“God always allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we can appreciate the strength of His.” C.S. Lewis

I am a wife, a mother to four, handsome, beautiful, young adult sons, a caregiver to my husband, and a parent of two addicted loved ones.

For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a wife, and a mother. And I’m sure many of you reading this would agree that we all have dreams and expectations for our children’s lives.

We expect first words, first steps, terrible twos, falls on bikes, scraped knees, braces, peer pressure, first crush, first heartbreaks. We hope they grow from that first crush, how to deal with peer pressure, learning to say “Naw, I’m not into that.”

For our family, we never expected to hear our addicted loved ones tell us: “I don’t want to live anymore.”; “Mind your own business!”; “You just don’t understand.”; “This is all your fault why I use, why I drink.”; “I don’t need help; I can quit anytime.”

Our addicted loved ones were kicked out of school for possession, and we started seeing subtle signs like being late to work, job performance strain, mood changes, hand tremors, verbal aggression, and isolation. We found ourselves experiencing physical aggression and not knowing where they were. There were 911 calls and police officers in our home. We didn’t expect hard conversations of “You can’t stay here anymore.” “You have to get out.” Safety became something we had to consider.

After having them leave our home, we waited for a text message, a phone call telling us that they were ready for rehab. When that call finally happened, we jumped. We called and paid for lawyers for the legal troubles, we paid for detox, rehab facilities, counselors. We paid with our time and resources. We thought what we were doing was okay because we wanted to “fix it” to make it all right. We didn’t want our sons to fall through the cracks of the healthcare system. We wanted to fix all of it, but we couldn’t. It strained our marriage, our family relationships, and our circle of friends.

So, we sought support groups.  We tried other types of meetings, some in-person groups, some virtual, but something was missing. We didn’t expect to find PAL, but we did, and we entered this place, this safe place for parents, just like us, with similar stories. They shared, we listened, we became engaged.  We finally found our community.  Week by week, month by month, we grasped at the learning, we used “gems” and “nuggets” of how to not be enabling parents, the addiction cycle, how to handle difficult circumstances.  We learned how our shame and guilt prevent treatment and recovery, and, for us, the most difficult, grieving.  We learned how to grieve therapeutically.  We grieve those lost dreams, the unfortunate choices they make, the new, different relationships we have.

We learned how to offer support love and support in a different way, to set boundaries, close the door to their addictions, and at the same time offer an open door if they were ready for help, we would be there.  We learned to go out on dates, to keep living.  To not let “the addiction” be the center of our lives, our conversations, to wedge itself into our marriage.

It’s not a perfect journey, mistakes were made, disappointments happened, tears sometimes still fall, but we continue to pray. We are new parents, dreams for our sons have changed, but with our PAL family, with God in our lives, faith, we continue to live and press on.

– A PAL mom