Updated: Jul 10, 2022
There isn’t a psychologist in the world who could navigate the Wild West of how to make the right decisions for our loved ones struggling with addiction. Find the path that brings you the most peace. There is a strong reality it could result in overdose, crime, homelessness, stealing, cheating, lying, betrayal, depression, blame, anger, or death. These are the symptoms of addiction and they simply aren’t curable by actions of anyone else than the person struggling with the addiction.
- An excerpt from my book. Subscribe to my newsletter to learn more about the release.
In my book, untitled, you're going to read the rawest emotions from both my dad's and I's perspective.
What is most evident from remaining best friends with my dad throughout his struggle is that there will always be a tinge of regret and a feeling if I had done one thing slightly different the outcome would be different. It's kind of like when you date the person who is just not into you. It's only when it would have never worked out in the first place that we convince ourselves it came down to that one text you sent with a winking emoji instead of a smiling emoji. In reality, it didn't work out because that person doesn't see your potential as you see theirs. It's hard to imagine. It hurts the ego. We fixate on the little details. When we eventually meet the one, we say whatever we want and we feel freedom. Much easier to feel like you're making the right decisions when things are working naturally.
Same concept but on a much grander, life-altering, scale. The guilt can weigh so heavy you sit at home ruminating whether or not giving your loved one a twenty-dollar bill as opposed to a five-dollar bill will be the difference between whether they OD and you blame yourself if it happens. You could always have been nicer, you could always have been meaner. You could have been more strict because it worked for Joe. But Shmo was kind and that worked for her.
There is no blueprint because we're not dealing with an equation here. We're watching someone risk their life for something they think they can't survive life without that is in fact killing them. The more you think there is a remedy you're too inept to grasp, the more the remedy slips away.
The remedy is as all things in nature are. Nature has to take its most natural course and you, no matter what you do, can't impede on it or take ownership of it. But there is one thing you can do. Love.
It's not corny or a utopian fantasy land pipe dream. It is and always will be the remedy. I was intentional not to say cure. The cure only comes from within the person struggling. The remedy is like taking Advil when you have the flu. You have to let the virus take its course but the Advil reduces symptoms and can take away the pain for an undefinable amount of time.
Everyone will have their own definition of love. For me, it was from a distance. It was in letters and in phone calls. It was not in physical things or physical presence. It was a lending ear and encouraging words. It is currently advocating for people in our same situation who are desperate for these answers.
Only you know how you can love your loved one. It will vary on their level of desperation. Are you in physical danger? Is your livelihood (job, money to pay bills, health) being sacrificed? Tough love? Enabling love? We're lectured on wrong and right ways of doing things all the time. Don't take any shame. You'll know your form of love is right when you make a decision and feel at peace in your heart with your decision. It might take you time to find your form of love but don't force it.
Love does not have room for anger. It's not based on fear. You won't find love in threats and you can't have expected outcomes in love anyway.
Love should be as natural as our love for autumn. It's beautiful but fleeting but it doesn't stop us from enjoying it. I've always been fascinated by the beauty in the leaves because it's enchanting to me how something dying can be so beautiful and how humans don't view autumn as a time of death but instead a time of growth. Both my grandma and dad died in October. Right when most of the leaves are now on the ground in giant piles of vibrant red, orange, and yellow. The crisp and crinkle under your feet. Love takes bravery. No matter how hard you love it doesn't stop the leaves from falling, it doesn't stop your loved one from slipping away.
You can read in my book about the time I threatened my dad. I told him if he used drugs again, I would never talk to him again. For me, it was a remedy to prevent him from doing drugs. I said it out of fear but what I thought was I was doing it in the name of love. He was in prison and months later he had brought it up in a letter. "I can't stop thinking of what you said that you would never talk to me again," his letter said. It was the first time since I had said it that I remembered saying it because it was an empty threat. I knew in my heart it would take a very big catastrophe to stop talking with my dad. He was my best friend. Instead of helping my dad, it infected him with fear. I realized how damaging empty threats could be. Love didn't save his life, but I believe in my heart it kept him going longer than my threats could. Two days before he died he called me and said something along the lines of I am the luckiest man on the earth to have your love. I don't deserve it. You can listen to the conversation on my website, but warning, it will break your heart.
You can support me, my book, and Rising Hope, a foundation in the making in honor of my dad and I's story, by going to my website, risinghope.co, and subscribing to my email list. I'll send you updates on publishing and when you can expect to purchase my book.
If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction or you are someone who is struggling with addiction, there are stronger, sunnier days ahead. Don't give up on yourself.