The bathroom was always your favorite place to stay, and often time’s i didn’t know exactly why. As the months went by I slowly realized that you weren’t you anymore. With our son growing in my womb I wasn’t sure what to do, so i watched over you and i tried to help you make it through your addiction. I enabled you because I feared you’d be angry and leave. It didn’t matter, it wasn’t long until you went missing.
I supervised your habits but i never knew the needle existed. I let you make your own mistakes until you ended up in jail. Never once did I give up because I knew inside that this just wasn’t you. Rehab was only an escape to leave the jail behind, and I tried to believe that it was you who wanted to change, even though I had my doubts. I remember driving every Sunday just to see your face, I wrote you every day just to tell you it was going to be ok. When our son was born you weren’t able to be there, and when you called the hospital i couldn’t even hear your voice without crying because i needed you their. You needed me more so I tried to be strong.
After four months you finally held our son, I couldn’t even cry because i was too happy to let the tears fall. When you got graduated your program, I thought this is finally it, you’re sober & you can finally love us till the end.
All the promises I’d heard, all the “I love yous”, all the words of hope that you spoke, were just that, they were just words. I was no longer talking to the man I used to know and love, I knew that man well, I knew his heart, and he would never had said the things you said to me over the weeks that followed. I was talking to someone else, it was your body, but it was a mind that was hijacked by addiction.
Two hard fought years went by and then you overdosed. You we’re still alive, I thought maybe, just maybe this would be your “rock bottom” and that this would be the wake up call that would save your life. Our relationship had been over long ago, but my heart never changed and i knew then that you’d fallen further than you’d ever had. I couldn’t help this time, i couldn’t do anything but pray, and I did, I prayed every day that i wouldn’t get the call that you’d died alone in an empty home.
You had your good and bad days. The bad one’s were filled with depression, you felt worthless, you felt pain, and you used to help make the pain go away. You’d have brief reprieves of sobriety, but then something would happen and it would pull you back. I wasn’t around so I never knew until it was too late. I’d let you see our son because I knew he helped you experience that emotion of love that you craved for.
I always tried to help you from afar, I couldn’t get too close, because that wouldn’t do either of us any good. The drugs distorted your perception. When i’d ask for money to help with out child, you let yourself believe that was all I wanted. If only the drugs weren’t clouding your vision, you would have seen just how much I cared.
Over the following months you’d become more distant from our child, and I continued to pray every day, despite the feeling I had that there just wasn’t going to be a good ending to your life’s story. And then it happened.. It was on a Monday and my phone rang. As soon as I saw it was your dad, i knew whatever he was about to say was going to break me.
You had overdosed again, and this time it was bad. I cried and shook it off, I got to the hospital as fast as i could. You were in a coma, failing kidneys, heart attack, & seizures is all i heard the doctor say. I dropped to my knees and prayed more than i ever could, because I needed you more than you ever knew. I didn’t want to have to tell this story to our little boy.
Somehow, you made it through, but when you awoke you were weak and barely conscious. The nurses kept trying to get you to squeeze their hand but you couldn’t. When the nurses left, I knew I had to get you to do it, I knew you could do it. I knew God was with us, he was going to make this all ok. I walked up to the bed and i said your name until you looked at me.
“Squeeze my hand, you have to squeeze my hand,” i said as calm as i could and just like that you squeezed my hand so hard it hurt. It was as if a brick had lifted off my chest and i knew God was in that room, he saved a heroin addict.
A “heroin addict”, that’s the label people give to those that struggle with addiction. You are so much more than that though. You’re a loving son, brother, and father. You’re are and always have been a friend to me.
“Addicts” are people who suffer from a disorder, so why do we choose to label them that way? Maybe if the world could focus more on who they are, and the disorder that they are fighting with, then “addicts” wouldn’t feel so hopeless, so powerless. We don’t call people that struggle with other diseases by the name of the disease that affects them.
If God can save someone from heroin addiction, maybe the world should know that they are more than that. If you know someone struggling with addiction, please try to understand that they need love more than they need to hear society’s labels. Don’t pet them or baby them, but don’t contribute to the stigma that shames them. Tell them how you feel but don’t ever make them feel like they don’t matter.