My son James is in long-term recovery and now 4 years clean and sober. While that is HIS accomplishment, I have traveled a parallel journey of recovery and have developed tools for MY own recovery.
James was a happy, creative child growing up. He reminded me of Andy, the fictional boy in the movie Toy Story. However, James became very defiant as a teenager and turned to drugs and alcohol as an escape from ADHD, anxiety, and depression. I remember driving home after an exhausting 12-hour hospital shift as a nurse, wondering what would be waiting for me. Would James be home? Would he be high? Would there be holes in the walls or furniture flipped over from an angry outburst? Home was not the sanctuary it should be; it became a place where we were often walking on eggshells and dreading the next confrontation.
Looking back, I recognize that I made mistakes. I enabled. I looked the other way. Family life deteriorated. The good news is that I eventually hit “bottom” when I decided the chaotic lifestyle we were living could not continue.
Thankfully, James also hit bottom and embraced recovery—first in rehab and then in recovery housing. During his time of healing, I went through a period of personal growth. I attended Al-Anon meetings weekly, eventually got my own sponsor, worked the steps, and began giving back. I also attended the New Canaan Parent Support group meetings and started to live my life by the Serenity Prayer.
Over time, James has morphed back into the kind, caring and creative child I used to know. He has re-gained the damaged trust from the rest of the family. Our holiday celebrations are once again filled with joy, laughter, and love.
One Sunday morning while attending an Al-Anon meeting at Silver Hill, I was interrupted by an urgent call from James. He told me he was so upset about something that he considered drinking again.
I silently gasped as I felt a huge pit in my stomach and wanted to say “Are you kidding me??? Don’t do it! You’re almost 3 years sober! Don’t do it!!!” Instead, I took a long pause and said, “I can hear how upset you are. You need to call your sponsor!” I told him I loved him and hung up the phone trembling and wondering if I did the right thing. Later that afternoon, James called me to assure me he didn’t drink and was handling his issue on his own. I’ll admit I was relieved.
James and I have independently worked our own recoveries. I’ve learned to support James on his journey, but not to rescue him from his stressors.
I continue to attend Al-Anon and the NC Parent Support Group meetings, live life according to the Serenity Prayer and make my own self-care a priority. I wish to represent hope to others who are in different stages of their journey. I have BEEN there!