You cannot save people, you can only love them.Anais Nin
When our four children were very young, I believed I had the power to make the world a safe haven for them.
My husband and I did everything we could to protect them. We purchased car seats, installed gates at the top of staircase and child-proofed cabinets.
We choose wholesome shows for them to watch on TV and faith-based schools for them to attend. We made these choices based on our family values and what we believed would most benefit the shaping of their tender hearts and minds.
We did all these things – and much more – because we loved them so very much.
Such a sweet season of life.
As our beloved children grew up to be adults we hoped and prayed that they would make their own good choices to safeguard their well- being and happiness.
Heartbreakingly, when our son was trapped in the deadly grip of the disease of substance use, these hopes for happiness and safety shattered like glass on a hard floor.
For many years our son’s life was cut to shreds by this disease. And because addiction impacts an entire family system, the lives of the rest of our family of was also diminished as we watched him suffer from the symptoms of the illness.
We knew we could not save our son. So, we set our focus on how we could seek help for him to find a way back to himself.
This path is unique for every family. There is no one-size-fits-all family recovery strategy.
But at the center of every family’s choice is the beating heart of the love they have always had for their child. The heart of love that began so long ago with stair gates and just the right nursery school for them.
When our son was deep in the disease of addiction, we sought alot help from alot of arenas – recovery centers, family programs, counselors, faith based-support and 12-Step fellowships.
We prayed alot.
We always offered our son the opportunity to get help and we tried to keep the lines of communication open.
We told him we loved him and that we believed he could find his way back to his life through recovery.
We didn’t have any magic formula. A lot of times it felt like we were flying through a dangerous storm without instruments.
And the fact is: we were doing just that.
But somehow through love and prayer and never giving up on flying blindly, our family found a safe place to land.
Through recovery, our son co-founded what has now grown to be a recovery health care system. As a family we are committed to helping others find their own safe haven of hope and wholeness.
Seek help for your family and lead with your heart of love.
How do you lead with your heart of love?
Please share here. We can all be inspired by our collective experience, strength and hope.
Nancy and her son, JP, are co-authors of Unchained: Our Family’s Addiction Mess Is Our Message. Their book tells the true story of JP’s descent into opioid and alcohol addiction, homelessness, and violence to recovery to become co-founder of a treatment health care system.