When I came up with the title of this blog I picked "Walking Through Addiction" for several reasons. The first being that living with addiction is a journey. There is not a beginning and an end. I believe addiction is a disease however, it's not like other diseases where you can go to the doctor, get treated and then you are cured. Although, I have to admit, I kind of thought it would be like that in the early days of my sons addiction. I really thought that once we realized that we couldn't "fix" him and we finally became willing to turn him over to the "professionals", that after 30 days in rehab he would come home "cured" and we could all get on with our lives. Today after nearly 10 years of watching my son get sober long enough to take a 6 month and then a 9 month chip several times only to find himself with a needle in his arm, I know that there is no cure. There is no finish line. There is no crowd standing on the sidelines cheering him on.
The second reason for the title is that living with addiction sometimes feels like you are sludging through the mud. It is wet, and messy, and sometimes your feet get so full of the muck that you just feel like you just can't take another step. As you watch your loved one sink deeper and deeper into their own dark hole you begin to feel defeated. Your legs become so heavy that you want to give up.
In my early days of recovery I learned that I could keep moving forward one step at a time, one day at a time, and sometimes one minute at a time. No matter how heavy the burden was if I just took baby steps I would be alright. In the beginning sometimes that meant just forcing myself to get out of bed. Somedays I was able to take a short walk or call someone on the phone. Somedays my goal was to just get to a meeting. Gradually I found myself learning to LIVE my life again. It was a slow process but I learned that I could get THROUGH this.
A few weeks ago my son took another 9 month chip. Somedays I find myself thinking,
"I'm so glad that's behind us." In AA they call it a "cunning and baffling" disease. It's funny because my disease is "cunning and baffling" too. How quickly I slip back into the old thinking I had back in the early days. The way I thought after he came home from his first rehab. "Great, now we can all get on with our lives." I find myself thinking "well, he completed his rehab, he lived in a clean and sober living environment for several months and now has a roomate who is working a solid AA program. He is attending AA, has a home group and a sponsor. He even has a job in a rehab." The truth is I KNOW ALL THAT DOES NOT GUARANTEE HE WILL BE CLEAN TOMORROW. Other days I find myself gripped with fear. The "what if's" run through my head. "What if he stops going to meetings, what if he doesn't call his sponsor. What if he loses his job." I have to be careful because these thoughts take me to my worst nightmare, "what if he goes back out there and he dies this time." The thoughts can lead me right back to the place I was in my early days of recovery, completely frozen by fear.
This disease will never be behind us. We will all be walking THROUGH this the rest of our lives. This is a long battle of one day at a time piecing together a life of sobriety. I will continually have to work on letting go of expectations, accepting the things I can not change, and giving my son the dignity to live his own life. Today I know that my son has a path to walk and our family also has a path to walk. Each day we all attempt to find our way through addiction.