Thanksgiving is almost upon us. This is the time of year that we are supposed to acknowledge the things in our lives that we are grateful for. For some people, this is an easy task, but for many of us, I think this can be somewhat hard. I don’t mean that we can’t find something we can be thankful for, but that being thankful in the midst of struggle can be a challenge.
Regan and I have said we are thankful for our journey through her addiction and our subsequent recovery. We know how crazy that sounds. And truly, we are not saying that you should wish for your child to get mixed up in drugs and have to go to rehab and live that hell, so that you can be thankful on the other side. That would be a stretch to say the least. I wouldn’t wish the pain of substance abuse and addiction on anyone. Ever.
However, I really am grateful for many things through this experience. Here’s a few:
1) Regan’s addiction brought her to Pathway, where she was able to get help for the pain she had been carrying around since the age of 4 years old. Getting help at 17 is a definite blessing.
2) Working on ourselves during the process of recovery has brought us to a point in our mother-daughter relationship where we are on the same wavelength much of the time. We have an understanding of each other that is rare at 19 years old. We have experienced fear and shame and anger and despair and come through it with a mutual respect and admiration for one another. We also have genuine fun together and enjoy deep conversations. She is often the first person I tell things to and vice versa. This is a relationship that I treasure, and it wouldn’t be what it is today if addiction hadn’t entered our lives.
3) The recovery community is a special one. It’s something I had no idea about before, but I absolutely feel it’s a gift. You won’t go anywhere and feel more accepted, loved and understood than in a recovery meeting. The other moms I have met are my soul sisters. There’s nothing like the agony and fear of losing your child to drugs, and there’s nothing more beautiful than figuring out how to find joy together. Support from those who have walked or are walking in your shoes is life-saving.
4) I have learned so much in the past 2 years. God continually reminds me that He is God and I will forever be His student. Wondering why this happened to my child is such a waste of time. God has a plan and His plans are always for good. I have learned to lean on Him for my peace and to trust the path He has set before me. My relationship with Him has grown deeper in ways that would have been impossible without addiction.
5) My career has taken an unexpected, but very exciting and humbling turn because of addiction and recovery. My boss hired me after we met at a community meeting on the drug crisis in Montgomery County. I get to witness miracles every day through my work as an IASIS Certified Provider at Matthew’s Hope Foundation. I am helping to put an end to opioid disease, and provide help to people who are suffering with conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and so much more. Making a difference in my corner of the world gives me purpose from all that I’ve gone through.
I’ve spent some time, especially early on, wondering why this happened to me/us instead of someone else. The best answer I can come up with is that without it, the things listed here wouldn’t have been possible. My life would have been minus all the pain, but it also would have been minus all the blessings that came from that pain. Looking back, the pain was worth it.
It truly is possible to be thankful for addiction. It’s simply a matter of perspective.