☼ Addiction: Letting Go Is Not The Same As Giving Up

Sandy Swenson

Sandy Swenson

One hug.

Once a year.

I hold you tight, my son. Probably too tight, but I need the strength of my love to soak into your soul, and my arms must absorb the love I know you have for me. I memorize this moment.

As you grew from boy to man, child to addict, I had to let go of the things I could not change and the things that weren’t mine to control (after trying for so long to change and control them). I had to let go before the ugly words and behaviors slithering in on the underbelly of addiction did irreparable damage to the relationship that had once been so good. Or killed the boy I was trying to save.

My love is all I have left to give you.

(That, and one too-tight hug for each of the past seven Aprils.)

I hold you tight, my son. Wrapping you in my arms, I feel the power of our dusty bond. A silent exchange of hope and strength and eternalness, of a love that has been bruised but never broken. I kiss your cheek, leaving a lipsticky mom mark, and now, again, I must let you go. I open my arms — empty but now full — arms which will keep you snug and close to my heart, until next time. Next year.

In letting go of you, Joey, I’m holding on tight to so much.

In letting go of you, I’m letting you know that I believe in you. I believe you will find your way back.

One hug.

Once a year.

I’m keeping your place warm.

Letting Go is NOT the same thing as giving up.

Enter to win one of ten signed copies of The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/135217-the-joey-song-a-mother-s-story-of-her-son-s-addiction

 

41 thoughts on “☼ Addiction: Letting Go Is Not The Same As Giving Up

  1. Susan

    My son Michael is a drug addict. He was arrested two days ago. He pulled into a store lot and passed out. The police and ambulance came because he was unresponsive. This has been a 15 year journey and I really can’t do this anymore. He has been to rehab and prison. Nothing works. He even tells me he sees demons and won’t sleep in his room. A friend sent you web page and Ive been reading it for hours. I keep saying That’s my life she’s recording. I never thought of the addict as a separate person. But its true. My son who I love with all my heart is not that person. I know I have to let go of both if I ever hope to regain my son. Thank you for your inspiration. I.think you may have saved me

    Reply
  2. Clifford Edwards

    Sandy

    Thanks for your big open heart.

    I am pretty sure that the way we respond to our loved ones is a reflection of how we treat ourselves: if we see them as inherently broken we are inclined to see ourselves the same way, with no way out. Sometimes doing nothing is excruciating yet is often the way of the true warrior.

    I love this poem by the beautiful Hafiz, who reminds me that I forget what love is:

     Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
    And wants to rip to shreds
    All your erroneous notions of truth
    That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
    And with others,
    Causing the world to weep
    On too many fine days.
    God wants to manhandle us,
    Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
    And practice His drop-kick.
    The Beloved sometimes wants
    To do us a great favour:
    Hold us upside down
    And shake all the nonsense out.
    But when we hear
    He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
    Most everyone I know
    Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
    Out of town

    Reply
  3. Camille Lawrence

    My son is still alive. He is breathing. But his eyes are dead. He is in so much pain. He asks for help and then he rejects it. He lies. I have to say goodbye to my son because he won’t talk to me. He is still alive but it feels like he is dead. This is the worst pain I have ever felt. All I can think about is my beautiful little boy, so happy. And now, at 28, heroin has a firm grip on him. My heart is broken. If my love could only fix everything, like it did when he was a boy. My beautiful son, I will love you forever. Mom xxxx

    Reply
  4. Gina

    My son is also an addict, but due to incarceration for the next 7-20 yrs, he only gets his prescribed meds. However, I am floored at the availability of drugs, including heroin, in prison. My son tells me he has not done, or even tried, heroin, and I do believe him. He has done alot of pain pills and weed, alcohol. Though I never thought he would wind up in prison, it very well could have saved his life from the downward road he was heading on, going faster and deeper each day. I can’t imagine what it is to deal with your pain, but then again, I feel the pain and anguish of having ‘lost’ a son to the system – at least for awhile – and pray and hope that this period he is in prison will awaken him to a new life of no drugs. Thank you for your writings, books, blogs, etc. God bless you and your son!

    Reply
  5. kapree

    My son is also an addict. Even though he’s been clean for over two years, he’s still an addict. He spent 28 glorious months (because I knew where he was and knew he was safe) at adult and teen challenge here in Oregon. Outstanding faith based recovery center. But I still worry because we’re all addicted to something that could end our lives in a second. Praying for you all.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: ☼ Addiction: Letting Go Is Not The Same As Giving Up - Live Clean And Sober

  7. Jennifer Lever

    Dearest Sandy,
    I just recently learned of your book and will order it. Wanted you to know that I am praying for you and your son Joey. I am writing a book about overcoming addiction with my son, I am publishing soon and your stories in your blog are very similar. I was especially touched by the blog on loneliness and truly can identify with the pain of feeling so alone. Here is an excerpt from the book.
    ” Because of the stigma of this disease, many are too ashamed to cry out for the help they really need. For the most part, families of those who have drug addiction problems suffer quietly and alone. And the suffering is unbearable on your own. Sometimes you are judged and looked upon with disdain and many are quietly thinking that you’re a bad parent or the addict is a bad person and therefore very few will ask you about it. I feel your pain and your aloneness. Some quite frankly don’t want to embarrass you, because that’s how they are thinking; they think this is something you should be embarrassed about or uncomfortable with, so they don’t want to cause you the duress by talking about it. Sometimes they don’t want to be responsible for hearing the truth about what you are going through because they may feel responsible for helping you out, and in their eyes the problem is way too big for them to handle. So they don’t bring it up at all. As a result the suffering continues. And those under its siege feel very much alone.”
    So how are you doing? How is Joey doing? I don’t know you, but I care, and I am praying for you. Jennifer Lever

    Reply
  8. Linda

    I cried all the way through this mother’s letter to her son (“Letting Go is Not Giving Up”). I have tried and am still trying to “let go” but it is extremely hard. I have put my heart, soul and love into both my children but one of them continues to defy good reason and sound advice and denies his problems – says everybody else is the problem, therefore, refuses to accept responsibility and/or help. I continue to hope and pray that he will turn around before it’s too late for himself and me because I want to see he turned his life around before I am no longer on this earth.

    Reply
  9. Alyce

    This tears me up….. I have a son in court ordered rehab, for the second time, and I’ve had people tell me this is what I need to do. I can’t stand the thought of not being able to hug him!! I don’t want to lose or enable him. I feel so lost in this heroin storm that is raging around us!!

    Reply
    1. Glenny Carter

      My son finally found sobriety in prison. While prison was not what I wanted it was the only thing available that saved his life because heroin almost killed him and by the grace of God gave him 20 months of sobriety. There is hope even when God intervenes and forces us to detach. I know God had my serenity in mind when he put my son in prison. Our visits are just amazing and in 8 weeks he will be released back into a life he is now ready to make a new chapter in his story.

      Reply
  10. Jenny Patrick

    A mother’s love is eternal, a love so strong that nothing can break the bond. Not distance, not time, not even addiction. I pray that you find peace as you get ready to hold your son in your arms once again. And I pray for Joey, may he also find the peace that he is so desperately searching for..

    Reply
  11. Brenda Zahn

    I know this mother’s pain all too well . . . Addiction has been a struggle for 3 of my 4 children – my youngest son died at age 29 – 9 years ago (but it feels like yesterday). My second oldest son, who was clean and sober for over 9 years, is now drinking heavily – he thinks this is ok, because it’s not heroin . . . The stories I could share could fill volumns and I grieve some everyday . . Nothing in my upbringing prepared me to deal with this, but I know far more about the disease of addiction now than I ever wanted to . . . knowledge is good, but the damage and pain will always be a large part of my daily life. Our once beautiful, healthy, loving family is in shambles, and after dealing with this for nearly 30 years, it is hard to have any hope . . .

    Reply
  12. KeithDuncan

    I found this website when I’m browsing some motivation and inspiring article. I felt sadness when the time I read this story-letter from a mom to her son. I never imagine that things happen to other people. I know that this kind of situations is hard for the loving mother that hoping well to her son even she didn’t see him. In my longtime living here on earth, I’d never experience this kind of feelings and situations. I have my children in my arms, even my elder son is an addict. Although he in better substance abuse care rehab, I’m still in his side to support and love him. I always encourage my other children to help to me to give a power to their brother. Thanks for listening. God bless everyone.

    Reply
  13. sue brown

    I have just discovered this site,how lovely to read that other Mothers out there,understand the suffering we go through.
    Our son is 36, loving the lovely man he is breaks my heart,because heroin addiction has taken him away,and replaced him with a person who lies,manipulates and at times is unrecognizable.
    I have been an enabler for so long,unwittingly attempting to save him,from just about every fate I feel may befall him.
    My husband and family despair of me more than our son,and at last I am beginning to see,I have to let go.
    I am about to pay for a rehab treatment he says he wants, but others found the treatment , not him
    He is apathetic and produces reasons to delay it,of course, for him , being without drugs is very scary
    So thank you,all you lovely mums,I thought I was the only one,awake at night,checking each day,totally absorbed by an addiction that is the monster in my life
    Today , I tell him,I love you, but it’s time for you to take control
    Pray for my strength please,but pray for all mums,all addicts,I am so lucky as I am strong

    Reply
  14. susan lett

    My son is in prison – even there he asks for money – it is so hard to miss him – I miss him everyday but know I cannot fix him – I have tried to save him – I dont know what else to do – it has been 15 years – he is 31.

    Reply
  15. Joanne

    I am confused about letting go..I too have an addicted son, I moved to California from MA to get a change after my daughter’s addiction of 4 years took its toll on our marriage. (Divorced) and me. My son stayed in MA. at the time I moved I didn’t know he was addicted and he wanted to stay in Ma with his job and friends. He is 22. Since last June he has overdosed 3x on Molly, percocets and alcohol and Herione I believe.. He always calls me when he is in a bad place and high, I try to talk him into rehab, I have successfully convinced him to detox but not rehab, My sister wants me to completly break ties with him saying I need to learn to live a Happy life without him. I cannot save him from this earth. I understand what she is saying but I cannot shut my phone off at night in fear of missing a call that may save his life. Either way, I worry about him. I do not enable him. Am I wrong to talk to him to try to get him in rehab?

    Reply
    1. Elle

      Speaking as a mom, I don’t think you can ever live a happy life when your kids are suffering. Having gone through recovery with our son, in several different stages, over many years, I would say that we can only tell them how much we love them. That we can walk with them, but we cannot do it for them. It took me a long time to figure that out. And honestly without the grace of God, whose power is mighty, I do not know if we would have had the strength to keep going through the many storms that came at us fast & furious. But I think often we want to fix it for them, figure it out, give them answers, steps to take. But it has to come from within them. That is the only way. And to let them know it’s ok to not have all the answers. They will come in time. And that’s a good one for us to remember too. All things can become new. It’s never to late. And God will meet you right where you are, in that very moment of surrender. It is in that moment that clarity comes forth. I hope you and your family can cling to each other still. Sometimes it takes falling & getting back up over and over until you gain the strength you need to stand on your own two feet. And that’s ok. Peace & I’ll be praying.

      Reply
  16. Gaby Reiswig

    Hi, i was googling and found your website. I am a mother of a 22 year old son. He is my everything. I miss him dearly. My son has fallen and with help got back up. This is his 5 time around and I hurt very much. But I as every one else have to give him back to god. I know he will guide him through and I need to have the faith and also start healing myself. for my families sake. I love my son, but I always thought I could save him, well I have been wrong. I wanted recovery more for him the he does for him self. I do not know where my son is. What I do know is that god is with him. I can be at peace with that. I will forever love my son and pray for him and hold him tight. But I also believe if I let him go with love then he may have that chance to find his way back on his own. Thank you

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Gaby, I know how badly you hurt. I will hold you tight in my prayers and am sending warm hugs.

      Reply
  17. Glenn Mitges

    Sandy, you words are inspirational and with the many clients I see your words are very powerful. I would like to encourage my clients to get your book. Addiction is so difficult for not just the family member suffering with the addicition. Thank you. Glenn

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Glenn, thanks so much for your kind words. Together, maybe we can help a few hurting people to find some peace. Thank you.

      Reply
  18. Betty Keefe

    Sandy, I stumbled onto your site while I was searching for some encouragement as I am grieving once again for my precious daughter who is deep in addiction. I believe I have learned to let go over and over thanks to wonderful words of wisdom from others on this journey as well as from the Hope I have through my faith. As I believe there are no coincidences, I want to thank you for sharing your story. This post was exactly what I needed to gently remind me that I can once again Let Go and continue to Love my sweet girl in the midst of this hard time. Blessings to you, Betty

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Betty, it is through the words and love and support of others that we make our way through this very difficult journey. Thank you for helping me today. Blessings and hugs to you.

      Reply
  19. Herby Bell

    Sandy,

    So authentically the way it is and the way of the healing journey. The love, the warmth–always there shining through the “dusty bond” and “lipsticky mom mark.” Such beautiful words. Your genuine declaration reminds me of watching the hard work of labor in childbirth of which I was honored to be present, but will never experience and hold in highest regard. You remind me of the magical butterfly chrysalis where commitment to the love of life while letting go–is all there is to do.

    I believe in you and Joey, Sandy. I believe you will have a newer, better relationship not found in common hours.

    Thank you, dear lady.

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Herby, thanks so much for your kind and beautiful words. I will treasure them all, but especially your last line: “I believe in you and Joey, Sandy. I believe you will have a newer, better relationship not found in common hours.” Thank YOU, dear Herby.

      Reply
  20. Terri

    I hope you don’t mind my husband and I just had this same conversation with our daughter. I would like you use your quote, “Letting Go is NOT the same thing as giving up.” She thinks she has been disowned and that could not be farther from the truth. We just can’t enable her any longer. We want her to seek treatment, but right now we want it more than she does.

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Terri, so sorry it has taken so long for me to reply. I have been in the midst of a move. Of course you may use the quote, “Letting Go is NOT the same thing as giving up.” I hope it helps to reach your daughter in some way. I will keep you all in my prayers. Sending hugs.

      Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Thank you, Lisa, so much. For your kind words and for your strong support. Warm hugs.

      Reply
  21. Barbara

    I read and re-read your postings & find such comfort. I, too, have a drug addicted grown daughter/child. I will never give up but also must step away from all the cruelty that comes with an addiction. It hurts so much & the void never goes away. Each May 3rd I grieve because I cannot be with my only daughter on her birthday. I still have my Faith and hold on to Hope with many praying for her recovery.

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Barbara, I’m so sorry your daughter is and addict and that you carry a pain like no other. But I’m glad you’ve found some comfort here, in the words of another mother going throughout the same thing. You are not alone. I will keep you and your daughter in my prayers. Hugs to you.

      Reply
  22. Cathy Taughinbaugh

    Love this line, Sandy – “Letting Go is NOT the same thing as giving up.” It is such a journey for parents when their kids continue to use drugs and struggle to make their way back. We are there every inch of the way feeling their pain and trying to hold onto hope. You have inspired so many to know that they are not alone and that there is hope. Thank you for being one more voice! Hugs.

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      And thanks to you, too, Cathy. May all of our voices together become a chorus that will be heard.

      Reply
  23. Connie. Doornenbal

    Every time I see an email in my box from you it makes me happy. I wait to open it until I can find a quiet moment to savor and digest what I know is going to feed my soul.
    Thank you Sandy.

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Connie, thank you, thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad we can help one another on this journey. Hugs to you.

      Reply
  24. Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon

    Sandy,
    I have to praise you for all that you have endured. The love you share of your son with all of us keeps his “Spirit Glowing”…..
    Your a true *Inspiration* to many of us out here in Recovery Land. Stay blessed and much love your way my friend…
    Hugs & Blessings,
    Author, Catherine Lyon 🙂 Xo

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Catherine, thank you so much. Your kind words warm my heart. We are all in this together, sharing support, building strength. Much love! Sandy

      Reply
  25. Brian

    Sandy my heart aches for you.Find a “Celebrate Recovery meeting near you.Not sure where your from.But I am a Grateful Recovering addict ,who has surrenderd and am now giving back. And now have a Great Relationship with my family.Than-you,Jesus. Il keep you in prayer.If I can do this anyone can when there ready. I am 36 years old and have been an addict since I was 13…..Ive almost got a year now,but my last run was it. I love being part of the family again-instead apart from. Theres a great celebrate recovery mtg. in simi valley at grace brethren church on Thursday nights at 7:00 p.m. From someone who thought youd take this comment for face-value “That,there is hope and a chance for your son!”Sincerly,BrianBurns

    Reply
    1. Sandy Swenson Post author

      Brian, thanks so much for your warm support, kind words, and hopeful message. I really appreciate your reaching out. 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *