Friday, 3 January 2014

NEVER in a million years

I swear you just never know where your life’s path is going to take you! That is why it is always best to lend a helping hand when you can, and never judge others for what they are going through, because you just may end up there, too, one day.

If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I was going to become one of the faces/voices of addiction in the family, I would have laughed in their face.  How outrageous it would have been to think that a non-drinker, non-drug user, and non-smoker would be that person!

On top of that, our kids were so respectful, appreciative, mannerly and well-behaved. Many people would comment on how good they were. The thought that one of them would go off the beaten path would have seemed ridiculous to us and many others, too. We raised them right after all!

To add to the silliness of the whole idea, I hated public speaking and avoided it at all costs. I was one of those people that Jerry Seinfeld was referring to when he said that most people would rather be the one in the coffin than the one delivering the eulogy at a funeral. Yes, I was that scared of public speaking.

Now, look at my life! Everything that I thought I knew has been turned on its head, and I have overcome my fears as a result of addiction. It just goes to show that you never know what your life’s journey is going to be! NEVER in a million years did I think this would be mine. God had other plans for me so I had to roll with the punches, and decide what I was going to do about it. I refused to let addiction win so I chose to fight back by speaking out.

Starting this blog on January 1, 2013, really helped me to reach a lot of people in a way that I felt comfortable, through writing. By bringing the world into my home, I could show that addiction can happen to anyone.  After all, our story is not unique. Addiction has entered the homes of many good families. Trust me. I’ve met many of them in this journey.

It is not easy to open yourself up like that when you live in a small place, especially to talk about something that is so stigmatized like addiction. But, my son and I felt it was important to speak out if things were ever going to change and get better. With his blessing, I began to share his (and our) story. Thank you, son, for having faith that I could do justice to our story! Without your permission, this blog wouldn’t exist.

I decided to use my real name to give the blog credibility. This was significant for me as it could have negatively impacted my life both personally and professionally, but it was a chance that I was willing to take in order to help my son and others. I don’t use my son’s real name, though. We are not at the point yet where addiction is looked at like any other disease. Therefore, he would most definitely be discriminated against when it comes to finding work.

We, Islanders, have a wonderful way of convincing ourselves that bad things happen elsewhere, not here. This is why the name of my blog is “Living in the Shadows in Prince Edward Island.” I wanted there to be no doubt that this was an Island story.

Since I started speaking out, I have had numerous opportunities to spread the message about addictions. Some of my work has included 58 blog entries, presentations to groups, media interviews, drug awareness programs, and several letters to the editor of The Guardian.

I no longer fear public speaking or the stigma that comes along with addiction. I fear the silence around addiction if I (and others) don’t speak out. Besides, no amount of stigma will ever hurt as much as watching our son slowly kill himself, feeling powerless and unable to save him.

I have also spent numerous hours researching addiction so that I could understand the beast that had a hold of our son. By getting to know the enemy, I was empowered and better able to help our son, and to heal our family. We are so blessed and grateful that our son has found recovery and is doing well. We waited a long time! If you are going through this with a loved one, I pray that they will find recovery soon as well.

Our faith and love is what got us through this journey. I made a promise to God a long time ago that if our son finds recovery, I would never give up the fight with addiction. I will continue to help addicted Islanders and their families, and try to prevent other families from going through this nightmare, in whatever way that I can. I plan to keep that promise.

While I wouldn’t say that I am grateful for this addiction journey, I will say that I am appreciative of what it has taught me, the people it has brought into my life, and the personal growth it has allowed me to experience. I no longer sweat the small stuff, which is a good thing. When you live with the fear every day that your child may die, nothing else seems important enough to fret over.

Over the past year, I have also been blessed with many beautiful messages from people who were impacted by my work.  I hold those messages near and dear to my heart. When I felt sad because my son was doing poorly, I would read those messages and become even more motivated and determined to make a difference.

Thank you to all who have supported my work in one way or another. I really appreciate it. Together, we are making a difference. Please continue to read and share this blog so that we can reach as many people as possible this year. Lives depend on it.   



  1. Thank you, Rose, for all the work that you have done in educating people on addictions and ensuring the issue gets much needed attention. There is little help for addicts on PEI but without people like you, there would be a lot less. I too have an addicted child. He is terrified of people finding out about his problem, and therefore, I have been prevented from speaking out the way I want to. Keeping silent has been torture and our family has been torn apart in the last year as we attempted to get help for him. Not being able to speak openly has not allowed us as parents to attend any sort of meetings so we keep all of this inside. There are days I just want to shout my secret to the world. I am not ashamed of my son but I am very ashamed at the reaction of some of my family and friends when the addiction issue is brought up. There is still lots of education needed before people really see addiction for the disease that it is and stop blaming parents. Thank you for being the voice of many who aren't able to speak.

    1. Thank you for your comments. Like the rest of us, you are not ashamed that your child is addicted, you are devastated that your child is addicted. To make matters worse, our children have a disease that is misunderstood and highly stigmatized. I am happy to be the voice of your family. When I write, present, or do anything around addiction, I never forget the people that I represent and how important it is that I represent them in the best possible way. Families going through this deserve nothing less! We've been through enough. I hope your son gets the help that he needs and that you, as a family, can begin the healing process.


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