It Wasn’t All Bad – Sweet Times Among the Sad

IMG_3983Sometimes when we write blogs like this one, where we feel like we’re battling demons, flailing against the dark, we forget those shafts of light that make everything, if just for a moment, golden.

When we’re focused on trying to save someone’s life, and there’s so much tension and trauma going on, we forget to write about the good times. The times that make the fighting worth our while.

We forget to savor what we’re trying to save.

So when I go back and look at my last several posts and see the storm clouds gathering, the dark skies thundering, and cold rain pouring down, I must remember those dark days were pierced with light. Sweet moments of sunshine, golden spots of time. Warm laughter and tender embraces.

I owe it to my son and to myself, and to those of you who have been following our story, to write about the light times as well as the dark.

The times we popped corn and stayed up all night, bingeing on The Borgias streaming from Netflix

The long conversations about spirituality, and books, and politics.

The meals we ate together, all three of us sitting at the table, laughing about old times, enjoying each others company.

The way my son, without asking, would clear the dishes from the table and clean up the kitchen afterwards.

The days he and his dad worked together, side by side in the hot sun, digging and hauling away dirt, finishing a landscaping project in two days that would have taken my husband a week to do on his own.

The light banter and nods of approval as the work progressed.

The times we spent sitting by the pool and swimming together. Him showing us his intense workout routine, the one he learned to do in small spaces without equipment. Us being genuinely impressed.

Then there was the morning the two of us hiked together through the oak groves behind our home to the top of the ridge.  The hillside is steep and there are no paths, only deer trails. Although I’ve hiked to the ridge alone many times, he worried about me, insisting on staying below me as we climbed in case I slipped or fell, and then leading the way over the rough spots and giving me a hand up.

I’ve hiked these hills with my husband and never once has he done that. He tramps off ahead and I follow as best I can.  He doesn’t look back to see if I need help. He knows I’ll call out if I do.

My son, however, is attentive, anticipating my needs. Perhaps he simply sees me as someone getting older who needs a helping hand. But I think it’s more than that. I see his desire to guard and protect me as a testament of his love. As mine is for him.

It’s important in the midst of our fight against addiction to remember the sweet times among the sad.

To savor what we’re trying to save.

25 thoughts on “It Wasn’t All Bad – Sweet Times Among the Sad

  1. That is your ‘real’ son, the one who has had a layer of addiction wrapped over him – thank goodness for tears in the wrapping allowing you time with how he was/can be when the addiction is finally conquered. Hold these moments in your heart.


  2. Oh, yes. In all of life, we need to remember this. Thank you for such lovely, uplifting words, for rounding out this picture of your son, fleshing him for us so that we see his muscles as well as his sprains. I used to tell my sculpture students to envision both the negative and the positive spaces and how each flows into the other.


  3. A beautiful post Deborah…so full of equilibrium and grace…and the complexity of loving and being human. Like sunlight on water…this glimpse of your relationship with your son!


  4. Reblogged this on A writer's world and commented:
    This is a really good post I found from a blog I follow called A Walk on the Wild Side. The blog is about a mother’s journey as she battles with the challenges caused by having a son whose life is controlled by substance abuse. The article is about appreciating the glow of hope and normalcy, even when it is shrouded in darkness. Please give it a read.


  5. This is a beautiful piece. I’m afraid the term “real” son doesn’t sit well with me. Though with the best of intentions and with a perfectly understandable misguided preface we judge these good times as the “real” person that we love and fight for. Your “real” son is an addict who loves you immensely. Your real son is a man with a problem who has bouts of realities and drug induced realities. His behaviors while sober and pleasant are that of a person with a coping problem. Trouble coping with how to love and feel love (most likely) he wants affection and attention and my guess he wants to do it in the right way and he tries. He has helped when he could and done wonderful sweet things and for a while after each of those sweet things was better. Then the joy from doing good wears off and it’s replaced by a seemingly unstobable narrating voice that tells him that he isn’t worthy and that he doesn’t deserve the love he so desperately wants and when they euphoria from making his mom smile is passed an replaced by the narrator from hell… It is hell for him. Remember HE is just another man trying to cope with this life. The problem is probably that he was too sensitive at too young of an age to learn healthy ways to cope. I hope this helps. Looking at people with duality can help cope in crisis but it’s ultimately our single all encompassing selves that we have to see to heal.


    • I think you are right. What you say makes a lot of sense. I guess I was using “real son” meaning not under the influence of drugs, my son when he’s not an addict. But it’s true, our relationship even predating the addiction was not always conflict free. The truth is, even as a child, we had truly difficult times. The sweet times and the difficult times were all rolled up together even then. I identified him with the sweet side, the side I enjoyed. And the difficult side that drove me “crazy”, even then, I saw that side as not a true part of him. Not him as “he should be”, as I wanted him to be, as I knew he could be. I’m going to have to sit with this for awhile. Because I agree that we need to see and heal the whole self.


      • You will both heal some over time. You are only responsible for your own health and sanity. Be kind and gentle with yourself you are a blessed person and a good mom. Keep your chin up your boundaries strong and your heart soft.


  6. I think people can forget that addicts are very sensitive caring people who feel things deeply and maybe that is why we have reached for substances when the going got tough, cause we found it all just a bit too hard to cope with. I think its so important to see the person within the disease. The difficult ways of coping we learn don’t always help us and often they hurt others very much as well as ourselves but in a way the are still a way of the soul trying to make its way in life which can be tough at times.

    I draw great strength from my Al Anon group. Tradition Five in our programme states we try to encourage our alcoholic relatives and give comfort and care to their families because everyone suffers. And like you in this article we are reminded to look for the good within any day and find a way to bring some light into a dark situation. All this does not deny the pain you live with which is great, That you can find the light is encourageing. Coeur in French means heart. The addicts heart is sick when in the addictive spiral and the heart of loved ones suffers too. May your heart be strengthened each day and filled with love, even in the midst of your suffering and pain.


    • I think what you say is true. I’ve always found somehow that the people I meet who are struggling with addictions are very kind, caring people. There’s a sweetness about them, a kink of vulnerability. Not all the time. But enough so that it seems a common feature. I really appreciate your comments here. Thank you so much.


  7. And also I do believe there is some integrity within addiction. Native American people have said that in a society which is itself suffering in many way maybe the addict is more spiritually attuned and so has to check out more. So there is even some fdark beauty or harsher deeper truth buried deep with the in the more difficult aspects of addiction which cause others pain.


  8. I’m going to go into depth on how my mentality was on meth. It will be graphic but honest i hope you gain insight and understanding . It’s the meth that crorrupts and lies to you . Like i said it has a mind of its own and it takes over and will take you places you never imagined you’d be and i don’t mean in a good way . God bless


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