When my son, Trevor, was 24, I had to come out of denial and admit he had an addiction. Trevor is my son with my first husband, Michael. Michael and I both struggled with drugs and alcohol.
You may be thinking “No wonder he’s an addict.”
Truth be told, with my experience, I hoped I could prevent him from falling into the same trap that his father and I had. Unfortunately, he had difficulty finding friends where he could fit in. Being friendly and outgoing, he did however, manage to find people who introduced him to drugs. Like so many others, he thought he could “experiment” without becoming addicted.
Michael and I divorced when Trevor was seven and we shared custody. I was able to stop using meth. Unfortunately, Michael never did.
In 2013 I married John, my third marriage. He is a good husband and a good bonus father to Trevor. In 2018, Trevor’s dad Michael passed away, and for Trevor, losing his dad was hard. We decided to let Trevor live with us. We suspected he was using heroin and living with us confirmed it.
We tried to detox him ourselves, but that didn’t work. Within a few days, as things became more and more unmanageable, I needed to make the hard call to the police which resulted in his arrest on a warrant. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I had to come to terms with the fact that I was hurting him more than I was helping. The consequences of Trevor’s behaviors were adding up and my trying to control the outcome was not working.
He has been in and out of rehab several times and I heard about PAL during his first rehab. I really didn’t think I needed it. However, I am grateful I listened and went. I can’t imagine this journey without PAL.
PAL gives us unconditional love and support by telling us what we need to hear as opposed to what we want to hear. We just had to be willing to listen. One of the biggest errors I think parents make is believing our children “need” us, that there is no way they can survive in this world without us. The first truth I learned is that we need to raise our children to leave us, not need us. They need to grow up and be the adult they were meant to be.
The second truth I learned was about two choices. We can empower our kids…or enable them. I eventually learned that in our case, allowing Trevor to live at home was enabling and as I mentioned earlier, was hurting him more than helping.
And here’s another hard truth…
I had to resign my role as his rescuer and accept the fact that even in the worst-case scenario, if he dies, it’s not because of me. I personally had to come to the place where I realized he was never my son. He was…and always is…God’s. I was willing to accept that he may or may not get better while he is here with us.
There were times when things were so bad; I didn’t know how to pick myself up. The PAL facilitator at our meeting and the entire group picked me up when I couldn’t do it on my own.
Along with these truths, PAL helped me find the right words – both in talking to Trevor and in talking to myself. For example, I learned to tell Trevor that hope is possible. I also learned to tell myself that I had to pick my battles.
I would love to end this by telling you that Trevor is now sober and has been for some period of time. I can’t do that. He relapsed after 10 months of sobriety. Through PAL I understand that he has to want it more for himself than I (or anyone else) want it for him.
Yet, I do have hope.
In the past, every time he reached out to me it was because he needed something. Most of those times he was barely articulate.
This time around looks different. For example, he’s living on his own, working two jobs, and taking care of his responsibilities i.e. mostly doing the right things on a daily basis. He is totally articulate. The PAL facilitator reminded me that he’s not starting from scratch. He has learned from his past. This is the approach of an adult who wants to be clean.
I hope you can see that even though I had experience with drugs many years ago, that even with the experience of gaining my sobriety and recovery, I still needed PAL to help me accept the hard truths. It’s working…and it gives me hope.
A PAL mom