Looking Back, Moving Forward

Posted on June 15, 2013. Filed under: 12 Step Recovery Program, addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Parent of an Addict, Recovery | Tags: , , , , |

calendarI haven’t posted for over a year now, but have intended to many times.  I started a new job in February 2012 that requires a lot of writing – not a great excuse, but I guess I’ll try it.  An even better one is that my almost 96 yo mother is at the end of her life and on Hospice. Whatever the reasons for my absence here, thanks to those of you who are still hang’in with me. I do still have a lot to learn, work out, and explore.  If you’re new to this blog, I invite you to look back at where my drug addict daughter and our family were 4 years ago at this time – and how far we’ve come.

Initially, this blog was a place for me to vent and share my despair as the mother of a heroin addict.  I felt “Helplessly hopeless” and overwhelmed.  I was numb with disbelief, anxiety, and crazy worry over my brilliant, beautiful, well-educated 30 year-old daughter’s life choices. Don’t most parents breathe a sigh of relief when their child successfully graduates from college and begins her own adult life?

Hayley’s drug addiction was a slow erosion that occurred over a period of about 10 years after college. It happened so insidiously, it was almost imperceptible – like the constant flow of water smoothing stonesriverrocks over the course of time, or a river gradually changing course after a millennium of steadily wearing away the riverbank.

My daughter Hayley, a 34-year old former heroin/crack/everything addict, has been in recovery now for over 3 years.  If there ever was evidence of a miracle, she is it.  It’s not all smooth sailing – and she’s still fairly early in her recovery.  However, I am so grateful to be able to share her story of experience, strength, and hope.

Today, Hayley works at a wonderful treatment center in southern California and recently referred one of her ‘clients’/patients and her mother to this blog for comfort and support.

“Mom”, she began. “Why haven’t you updated your blog for so long?” Of course, this fact has haunted me for over 14 months now, and has become one of those nagging, burdensome undone tasks over which I constantly beat myself up.

And then she continued, breaking in to a sob:

“Ya know, Mom – I’ve never really read your blog.  But after  suggesting to my client’s family that they might benefit from reading it, I thought I better check it out more carefully.  After work yesterday, I stayed up almost all night reading through the nightmare of my addicted life.  I had no idea that I was that screwed up and caused you and the family so much worry and pain.  I knew it on a somewhat suppressed, in-the-past-foggy level; but to actually read   your words detailing the particulars of my frightening, dangerous, and sordid life 4 years ago, made it all so visceral.  I’m not sure I was ready to read about it and resurrect those horrible images until now. Can you ever forgive me? Will I ever be able to fully repair my relationship with Jake? (her older brother)”

Both Hayley and I are in recovery from her addiction.  I’ve been at it longer than she.  We both actively work a ‘program’ – she goes to AA, has a sponsor, and now even sponsors others who are new to recovery.  I go to Al-Anon and limp along at a snail’s pace, learning how to take one day at a time, live in the present, let go, and maintain healthier relationships.  We both have a lot of work to do – and will, for the rest of our lives. There is no end point to recovery, no diploma.  It’s an ongoing commitment and winding path full of triggers that tempt relapse.  You have to work every day to stay ‘sober’ – which in my case,  means staying inside my own hula hoop, and getting ‘clean’ from my addiction to worry.

Yes, it’s very painful and almost surreal to read those early posts – particularly from September 2009, when I started this blog, to May 8, 2010, when Hayley ‘walked away’ from her life of addiction. The months, weeks, days, and even hours leading up to that event were harrowing. It’s a miracle she didn’t die.  Writing about it helped me get through it – – – I couldn’t have written a more horrifying screenplay.

I heard this Pearl at Al-Anon today: For true healing to occur, we must abandon all hope of a better past.  We’ll never forget the past, but we cannot change it. We acknowledge it, learn from it, and move on.



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