“You have a 75% chance of becoming an addict.” My mother’s sister (my aunt who helped raise me) was the one who shared those most valuable words with me.
I don’t remember how old I was when I first heard those words. They didn’t sting or hurt. They were a gift. They were meant to be used as a tool for being aware and making good decisions. They made a huge impact on me. I understood the significance. I understood the power behind those words. I understood through those words I had the ability to help change a generational curse. I had to take action. I had to be proactive. I understood it wasn’t just my future that would be impacted…but my kid’s future…their kid’s future. So many generations stood to be impacted by choices I made and continue to make each day. Our choices don’t just impact the here and now – they can forever alter the course of our path. Our family’s path. Good and bad.
My family had been plagued with addiction for many years. My mother, my father and so many other loved ones have been terrorized by addiction. Too many have lost their lives because of this disease.
I knew from the moment I got pregnant I would be fighting for my children’s future. Looking back through my family’s history, genetically and statistically – one of my two most precious gifts from God would have to battle things that could lead them to addiction. For me, I only saw war. Me fighting with all I had…to save one or both of my precious gifts. I tried to tell Scott but I don’t think he ever really understood. Not the significance. How could he? He hadn’t been robbed by the devastating disease like I had. His heart hadn’t ached from addiction the way mine had. He didn’t really understand we were in a war against Satan to save our boys. He didn’t understand Satan was waiting and watching for the perfect opportunity to strike.
I watched. I prayed. I reflected. I analyzed. I learned. I educated. I talked. I prayed some more. I talked some more. I was open and honest about addiction. About my mother. About my pain. About mother’s pain. About other family members. About anything and everything that could help save my boys. Because that’s what I was doing – trying to save their life. I needed to give them tools. I needed them to see differently… to be watching and be on alert for the thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy. Because he was waiting. He was waiting and watching for the perfect opportunity to strike.
I watched. I waited. And then it began….
Suddenly what seemed like out of nowhere, in the ninth grade my precious son started exhibiting different behavior. At first it just seemed like worrying. It would start on Sunday nights…he would begin to tell us how he didn’t want to go to school the next day. Not your normal fussing about school. It was hours and hours of excruciating worrying. Shaking, rocking and tears. He would make himself so sick with worry that he would throw up. We were worried and at a loss. We tried everything…listening, redirecting, and being stern…anything we could think of. We were worn out, frustrated and at a complete loss. We had no clue. It continued to escalate each week. Something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I questioned. Did something happen? What is going on? “No, nothing happened,” was always his reply. He couldn’t explain it. We couldn’t understand it. There was no rhyme or reason. It was sporadic and paralyzing. Then we started getting phone calls from him while he was at school. He was panicked and tearful…he was begging one of us to come and get him. He said he couldn’t stay there. It was heartbreaking! Scott was stern with him. He even went to the school and tried to line him out. We tried babying him. We spoke to one of our friends who had gone through something similar with her son. Her information was helpful. We researched. We spoke to so many. We tried every possible thing we could think of. Day after day, week after week, month after month…it continued. Nothing worked. He was scared. We were scared. Then I knew…we were in the battle. This was the war I had been preparing for. I had to fight with everything I had to save my sweet boy. He had inherited my mother’s anxiety. I was devastated. I cried. I was angry. God, how can you allow this to happen? My parents and my son?
I knew it was something far beyond his control. Both my parents suffered from anxiety. I believe they both self-medicated which had contributed to their life path and journey of addiction. My sweet boy wasn’t going to be taken without a fight. I would fight with everything I had to change the course of his future. I knew if he didn’t find some relief – he would eventually look for relief on his own in the form of drugs and alcohol. This could be deadly for him. Our family isn’t like others. One drink can hook us and create a dependence making us powerless. I wasn’t going to watch him as I had watched my mother. My heart ached.
After nothing we did was effective, we sought medical attention. But even as a nurse it was excruciating to maneuver through the process. Not any doctor was good enough to care for one of my most precious gifts. It had to be one who specialized in this kind of thing. It had to be the perfect one. One who would listen. One who would spend time with us and with him. One who would take the time to understand our family history. One who wasn’t just pushing pills. We needed help. Root cause help. We needed someone who would care. Really care. Not just care for the 20-40 minute appointment but about his life and future. After much searching and many tears…we found a doctor who helped us a lot and then not so much.
And then a couple of bad choices were made and God allowed consequences to happen. We worked through those consequences to create positive change in our lives. Those bad things ended up being great blessings. And then during a very scary thing – God sent us an angel in the form of a beautiful caring doctor. One who got it, who understood and truly cared. She is one of the most understanding, knowledgeable, caring, compassionate doctor’s I have ever met. We were in the middle of a crisis. She helped us more than I could ever express. I love her! We are forever grateful for her. She helped us change the path we could have been on.
We’ve learned a lot. I have learned a lot. It has taught me more about mother and what may have contributed or led to her life of addiction. Mother’s addiction and all that was lost is still painful. But it allowed me to have more empathy instead of judgement. We believe sometimes God allows you to go through things so you can help others. That’s our reason for sharing…to help others.
I am so proud of him. He seeks to learn and researches. He isn’t perfect and has made mistakes just as I have. He is thoughtful, kind and considerate. He has a heart of gold. He is loyal and compassionate. He stands up for what is right. He has taught me so much. He loves his family. He tells his brother he loves him before he goes to bed or leaves the house. I don’t know very many young men who so freely give the “L” word – especially to their brother. They both tell each other they love each other. I love my boys. They warm my heart and make me proud.
Learning to tame his anxiety will be one of his greatest life accomplishments. Something to be proud of not embarrassed of. It will be far greater than any job, education or high paying salary he could ever strive to obtain. It will be one of his greatest life successes. He is changing the course of his future, the future for his kids and generations to come. We are right by his side cheering, guiding and loving him. We are so proud of him.
Anxiety and Panic Attacks can be debilitating. They are so misunderstood. They can stop you dead in your tracks.
It’s been 5 years since it started and we’ve learned a lot. We will share…as my sweet guy is ready. He is still battling. We are still battling. But we’re on a great path and we will win!
John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV)
Finding the sweet side of crazy!