To all my friends who struggle with addiction:
I see you struggle. I mean I really SEE you. I REALLY see you. I really see YOU.
Sometimes I look into your eyes and I sense that you feel invisible. Like you are damaged and not worth a glance or a simple hello. As if you have shut off the part of you that feels because you have deemed yourself unworthy. I want you to know that I KNOW you are worthy of love, second chances, and long conversations where I hear your story. And you know what? Your story makes my head spin- all that you have been through and that you have survived. But you know what else your story does? It gives me compassion. Empathy. It helps me not judge you. It shows me how hard it has been and how brave you are when you surrender to a life of recovery. I think everyday what it would be like to have experienced a drug that makes you feel so free inside and how hard it would be to quit. That is why I never tried it- I was terrified I would not be able to walk away from it. I have an addictive personality too. I am hot or cold. Black or white. I would be an addict if I had been offered it like you have been at 10 or 11 years old. So to this day I have never experimented with any drug but that does not make me any better than you- it just means my rebellion looked different. But no better.
Sometimes you look at me like I have everything and what would I know of man problems, financial problems, parenting problems. I absolutely have dealt with all of these….I am just a little farther down the path of life than you because I am OLD compared to most of you. I have been through my insecure twenties, my child rearing thirties and somehow in my forties I finally feel like my skin fits and that I am exactly who God created me to be- quite rough around the edges, clumsy, and downright weird but those all feel as if they fit perfectly like a well worn glove. I don’t know what it is like to struggle exactly like you do but I do understand what joblessness, loneliness, and really ugly parenting seasons look like. Boy do I ever.
Sometimes I wonder how you survive recovery. So many meetings, so many rules, and the marks for the messy rooms……yikes! But you are brave and you take it head on. I know you stumble through it and fall back into bad patterns but I also know you wake up every day and face the addiction and the control that the drug has over you at times. I am in awe that you can learn bus routes, day care, housing, funding, job hunts with the cards stacked against you, court, case plans, visitation……it is so much. But you know you have to do it for survival. You know the stakes are high and you could lose your kids forever so you do it.
Sometimes I watch you slip away into the world of relapse and I feel helpless. I want you to know that you are better than that drug but you do not yet believe it for yourself. So you take one hit and then another and before you realize it you are back in your addiction. I hate that. I hate the drug. But I still love you. When you are in the midst of it, I won’t come around or give you rides because you are not a safe person to me when you are using…..but when you are ready to face recovery again I will always be there to give you clean clothes and a ride to rehab. I promise.
And when you celebrate your one year anniversary for your sobriety and you want a cake, I will bake one for you or have a friend do it. And when you get your kids back, I will rejoice with you. When you move into your first place after rehab, I will wake up every few hours to pray for you.
I say all of this not to sound like Mother Theresa but to tell you that you matter a whole lot. You are worth fighting for. You and I don’t fit into a pretty perfect box and that is what makes us beautiful and cherished. We all want to be known. I want you to know my struggles and I want to know yours. I want us to know each other when we are old. I hope that if you relapse and I have to say hard things to you, you will one day realize it was all in love and I have not abandoned you.
I see you. And I think you are beautiful and smart and courageous. I know you fight a battle against addiction every day but you are worth the fight. You have to want it or it is too big and will take over your life. But we all want it for you- your kids want it for you. We are here to fight alongside you but you have to be the strongest warrior. God is bigger than the addiction and much more loving than I am or anyone else walking with you through this. He wants to see you win the fight. Light must break through the darkness. God has given you that light to lead you through the dark days. Don’t let that light grow dim. And if it does? Pick up the phone and call us. Hunt us down. You have to be able to ask for help. We want to be there. Will you let us? Or will you assume we will let you down like everyone in your other world did? We are not perfect but we will try. In our own brokenness we will love you the best way we know how if you give us the chance. Don’t assume that because we have not been where you have that we don’t have anything to offer. We have struggled and lost battles and gotten back up to fight it again and again. Some of us are losing battles you don’t even know about. Pray for those of us who you see as “clean” because a lot of us don’t see ourselves that way.
We need you. We need you to keep it real. Tell us how it really is. What to look for in our kids so we will know if they are experimenting with drugs. We need you to show us that the struggle is real and you are not going to let it defeat you.
You are a gift to me. I won’t speak for the whole world because I know a lot of people will never give you a chance….but do not give up. You will rise from these ashes and show them that addiction did not get the best of you and God will get the glory. You keep fighting, girl. And don’t you let your guard down for one day. It is in you to be a conquerer so now it is time to go do it.