Yesterday I was enjoying a relaxing afternoon getting my hair done when the teenaged son of one of the hairdressers came in asking his mother for gas money. Before his mother gave him the money she asked the typical questions; where are you going, and who are you going with. My mind immediately reacted the way I did when my son was using drugs. I was suspicious. My first thought was "he is lying". Then I thought "he wants to buy drugs". When he told her he was going to a movie I thought to myself , "no he isn't". As the young man left his mother explained to her client that her son had been volunteering at their church all summer doing landscaping. She went on to explain how proud she was of him and what a good kid he was.
It made me think how distorted my thinking has become. Living with the lies and deception of addiction for so long has jaded me. I see the world through the lenses blurred by addiction now. For the past 10 years I have attended at least two Al-Anon meetings a week. Twice a week for over 10 years I have sat in rooms filled with anywhere from 50-100 parents whose lives have been turned upside down because of their child's drug use. I have met at least a dozen families who have lost their child to a drug overdose. I have become a well informed parent and a professional student of addiction studies. My son's drug use became very apparent to me shortly after he began experimenting with drugs. It was impossible for me not to see the changes in his behavior and his appearance. For some parents it takes a couple of years before they recognize the signs of addiction. They may sense that something is "not quite right" but they don't want to accept the fact that their child may be using drugs. They rest in the comfort of denial. It provides a false sense of security. I was forced out of denial long ago. I don't think I will ever again see life through rose colored glasses. There are moments like yesterday that I miss the bliss of denial. I have to remember there really are teenagers who "just say no" to drugs. There are teenagers who don't have to lie to their parents about where they are going or who they are with. There are teenagers who know how to have fun without using drugs or alcohol.
There are families who will never face the nightmare of addiction that my family and thousands of others have had to face. I forget that sometimes. The blurred lens of addiction has hardened me.