I read a Facebook post today authored by a mom whose son struggles with addiction. In a class she was taking, this mom was asked to dress as her “worst nightmare.” After returning home from her class, she told her son her assignment and asked him to “dress her.” Her words must have sounded really harsh on the surface, and her son asked, “Am I your worse nightmare?”
I loved her reply.
“No, the drugs are.”
What grace and love she communicated to her precious son in that moment. She separated the actions of her son under the influence of drugs from the person she knew and loved. I recalled a conversation I had with our son after someone very dear to me ended our friendship because, in her words, “my life was just too hard.” After having this conversation, I told our son, who at that time was struggling with addiction, “You caused me to lose my best friend.”
He replied, “If I caused you to lose your best friend, she was never your best friend at all.”
He spoke wise words to me; I only wish I had chosen my words with greater care. I should have said, “Your actions caused me to lose my best friend.”
The truth be told, this intelligent, compassionate, witty, handsome young man could not have “caused” the loss of my friend. While it is true that his actions while under the influence of drugs may have alienated her from me, I know she loved him as one of her own. Perhaps the pain of knowing about his addiction was more than she could bear….I don’t know; I suppose I never will.
Prior to his death, our son wrote me a letter apologizing for so many things he had said and done. He stated, “I am sorry I caused you to lose your best friend.” My words wounded him; he never forgot them. It was I who owed him an apology.
This mother who asked her son to dress her, conveyed in her article a genuine willingness on the part of her son to help her portray the reality of addiction. A compassionate heart and a willingness to help others seem to be a common trait shared among the addicted. He dressed her in his unwashed, smelly clothes, “with a bloodstain on them, ” and asked that she send him a picture when she did her presentation.
His mom described feeling physically sick when she went to her class; she did not want to be around her classmates…she felt shame, she was embarrassed; and yet she realized this was what her son felt every. single. day. What a courageous mom this young man has!
I remember a screaming match I had with Cullen one day when he said, “Do you think I want to live this way? Who would ever choose to live this way?”
“Then don’t! Stop using!” I shouted.
I’ll never forget his words, “I can’t, Mom. I can’t stop; I will die. At one time I could control it, but now it controls me.”
No truer words have ever been spoken. He fought valiantly; and experienced a period of sobriety before succumbing to agonizing symptoms of withdrawal and overdosing in an effort to relieve his pain. In the end, his addiction won. I pray that the actions and words of this courageous young woman whose article I read today, will help her son write a very different ending to his story.