Oh no! – The question.
Silence – The answer.
“Not MY kid!”
“I won’t let this happen to MY kid!”
“MY kid is too well behaved for drugs!”
“MY kid won’t hang out with THOSE kids!”
“OUR family is different than THOSE families.”
“MY kid goes to a great school…he gets good grades.”
Though those answers weren’t on my list of responses when asked the dreaded “what if” question, I had my own naive thoughts.
I sat silent for a while.
Ok, a long while.
Ok, I still haven’t shared my thoughts.
That is, until now.
Those thoughts went something like this…..
“Nooooo! He will play with Legos, get excited over finding nickels in the couch, eat yogurt tubes, suck juice boxes dry, sleep with “wolfie” at night and laugh at Sponge Bob for the rest of his life!!!”
That folks, is what I came up with.
Naive mom brain, if you will.
My 8 yr old will grow up and, in today’s society, fast!
Addiction is real. I know all too well.
So, what is my answer. “What if…” Hello? Are you there? Jenn?
Reality is harder than projecting on the ‘what if’s’, but through my own addiction, here are my thoughts……here it goes…
If my child is an addict….
I will love him no less.
Reach out farther.
Talk to others.
Talk to him.
Not miss an opportunity to hold his hand.
Give him hope. Encourage him.
Plant the seed.
Hug him tight.
Answer his calls.
Say “no” a lot….a whole lot.
Tell him my story.
Tell him many stories.
Be strong in front of him.
Fall to pieces behind him.
Kiss his forehead.
Count his freckles.
Daydream of better days.
Cry for him.
Cry for me.
Cry for my heart.
Cry for his heart.
Hate addiction all over again.
And one thing is for sure, without a doubt, I will have faith. As hard as it is to trust anyone with my child, my faith will have to be strong. As an addict, one thing I know for sure is addiction is too big for any parent…mom or dad; sibling; spouse; best friend; child. You can love them with all you are…all your being…but you can’t love them sober. If so, ALL addicts would be just that: sober.
I was asked the dreaded question: “What if my child is an addict?”
So in response, all I can do today is this.
Love him with all my being.
Count his freckles, watch him sleep, lay out his clothes.
Cut the crust off his sandwich and play the part of Santa, the tooth fairy and Easter bunny.
Today I can giggle with him. Help him cope with a bad day in 2nd grade.
Beautiful, innocent memories.
Today is all I have….the only time I have to teach him what I know about life, which isn’t really anything more than you. I’m just a mom who wonders what other parents wonder: how to protect my child.
Yet in the world of addiction, I wonder a bit more. Will he be?
Then again….maybe he won’t…
Originally posted on the Jake Koenigsdorf Foundation’s Facebook page.
Jake Koenigsdorf Foundation is a non-profit foundation that helps addicts, alcoholics and their families find support and treatment.
About Jenn Stottlemire:
I am passionate about passing on my experience; to give hope to the ones suffering and rally behind the broken.
Heroin took me on a wild ride straight to hell, but it wasn’t my only demon.
It certainly wasn’t what anyone whose life has been shattered by addiction anticipated seeing when they turned on SNL expecting to have a few laughs. Addiction isn’t even a little funny. People are dying and lives are being destroyed every single day – and there is no humor to be found in any part of this epidemic.
They say ‘you know you’ve made it’ when SNL writes about it, so I guess in one way we should be glad that we have been loud enough about the epidemic to get their attention. This parody was one of their most tasteless to date, but what has made people react so viscerally to it goes to the heart of the matter. Our kids are dying. Heroin use, as SNL pointed out, is on the rise. And yes, mothers, school bus drivers and soccer coaches are not immune to addiction. Continue reading “Saturday Night Live tried to joke about heroin, but there is nothing funny about this epidemic.”
Why do we hide, cover up, and refuse to acknowledge addictions in our loved ones’ lives? I have seen over and over, ‘the family requests to keep this private’ in a Facebook post, email or obituary.
There isn’t anything about heroin addiction that should be kept private. It is a terrible disease. When we choose to keep quiet, who benefits? Are we protecting our loved one? If they are alive and seeking help, maybe, so they wont be judged if they pull through this awful illness. If their disease beats them and takes them from us, how does privacy help? Are we protecting them or our own reputation and fear of judgement? Continue reading “For Mandy”
Breathe. The anxiety is better when you take in deep breaths and hold them. Count in 1-2-3-4, hold 1-2-3-4, out 1-2-3-4.
You didn’t do this. It’s on the corner, in his school, at that party where you first met the parents. It’s an evil little devil, that drug. Doesn’t matter its name. That sneaky chemical masqueraded as temporary escape, tricking your boy into trying something he had no idea would imprison him.
Hold you head up, Mom. You didn’t do this. I saw you bake those cupcakes, cheer him on at his games, go to his parent teacher conferences. I saw you meet parents before he stayed over, heard you talk to him on his cell phone when he was out, saw you checking his messages and even making him clean his room; yes, he should clean his room.
You did it right, Mom, and I salute you. But the fact is, there is someone more addictive than your love, more dangerous than your wrath when he misbehaves, more loving when he’s sad and confused. Continue reading “Dear Mom, It’s not your fault.”
My name is Trisha Grose. I attended Concordia University in Wisconsin and worked full time as I obtained my bachelors degree. I am a business woman – in fact I am the owner of Chateaux Realty, a successful boutique real estate firm in the Denver Metro Area. I am a type A person that runs my household, leads meetings, sells homes, employs more than 20 people.
I have been happily married to my husband Scott for more than 10 years. We joined our families and each had two children. So I am the biological mother to two children and step-mother to two children.
I am “that mom” – you know, the mother that volunteered at school, attended every school event, went on field-trips, had all of the children in sports, and put my children and family in front of my career – even though I always tried to balance everything my family and children always came first. Continue reading “A Mother’s Journey Through The Loss of Her Son To Heroin”
When you have a loved one in long term recovery things begin to ease up. It’s a slow process, but if you work on letting go and understanding you have no control you inch closer and closer to being able to breathe. One day you realize you fell asleep and woke up without that band of anxiety gripping your chest. When your phone rings and it’s your loved one, panic is no longer your instinctive reaction. The fear stays with you, but you learn to keep it at bay. You remind yourself it’s their life, and that projecting will do you no good. Live for today, be joyful for everything that is good in your life. Amen.
That’s what I would have written a few months ago. But all it took was my mother’s intuition –honed to pinpoint precision through years of codependency – to sound a warning bell and I took ten giant steps backward. My son did not relapse, but he was having a difficult time. I could feel it coming, and the panic, helplessness, terror and anxiety stampeded back into my life and, like puzzle pieces, settled into the familiar spaces in my brain shaped just for them. Continue reading “Codependence, Anxiety and a Smack on the Head”
Before he died from heroin on May 31, 2014, I would often refer to my son Anthony as “a work in progress.”
He could be mean, rude and selfish. But he could also be generous, kind and loving. And he was working on becoming more of the latter and less of the former.
He just needed more time to get there.
He had serious anger management issues. He would often fly into a rage when he didn’t get his way, but he would always apologize for his outburst later. And he was learning to control his outbursts and was working on being more patient.
He just needed more time to get there.
He had a substance abuse problem. It didn’t define him, but it dominated the last six of his 24 years of life. He would get clean and then the siren call of heroin would lure him back one more time. He was learning what he needed to do to stay clean and he was getting closer to recovery.
He just needed more time to get there.
Tragically, he didn’t get that time. He went back to heroin one time too many and it killed him. Continue reading “AN UNFINISHED MASTERPIECE”
The below letter was posted as a response to my article I raised and addict – what could I have done differently? – the author, Stephen Gambale, has graciously allowed me to share his beautiful words. Thank you Stephen. ~ Trish
I want you to rest assured that you were the best parent a son could ever ask for. I’m sure a million questions swirl around in that beautiful mind of yours on a daily basis. What could’ve been done differently? What you should’ve done? Would’ve done? Could’ve done? The answer is quite simple – you did your best. And as your son, I am forever grateful for that every single day I put my two feet on the ground.
Did you not teach me right from wrong? Did you not teach me the lessons I needed to be taught when you caught me from “falling”? Did you not console me when I needed consoling? Did you not teach me selflessness through your actions? It is a maternal instinct to love and protect your child. That is your best conscious decision making, and it is made through LOVE. What I did was made a conscious decision to ignore everything you taught me through action and word, use my ego to lie to myself that I know best and put my comfort at the forefront, disregarding the sacrifices you made for me growing up. Why? Because I’m selfish.
There is nothing you could have done differently that could have gotten me out of my OWN way. Continue reading “Dear Mom: A Response to ‘I raised an addict – what could I have done differently?’”
Bill Williams and Margot Head lost their son William to a heroin overdose. They have spent every day since his death fighting to save other people’s children. In speaking out and sharing the story of William’s battle to beat addiction they are shining a light on the broken mental health and insurance systems.
On Friday, October 30th, 2015 Bill Williams spoke at the Staff Recognition Ceremony of the National Institute of Drug Addiction, a division of the National Institute of Health. After the speech he and his wife Margot held a question and answer session.
Bill has graciously allowed me to re-post his words for all of you to read and share. This speech was originally posted on Bill Williams’ Blog on Nov. 3, 2015. Continue reading “Heroin stole their son. Bill Williams and Margot Head will not rest until the War on Addiction is won.”
On October 3rd and 4th I stood beside my son in Washington DC. I stood with him at the Fed Up! rally on Saturday as Chief Campanello and John Rosenthal spoke to us about the Gloucester Initiative and PAARI (the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative). We raised our voices and marched with thousands to the White House- then later stood in silence while hundreds of names of those lost to addiction were read.
We were together as Cheryl Crowe sang For What it’s Worth in the shadow of the Washington Monument during the UNITE to Face Addiction rally. I got goosebumps as she belted out “Everybody look what’s going down…”.
We stood as the Surgeon General announced that the first ever report commissioned on substance use, addiction, and health will be published in 2016.
” I’m here to say that we won’t hide from this issue because it’s hard for some to talk about. Because we know there was a time in this country when it was hard to talk about smoking, about AIDS, and about mental health. But we were fortunate enough to have leaders who stood up and said: It’s time for us to have a conversation in this country that’s based on facts; A conversation that’s based on medicine and science.” ~ Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
(full transcript of speech available here)