An update on my son Gunner

 

My readers are the best of the best.  Not only because you have great taste in fiction (hehe), but because you are so caring and compassionate.

After I announced that my son Gunner is an addict, a few months back, I’ve regularly gotten messages from readers asking about him.  Praying about him.  Checking on him.  I can’t tell you how touched that makes me.  To know that you take a minute out of your day to pray about my boy- someone you haven’t even met.  It melts my heart.

I’d like to give you an update on him today.

He’s doing amazingly well.  He came through Rehab like a champion, and he’s been in a halfway house for a few months now without relapsing.   When he was first out of rehab, he had a job at a KFC, not fancy, but it was an honest job.

Now, he has a job at a machinist shop, and he’s learning the skill of being a machinist.  He’s been there for a couple of months now, and his boss is impressed by how hard of a worker he is.

Recovery is hard.  It’s hard for the addict, every damn day, every damn minute. It’s hard for the family– because we’re constantly holding our breath, hoping that it sticks.

I’m so hopeful this time.  SO SO hopeful.  Gunner has been strong and unwavering, and seems so intent on truly starting a new clean life.

I truly think that all of your prayers have helped him stay on this path.  I believe that the more voices that utter that same prayer, the more God can hear them.  And I believe that’s the case here.  You heard a mother’s desperate pleas for help, and you answered that call by praying for a struggling son.

And here he is now, so much better, so much on the road to a permanent recovery.

I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for praying for my boy. He appreciates you, I appreciate you.  I’ll never be able to express how much.

Thank you, thank you, thank you… from the bottom of this mother’s heart.

Pax Tate is back!

My Peace, the continuation of Pax Tate’s story from IF YOU STAY, is live today!

Happy endings must be worked for.

Pax Tate used to be an effed up asshole, but you’d never know it now.

He’s got a sexy wife, their own little family, a cozy home, and a successful career.

Everything is perfect.

Until his past rears its ugly head.

Pax will do anything to protect his family,

even if he destroys himself in the process.

 **BUY ON AMAZON **

Dear Readers,

I announced recently that I based the character of Pax Tate on my twenty-two year old son, Gunner.

Gunner is a drug addict.  He’s currently in rehab, and he’s doing well, but it’s been a long roller-coaster of a journey to get here.

Pax’s personality traits are Gunner’s.  Even though Gunner’s moods have been mercurial because of drugs, deep down he is strong and funny, charming and sweet.  I wanted that to come through in Pax.

(Of course, when I’m writing the “sexy time” scenes, I’m definitely picturing Jensen Ackles or Alex Pettyfer in my head.  🙂

Pax’s heart is as deep as the ocean, even though sometimes, he can be an asshole.  I think readers realized that in IF YOU STAY, and that book sat on the New York Times for twelve weeks back in 2013.

Readers have asked for more Pax over the years, and it is only now, that I wanted to add more to the story. It is only now that I have come to terms with the fact, based on my son’s own life, that happy endings must be worked for.

I hope you love Pax’s story.

I wrote it with the ending I want for my own son, one of hope, of happiness and of good health.

I will give anything to make that true.

From my pen to God’s ear.

I hope you enjoy the story.  Thank you for reading!

XO,

Courtney

** BUY ON AMAZON **

My Peace

 

In 2013, my book, IF YOU STAY sat on the New York Times bestsellers list for twelve straight weeks. Readers fell in love with troubled Pax Tate. For years, I have been asked to write more of his story.

For years, I didn’t want to.

Pax Tate’s character is based on my son, Gunner. His personality traits, his issues with drugs.

I wanted to leave Pax’s story as a fairytale happy ending. But through my journey with my son, I have realized that happy endings must be worked for, and sometimes, they don’t come easy.

MY PEACE is the continuation of Pax Tate’s story. It releases Friday, although it is up for pre-order now. (The pre-order price is $2.99, and that price will return to it’s normal $3.99 on Friday.)

You can find it exclusively on Amazon:

http://smarturl.it/MyPeacePreorder

My son: An Update

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.

gunner-and-ginny

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.

XO,

Courtney

My Truth: My son is an addict

Hi.

Let me preface this post, by telling you that the things I’m about to say are in NO WAY a marketing ploy, or a plea for attention.  I’ve thought a long time about when to share this, IF EVER, and I’ve come to the decision that I want to try to use my situation for good, if I possibly can. This is not a secret I want to keep anymore.  I’m going to step into the light, and you’re going to see my scars.

Several years ago, I wrote my break-out book, IF YOU STAY.  It’s the story of a broken man, plagued with drug use and issues.  Pax Tate’s story had a happy ending, and many of you fell in love with him.  Many of you asked me who he was based upon… and I have never felt like I should share.

Until now.

Loving someone with an addiction is a heavy burden to carry.  At times, you feel alone, as though no one else could possibly understand.   And most of the time, no one can, unless they’ve walked this particular path themselves.

My twenty-one year old son, my first-born,  Gunner, was a cheerful little boy, his smile like sunshine, his charm enough to talk himself in and out of mostly everything.  He was bright, he was bursting with potential, and he was beautiful.  He was rambunctious, he was all boy, playing with lizards and turtles and snakes from the yard.  His favorite show was The Land Before Time, and he  wanted to be a zoologist when he grew up.

gunner-baby gunner-three

 

Then, as a teenager, he changed.   He became a shell of his former self, his mood mercurial.   He lied to himself, and to us, told us that nothing was wrong, that his disinterest in school was because he was bored.   That was a lie.

The truth came out soon enough.

He started out huffing aerosol cans in secret, and that branched out to other things, like methamphetamine and heroin, and pretty much anything he could get his hands on.  The Addiction hooked into him with sharp talons.  I address it in capital letters, like it is a thing, because it is.  Addiction is a palpable monster.  It grabbed my son, and it wouldn’t let go, and he didn’t want to let it.

It dragged him down, and we all went with him.

Loving someone with an addiction is like being on a terrible roller coaster than you can never get off of.  He calls me in the middle of the night, he calls me crying, he calls me saying he wants to die.

Then the next day, once the drug wears off, he calls and acts fine.  He’ll insist he doesn’t have a problem, and that he doesn’t need help.  Then the cycle begins again the day after.

He rages.  He cries.  He soars, he crashes.

People on the outside looking in think that I should be able to fix it. That if I FORCE him into getting help, he’ll beat the addiction.

That’s not the way it works.  I’ve put him in rehab multiple times.  It didn’t take.  Because he wasn’t ready.  He’s not a minor anymore- he’s over eighteen.  So I can’t MAKE him do anything, not even when he’s killing himself with this dangerous cycle.

This has been on ongoing struggle for several years now.  We try to make him get help, he resists at every turn.  The addiction makes him someone he’s not, someone who says hateful awful things, someone who tries to hurt those who love him.

It’s exhausting.

A while back, at two a.m, he called me.  I could tell he’d been high, that he’d crashed.  He was very, very low.   His speech was jumbled, incoherent.  Eventually, he said, “Mom, what time is it?”

I pulled the phone away from my ear to look at it.

“Two-thirty,” I told him.

He didn’t answer.

“Gunner?”

He didn’t answer.

“Gunner?!”

Still no answer.    I could hear some sort of ragged, gurgly sound in the background, and I knew it was coming from his throat. I hung up, and tried to call him back.

No answer.

So I did the only thing I could do.  I called for an ambulance.  I didn’t know if he was dying, I only knew, in my mother’s heart, that time was of the essence.  I waited by my phone, barely breathing myself, until I heard back.

He had overdosed, and the police had found drugs in his house.  He was lucky though. He lived.

He was treated, and arrested, and he was put into jail. He was eventually released, and placed on a list for rehab.  Finally, after several weeks, he’s now in rehab. Again.  All we can do is hope that this time it takes.  That this is the time he’ll want to get better and we can all get off this roller-coaster ride from hell.  He tells me he wants to get better, but he’s in for the fight of his life.  He wakes up in the night, in cold sweats and craving needles.  The cravings are stronger than he is, he thinks.  But I don’t think so.  I think if he concentrates, he is strong enough.  

Gunner is now twenty-one.  He’s got a sweet fiancee, and a beautiful infant son.  He’s got a lot to live for, if only he’s strong enough to see that.

gunner-with-damon

This is my baby boy now.  Do you see the dark look in his eyes?  The lines on his face?  The hardened expression?  The skinny arms and bony shoulders?  That’s what drugs do.  They take and take and take, until there’s nothing left.

This can’t be the end of my son’s story.  He’s got so much left to give.

If you are a praying person, would you mind saying a prayer for him?  Because I believe that the more people who whisper the same prayer, the louder the words are to God’s ear.  And Gunner needs God’s help to beat this.

I am a normal person.  My family is normal.  We live normal lives, and this has happened to us.  Once upon a time, I thought that drug addiction was something that happened to OTHER people.  People who weren’t like me.

That was not true.

Drug addiction can happen to ANYONE.

You can teach your kids right from wrong, and bad things can still happen.  Hug your kids tight.  They will make their own choices, and you can’t control that.

As an author, that’s a tough pill to swallow, because I’m accustomed to creating worlds.  I control what happens in those worlds, and I control the choices my characters make. I control everything with keystrokes from my keyboard, or a red pen on a white page.

Real life isn’t like that.  My son is killing himself, and I can’t do a thing to stop it.  So, to deal with it, I do what I do best.

I write.

I’m writing another book based on Pax Tate.  I first created his character because of my son Gunner.  And because real life has shown me that stories evolve,  I feel as though Pax’s story has to continue, to show that sometimes, happy endings must be worked for, with blood and tears.  But if you work hard enough, and pray and hope and HANG ON FOR DEAR LIFE, a happy ending can be had.  I have to believe that.

Writing is my therapy.  I write to live.  I’m going to write more of Gunner’s struggles through Pax, and I’m going to give Pax the ending that I want Gunner to have.

If God is willing, it will be so.