☼ Addiction: Writing The Wrong

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Photo via DeviantArt by ChimereOkorieMba http://fav.me/d4gnei6

Moms aren’t meant to be suspicious — we’re meant to believe. But addiction changes that.

When the son I once trusted started to lie, I started saving those lies, inspecting each one carefully and keeping it fresh in my mind: I might need the last lie to make sense of the next lie to make sense of what was happening which made no sense at all. I carried around this brew of lies and fears (and kept stirring), until I started to write.

Only then did I start to let go.

Because, instead of wearing the noose that was killing me, I let it unravel behind my scribbled words.

As Joey’s addiction progressed, my notebook was there for me to refer to as I searched for clues or missing pieces, but it was so much more than a dump for my spirit and mind. It allowed me to see what was much more obvious on paper: I was doing and saying the same things over and over and over. Nothing was going to change unless I made the change. The only thing I could change was me.

And then my writing became something more.

All along, as Joey and I both struggled to cope with his addiction, I’d been reading. Books written by addicts, by parents of addicts, and by professionals in the field of addiction. Books where the addict recovered; books where the addict, sadly, died. Books with closure. Books with great advice. Eventually, though, I realized I couldn’t find the book I needed. A book written by a mom whose son is not in recovery. By a mom facing the horrible truth that she must focus on recovering from her sons addictions while realizing that he may not.

And so, I wrote The Joey Song.

Some of the books that have helped me along the way:  No More Letting Go by Debra Jay; Stay Close by Libby Cataldi; Why Don’t They Just Quit: Hope for Families Struggling With Addiction by Joe Herzanek; A Very Fine House by Barbara Cofer Stoefen; Jagged Little Edges by Lorelie Rozzano; Beautiful Boy by David Sheff;and Broken by William Moyers.

We are all branches of the same tree. (The root is addiction.)

The Joey Song: A Mothers Story of Her Son’s Addiction is available at bookstore nationwide.

Where Love and Addiction Meet coming in Fall 2017, Hazelden Publishing.

 

29 thoughts on “☼ Addiction: Writing The Wrong

  1. Debbie

    Oh my goodness thank you so much sandy for being brave and honest. The absolute hopeless pain of going through my sons (2) addiction has almost ruined me. My heart aches for them and the things I cannot change. My husband and I have played the “what if we,” game to many times to count of course with no results. And now a beautiful grandson stirred up in the middle. I’m beyond disappointed, beyond mad, just broken hearted.
    Reading your book gave me the insight, courage and determination to do the things that needed to be done, not easy things but yes, necessary. The pain is great. Refusing to help the addict who is yes still my son(s) is the most un natural thing ever. I struggle with it every time ther is a chance to rescue. God is my strength and you are my encouragement to do the right thing. I continue to read your story over every time I need inspiration. Thank you and all the best to you.

    Reply
  2. Barbara Stoefen

    Sandy, your journey, and your writing is a gift to all of us. The courage you have shown in moving forward with your own life, while your son’s life hangs in abeyance, is a model for how a mom can survive a child’s addiction. You inspire us with your words and your wisdom, and I can hardly wait for your new release in September. Rock on!

    Reply
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  4. Barbara Schrader

    I am so happy to have stumbled upon you Blog as I begin my own journey dealing with my son’s addiction. Thank you for such words of healing .

    Barbara

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Barbara, I’m glad you found your way here. I’m sorry you are on this difficult journey, but you are not alone. Hugs to you.

      Reply
  5. Leilani Sutton

    My heart goes out to all of you. So much truth and pain with no end in sight. I am a recovering alcoholic/addict, child of God dead almost has 90 days clean and sober. Prayer from the people who love me and hoped for me is only thing that saved me and I believe that with all my heart. I have struggled with this battle for countless years even landing myself in prison and worse. No matter what I seemed to come up with for a solution, I always found myself at the mercy of a craving or desire to not feel pain or face reality. The only reason I’m still sober each day that passes is because of God. I went through So much in my addiction but every single day served a purpose. Only when I stopped struggling and surrendered everything to God, was i then relieved of the obsession of my addiction. I believe it works the same way for the family of the addicted person. Only when you surrender them to God can you find comfort in your pain. We are in the middle of a spiritual warfare and you can only go to battle for the ones you love by means of prayer. The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous has so many stories of hope and inspiration in what seemed to be hopeless lives. That book contains answers for the afflicted and the family that love them. YOU will be in my prayers along with your loved ones!
    Love, Leilani

    Reply
  6. glen

    hi i am a recovering addict, not drink not drugs but gambling. i havent gambled for over 11yrs. but i know i will never be cured, i just take it one day at time.
    i hurt my parents badly, in particular my mum. remembering that keeps me off. never want to hurt anyone else like that again

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Hi Glen. Good for you; one day at a time is the way to go. I’m happy for your lucky mom. Hugs to you!

      Reply
  7. mairin

    Thank you for this, I enjoyd reading it. I have also been helped by reading about addiction. I have read the books you mentioned (with the exception of No More Letting Go). Others I have enjoyed are Come Back, The Rest of Us, We All Fall Down (sequel to Tweak), Why Don’t They Just Quit?, and The Addictive Personality.

    Reply
  8. Toni

    We tend to believe our love can fix the addict. Especially a mother’s love. After 10 years, I finally see I cannot nor should I even try to motivate my son to get clean. You must give the power back to the addict to make his choices. I do put stock in every effort he makes even though relapse has always happened. I feel each time he detoxed he learned something. The same for his 30 days in a treatment center, hospitalizations and days in jail. His life, his choices, his consequences. I hang on to hope and that will never change. I try to envision him healthy and happy. Many days I pray for a sense of peace in my heart and soul. I have not asked for “joy” though. I should try that. Maybe we should all aim to feel joy in our lives.

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Hi Toni. Boy, do I ever agree with what you wrote: “You must give the power back to the addict…” I think our addicts need to believe that WE believe they can do it. They may falter and even fall, but they own it. We can only cheer them on (and, of course, love them). As for joy, it’s not easy to find. Not with a big hole in your life. But I try to fill the hole with good things instead of misery, stopping the destructive path of addiction. This brings me joy. (When I succeed.) Hugs to you, Toni.

      Reply
  9. Shelly

    I can relate to everything that has been written here. I am an older sister of an addict. I had to give her over to God. The family has been living this 27 years of addiction. Rehabs too many to count . Stories around lies and incidence that you wonder what is next. My beautiful,fun loving sister lost to drugs. A family split down the seams from the elements weathered and enveloped every family member. Some of us cut the cord and others continue to enable. The battle scars remain and the war is not over .

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Shelly, my heart breaks for you. Such a tragedy. My youngest son has lost his older brother to addiction, too. “Some of us cut the cord and others continue to enable. The battle scars remain and the war is not over”. So sad. So well said. You and your sister are in my prayers.
      Sandy

      Reply
  10. Kelli Spooner

    I am beyond happy to find your site. You are so encouraging to me. I’ve been battling this addiction with my daughter for 9yrs now. In that time she has been to countless number of treatment facilities, sadly , I’ve only seen her sober for 14 months. She played the suboxone game for 2.6 yrs, staying in treatment, trying to fool everyone from counselors to judges that she indeed was sober. She actually did fool some but never fooled me. In those years her diseased continued to progress, because of course she was abusing suboxone, and her Dr., just like any good drug dealer stood by and enabled her to continue to swim in her addiction for his own gain.These nine years have been filled with so much heartbreak, disappointment, grief, distress,and despair. When I look at my daughter, I know she is my daughter on the outside from the way she looks. Once she opens her mouth I realize that she is a demon that drugs created. Heroin stole my daughter years ago, I’ve seen glimpses here and there, but ultimately, the demon is the one who reigns. I miss my daughter, as long as she is breathing, I will continue to have hope. My walk in this Hell has been the most difficult journey I’ve had to endure. I would have never got through any of it with out God, my support system and writing! Writing is key for me, I began to write because of the overwhelming drama that consumed my life. Sometimes I would just write to sort it out, as I couldn’t believe one crisis after another was happening to me. Writing keeps me sane, proves I am not crazy. Sometimes when I thought of what was happening, it was so unbelievable, I would be sure that people would think it was a lie. Writing made me believe in myself, when in my heart of hearts I really wanted to believe her lies. When I am a state of confusion, trying to figure things out, doubting myself, I just pick up a journal from years ago, and then I can predict what happens next.. I am encouraged by your courage to write a book. I also am interested in getting my own book together and you really have inspired me. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Kelli, I’m so sorry you know so well the never-ending horror and heartbreak of this disease. The manipulations and lies. The feeling of being crazy from being tossed around in a crazy world. But, I’m glad that you, too, have found some comfort in writing. (I think everyone who loves an addict should try writing things down to help save their sanity!). I’m honored that you’ve found encouragement in my blog, and that you’ve taken the time to reach out. Too often it feels like we are in this alone, but really, so many of us are in this together. Sending warm hugs.

      Reply
    2. Denise Stewart

      Thank you Sandy. Thank you Kelli. Kelli yours words are my words. My daughter is back on the streets. She had 15 days, which is the longest time in 6 years without Heroin. I really thought she might have been able to stick with it this time but apparently she hasn’t finished her time in Hell. It was nice to see “her”, my real daughter and not the demon who looks like her even if it was brief. I diagnosed myself with Acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My PTSD is real and thankfully short term, hence “acute”. Everyday this week I have looked at my phone expecting a missed call from a hospital or police officer. I looked at my journals yesterday and realized that my anxiety is like an internal clock alerting me that it is time for my daughter to overdose again. 3 times a year for 6 years. A rhythm of extreme emotions has been developed within my psyche by living through these traumas. I will be calm, and I will be relaxed about what I can not control. That call may very well happened but I will not live in fear or surrender my soul to the pain. Thank you again. See, feeling better all ready. Writing therapy.

      Reply
  11. Lynne Gassel

    Hi Sandy,

    We connected previously on The Addict’s Mom but I hadn’t had the chance to read your blog until now. You write beautifully and profoundly. I’d love for you to look what I wrote. My book is on Amazon.com called Fifth Child where you can read a sample chapter. We have similar journeys. My one child died from what drugs did to her body and my son has been sober for almost 13 years and has a very strong program. My path has been wrought with tragedy and moments of triumph, especially raising my grandchild, my fifth child.
    I wish you so much good fortune with your book.
    Lynne

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Hi Lynne,
      Nice to encounter you here, too! Thanks for your kind words. I look forward to reading your book. It sounds both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Something so many of us can relate to. Your fifth child is lucky to have you. Warm hugs to you.

      Reply
  12. Monica

    Sandy,
    Thank you for your courage and your beautiful words. As a gratefully recovering addict I only recently began to understand the depths of the fear and despair I put in my dads heart with my behavior as I practiced my disease for over 20 years. Sadly I have come to this realization only as I watch my husband battle his addiction. Every lie feels like a knife in my soul. As a recovering addict I know he has to change himself but letting go and dealing with the fear is thee hardest thing I’ve ever done.
    Thanks,
    Monica Stanley

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Hi Monica, thanks for your perspective as a recovering addict and as someone who loves an addict. Addiction shreds relationships like no other disease. Your dad is lucky to have you back. I’m sorry you are seeing the other side of addictions tortuous ways in your relationship with your husband. I hope he will find his way back from addiction soon. Sending hugs to you.

      Reply
  13. Kathy

    I have avoided looking at the words “might not recover” which is a phrase that makes me uncomfortable. Yet, it is a very real possibility. I have never heard the words, “I want to go to treatment.” I wonder what it feels like to scramble around looking for an affordable facility while the window of opportunity is available. You know, that short little bit of time where an addict wants to get clean? I can’t even imagine. Those are words I have never heard.

    Reply
    1. Kelli Spooner

      Kathy, I know all too well what you are feeling. I’m sorry you are going through this. The words “might not recover” are words that no mother wants to hear or think about, it certainly does make everyone feel uncomfortable. My heart got really heavy when I read that and just want to point out a few things Ive gone through and learned. I hate this disease and the pain it cause to the addict and their family. The family suffers the most because the addicts way of coping is using and they never really understand the enormous way they hurt their families. While the families sit in despair, crying and worried, the addict just uses and forgets about the whole ordeal. When any addict picks up their drug of choice, the risk they are taking on the risk of dying. I know the feeling your searching for, you want the addict to acknowledge they have a problem, and go to treatment to learn how to cope, to live in recovery, it would be beautiful to see them recover….maybe even live happily ever after. I just want to let you know that I have heard, I want to go to treatment, I need to go treatment, take me to treatment, order me to treatment, time and time again. I have scrambled with the small window of opportunity to get my daughter help, and always think of the reality she may not make it. It is a haunting thought that plays in the back of my head all the time, she has been in and out of treatment countless number of times for the last past 9 yrs! Getting to treatment is one thing, staying there and applying what you learn to your life is a whole other senerio. Fact is there is a very small sucess rate in treatment, and some even OD and die while they are in treatment. I certainly dont want to sound discouraging,just want to point out that sometimes the grass looks alot greener on the other side. At some point you have to give your loved one over to God, and trust him with their life. I know there is a purpose for your loved ones life,and its not to walk in the misery of drug addiction. I know that an addict doesn’t want to be an addict, is full of shame and self hatred, but most importantly,( even when they don’t show it) they have to want to change, only they can do it, nobody can do it for them.They have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired . They need to hit their bottom. Their bottom is never your bottom. Whether they have been in the game for 1 month or 10 years, that fact doesn’t change. Addiction makes the whole family sick, if you allow it. Its important that you take the steps to take care of yourself, reach out for support, don’t let the addiction consume you, and destroy your happiness, or life. I will be praying for you.
      Kelli

      Reply
    2. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Kathy, I never heard the words ‘I want to go to treatment,’ either. My son was always motivated by external factors, but I was just happy he could be convinced or tricked or forced into going; I was desperate for anything. I can’t imagine the desperation of trying to find an available and affordable treatment option for an addict in the fleeting moment the addict desires help. This disease is an uphill battle from all fronts. Including realizing I had to work on my own recovery even if Joey wasn’t working on his. That was a hard realization to accept. And it took a while to get there. Warm hugs to you.

      Reply
    3. Toni

      Kathy,” Might not recover” is a possible reality but I avoid thinking it. It’s too painful. As far as affordable treatment goes, I know how you feel. I live in a large city which has a few places that are free but the process of getting in is lengthy. This scared me at first because I was afraid he would change his mind. But again, if the addict is ready, they will hang in there and get help. My son did go through the process a few times but unfortunately he relapsed.

      Sandy, This site is what so many of us need. You are so good at putting your thoughts on paper. I cried through most of the reading of your site, but needed that release. I tend to keep things cooped up, not really wanting to burden the rest of my family so much. Thank you for sharing with us and giving us hope not only for our loved one but for ourselves.

      Reply
      1. Sandy Swenson Post author

        Toni, thanks for sharing your insights with Kathy. And, thanks for your kind words. That is exactly my hope, that people living the same horror can find some comfort and hope here. Hugs to you!

        Reply

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