Saturday, December 11, 2010

Losing "Peter"

Friday, December 3, 2010

Daniel's Story

My name is Barbara. My four children range from ages 9 to 21, which means much of my life has been spent changing diapers, making lunches, and driving to countless schools and activities on behalf of my kids. Somewhere along the way I became an accessory to my children -- no longer a person. I slowly lost my identity because of my son Daniel.

Daniel, my second child, was the boy who was always being ridiculed by the other kids. It broke my heart, and because I felt the need to protect him, I continuously enrolled him in activity after activity, hoping to find something that caught his interest. I went to the School Board on three different occasions to transfer him to yet another High School. This contributed to Daniel’s lack of independence and our codependent relationship.

Daniel was all about extremes. He swung from obsession with excessive body building in Middle School, to devoting himself to Christianity in High School. His devout Bible-toting days – a period of peace in his life -- culminated in depression as kids who belonged to the youth group started to find him “weird” and exclude him. He decided he no longer believed in God and abandoned the one place that had initially accepted him.

Over the years I began to lose myself as “Barbara.” I became a part of Daniel, and was known as "Daniel's Mom” -- the master enabler. Whether I was trying to get my other children to bring him along with their friends, or begging principals, teachers, school office attendees, or anyone who would listen, my goal was to save Daniel.

I longed for him to be included, to feel normal, and to be a part of something. Whenever he had a meltdown, he would always say to me, “Mom, I just want to be normal.”

As Daniel descended into the world of addiction, I grew fragile from the barrage of phone calls, the hospital visits, the police appearing at my front door, and life spiraling out of control. I had to give up my career, and focus all my time on what I thought was helping Daniel. I was scared, emotionally devastated and always on the verge of a nervous breakdown at the very time when every member of my family needed me. But there I was, concentrating all my attention on Daniel and letting my other children fend for themselves.

It took all my strength to cope with and parent Daniel. I was at the lowest point in my life, and for the first time I began taking anti-depressants. I don't know exactly where I lost control of Daniel and myself. The blur of time from protecting my son’s outlandish behavior to watching him destroy his life by getting high on exorbitant amounts of pills is very painful to revisit. Daniel would test me – and himself – for several more years. His growing drug habit landed him in the hospital’s ICU three times. The last time, the doctors told me to prepare for him to die.

Once more I was spurred into action. I decided if I had to move heaven and earth my goal would be to have him arrested and save him from dying in the streets. I sat in court for weeks, sent letters, made endless phone calls and set court dates. I wouldn’t accept “no” from anyone, regardless of their position or power. Nothing could stop me from protecting my son – and I prevailed. He was sentenced to a Juvenile Correctional Facility where he has spent the last three months as I write this story, and will spend at least the next six months there. This outcome was the best of the worst choices I had. I visit him weekly and pray for him daily as he is forced to remain sober and reflect on the past two years.

Now it’s up to Daniel. Sadly he was forced to learn life lessons the hard way, as he deals with the many challenges of incarceration. But as the fog slowly clears away and his mind is restored Daniel is talking about being drug-free and appreciating the value of freedom in his life. He’s beginning to understand his own value and slowly developing a sense of self-esteem which has been missing for so long. He’s taking two college correspondence classes and looking ahead toward the future. While he will always be “different” in some ways, he is learning that should not define or limit him. For the first time in years Daniel is beginning to believe what I have always told him, that he is very, very important to me, his family, himself and the world. He is a brilliant writer with much to offer.

As for me, I guess it was about time to find Barbara and bring her back from all this craziness. What could a lifelong enabler do to rescue her own soul? Extend a hand to other women in need. And that’s what I did. I am the founder of the Addict’s Mom, Mommy Mentors and the Co-Founder of Women Helping Women Mastermind.

While I am still a student in life, I have learned on my journey that we all have issues to work on. Although I wish I had found my path earlier, there is always hope for those willing to change. I pray that Daniel as well as my other children will join me in this path of self-awareness and personal discovery. While my arms are always open to Daniel as well as all my children. I will never again be the master enabler.

"The Addict's Mom"is a group focusing on the mothers of addicted children. The relationship between the mother and addicted child is unique; that does not diminish the experiences of other family members.
Being the mother of an addicted child is a painful journey that covers a wide range of emotions. This blog will contain true stories/poems of extraordinary moms who share their personal stories of the difficulties and challenges they face every day, plus resources and information.

Barbara Theodosiou

Please share your story. I realize that this may take a tremendous amount of strength. But I believe you possess that strength and that there is tremendous power in sharing. Not only for the person who shares but for the person who receives the sharing. I know I did not go through this heart wrenching situation for nothing or without learning, growing or changing.
Our hearts break, but we can find strength together.