Wednesday, May 7, 2014


"I got a half dozen paintings from that shattered plate." ~ Georgia O'Keefe
It was Easter eve morning a few years ago and I was readying myself for an early start to the day. I glanced outside to our back porch and saw an EA Sports hockey DVR box sitting on our little wrought iron table.

I was feeling generous and cheerful this beautiful Saturday morning and decided to bring the game inside for whoever had left it there the previous evening. Both boys had been at home that night, my then sixteen year old had friends over.

As I approached the table I noticed some dirt or debris on the box and was ready to knock the "substance" off when I discovered that it was a substance - seeds, leaves and stems, remnants of a night spent smoking pot, by someone.

My first emotions hit me simultaneously: anger, and bewilderment rolled up into a fleeting resolve to "get to the bottom of this right away."

I experienced an overwhelming feeling of sadness. I stepped back from the table with the box in my hand, the image of a professional hockey player partially obscured by the green cannabis leftovers.

Punched in the gut does not sufficiently describe how I felt that brisk Spring morning.

It then hit me. My experiences and tools I had assembled over the past seven or so years as an often reluctant recovering father of an addict, the experience, strength and hope of other parents with whom I have surrounded myself, my overarching belief that there is, MUST BE a Higher Power at work here, these all kicked in.

I took another step back while preserving the evidence on the box and thought to myself, "It's Easter tomorrow. It's a joyous day. I'm going to take care of myself today and tomorrow, I'm going to enjoy these days and revisit this on Monday."

I resolved to not go back to being that raging and controlling accuser of my past life. And I did not.

I took the "evidence" inside and placed it gently inside the cluttered storage area of my armoire and left to get back to my usual early Saturday morning start. This issue would need to be addressed with both boys. While detachment is important, detachment must include the setting of boundaries. Even then I knew this as an important element of taking care of ourselves as parents of addicted children.  A major household and previously stated boundary had been crossed.

But I would not address this on Easter eve or Easter.

I turned on the ignition to my Altima, closed my eyes and did the 4-7-8 breathing taught to me by a calm and joyous friend. I said a prayer. I took care of me.

Too deep and weepy?

Too bad!

I had considered calling a family meeting or simply bringing both boys together for a conclave. I decided against either over concerns that this type of "shock and awe" gatherings, my old-style methods, never worked and most often resulted in fruitless blaming and cross-accusatory sessions.

I decided on brief individual meetings with both boys, my plan was to catch them one after another to avoid the "Did dad talk to you?" conversations. Monday came and went. It seemed as if both boys were doing a dance of being separately in or out of the house. It was Tuesday evening when I was able to speak to them.

I began each conversation the same way with an expository opening statement:

"I found an EA Sports hockey game outside on the wrought iron table Saturday morning. It had remnants of  pot on it."

I tailored my accompanying words to each boy. To one I simply added, "You know the history, , you've seen what it can do."

I added, "I know you had friends over that night."

To the son who brought me to recovery the additional words were simple.

"There were rules to be followed when you moved back here. This is your journey, not mine and not anyone else's."

Both boys denied any involvement. This I had expected. The addict owns up to nothing. The non-offending party has nothing to own up to. There were no loud denials, no protests. Both boys simply and quietly said, "It wasn't me."

I truly believe neither of them knew how to react to this. It was a surreal departure from my previous behavior when handling situations such as this.

I had taken care of me.

The next weekend my addicted child came to me and admitted, "Dad, it was me with the pot." 

I thanked him for his honesty and calmly asked, "Do you know why you did this?"

"I don't know Dad."

A boundary had been crossed but admitting that he had broken a trust was a huge step for my son. Or perhaps this was simply the brilliance of the addict manipulating a parent like a marionette. I let the transgression pass this time providing my son a few more months of enabling. It was June of that same year, having crossed every boundary and broken every trust, he was asked to leave our home, his home, for the last time.

The series of events played out that post-Easter week were not perfect by a long shot When we as parents of addicts face disappointment it's up to us to reassemble the pieces of our lives and build a picture of where we want to go more beautiful and complete than we could have ever imagined. Our journeys will be interrupted and sidetracked by addiction, a sly and cunning mistress that preys on both the addict and those who love him. The experiences and tools gained while traveling along our recovery paths prepare us for the sirens that will attempt to alter our course into the abyss of parental despair.

These are our lives to live, our worlds to embrace and our self discoveries to explore.

We cannot let anything steal our little victories toward recovery.

… keep coming back

"The real glory is getting knocked to your knees and then coming back. That's real glory. That's the essence of it." ~ Vince Lombardi