Tomorrow is my son Gunner’s 22nd birthday.
He will be celebrating it alone in a halfway house.
That might sound sad, and it is. But it is also a joyful thing for me, a relief. The fact that he is there means that he is safe. It means he is alive.
I admitted to you a month ago that my son is an addict. And lord have mercy, that was hard. I’m a very private person– at least with serious matters. If something is wrong, I internalize it. On some level, it is easier for me to deal with something if no one knows, and if no one asks me about it.
But this… I’ve lived with it for so long, and it became so heavy to carry. I decided to talk about it, and I’m so glad I did. I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for your prayers and support.
I cannot tell you how much it has meant to me over this past month. On low days, I’ve read through your messages again and again. I’ve cried over some of your stories– at the other sons and daughters, sisters, brothers and parents who have been lost to addiction. At the same time, I have been filled with hope over the ones who have overcome it.
This is such a wide-spread pandemic, and no one wants to talk about it. It is an ugly topic. It is scary. It is real. I’m going to talk about it, though. I’m not going to hold back. Not now, and not ever again. This is a subject that people need to hear about.
We live in a world where everyone puts their best face forward on social media. We stage our selfies at just the right angle, we tell stories of how well our kids are doing in school, and we take beautiful pictures during our vacations. We all want people to know how well we do, and that’s fine.
But we rarely talk about the hard times, and that just isn’t life. Life is full of good times and bad. And I think that when we have bad times, we should share them– not just so that we can get emotional support, but so that others going through the same thing don’t feel so alone.
Many of you have asked how Gunner is doing now. He has been sober for 5 weeks. He has come through the physical withdrawals. He came through the court-ordered drug rehab. He is now in a half-way house, and will be there for the next month.
He has good days and bad ones. Some days, he is upbeat and hopeful. Others, he is angry and ugly. Some days, he is thankful that I called the ambulance that saved his life. Other days, he is furious at me, because when the ambulance came, they found drugs in his home that resulted in his arrest.
Addiction chemically alters brain patterns, and those malfunctions don’t heal overnight. Gunner will be dealing with those long-term effects for awhile. He used drugs over a period of years– and that leaves a mark. One of the things it does is affect judgment, and honestly, that terrifies me.
I’m terrified that when he comes out of the halfway house in a month, his brain patterns won’t be healed enough to sustain the real world, and he will fall into old ways. I’m terrified of that.
But, like an addict has to take it one day at a time, one moment at a time, so too does a parent of an addict.
He is currently attending 2-3 NA meetings a day. He has a part-time job at KFC– not glamorous, but it’s a job. He is saying he wants to stay clean. Since we’ve been down this road a few times before, and he has fallen off the sobriety wagon before, I’m afraid to hope.
But at the same time, I’m afraid NOT to hope. Hope is all we have. And I want my son back.
This is Gunner and his fiancee during a visit at rehab a while back. He looks so much better already– he’s putting on weight, and he’s getting more color in his face.
I thank God for that. I thank God that my son is alive right now- that he’s been given another chance. I pray every day that he takes that chance and runs with it– that he soars, in fact.
I’m also thankful for YOU. Thank you for being so supportive of me, and for praying for Gunner. I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know. I’ll keep you updated on his progress.
I hope you’re having a wonderful December so far, and that your holidays are merry and bright.