I’ll never forget the day that our son was arrested for a drug-related crime and his name was in The Guardian and on Compass. That was 16 months ago. It was another very steep plunge on the roller coaster ride that is addiction. This nightmare had reached a whole new level. Having spent years in the shadows hiding his addiction from the world, we were now “outed” and had to face our friends and family who didn’t know anything about it. We were experts at hiding this, even our parents didn’t know. Both sets of parents live 1.5 hours away from us so it was easy enough to protect them from the overwhelming worry that we carried on our shoulders everyday.
The day of the arrest, I went into shock. I went for a run to try to relieve some of the stress. I was so glad that it was raining heavily that day so passersby could not see the tears streaming down my face. I ran so hard and cried so hard at times sobbing and yelling and wondering how the heck this happened to our family. When I returned home, being a woman of faith, I got down on my knees and prayed for the strength our family needed to get through this.
I can almost always find the blessings in horrible situations such as this one. After some reflection and time passing, I found them in this situation, and have outlined below what they were and how they eventually led to the creation of this blog.
1. Our son was in custody so he was not going to die from bad drugs, overdose, or some other horrible drug-related death at that time. My only wish is that he would have received treatment while at Sleepy Hollow. This may have prevented the two drug-related crimes (and two more businesses from being victimized) that followed. He went in an addict and came out an addict because his addiction was not treated.
2. We were approached by family and friends who were so unbelievably supportive and would have done anything to take our pain away if they could. Of course, none of them judged us! They know we are good people and parents! It is funny how we can convince ourselves that it is best to suffer in silence. The support that we have today is amazing. We could have had it earlier if we had just reached out.
3. We had friends and acquaintances come up to us at basketball games and other places to tell us that they know what we are going through because they are going through it too. These revelations were shocking to us. We had NO IDEA that these people, who we had regular contact with, were going through it too. I, personally, began to feel empowered because I started to understand that we are not alone.
4. This feeling of empowerment led me to stand in front of a university class as a guest speaker to share our family’s experience with addiction. I wanted to open eyes and educate about how it can happen to any family. Up until the day of my talk, the thought of public speaking was enough to make me sick to my stomach. A lovely lady named Pat from Forever Healthy told me a wonderful prayer to say before any presentation. It goes like this, “May the words that I want to say, and the words that they need to hear, be the words that come out of my mouth.” I said that before I went up to the podium and I felt a wave of calm wash over me. I was not the least bit nervous giving my ½ hour talk. Oh, the power of prayer! The talk went great and the students asked me questions for another ½ hour. I felt that I had found my calling!
5. A few months after that, I took a huge step. I shared our family’s struggle in a very public way. Jim Day from The Guardian interviewed me and did a story. He was wonderful and I was very pleased with the story. Here is the link if you are interested: A Mother's Plea
6. Since then, I’ve been contacted by many people from up west, down east, and everywhere in between. These good folks - who were also living the nightmare - would come to Charlottetown and we’d get together for coffee and hours long chats. I could see that so many people are hurting but no one was talking about it. The idea of a blog began to percolate in my mind.
7. I also joined Tim Keizer’s Peer to Peer drug prevention program, which we delivered to Grade 9 students at Queen Charlotte and Birchwood. I felt that we left an impression on many of those students. As part of the program, we had a parents night in order to educate them too. We are having another one this month. With the students and with the parents, I share our family’s experience with drug addiction. If we can prevent one child and one family from going through this nightmare, it will all be worth it!
On January 1, 2013, I started this blog in order to educate, support, and share information on the drug addiction problem on PEI. I am so pleased with the response and am motivated to continue my work. If our son had not been arrested, we would likely still be tucked away deep in the shadows. I would never have had the courage to reach out to all of you. See, there are blessings in bad situations too!
Thank you all for your support! The wheels of change are in motion. I can feel it.