Our son grew up in a happy home with both parents loving and supporting him. He always had a fan club cheering him on; and my husband coached both kids in many of their sports. My husband and I recently celebrated our 25th anniversary. We have two adult children and one precious granddaughter. We have a small family, but a tight knit family.
Our favorite place to spend time is on the water. Our kids grew up on the lake and enjoy water sports to this day. We love vacationing to the beach and being around water just calms our souls. We have amazing memories of times together while our children were growing up.
We discovered our son was experimenting with marijuana and alcohol in high school; and dealt with it through discipline and prayer.
Our son is intelligent and graduated with honors from high school. We noticed his friend group began to change in high school. But, we really didn’t think too much about it as we just thought he was growing up.
He went away to college after high school. After one semester with all failing grades, he moved back home and transferred to a local university. He was on academic probation and was going to lose his scholarship. I honestly felt like it was a stranger that came home instead of our loving, happy son.
He would isolate and avoid encounters with us. He would stay out late or not come home at all; and would not let us know where he was. I got very little sleep during that time as I would lay awake worrying and praying he was ok. I would breathe a sigh of relief when I finally heard the door open and the sound of his feet going upstairs. But, I was afraid to leave my bedroom because I had no idea who he had with him and what sort of condition they may be in. The people he was spending time with were strangers to us. This was definitely a red flag as our son had always had friends around our family. We were losing our son.
We are very active in our church and our son participated in volunteer activities with us at church and attended Bible studies in our home. I recall a volunteer opportunity we had around Christmas that year and he cancelled going with us at the last minute because he was sick with flu-like symptoms. He later told us that he was going through withdrawals. We were clueless.
The last straw was a very scary encounter in our home that I can now give praise to God for finally shaking us into reality and, most likely, saving our son’s life. I recall sitting with him and telling him something had to change. I also recall me saying “if you need help, just ask.” I never expected what would happen next.
Our son admitted to us that he was struggling with drug addiction and needed help. He had been trying to quit on his own unsuccessfully. We checked him into a detox facility thinking this would be an “easy fix.” Get him off the pills and he will be fine. We had no idea what we were getting ready to go through.
We have attended many family sessions; and I have a wonderful Christian therapist that helps tremendously. I learned that I was co-dependent and an enabler. I was also very controlling and manipulative. I desperately needed my own plan of recovery.
One Sunday in church, there was an announcement about a new PAL group starting at our church. I was thrilled! My husband and I attended and absolutely loved it! I have been attending regularly for 2 ½ years and became a PAL facilitator in August 2018.
I am happy to say our son is clean and sober. PAL has helped teach me that relapse is not a sign of failure but can be something good. Our son has had several relapses but keeps getting back up and starting again. He enrolled himself back into college and is excelling now. He is working and shares an apartment with two other sober friends. There is such freedom knowing that we, as parents, are the least equipped to help our addicted loved ones; and knowing he has a strong support system in place that can help him.
I am thankful for the lessons and materials that PAL offers. It has helped me to spend my energy and time on my own recovery; and learning how to have healthy relationships. Once I began applying the principles and teachings of PAL, our family began to heal. I tell folks in my group it is like learning a new dance. We have to shift from our old dance steps of enabling, controlling, and manipulating to new dance steps of acceptance, healing, and grace. The new dance is awkward at first and we step on one another’s toes occasionally. But, through lots of practice, we are learning and getting better with our new dance.
I am so thankful that God chose us to parent our son. He is truly a blessing and we are so incredibly proud of him; and I give thanks to God every day for his life.
A PAL mom