Being his momma…

A few months ago I joined a Facebook group for momma’s who have addict children. There are over 34,000 of us in that group. I previously wrote about how when I initially found the group, it was an odd comfort for this weary momma. Then it just became too hard.

  • Daily – mommas are reporting dead children.
  • Daily – mommas are telling about how their AD or AS had x amount of days sober and then relapsed.
  • Daily – kiddos are found in the street, unrecognizable, left to “hit rock bottom”.

There aren’t a lot of celebrations in that group. And it’s hard. I never intended to find a voice for myself among the other mommas to addicts or to people in my own life about how to love us well, but here I am – feeling the urge to help us all learn how to navigate this space together.

I’ll admit – it’s totally selfish. I’m 100% undone with life and, literally, can’t keep going this way. In the last few years, I’ve thought about ending my life more times than I care for anyone to really know. Not because I actually want to die, though. Because I have no desire to die. The madness that has become my life, though… I want *that* to stop. And I don’t know how to make that happen.

Before anyone freaks out or welfare checks me – I’m not going to hurt myself. I promise. I super-duper promise. I’m just hoping to help people understand the gravity of the issue some of these mommas are facing, and I know because I’m facing it too.

I’ve learned over the years to set aside the shame the enemy tried to use to label me. He’s labeled me in every way that wasn’t true, and I’ve shed every bit of it and have chosen instead to live transparently, authentically, and with brutal honesty about my struggles, successes, and areas in which work still needs to happen.

Except this area. Except this shame label. Except the one label that I’ve only shed in baby steps. Admitting that I’m the momma to an addict wasn’t hard, not really. Once he was public with it, then I was too… mostly. It’s still his story to tell, but I’m recognizing that I have a story in all of this, too. However, in my efforts as his momma to fiercely protect him, what people think about him, and manage how he’s perceived by anyone else, it’s caused me to become completely isolated. An island. All alone. And certainly it’s left me unable to share my own story.

Just how the enemy wants me.

Friends and family remind me that I disappoint them when I’m not willing to follow through on plans because I’m “dealing with things at home” or my inability to make plans for the future because I don’t know what my life will look like then or the unsolicited advice to do it this way, that way, or any other way than the way I’m doing it.

Tough love isn’t the way.

Compassionate care isn’t the way.

Rehabilitation isn’t the way.

Hitting rock bottom isn’t the way.

Jail, felonies, fines isn’t the way.

Losing family isn’t the way.

All of us mommas, struggling to help our kiddos, have overthought each and every way. Every scenario played out in full color and in full color in our minds, dreams, and hearts every day.

We know that we’re disappointing you by not doing it your way. We know that we’re failing in most areas of our life. We know that we need to do something, but finding that something isn’t easy. We simply don’t think the same way or even the same things that “normie” mommas think.

Last night, lying in bed, I thought about how I would react if my son’s girlfriend called me to tell me he’d been shot. How would I react? Cry? Scream? Run to him? Bury myself in work?

At least once a month, but usually more, I think about what would happen if I got home and found him dead – either self-inflicted or overdosed.

I have a speech prepared for his daughters, in case he dies and I need to tell them. I have one prepared for my mom too. And my dad. And my whole family and friend group. And for my boss.

These are only some of the thoughts that plague my mind and the mind of thousands of other mommas every day.

Each one of the kiddos who finds their way out of the pit of addiction finds it their own way, in their own time, and only when they’re complete ready to do it. There is no secret or magic formula.

Each one of the mommas who finds her way out of the cycle of addiction with her kiddo finds it her own way, in her own time, and when she’s completely ready to do it. There is no secret or magic formula.

We know that your intent isn’t to shame us or make us feel bad, not usually anyway… And if doing life with us is too hard, we get it. Really, we totally get it. Doing life with ourselves is hard.

But if you do choose to do life with us, thank you. We need you.

We need you to listen without judgement, to not be a sideline commentator, or just to love us right where we are at that moment.

We need your encouragement.

We need you to know that sometimes we will follow your advice, but sometimes we won’t.

We need you to know that we have very little peace in our hearts and minds.

We need you to know that our heads feel chaotic and swimmy.

We need you to know that sometimes we just need to focus on other stuff; work, projects, you.

We need you to know that we don’t usually want to talk about it, but if we need to talk about it, that we have safety with you.

We need you to know that whatever decisions we make have been made with so much thought, consideration, and every pro and con in-between listed out ahead of time.

We need you to know that we’re doing the very best we can.

We need to know you’re praying for us and lifting us up to God because most of us feel completely forgotten and left on our own.

We need to know that you’re consistently carrying our kiddos, their addictions, and their health to the feet of Jesus and that you’re on our team when we’re crying out to God to save our kiddo.

It’s a big ask. A lot to put on you. We know. Believe me, we know. It’s part of the reason we slink into the darkness. Loving us isn’t easy. We’ve become professionals at learning how to keep others at arm-length’s distance all the time. We know the complications of loving us. We struggle to love us, too.

Maybe this is a manifesto of sorts… a public statement about being an addict’s momma. A declaration, kinda.

This is us.

His lovingkindne… what?

The enemy will push and push and push. The only hope the enemy has is to completely shatter us. The single way he can fully consume us is to keep coming for us and hope that we forget to Whom we belong. So often, we’re just dangling on the edges, and it’s only for the mercy of Christ and the Holy Spirit inside of us that we’re able to take a step back into Him; our true Savior. 

This week, the EMS saved my kiddo. I know we can go round and round about whether or not the emergency services should be “wasted” on saving people with substance abuse issues, but I will forever be grateful.

I got the call that any momma to an addict dreads receiving. “Is this so & so’s mom?” “Yes. Who is this?” “The fire department. Your son is unresponsive. Are there any medical issues we need to know about?” “He’s an addict.” “What’s his normal consumption so we know how to treat it?” “Xanax.”

Just like that. He’s swept off to the hospital. I leave my job to sit with him. I will always leave to sit with him. Not every momma chooses the path I’ve chosen, but we all have to choose what’s right for us. That’s something I’ve learned in this journey. All our paths look a bit different, and oddly similar still.

We had three solid good weeks. That’s how it always goes. Three good weeks. A trigger for him. One or two bad days. Then all the shame, apologies, regret. Did I mention shame? So much shame. Three good weeks. One or two bad days. Wash, rinse, repeat. I can almost set my clock to it.

Why is this my life, God? I did what You asked. I broke generational curses. I came to You in faith over and over again. I chose obedience when it would be so easy not to. Every day I surrender to You. He’s chosen You, God. He works hard, provides for his kiddos, doesn’t steal, pays his bills. Why is this his life, God?

This disease is all-consuming and has been for the last 9 years of our life, in one way or another. I rage against the heavens for him. For me. God knows this prayer from me better than He knows any other. I don’t have to beg God to hear me, He already does, yet I feel unheard. Alone. And struggling to find a way to ask Him one more time to save my family.

And then, simple as a warm Texas breeze, His love comes over me in waves. Psalm 118 says that He is good, and He endures forever. In our darkness, we can call out to Him. In our darkness, He will answer us.

Friends, we all have various struggles, challenges, and obstacles in our families. Mine is not anything that can’t be overcome and yours isn’t either. Trust me, I know how you’re feeling when it feels like we’re at the end. Not one more moment. I’m almost ashamed of my prayers the other day because of my total undoneness.

The enemy will push and push and push. The only hope the enemy has is to completely shatter us. The single way he can fully consume us is to keep coming for us and hope that we forget to Whom we belong. So often, we’re just dangling on the edges, and it’s only for the mercy of Christ and the Holy Spirit inside of us that we’re able to take a step back into Him; our true Savior.

He is good. His lovingkindness endures forever. Keep going. Please, don’t give up. I don’t know why this is your life or mine. I do know that God is in it with us, though. I know that in every instance when I think I can’t go on for one more minute, I can call out to Him and immediately feel His strength rise up inside my spirit.

We will not die, but we will live and declare the works of the Lord through all of it. We will come to see His hand in places we weren’t fully able to see until we moved through this thing. Our perseverance is creating something in us that we will use to reach others for the sake of the Kingdom. Our persistence to keep going forward will be rewarded when we’re able to walk with another soul through a similar journey with all the things we’ve learned in ours. Please, don’t give up. We need you.

You’re so wildly loved. You are not unseen, even if you feel that way sometimes. You are being heard all the way in the throne room of heaven because Christ is right with you through all of the stuff and things and stuffy things. Press on, my friends. I’m right here with you.

Psalm 118
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness endures forever.

5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
The Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can [mere] man do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side, He is among those who help me;
Therefore I will look [in triumph] on those who hate me.

13 You [my enemy] pushed me violently so that I was falling,
But the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.

17 I will not die, but live,
And declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord.
18 The Lord has disciplined me severely,
But He has not given me over to death.

21 I will give thanks to You, for You have heard and answered me;
And You have become my salvation [my Rescuer, my Savior].

28 You are my God, and I give thanks to You;
[You are] my God, I extol You.
29 O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness endures forever.

 

Being in community…

By now, we all know that community is really important to me. When I’m not in community with other people, I’m left to my own devices and the enemy uses that time to whittle away at me. I’m no good in that space.

Sometimes, for me, community might look like face-to-face time, or Facetiming time, phone call time, or online group time. All of the ways we choose to walk with others are good and pulls us out of the isolation easily used to drag us into deep pits. And I’m not talking about my introverted friends who need their time alone to recoup their energy, I’m talking about the isolation chamber we can find ourselves in if we’re easily discarding the importance of community.

I have communities for lots of things; cooking, bible study, single friends, Christians, church, work, writing, etc… each of those spaces are important to me and I’m grateful to learn from others and be able to pour into others too.

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With that said, I joined a community last week with a bit of reluctance, a lot of sadness, and a good dollop of anger. The Addict’s Mom community. It’s a nationwide group with chapters in each state. I’ve not spoken a word yet because I’ve been completely broken  reading through the posts of over 34,000 moms who are walking this walk too. Oddly, as broken as I’ve felt over it, I also finally feel as if I’ve found my people. My group of mommas.

I have always appreciated the advice my friends have given, but I’ve only been able to truly grasps bits of it to fit into the reality of life in our house. The mommas pouring into me haven’t had to walk into their kiddos rooms to feel whether the body was warm or cold, listening for shallow breaths. Most of them haven’t wondered if they’d walk into the home to see a kiddo dead from self-inflicted harm or happy. Most of them haven’t had their kiddo weep into their laps when friend after friend dies from overdoses of heroine, fentanyl, or other benzos and opioids. Most haven’t wondered where their kiddo is sleeping at night because they can’t find them or worse yet they have been found in a sordid state. Most haven’t sat up for days at a time, with buckets of self-blame, wondering where they went so wrong to create a kiddo with so much damage. I’m not saying my walk is harder, I am saying my walk is different, though.

This community of mommas – they get it. In part, I’m grateful for my own addict as I know some of these mommas have it a lot harder than we do. My addict hasn’t stolen from me. He hasn’t gone missing for weeks or months at a time. He hasn’t been to jail for longer than a day. He’s only had one stint in rehab, and not 15, 20, or more. I’m one of the lucky ones.

As I find my footing in this new space, I realize that some of my readers will find comfort in the words I choose to share and some may be triggered. My hope is that we find community. My hope is that if you’re walking down this road, too, we will come to know how we’re not alone. My hope is that God will continue to hear the cries from every momma’s heart that’s breaking for her kiddos. My hope is that we each find the strength to walk through this life with compassion and empathy for others, a growing desire to pour into our community, and a willingness to continue doing the hard work we have in front of us.

You, sweet momma, are not alone. This isn’t a club that any of us asked to be in, but here we are. Let’s walk this out, shall we?