My Birthday Boy
On my 27th birthday, I was blessed with my second beautiful healthy child and only son. Just as l had a special bond with my first born and only daughter, I now had this amazing connection with my baby boy. My children have always come first and my love for them unconditional...no matter what. This love has been tested throughout my son’s road to recovery with his addiction. His struggle quickly turned into mine and as a divorced, single mother of an addict our story was very similar to others...up until my son found Purple Recovery.
Our journey started as most, displays of odd/defiant/suspicious behavior, job losses, always needing money, insane stories and difficulties, items missing, declining health and eventually the total bottom falling out from my son’s life. Discovering his addiction to Opioids was utterly devastating and as he fell deeper and harder into the grips of this disease, my insane quest to save him and fix his messes only fueled my codependency and enabling (which did not help him either) and in turn led me into total despair and mayhem, saving him was my only concern in life and turned into my addiction. These years of turmoil were now affecting my health, relationships and finances and I could barely function, thinking that if he died I would soon follow from grief.
The numerous rehabs, detox’s, hospitals, jail, living in his car/streets/friends, and health issues left me terrorized with crippling fear and grief. Still, I could not stop “helping” him yet nothing I was doing was working, now resulting in my own life being completely out of control and unmanageable. My unconditional love could not save him from this horrific disease and I didn’t know what to do. It literally took my daughter telling me that she could no longer have a relationship with me if I continued this behavior, so I started to take inventory of my life and found Al-Anon.
Al-Anon saved my life, actually several times it has brought me back from the brink of losing it. I now consider myself a “lifer”, just like my son’s disease of addiction, I know my codependency will always be present and I need Al-Anon. It has helped me to set boundaries and expectations with every aspect of my life. Although I was starting to get my life back on track through Al-Anon, my son was not and was still deep in the darkness of his disease. It was through Al-Anon and my sponsor that I discovered a different program called Purple Recovery in Georgia. My sponsor shared what her son had went through, the program, his recovery and the fact that he actually LOVED the program so much he continues to go back and visit. My thoughts were “Loved rehab...how could that be true”?
Intrigued by this mother’s account, I began researching Purple and contacted Joel, with Purple’s help I got together enough money to send him down to Georgia as my last effort to save his life. While my son was working on his life at Purple I continued to work on mine. I discovered Nar-Anon and FAN (Families against Narcotics) which with Al-Anon and Purple all together became my trifecta to recovery. I learned that as hard as it was I needed to let my son go and I turned his recovery over to his own Higher Power. Miraculously, the more I worked on myself with meetings, readings and learning the Al-Anon tools, the better I felt. My son was also thriving and doing great and for once taking accountability for his own actions and life.
But, just as recovery and addiction goes my son relapsed. This time though, I did not. Eventually he reached back out to Brett from a state-run medical rehab and pleaded to come back. As much as it hurt me inside not to do this for him I knew that he had to want this and had to take accountability for his sobriety. With the last bit of financial help from his father and Purple’s mercy he re-entered Purple for a second time. This time he would not question or fight the Purple way because there were guys at Purple that had the life that he wanted. It became clear to him that if you give the program your heart and soul, work the 12 steps, and truly want to be sober it works…so he followed their path and prayed. Two years later, his legal issues are resolved, my son is now working at Purple and feels that this is his true calling.
What’s different about Purple and their program compared to the other places? Their unique method and plan (YES a plan) has been tested and tried, it’s not perfect (how could it be) and not every guy will get it and stay sober but their statistical success is remarkable. Their program is considered unorthodox but hey...maybe that’s what it takes! The Purple foundation is based on love, trust, the 12 steps, accountability, responsibility, fun, friendly competition, exercise/sports, social/spiritual and community connections with the Purple brotherhood. It’s the “it takes a village” and “paying it back” mantras that make it work along with the supportive and competent staff and past graduates and their families. After completing the live-in program, clients gradually transition out to independent living- which makes total sense! The guys get grounded for the first month or so, then find stable work, then when it’s approved they find sober roommates (Purple graduates) in affordable decent housing. Gradually from here they start to stay over at their new place week by week to make sure it’s a good fit. It’s brilliant in my opinion- transition back to reality has always been where my son struggled in the past.
While Purple helped save my son’s life, the accountability must come from the individual in the program. Purple holds the guys accountable for themselves and for each other, creating this “brotherhood” for life. They rebuild trust and self-confidence in the individual and teach them how to start rebuilding their new sober fun filled loving lives. Each clients plan is different and suited to their specific situation and needs...custom fit you could say. If the program doesn’t speak enough for itself there is the true testament of the annual Thanksgiving celebration. Each year current clients and graduates from years and decades past get together to celebrate life and sobriety. I attended for the first time this past year and it was truly remarkable to see and feel the joy, love and laughter that was felt around the table and campfire.
I am so proud of my son for his incredible courage and dedication in achieving where he is today and how he is now helping others. He continually is doing his own inventory, owning his mistakes, making amends and choosing to do the right thing now. He is loved and happy, healthy, productive and sober. My daughter also deserves so much credit for having the courage to tell me the truth about how it was affecting our family and always being supportive and being open to learning about this disease. Our 2 blended families have slowly begun healing too as we all embrace our shared love and understanding of how close we came to loosing him.
Gratitude is such a big part of my life now, and I am forever grateful to Brett, Joel, Adam and Miss Donna for their wonderful, personal and professional contributions in keeping the Purple power and my son alive. Together with these other 12 step programs, Purple is saving young men’s lives. I just wish there were Purples everywhere.