I was in shock when the nurse called from the hospital Christmas Eve of 1994 to tell me my mother had passed away a few moments earlier. Even though she'd been in the hospital for 54 days, she was supposed to be discharged the next day in time for a Christmas celebration.
At her death I'd been in recovery nearly four years and she was proud of my progress. She'd stood by me from the time I was a teenager, not understanding my battle with addiction. She supported me with letters, periodic visits, and the few dollars she could afford during my 15 years of prison and jail. When I finally decided to leave California after another arrest she bought me the bus ticket for Phoenix.
A point of pride for me was that I was able to make financial amends to her before she died. But I could never make amends for the disappointments she suffered while I was using.
The longer I'm sober the more I realize the damage we do to others in our addictions. While we can make financial amends there are many things we can never repair.
While I was a teenager my mother sacrificed to send me to a private high school. However, I was so wrapped up drinking and drugging that I was expelled after a year and a half when detectives came to the principal’s office to arrest me. She had hoped I would go on to college. But my disease got in the way. Between the ages of 16 and 26 I was only out of custody some 17 months. While she loved me, I sensed her disappointment.
This experience with my mother has made me a better counselor. When clients tell me they never hurt anyone but themselves while using I'm sometimes able to change their perspective.
Our addictions always impact others.