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My name is Julie and I’m 46 years old. I have 2 children by birth and 4 stepchildren from my current marriage. I divorced my first husband after 16 years of marriage due to his alcoholism, drug addiction and physical abuse. Today, I admit, dreadfully, that I am the mother of a 24 year old meth addict. My son was first introduced to the drug when he was 14 years old…..by his own dad…..my ex-husband. My son has battled meth, pills, alcohol and other substances since then. I’ve decided to write today because I have recently found out that there are many, many others, people I know, have know for years, people who live right under my nose, that I am related to, that I interact with online or otherwise, that are also dealing with this same addiction, either their own fight or a child or other family member. I’ve realized recently how important it can be to be there for others, to just listen or to share your story so they know they aren’t alone. Addiction is a serious disease and should be treated as such. You don’t turn your back on your child if you find out they have terminal cancer, so why would you turn your back on them because they are an addict? I just want to express some of my thoughts, fears, dreams and how my daily life is affected due to this disease.

I can’t begin to explain to you what it is like to wonder where your child is, what they are doing, if they are dead or alive. I don’t know how to explain the stabbing pain in the heart that you feel when you have to tell them that you can’t let them live with you anymore because of their choices. I don’t know how to explain to you what it feels like to have absolutely no control over their destiny. I don’t know how to explain to you what it feels like to lie in bed at night wondering if they are going to still be alive tomorrow. I don’t know how to explain to you what it feels like to have such an overwhelming feeling that you will probably have to attend your own childs funeral. I don’t know how to explain to you what it is like to wonder why he ever tried drugs. I don’t know how to explain to you what it is like to wonder what he feels when he does drugs that makes him want to do it again. I don’t know how to explain to you the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness I have some days. I don’t know how to explain to you the desire to just run my car off into a ditch or hit a tractor trailer head on in hopes that if I were to die, he may realize he needs to change. I don’t know how to explain to you the thoughts that go through my head constantly. I don’t know how to explain to you what my life is like. On the outside, everything looks normal. But on the inside, I die a little more each day. I struggle to get out of bed every morning because I fight depression tooth and nail every single day of my life. I fight my demons all the way to work, listening to How Great Thou Art, The Lighthouse, Jesus Take The Wheel and other songs to try to keep me from swerving into that tractor trailer. I spend my drive time praying and talking to God asking him to help me deal with this. Asking him to change my son. Asking him to forgive me for the thoughts I have. Asking him to take me out of the depression. Asking him for guidance and for his will to be done in all of our lives.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to speak with other mothers who have dealt with their kids being addicted to drugs, going to jail, making bad life choices, giving up on God. And one thing that I’ve learned is this…..tough love is what everyone tells you that the kid needs. The kid needs to hit rock bottom before they are going to admit they need to change. I know these things already and I pray for him to hit rock bottom every day. But the part that everyone who is the parent of a RECOVERING addict has shared with me is that even though you do the tough love thing and you pray they hit rock bottom, the biggest part is that the kid has to know that his family hasn’t given up on him and that they are there for him no matter how good or how bad times are. You can’t walk away from that child. You can’t turn your back on that child. No matter what they say to you, do to you, do to ones you love, if you turn your back on them, you are no better off than they are. As Jesus was hanging on the cross, he said “forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” The person I see in my son right now is not my son. He is completely controlled by his substance abuse and by satan. The real child is in there, deep, stranded, struggling, fighting, crying for help, wanting a good life, but not knowing how to get back. He’s in there struggling with something that is stronger than any of us – – satan.
These statements were part of an email that I sent to a family member trying my best to help them understand how much deeper this is than what they see. I cried the entire time I was writing it. My gut and my throat burned as I made the admissions about the thoughts I’ve had. I’ve told my daughter before that I would give up my life without ever thinking twice if it would save my son! A year ago, I just thought that I understood the real, true, hardcore meaning of tough love and unconditional love. I did not. And I am pretty sure that most people don’t, general speaking. I’m sure it’s nothing like what I think, but I feel like I have a better understanding of what it meant for Christ to die on the cross to save us.

Shortly after sending this email yesterday, I was blessed with an overwhelming love from someone who has been hurt, betrayed, and generally disrespected by my son. While I was still trying to compose myself through the tears, I received a phone call. The call was asking how to get in touch with my son because someone wanted to offer him a place to work and live. I just started crying. I told the person how to get in touch with him. My son accepted the job and new living situation. The new employer will give him 30 days to sober up and assess him at that time. I’m praying that this new opportunity will give him the will, desire and drive to put the bad behind him and move forward with the life he deserves. This person who offered this opportunity to my son has been criticized by others for his mistakes he has made in his life, for choices he made in his younger years that he now regrets, he has been talked about and put down by others. But today, I realize without a doubt in my mind, that God…..only God….not by chance, not by karma, not by any other means, but by God, this man was put in my life for reasons that neither of us ever understood and probably won’t until we die. I have done many things wrong in my life, but evidently I have also done a few things right! 

And today starts the first day in the rest of my son’s life. He is working physical labor in the hot sun. He hasn’t worked in over a year so not only is he out of shape, he is going through detox very quickly as the heat and work are dehydrating him. His will and desire for the drug is going to be tested more now than ever. I’m praying along with many others that today he will not give up. That today, he will struggle through until tomorrow. And that tomorrow, he will once again get up and go to work. I’m praying that he takes it one day at a time and looks at each day as a victory.

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