My family photos on social media are like most everyone else’s. You know the kind with the perfect family, great setting and well dressed. I’ve been married for 42 years to my amazing wife, and we have two children, two grandchildren and another on the way.
Growing up, my father had struggled with addiction and my grandfather died of complications due to his addiction. Little did I know that this terrible disease would impact my son at the age of 13.
My son has the personality to light up a room – he is funny, witty, very smart and can charm anyone he meets. When he was 12 years old, we found out that he had ADD. We did what every parent would do and met with the doctors and counselors who recommended various drugs to help him. It was during that time that my son found marijuana as a way to “make him feel normal.”
By the age of 13, my son began using drugs. The constant drama began to increase as time went by. By the age of 20, he had been to three treatment centers and his addiction became worse. It had gone from marijuana to heroin and everything in between. My son has been to 16 different treatment centers and has flatlined seven times – by the grace of God, he is still here today. I often get questioned as to “what we did.” Well, we tried controlling, praying, enabling and most importantly holding on to expectations that just turned into resentments.
I went back to school, began to serve with a local Christian treatment center and worked there for over 10 years to facilitate and teach family recovery. Today, I am a certified addiction counselor. A few months back, I ran across PAL when my local church approached me and told me about this organization. I love the ability to have a Christian perspective, education and hope to provide to families who struggle.
I’ve learned that while there may be constant drama around me, I have access to a peace that passes all understanding. What if during all those Jerry Springer times God just wanted me and my attention? But because my addiction became my son, I took my focus off my relationship with Christ. However, I learned that when I focus on just today and choose not to live in the past or the future, I have the opportunity to enjoy Christ today. One day at a time.
We often fight to stay sick, instead of surrendering to be healed. Simply because when we realize as a parent we can become as sick as our loved one, it takes work and facing some pain to surrender our loved one.
My son is currently 10 months in recovery, engaged to be married and expecting a little girl. For over 20 years, nothing I did made him change. My expectations of a good treatment center or a person in his life or God stepping in just didn’t work. I couldn’t pray it away and I couldn’t change my son’s choices
Today, I cherish a call from my son to discuss nothing other than how great his work is, his upcoming baby shower, and his future wedding. I’m grateful for all the people that addiction has placed in my life and look forward to trusting God’s plan. While it has taken me years to heal and I’m still healing, I am positive about the future, and I know that God loves my son more than I do. That said, I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow.
-A PAL Dad