hang up the phone, when they call for money... or refuse to bail them from jail... or to not allow them to stay with us-- as long as they are strung out and using-- well, I remember that it felt as thought I had to watch my son drowning in a stormy sea, and I could only watch from the bow of the ship-- and I was not allowed to send him a life raft.
Today, my son is not using drugs. The storm has subsided, and I can exhale and move forward with my life. My marriage has never been better. My son and I have restored our relationship. Amen.
I would be lying if I said that I believe "it's over". I'm terrified, sometimes, at the possibility that my son could relapse. It's a possibility, but I choose to live each day with gratitude that today is not the day. Isn't that what they teach addicts? One day at a time...
I do not want to become apathetic towards other people's plight with addiction. I do not want to forget the pain that I felt, because I want to bless someone with compassion and comfort. I wish I could say or write something that would be the "all knowing answer"-- but I'm just a mom, who loves her son and doesn't have any kind of counseling degree.
I saw the pain in "J's" eyes, and for a moment-- I was right there with her. I remembered the fear and pain I felt not even a year ago.
I pray that "A" will beat that demon. I pray to see her looking healthy, with her beautiful face and smile restored. I pray for her to break free of those who are holding her in bondage, and to start her life over again. I have no doubt that her mother wants her back. "J" has let go, to save her. She loves her. I saw it in her eyes.
I don't want to forget. I want to rejoice in today, and thank God for blessing our home.
Today, I received another email from a mom who is in pain. Thank you for writing to me. I feel your pain, too.
May you find comfort from those who truly understand your plight. May you find strength and wisdom in what you should, or shouldn't do, with the addict that you love. May you find comfort from our Abba Father, our God in heaven. Please don't blame him, because this is not his doing. We are living in a sinful world. It's so hard to live a life that is free of sin, because temptation is everywhere. I need my faith in God to help me be strong when temptation comes-- and it does. Because of what I went through, my faith grew ever stronger, as I cried out to the Lord. He comforted me, and restored so many things in my life.
A song of ascents.1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.