Not Like Them

Have you ever said these words?

I’ll never do that. I’m not like them.

Or maybe you’ve said these words to your kids:

Over my dead body! Like hell you will! I don’t care if EVERYONE ELSE is doing _____ or going _______, you’re not– you’re NOT LIKE THEM!

Oh these bitter words, how I’ve eaten them, choked on them, and even had my share of second helpings.

I used to think if I was a good enough mother, a “good enough” Christian (not possible) or worked hard enough, my kids would turn out A-OK!   I did it all: work, raised my kids, did a zillion activitities that were a testimony as to how I was involved. You see, I was like you. I cared. Oh, how I cared.

I prayed over them. I loved them. I discussed right and wrong with them. I gave them freedom to make their own choices but didn’t hover over them to a point they couldn’t think for themselves. I made mistakes and got other things right. Like every other parent I know, I was far from perfect, but together with my husband, along the path of mistakes and triumphs, we did the best we could.

But our lives changed irrevocably a few years ago. Something happened to our family that is sadly enough taking America’s youth by storm right now.

It’s not something that happens to families “like” ours. After all, WE’RE NOT LIKE THEM!

Addiction. Heroin specifically. It nearly killed our son.   The legal/psychological/logistical/financial drama that ensued felt like it would kill me on many days. Oh, so many many days. But failure is not an option, especially when you’re kid’s life literally hangs in the balance.

There is still work, finances, other children, parents, activities, responsibilities that don’t go away just because you’re in crisis mode. Still….

I can’t afford to be silent anymore!!

I’ve lived through too much. We’ve lost a lot. But I’ve gained a perspective, and above all a compassion for those that walk this journey with us. We are all fighting so hard. And right now it feels like we are winning (8 months sober!)  But looks and feels can be deceptive. Because for every daily battle that feels/appears like a victory to us, another family loses the war and has to make final arrangements.

Tonight in my weekly support group something SNAPPED inside me. A fifth child of a parent passed away specifically from opiate addiction. We all grieved collective tears while internally, perhaps selfishly thanking God it wasn’t us this time. But it shouldn’t be ANY of us!

And like AIDS in the 80s, SILENCE = DEATH.

I wanted to wait until my son gave me permission to tell the story.   I don’t want to diminish his dignity in anyway so the parts that belong only to him won’t be discussed.  But this is BIGGER than just his story, it’s our story, perhaps it’s yours or someone you love, and it’s rapidly becoming America’s story!

Addiction is a family disease. And it is a disease that kills when left in the closet.

I plan to write more as I feel the Spirit prompt me that this part is okay to tell,but I (along with several dozen friends in my family support group) as well as my best friend who has written a book on the subject of addiction have decided it’s past time to go ALL OUT.

Our children and our loved ones are too precious to lose.

We used to have routine. Stability. Financial peace.   All that got scrambled up a bit. But it’s all good.

God is so merciful and definitely in control. I seek his wisdom daily and on most days, have his peace. I am grateful for my addict, and love him with an endless love that knows no bounds! I’ve come to appreciate our somewhat unpredictable life. Perhaps our neighbors have manicured lawns and squeeky clean lives. But we’re not like them.

We are also your neighbors, your friends, your family members, your people beside you at church, and who chat with you in the store or LIKE what you say on Facebook!   We’re real, with real problems, but are fortunate enough to have a REAL GOD who has shown us nothing but REAL LOVE in so many ways.

I’ve decided it’s time to share what I’ve learned and am learning about addiction (from the perspective of “someone who loves an addict” because silence equals submission. I will not be quiet as addiction (particularly opiate addiction) is spreading across our country like wildfire right now and devouring our children.

We have an enemy. I am not afraid.

I have an addict. I am not ashamed.

We have a good God who is in control, even when our lives our not. Therefore, we have a hope and a future.

I have something to say. I hope you will hear with an open heart and open mind.


PLEASE CONTINUE and read this moving blog from my dearest friend (14 years sober) who “walks the 12” daily with courage and grace and stands in agreement that we MUST MUST MUST get past the shame of addiction, and get to the root of what drives it, so that people can find healing!

16 thoughts on “Not Like Them

  1. I agree that addiction is a horrible illness, associated with so much stigma, and it can have tragic effects on the lives of so many people – friends and relatives included.

    • And I applaud YOUR bravery, dear Jana. I read your book twice in quick succession, crying and crying as you so superbly painted the painful picture of addiction and the blessings that come with the healing processes. Thank you for being my daughter’s “sister in His Name.”

      • Okay, now I’M crying, Bev! Thank you so much for reading the book, and trust me … it is my pleasure to love Liz. She is magnificent – but then, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Love you.

  2. It still surprises me that both of my ex-mother-in-law’s sons are heroin addicts. Even with as much as I know about the disease from sitting in these rooms for nearly 6 years. Even though I’ve met alcoholics & addicts of all shapes, sizes, status, etc. Even though I know that if someone like ME could be an addict, then anyone can. Still, I have a hard time wrapping my head around how such a loving, involved, Christian woman could have raised two boys who fell into addiction very early on and who still have not found recovery (which adds up to 20 years of using including multiple incarcerations in my ex-husband’s case).

    This disease strikes without regard to any of the divisions we have created for ourselves. It is not caused by bad parenting or childhood trauma or living on the wrong side of the tracks. We can’t love away or threaten away addiction any more than we can love or threaten away cancer. Bless you, Mama, for speaking up. Addiction is ugly and horrid, but it is not shameful… and more families need to understand that. Keep working your program and keep praying for your son and the still suffering addict. ❤

    • You will NEVER find shame in my book or more importantly in God’s! My best friend (also a recovered addict)has inspired me that it is time for all of us (addicts and families of addicts) to band together, to educate others on what addiction is and more importantly what it’s not (just BAD people making bad choices) and that it does not discriminate!! With God’s help, we can win this fight for our loved ones or ourselves! Work it, work it, work it…and LIVE….one day at a time…and LOVE as your draw from the God who loved you first who is so big and so vast and so eternal! Blessings my friend!

  3. Liz, you just wrote exactly how I feel! How can we keep this disease anonymous if we are to treat our addicts and help them recover? The whole concept of anonimity is setting us all up for failure. The ONLY way we can help this disease is by openly and honestly discussing it and brainstorming it and taking it out of the closet. I talk openly to all that I meet about my son and I know for so many people that is a very hard thing to do but if it helps one person get into recovery then we all know it was the right thing.

    • Thank you so much Margaret! Since I published I’ve already had 2 friends contact me about their loved one. As my friend Jana so bravely has taught me, “It’s time to skewer the shame of addiction.” We LOVE our addicts; we only want wellness and healing for them. They have to want it for themselves of course, but it flourishes when we are ashamed to talk about it with others. I believe this is going to be a life-long mission for me–and it’s bigger than just my family, it’s every family!

  4. Wow! I’m so very proud of you for making your voice heard! Your story needs to be heard and shared so others can see that they too can be brave and make a stand. You are all in my prayers and I wish you many blessings for full and complete healing. xoxo

  5. I can so relate. I look back to those days when my biggest worry was a manicured lawn. Now there’s a hole in my heart that will never be closed. My son passed away of heroin overdose on 2/12/14. Two months exactly after turning 24. This is a disease that more often than not is fatal if not controlled. I do believe as your friend is a great example, that it can be overcome and controlled for nothing is impossible for Him and the one who is willng to believe in Him. Thank you

    • Oh Alba, my heart breaks and breaks for you! I will be praying for you. There are simply no words to tell you how sorry I am. I only know that God is in control, and now your son IS healed eternally, until you are reunited. But that does not diminish the grief you must carry until then. You are the reason I am seeing this fight is “bigger than me and my family”. This is rapidly becoming my mission! Not one more, not one more. May God comfort you in every way!!

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