Continued from Part 1
The next thing I knew, Gordon wasn’t the focus in the room – I was. They were quickly and efficiently hoisting me up onto a gurney and wheeling me out into the hallway where they left me to come to my senses. I lay there in a stupor of sadness and madness. I was devastated that this was my drunk and bloody son in the other room. And I was mad at myself for being too weak to stay the course with him. Even if I got up off the bed, they weren’t going to let me back in there. Now I just had to sit and listen to howling and not be able to hold my son’s hand. I had to be alone with the feelings of embarrassment that I was the mother who couldn’t save her son from addiction, let alone stay on her feet in the presence of his wreckage. I didn’t know much at that time about being the parent of an addict, so I lay there in a pool of my own guilt while my son was being stitched up in the next room.
After we checked out, I brought Gordon home. He had not been living with us when this accident occurred. A few months after his 18th birthday in the middle of his senior year of high school, Gordon moved out of our house to live with friends – who I assumed were doing and selling drugs. But we could no longer corral or control him. His behavior in our home had become intolerable and we had to think of the welfare of the four children who still lived with us and needed a semi-normal life. Gordon was breaking out every night, and had reached the age of emancipation, so we had no choice but to let him move out.
But on this night after the accident, I brought Gordon back to our house and planned to put him to bed and deal with him in the morning. After we arrived home, Gordon turned to me in the car and flatly told me that he hated me. He told me that he would never want to become a Christian because I was the worst person he knew and if I was a Christian then the whole thing was a joke.
Again, I didn’t have any training in dealing with addicts at that time, and I hadn’t been to any support group meetings or read any literature. So hearing those words that night, after all that I had gone through because of his addiction, cut me like a knife. I didn’t know whether to hit him in his stitched up eye or burst into tears.
So I did nothing. I got out of the car, opened his door, and helped him into the house and up the stairs into his old room. I put him to bed and shut the door. I didn’t say a word.
Then I went into my bedroom, put my face in my pillow and let out a sob that came from a place down in my gut that felt like it was on fire. My husband woke up with a start and asked me what the heck was going on. When I told him about the night, about passing out and about Gordon’s comments as we sat in the garage, he just held me. He told me that I couldn’t take anything to heart and that Gordon most likely wasn’t going to remember a lot of this night. He was right.
To this day, Gordon doesn’t remember his cutting words or most of his behavior in the ER. But like the millions of parents of addicts, I do. I remember every fearful minute from the moment the phone jolted me out of a peaceful night’s sleep to dropping him back off at the “apartment” that he shared with his friends the following afternoon. I remember the sadness and helplessness. I remember the shame I carried as a mom who couldn’t fix her son and felt that somehow my poor parenting must be to blame. And I remember the guilt I felt at being relieved that his drama was not living under my roof for the time being.
What about you? Do you have an addict in your life? Are you trying to manage someone else’s addictive behavior? Have you experienced your own nightmare nights with the addict in your life?
I honestly don’t know how loved ones who don’t know the God make it from day to day. Throughout the years that I was a hands-on parent and even after he had left home, Scripture was my strength and my hope. The promises of God in the Bible carried me like a medic carries the wounded from a battlefield. Here are a few that I clung to and prayed over my son. May they strengthen and encourage you as well:
Acts 16:25-26 – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.
Psalm 116:16 – Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.
Psalm 107:13-16 – Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.
Job 22:26-30 – Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God. You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows. What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways. When people are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’ then he will save the downcast. He will deliver even one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”
If you love an addict, I encourage you to do two things: Turn your heart and life over to Jesus who is the only One who can carry you AND find a support group as soon as you can.
Regarding the support group:
- You might feel that you won’t get anything out of it, to which I would say that you if you approach the group setting with an open mind and heart, you will be encouraged and liberated from the weight of shame that doesn’t belong to you. You may have to try a few different groups before you find that mix of people you click with, so keep coming. Give each group four tries and then move on to the next group.
- You may be afraid that you will completely lose your composure and have a breakdown in front of a room full of strangers. I’m not going to lie: this is entirely possible. But what is worse: keeping the ocean of pain locked up inside and staying chained to it, or finding healing through allowing the pain to come out in a safe and compassionate place? Jesus came to heal us, but He can’t heal pain and brokenness that we don’t admit or keep hidden. We must bring it out into the light so that His hand of mercy and compassion can move over it and bring “Shalom” – nothing broken and nothing missing.
A few years after the windshield nightmare (and other nightmares as well), I found a group for people who love an addict. The group consisted of spouses, parents, friends and children of addicts. When I started going to that group, I felt VERY awkward. But I was amazed at how quickly things inside started to shift. The places that once felt powerless were now feeling empowered. Where I had felt intense guilt, I now heard stories from parents who had similar circumstances and emotions. It was easy to identify in their stories that they weren’t at fault. So if they weren’t the incendiary agent in their child’s addiction, why was I? I was given literature to read in the privacy of my own home that further pulled back the covers on the lies I was swallowing as truth. I thank God for those groups and encourage you to find one that allows you to honor Jesus as the Lord of your life and carry all of your burdens there.
I understand the pain. Others do as well. You’re not alone. You’re not the first one to feel these feelings and you won’t be the last. Your loved one isn’t a lost cause and neither are you. Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost. He is our Healer and Restorer. There is NOTHING that he can’t restore. So let the Prince of Peace lead you back into peace. Start there and you won’t fail!
Dear Lord Jesus, I am broken and weak. I want so badly to fix the person I love. I have tried again and again to be the answer but I’m not enough. I have vacillated between love and hate in this sick cycle called addiction. I love this person to the point of my own suffering and I become enraged when my own life is swallowed up in their sickness. I feel like a victim of their illness, chained to their substance along with them. But You say in Your Word that you have come to set the captive free. Therefore, I place my complete trust in You to set me free from this cycle of addiction. Bring me out into freedom through the wisdom of your Word, the help of people I trust, and Your voice of affirmation and approval silencing the lies that this situation is hopeless. You are enough for me and for my addict. You are the Remedy and the Chainbreaker. I declare that I am free from bitterness, bondage and blindness NOW in Jesus name. Amen.