A letter to my son, with love

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I wrote this letter to my son 4 years into his active addiction. He had entered a program in the inner city; we felt it was his last chance. None of the other 4 rehab stints has worked. It was the hardest thing I had ever done (to that point) – to admit that I was powerless over his disease and I had to let go, let him go. By sharing, I hope this will help others. This is shared with permission from my son who is now, in 2017, more than one year clean from illicit drugs and successfully sober on a methadone program. Give up enabling, never give up on the love!


I want to send you letters that will lift you up. I want to tell you how much you are loved and how you can beat this addiction demon, that you are strong enough and smart enough and loved enough and worth enough. I want to tell you all of that and more. I want to throw my arms around you and hug away the pain…pain that you have experienced, pain that I have caused, pain that is now a part of you. I love you, my beloved, beautiful, intelligent boy and that is why I must tell you what is on my mind.

This is one of the hardest letters I have ever written, because no matter how much I love you or how much I want sobriety for you, YOU must make that decision on your own. Without the safety cushion of home to fall back on. You have proven that to me…I know that whatever I think I am doing to help you, to lift you up, to support you, to protect you, I enable your disease.

I also need to tell you that I am done being lied to and manipulated. I am done finding out the truth after you look me in the eye and tell me “I am not using”, “I lost my debit card”, “give me credit for doing the right thing, my choice, not because I am using”. I am done locking my door because it is the ONLY way I can be sure that my material things are safe, that what little money we have is spent on bills and housing and food, not drugs and gas to get drugs and money to pay off the people who take you to get drugs. I am done worrying about how having you at home impacts our neighbors, worrying what you will say or do next to chase that next high.

I can send you uplifting images and sayings, psalms and prayers, quotes and poems…things that make me feel like I am imparting wisdom or insight or a new way for you to look at the world. But that is all it is really, just a feeling. It changes nothing; I cannot change you. I can only love you and pray for you and hope for you and cry for you and hurt for you and ache for you; I cannot save you. And THAT is the hardest truth, my truth. A truth I have been staring at and running from and denying. A truth I can now look at and own, no matter how painful.

All of this means I start a new journey of worry…where are you going to live? How will you get help for your mental health issues? Will you be safe? Are you taking your meds? Will you take good care of yourself? Are you drinking enough water? Do you have kidney stones again? Are you well? Are you sober? Are you…alive???

Maybe telling you this will help you. Maybe my truth will help you see you are strong, you are capable and worthy. Maybe without me, you will find your voice…your inner strength, your self-love and self-worth.

Dad and I are here for you when you are ready to face your truth, all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly. I know that by telling you all of this, I risk our close bond. That somehow, you will be hurt by my truth and that will come between us. I feel as though I am betraying you by telling you this. Mothers are not supposed to hurt their babies. I am sorry that I hurt you, my dear sweet darling beautiful boy.

I love you.

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