A Mother's Story
I came to Cornerstone in August 2011 because I was afraid my son was going to die. I was distraught, fearful, troubled, hopeless and exhausted, but I was willing to do whatever was necessary to help my son get well. Three and a half years have passed since then and a lot of hard work has taken place. Today I feel blessed that we found Cornerstone. I am able to experience peacefulness, feel gratitude for the people I met in this program and share my strengths and hopes with others.
My son was a happy child through elementary and middle school. He is a very talented athlete - he was one of the top three runner’s in our district. While he was never an honor roll student, he cared about his grades and had aspirations to run cross country via a scholarship. During the first month of his junior year of high school, he developed a herniated disk in his back and stopped running. This is where the unmanageability began…
I was lost and confused. Nothing we did worked. Our home became a place of hostility and fear. I had no previous experience with treatment for alcoholism or drug abuse and was told by many, including doctors and therapists that “it was a phase” that kids go through and that it would pass. During this time, I felt embarrassment and shameful when dealing with people at my son's High School. I didn’t know what to say when I got calls from teachers and counselors. I couldn’t explain to them what was going on. I couldn’t tell them that I was scared.
Out of despair and not knowing what else to do, I tried to put limits and control his actions and his environment, but of course it didn’t work. My son was and still is a sensitive young man and I felt the need to protect him from the consequences of his actions. I hassled him about school, sports, his friends, bottom line…I hassled him day and night. During that time, most of my energy was taken up by dealing with him.
Emotionally, I felt fear, hurt and distress, not to mention shame, guilt and the sense of being overwhelmed. I felt guilty because I had always tried to be a good mom and obviously I wasn’t succeeding. I was not aware that I was actually loving my son too much and taking responsibility for his actions and covering up for him. I thought I was being supportive and I kept hoping that things would change.
In April of 2011, our world changed. It was a normal Tuesday afternoon and my son was down the street playing basketball as he did every day. On that day, he arrived home much earlier than usual and was dropped off by one of the neighborhood mom’s. He was playing basketball and his entire right side of his body went numb. The moment he walked in the door I knew something was wrong. I immediately asked him what he had taken, what had happened and he turned into a frightened little boy, crying, telling me he had taken a few pills and had some beer. The truth he later revealed in the hospital was he had taken a handful of Adderall, Ambien and mixed them with alcohol from his Dad’s house.
I was afraid to wait for an ambulance and took him directly to the hospital, where they admitted him immediately. This had become the worst and best day of my life all wrapped into one. It was the worst day because the hospital was working quickly to stop him from having a heart attack and the best day, because he was alive. He ended up spending 3-days at the hospital as they worked to stabilize his vitals.
During the first night at the hospital, he admitted that he needed to go to rehab and that he was getting high every day. I frantically called his therapist and doctor pleading for advice on where to turn and what to do next. To my surprise, both thought this would be a one-time event and that he had learned his lesson on abusing drugs and alcohol. Once we left the hospital, he vowed to NEVER touch anything again.
Fast forward two weeks and he was back in the hospital and developed panic attacks as a result of the second near overdose. While he was in the hospital this time, a doctor gave me contact information for a kid with Cornerstone who should be able to help.
Again, I consulted with his doctor and therapist for guidance and received the same advice, “he had learned his lesson and it would be more dangerous to introduce him to other kids who suffered from addiction issues than not”. The second trip to the hospital did scare my son and he was able to refrain from using for about six weeks.
Once the summer hit though, his hiatus from drinking was over and once again was spiraling out of control. With his last night of binge drinking he managed to finish an entire bottle of vodka by himself.
He was heading for disaster and I knew we had to act fast. I reached out to the contact number for Cornerstone several times without any luck reaching anyone. However later that morning, a counselor enthusiastically answered my call and this was the beginning of our recovery journey. We met with a counselor from Cornerstone on a Friday and my son attended his first recovery activities that weekend recommended by the counselor. I started attending 12-step meetings every Thursday and Saturday myself and began to breathe more easily. Help was now really on the way.
We made the decision to take him out of Public High School a week before his senior year. At that point, he began shadowing other teens in recovery, started Passage Way, then went onto Archway the sober High School in Houston. He did well the first few months, working hard on step work, on staying sober and successfully graduated high school from Archway Academy.
During this time, I started to get stronger, going to every meeting and event, working the steps, talking to other parents though still struggling with the nagging question: “How did we get here and what did I do wrong?”. I had been attending Cornerstone only for my son to make sure he was okay, because if he was okay, then I was okay.
Nonetheless back in life, the first 9-months of Cornerstone were a roller coaster of emotions, the main emotion being fear. Fear drove my every move. I did not feel worthy of being okay if my son was still struggling, after all, it was heartbreaking to watch him start slipping back into his old way of living, his old bad habits. However, we had learned and experienced enough to know that they only way to help him was to follow the Shots & Consequences.
After a year of being dry, my son entered into group counseling and I didn’t lose faith. I started the steps over, focusing on myself and learning that that I was worthy to love myself and feel good. Slowly I became stronger and kept enforcing the shots and working the 12 steps. Progress was happening, but it was slow. With each meeting and each step I worked for myself, I started releasing the guilt, shame and resentments that were in me. I was able to find the strength and gratitude that I needed to continue working on myself.
I will continue to work the steps going forward, and remember to take one day at a time. Today I accept my powerlessness over people and situations much more quickly. I am willing to honestly look at what my part is and take action to correct it. One of the benefits of working the 12 steps are the new parenting skills that I have acquired. Tomorrow will bring new challenges and I have a long way to go in my personal recovery, but I am hopeful for my future and thankful for my past – the good and the bad. I now have the tools to handle what life brings and the gift of understanding that I am not alone as I have my Recovery family to lean into forever.