This may be the hardest and most blatantly honest post I have ever written, but my husband and I feel very strongly that it needs to be out there and it needs to be in the front of your minds if you have loved ones who suffer from addiction! Ten days ago, I received a phone call from my husband who was out of town that my step-son was found unresponsive, he had no idea what was going on. I consoled him best I could and told him I will find out what’s going on. Now, before I finish that part of the story I need you to know the background about my step-son. He struggled with drug addiction since he was 13 years old. At 16 he overdosed on heroin and they were able to revive him. He had a history of being in and out of Juvenile hall getting into trouble, robbery, drugs, strong armed robberies, breaking and entering, destruction of property, Etc. He was finally sentenced to prison for 2 years where he was able to get clean in his early 20’s and live a better life. The first year he was out he stayed clean, stayed away from the people he used and sold drugs with. He got into working out and building himself up to be as strong and big as he could be. He always believed he was invincible. He liked to feel powerful and liked that people feared him. He also started doing steroids years ago to help him bulk up. We all worried that one day we would get that phone call that something terrible happened.
He and his girlfriend have been together for almost 6 years I believe. He is Daddy to her little girl. She has always been the light of his life. He looks at this little girl with such love in his eyes and heart for her. The first time I saw him with her it made me so happy that he found someone he truly loves. She and her precious little girl brought hope into his life. He did stop using for periods of time but he still never thought he needed help. He didn’t understand that when you stop using that is only the first step, being dry without recovery of some kind it’s just a matter of time before you get the itch and use again (which he did). It was a battle, it is a daily struggle, that ‘s what addiction is. This is where that EGO comes into play and the “I can do it myself I don’t need help” Addiction likes to fuck with your mind and make you feel more powerful than you are. It likes to lie to you and tell you that it’s OK to put that needle in your arm, take that bottle of pills, down another bottle of alcohol. You slowly kill yourself and your family that way. But, You find a way to get it no matter at what cost. You steal from your family, friends, and strangers. You manipulate and lie to get your next high. Soon what your doing just isn’t enough and you need more. The problem is HEROIN LIES! Addiction LIES! Truth is, the HEROIN or drug of choice is in control of you, you are no longer in control of your own life. You essentially become a prisoner in your own mind. We didn’t have much contact with him the past two years. We reached out through messages or a phone call with little to no response. You see ever since my husband got into recovery a little over 6 years ago for his alcoholism addiction he wanted so badly for his son to go to a meeting with him. We wanted him to get help, but he told us he doesn’t need that he can do it alone. This broke our hearts. We know we can’t force anyone into recovery but my husband tried to carry the message to his son. He prayed he would find his way before it was too late. When we would see him by chance it was always met with a hug and some light conversation, along with some laughs.
Here is where the really hard part comes in………That beautiful face, that happy smile you see above so full of life lost his. On January 10th, 2019 my step-son died from a fatal accidental drug overdose, he was 27 years old! We are still waiting for toxicology reports which will take about 12 weeks but from everything they told us this is what we believe took his life. His drug of choice was heroin, but he was known to mix meth with it at times for a different type of high I suppose. You have no idea how hard it is to write this but it is so important and so necessary. As a parent when you get into recovery support groups you come to find that someone else’s addiction, even your child’s is NOT your fault. I want my step-son to be more than a statistic for our family! So, After the phone call from my husband I called my oldest step-daughter where he was living because he was recently on house arrest for 6 months. She couldn’t speak, I heard a sorrow that deep down in your gut you know it is bad. I was driving out to her house saying to myself NO, NO, NOPE this can’t be, he has to be OK. He isn’t gone, he can’t be, NO GOD NO! I called my daughter, his other sister and told her what may be happening. I arrived with police and fire fighters on the scene. I ran through the front door abruptly to see a room full of people. His Mom on the couch crying, sisters & nieces crying, officers and personnel everywhere. I said “What’s going on, please tell me this didn’t happen” Someone said “I’m sorry he’s gone” Down to my knees I went crying. Someone came and reached out their hand and helped me off the floor and said “come sit down”. I became so numb, it was unbelievable. Is this real? The one thing we feared the most has really happened. He is in the next room dead on the floor and guess what, my 12 year old Granddaughter found him! Now tell me in what world is that OK …….WHAT THE FUCK, is what was going through my mind! I knew I had to be able to be strong to hear the things they were saying and soaking in information that the others may not be able to remember. My poor husband was out of town about 4 hours away. I had to call him to confirm that his son did pass away. It was unbearable not being able to hold him and be there for him. I knew he needed me to be his ears at that time. What an awful drive to take alone knowing a tragedy has struck home. The rest of that day was a numbing whirlwind for all of us. His other sister lives in Belgium right now where her husband Is stationed. They just had a baby 3 months ago and were getting an emergency passport for the baby to be here.
I have feelings of anger. I’m angry that every time he chose to put a needle in his arm and shoot drugs into his body it was like playing Russian Roulette with his life! I am angry that he didn’t reach out to us and respond to messages! I am angry that he didn’t take getting help for himself seriously! I’m angry at how he treated people at times! I’m angry that his little girl will grow up without the Daddy she knows and loves! I’m angry that he put his girlfriend in the position he did to clean up his mess to explain to her Daughter where daddy is, while trying to deal with her own broken heart losing her person! They should be planning their future together. I’m angry that addiction is such a selfish thing and leaves families devastated! I am angry that he was using in the house with two young children and that our grand daughter found him that way! Anger is natural and normal, it is a part of grief. Mostly I am heart broken and I am so sad for him that he lost his life. We are powerless over addiction of any kind. It’s no secret that Cyle and I didn’t always get along as he was growing up. He hated authority of any kind and I was that type of parent with boundaries, structure, and rules. He didn’t like that at all and he caused a lot of problems growing up with everyone. However, when he got out of prison during that first year he had made amends to everyone, including me which blew me away. I will never forget a few talks we had. The first one was when he said to me “I’m sorry I was such an asshole to you growing up and caused so many problems. Lying and everything I did, he said I didn’t make it easy for any of my parents and I’m sorry for that” Man that was such a blessing to hear after all those years! To feel like he really does care about me made me feel great, and I was so proud of his efforts to change and stay clean. I always told Cyle that he is so smart but needs to put it to good use. That he is strong and talented and he deserves to live a good life and stay on a good path. He was so great at drawing things, he used to love art. So The second time we talked was one I have cherished every day and will remember for the rest of my life. About 3-4 years ago my husband broke down about 1 1/2 hours from home and he needed me to rent a car trailer and drive out to get him. I didn’t want to drive by myself and I wasn’t comfortable towing a trailer with our old Suburban that has had issues. So I called Cyle and asked him if he could help his Dad and go with me. No hesitation, I went and picked him up. We had time to drive so we talked like the whole way. He talked about him and his girlfriend a lot and how he loves being a Daddy to her little girl. One thing I told him was I said “I’m going to give you some Mom advice”. I told him that he was really to rough (verbally) with that little girl. I said “Cyle, you need to find a balance in raising her, lighten up your too hard” He kept saying things like, I know but sometimes she gets away with all this shit and I keep telling her Mom No that isn’t OK. I laughed! I said “Hey Cyle, now that your a Dad, do you understand more why I was the way I was with you and why I tried to set rules and guidance with you”? I will never forget this…….He did his goofy ass laugh and he said “I was so shitty to you and you kept trying, but I wouldn’t let you I made it hard for you, he said but now I appreciate all I learned from you because that is the type of parent I want to be with her”. OH MAN, did he really just say that to me? That touched my heart to the core. I will never forget those words or the conversation we had. I got to spend some time talking with my stepson that day in a way we never had before. He was in a good place at the time. He had a good job, made effort to be a part of everyone’s life, I got to hear how much he loves those girls. He was doing so good! His girlfriend and her daughter are and always will be the loves of his life and the best thing that ever happened to him. I hope no matter what that she remembers that. He knew how much she loved him because otherwise she wouldn’t have put up with his crap!
Addiction of any kind will destroy your life! It is so easy to blame yourself for things when someone Is no longer with us. You think if only we didn’t argue, I should have done this and that, if I didn’t give him money, if only you didn’t make it so easy for him he would still be here. The truth is, we will drive ourselves crazy if we think the things we do CAN CHANGE AN ADDICT, or save them, they and only THEY can choose when and if they need or even want help. Then, at that point we can help them. No parent wants to ever admit there child has a problem. Often times there is a lot of denial. Sometimes you even tell yourself it isn’t that bad, or Not my child. They will also tell you the lies you want to hear like “I will never do it again, I promise”, “I’m fine, I don’t need help I can stop”, “I was just doing it for fun”. You become a shell of yourself when you use. If someone reading this is using, whether it be drugs or alcohol, Please read this story of heartache and struggle over and over again. There are countless stories shared of loved ones lost to addiction read them all! There really are no answers for the family and friends left behind. The devastation that addiction causes stays with us for a lifetime. It rips families apart, it causes such a deep heartache in your soul that you feel as though you will never see the light again. It is painful to see a life so young gone forever because addiction wins, yet again. IT HAS TO STOP, WE HAVE TO BE THEIR VOICES! We have to continue sharing the message of strength, love, hope, and courage to stop addiction! If there is even one person who reads this that feels heard, understood, or comforted. If you see yourself in this story and feel you need help before you too could become a statistic then reach out, don’t hesitate, people are available 24/7! There is Al Anon, AA, AlaTeen, NA, and you could also contact a therapist. If sharing our grief on behalf of my husband and I helps someone else take that first step then we continue to honor his life.
This post is about my feelings, opinions, and thoughts. Writing at times is my way to work out those feelings and not keep them bottled inside, that is no good for you. To watch someone you love use or relapse over and over again is like watching a piece of them die each and every time. Inside an addict you have to understand it isn’t just the mind that is broken, but also the soul and the body. How do you think a parent copes with the thoughts that today may be the day I get that phone call that he’s gone. Parent’s often blame themselves or they choose to be in denial. I have been Cyle’s step-mom for almost 19 years. Some people still don’t believe I matter or think this affects me. I want to say this for all step-parents, WE FUCKING MATTER! A family member sent my husband a card of condolences and sympathy, but only for my husband. I watched him read the card and throw it in the trash. I asked why he threw it away. He said he was so disgusted that someone would single him out thinking this isn’t my loss too. Our whole family lost a loved one. I chose to be a part of my husbands life almost 19 years ago knowing he had 3 children from 2 different mothers and 1 grandchild. I have my 1 Daughter, I just turned 30, when we got together and this year I will be turning 50, that is a lot of life with OUR FAMILY whether someone wants to accept that or not, that is insignificant to us. I have been through a lot of shit with these kids! Together we are made up of a mom, dad, stepmom, stepdad, 4 children, now including my stepsons daughter 5 grandchildren! It doesn’t matter if I am a stepmom, that doesn’t mean I love a child any less. That hurts my heart so much that people don’t seem to understand I LOST A FUCKING SON TOO! His life mattered to me. I wanted and prayed for so much more for him and now he is gone. I can’t believe he is gone! I have to be here for my husband who lost his son, my daughters who lost their brother, and so on. I have done the best I could to be there for his Mom, his girlfriend, her daughter, friends, or anyone else who has been touched by him. To be sympathetic and empathetic. As we were walking out of the church I was carrying the Urn and one of his longtime childhood friends said “is that Cyle” I shook my head yes and tears rolled down his face. Pain on everyone’s face. Having no idea what to say or do. An addicts story is about more than just the drugs. I want you to know the person and family behind the addiction because that makes it real. As it was stated at his celebration of life, he is just another statistic to everyone else, but to his family he is their world! He had a crazy goofy laugh. He was over protective of those he loved, especially the girls in his life, like his mom, girlfriend, sisters, nieces, & daughter. He loved to antagonize his sisters even as adults! Hell, he loved to argue with a 3 year old! One Halloween we planned for him to steal my Dads candy bowl as a joke because he had the scream mask on and he wouldn’t know it was him. So as my Dad opened the door Cyle messed with him for a minute by grabbing a huge handful of candy and my Dad saying “HEY don’t take all that” then he grabbed the whole bowl and ran. My Dad was so pissed. It was the best! This is one of the funniest stories we love to tell. We have to remember these people are someone’s sons, daughters, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, friends, Etc. they are all human beings that lost their lives to addiction, IT MUST STOP!
As I wrap this up I can’t express enough how devastating addiction is for everyone not just the addict. The family suffers a great deal! Watching a slide show of my step-sons life and seeing the people come together that wouldn’t normally come together to celebrate his life and walking around carrying an urn with his ashes are beyond what any words could ever express. A child should not go before their parents. Sometimes in life with an addict all you get are moments, but those moments are significant. As we continue to see addiction grow, including alcoholism I want it to be talked about more. I want real faces and a life lost to be known that in the blink of an eye your life can be over and all the loved ones are left behind are completely heartbroken and don’t know how to move forward without you. However, life does move on no matter how much we wish for time to go back or stop, it simply keeps going. Addiction doesn’t ever discriminate, young or old, color, religion, it simply doesn’t matter. My hopes in sharing this personal post and photos is that it helps to save someone’s life. That it helps another family or parent grieving the loss of a child to addiction to know you are not alone, unfortunately so many people understand because they too have lost their child to addiction. My hopes is that If you, the one reading this has a problem with drugs or alcohol you pick up the phone today and seek help. We know a lot of people in recovery and we have seen and experienced ourselves the miracles out there waiting for you when you take that first step to say FUCK YOU ADDICTION! I want you ALL to know if you feel like you don’t matter YOU DO MATTER, YOU ARE IMPORTANT, YOU HAVE A PURPOSE! Please know there is a big world out there and you belong in it, my stepson belongs in it but he couldn’t find his way out of the darkness. Honor a life lost by saving your own! Much love to all that have been affected and are still affected by addiction. It is a lifetime struggle but one you never ever have to do alone. Don’t allow yourself to be held prisoner any longer by the lies addiction feeds you.
Hear me loud and clear Parents, our kids are using, our grandkids are using, it is OK to tough love your children and be harsh with them at times. STOP ENABLING YOUR ADDICTED ADULT CHILD! The thing is that adult children with addiction issues that remain dependent on a parent often are allowed to get into a bad situation because they are enabling them to do so. Some parents keep doing it because it is a way they feel “needed” but that is an unhealthy toxic way. It is OK to check up on them, know their friends, and where they hang out. It is OK to have rules and structure in your home, it is OK to give your children consequences at young ages because it helps them to become more responsible adults. It’s OK to hold your kids accountable for their actions, otherwise they don’t grow and learn responsibility. Don’t get me wrong, kids are kids, they grow, make mistakes, learn, try our patience, and they can break our hearts. We fall in love with them every day and they have our whole hearts. Trust me when I tell you that being friends with your children is for later in life, not when they are growing up needing you to be their teacher. They follow by example, make sure it is a good one. The most heartbreaking thing that can happen is walking around with your child’s ashes in an urn or burying them 6 feet under because you didn’t want to face the fact that they have a problem with addiction! Is that harsh……… ABSOLUTELY, but it is a sad reality in todays society! I want people to wake up and stop being ashamed and talk about this shit! The truth is addiction continues to take so many lives and living in denial about it doesn’t do anyone a damn bit of good! Be real, share your struggles because we all have them. Doing your best is all any of us can do and then it is up to them to choose the life they want to live and to be the person they choose to be.
For those of you using, I want you to know that you are killing yourself everyday. You are not being the best version of yourself. You deserve so much more than what addiction promises you. You are breaking your loved ones hearts. You are destroying yourself from the inside out. You are also stronger than you think! You have people who will love you until you can love yourself and they will continue to love you. You are a precious life, you are someone’s everything. You are a human being with a beating heart and a kind soul, find your passion, find your place in the world and go out there and be AMAZING because we only get one chance at this life make it count and make a difference!
Wishing you peace & serenity always, Harmony