I can’t breathe…….
The regret, guilt and the What ifs are weighing heavy on my chest, threatening to keep me from ever breathing again……..
What if I had fought harder for my son to get help when he was a young child?
What if I had known my family medical history before becoming a parent?
What if I had forced my son into some sort of treatment program when he was still under our care?
What if I had known then, what I know now, how would that have changed the events that led to today?
What if I had never encouraged my son to move here, hoping it would help him to get on track in life?
What if……..I could run those what if’s through my mind until my head explodes…….the guilt, the regret, the what if’s are overshadowing all that is good in our life……coloring the joy………and keeping us stuck in the guilt……
These past few days the what ifs have really been running through my mind. But regret does not change the past, guilt does not correct the wrongs, and what ifs won’t change the outcome.
I have shared that my son suffers from mental illnesses and is an addict. I have shared the struggles and challenges of living with and loving someone with his illnesses. And it is hard. His most recent bottom, though, had brought us some hope.
He finally was seeking help. He had an intake last week for an outpatient program and tomorrow he was to start intensive outpatient treatment…….
He has been off of drugs since his last arrest in March…….
He passed a random drug test…….
Over the past almost two months I have watched as my son emerged from his addiction and became “my” son again. He was laughing with us, talking with us, taking care of his cats, going places with us, and taking care of himself. He was doing everything he needed to do to get his life on track and get clean.
And then the system stepped in…….and the county where he was arrested last fall revoked his probation. He was going to have to go back to jail.
We were all surprised because it came about suddenly, after saying they would not do this. But the justice system can change its mind. And my son did violate the terms of his probation by being arrested again…….
I was scared that this news would send my son into a tailspin back down that awful path……
But he took it in stride, accepted what would be happening and continued to do the things he needed to do to get himself healthy.
And then today, we had to do one of the hardest things a parent should ever have to do…..when our son asked us to take him north to turn himself in and face the consequences of his probation violation, he was so brave. He wanted to do the right thing. He wanted to do what was necessary to continue his positive progress.
This morning we drove our son the 2 hours to the jail……..and I was having a hard time just breathing……
But I drew strength from my son’s courage.
When we arrived, my son bravely walked into the jail lobby and self-surrendered. I was so proud of how he handled himself, of the courage he showed and his attitude.
We waited 2 ½ hours for them to come and get him…….and watching the officer walk up to my son and take him through the door…………..THAT was awful…….and if it was so awful for me, I can only imagine how hard this is on my son, yet he didn’t show it.
Now we wait……..and pray that the court and the judge will see his progress now, and see that he is finally ready. I pray that the judge will see that punishment will not benefit my son as much as treatment and counseling will. I pray that God will protect my son while he is in the jail and that all the forward progress he has made will not be for nothing or be too late.
At what point, do we as a society, start to treat addiction as the disease it is? At what point do we, as a society, start to look for ways to heal those afflicted with mental illnesses rather than locking them away for punishment? It really is time to start acting, not just talking. Drug addiction is the one crime where the perpetrator is also the victim, and yet we punish them rather than get the addict REAL help. Yes, there are consequences for our choices, but addiction is different, it is an illness and throwing an addict in jail does not get them help, not for the long run. Instead, the punishment continues the cycle and continues the stigma that surrounds addicts. When are we going to stand up and change this? When will we do the right thing for addicts and start saving lives?
I am starting now, with this blog post and with the many letters I will be sending out to my local politicians….it is time I do more than talk, it is time I take action! For my son, for my family and for the many others I know who are dealing with these same issues.
And I will be praying while I try to breathe…….just breathe…….
What if…….we as a society committed to REAL change instead of just talking?