Thursday, July 16, 2009

Skeletons In The Closet

One of the first things I questioned when deciding to begin this blog was whether I should include identifying information. Initially, I decided to not reveal too much, and not to use full names or photographs. However, this decision has been weighing on me, mainly because of the reasons for which I made that choice. There are so many complex issues to deal with when you have an addict in your home, and one of them is deciding how much of the problem to reveal to the outside world (friends, family, acquaintances, etc.). We have taken the approach of hiding as much as possible from everyone we know.

I come from a very close family. My family members love my son deeply. I did not want them to be as worried as we are. However, recently, I had to divulge a lot about the situation to my father, because my son had been using his grandfather as an unknowing enabler - my father was giving my son money, paying his cell phone bill, and letting him use his car. Of course, he had seen concerning changes in his grandson over time, but he had no idea how serious his problems had become. It was very painful for me to tell him what has been going on in his only grandson's life, because I knew he would be deeply concerned. And, I was right. I think I watched my dear father age 10 years in that 10 minute confession.

So, although the reasons for withholding information from my family may have been noble, in terms of trying to protect people who love our son from the pain we have been experiencing, I can't say the same for the reasons we have not told anybody else. Simply put, we are embarrassed and ashamed of our son's addiction. We are afraid that people who do not know us well, and do not know that we have raised our son in a loving home, would blame us for our son's problems. And so, the skeletons have remained firmly hidden in the closet. Until now. I have decided that the next time someone asks me how my son is doing, my answer will no longer be, 'he is fine.' He is not fine, in fact, he is about as far away from fine as he can be.

I believe that it is in times of great hardship when you discover who your true friends are. Sometimes, when you are in the deepest darkness imaginable, it can be difficult to see anything clearly. However, I know that when the light returns, I will be able to look around and see who is still by my side, and perhaps that will be one blessing to come out of this nightmare.

It is time to let go of the shameful feelings. It is time to let go of the guilt. Skeletons begone - I am shining a light on the dark recesses we have hidden for far too long.

Hello, my name is Hannah and my son is an addict.

*photos to follow once I figure out how (;


  1. That's been a tough one for me too.
    I have hidden that my husband was an alcoholic to myself for a number of years. the last three years have been especially rough, this year I could hide it no more and told our closest friends and family. I don't use my name on my blog and I don't know why.
    Perhaps it's something I should reconsider?

  2. We had the same dilemna. We HAD to tell the grandparents because our young alcoholic's escapades made all 3 network news channels! Sigh. And now we give information as needed in order to protect the grands or so that they can discern what to do for our son. They are all in Al Anon so it's great that we're all on the same page. Hugs.

  3. Letting the skeletons out of the closet, letting the sunshine fill up the dark places, all so freeing.

    Letting the truth be known also allows people who believe in the power of prayer to offer them up for your son and his family.

    As a member of AA and Al-Anon, I remain anonymous and don't post pictures of myself. I do however share my past and present experiences.

    God Bless,

  4. My life, fo 25 years more or less was not fit to flush down a toilet...and so I know where your son might be headed. Or maybe he's in recovery? I didn't understand. Whatever, when everyone "Let go and Let God" is about when I stopped drinking--and stayed sober. Lots of people HAD to be praying for me.

    I shall pray for your son. A first name would help, but not necessary. You might ask others (everyone you knoe) to pray also. Prayer is powerful stuff.


  5. He is not in recovery, Steve. He is still struggling. His name is Justin. Thank you all for your comments and for sharing your experiences and thank you for your prayers. It all means so much to me.

  6. Hi Hannah,

    My name is Susan and I just found my way over here from Cat's blog. She is an awesome lady.

    I have a 23 year old son who is an addict/alcoholic, and a 49 year old husband who has been struggling with drugs and alcohol since he was 14 years old.

    When I was 15 years old I did a bit of pot smoking (for about a year) while I was going through a difficult time. I thought it was harmless stuff and it never led to anything more. (of course, I've never been addicted to anything other than cigarettes) However, after living with addicted love ones for 20 years, I know better. It's every bit as destructive as any other drug.

    You're not alone, and you and your family are in my prayers.

  7. Nice to meet you, Hannah. Don't let shame keep you from reaching out and getting the support you need. You are not alone.

  8. Welcome Hannah! Cat sent me over too.

    There is so much support and love here from so many that have been exactly where you are today. You are not alone...and don't ever have to be unless you want to be. Don't ever give up's the one thing that we can cling to until the miracle happens. God Bless You.

  9. I don't know why, but I never really hid my husband's drinking problem. I felt like he was sinking fast and I tried to enlist anyone and everyone that I could to help him before I lost him. It didn't work of course because he wasn't ready, (and still isn't) but I tried. I am glad that you are not feeling shameful over this or hiding it any longer. It's like what Dr. Phil always says, "You can't change what you don't acknowledge."

  10. hey!! (from cat's blog too LOL).

    my daughter is a 30 year old addict. I hid it for about um....two weeks. Then I just decided, WAIT A DAMN MINUTE HERE !! I am not the addict and I am the one suffering. SCREW THAT. So, when people asked, I simply said, my daughter is a heroin addict now. in a town of 3000, word travels fast.

    to my surprise, no one I talked to was horrid. I worked (at the time) as the CFO of a corporation which included a restaurant where most of the people are what you would conider the 'hoi polloi', mostly well off millionaire types.

    Everyone, and I do mean everyone, said "my son, or my daughter, or my niece or my next door neighbors son, or my best friend's son..."

    then, I realized, if my BIG mouth saves ONE child from addiction, I don't care who I tell.

    My daughter of course, (she was 19 at the time) was pissed as hell. She said "MA !! Why do you have to tell everyone?"

    I looked her right in the eye and said "WHY !! do you have to be an addict? I'll tell you what - as soon as you are no longer a heroin addict, then I will stop talking about how you are a heroin addict, Okay?"

    course, that's just me. hard ass. big mouth. negative.

    took away all her enablers though. right now, real fast.

  11. Hannah, Reading your story makes me realize how much all of us parents of addicts have in common. Don't be to hard on yourself, it took my husband and myself years to admit there was even a problem with our son. It took him almost dying before we even would say the word addict in our home, but now we face it head on everyday. It becomes exhausting at times, but know in your heart it is so worth it and one day you will have your son back. Believe is all I can say.......I have that word everywhere, BELIEVE.

  12. The secrets that I kept for so many years played a role in my own sickness.

    Telling the truth is now something I view as my own clensing action to stay straight with myself. It helps me own all that is me and it also helps me find out quickly who I can depend on to be there if needed and who i cannot.

    Congrats to you in your bravery, it is not easy this truth tast but it is necessary and the pay off is huge.


  13. Hannah, like you I hid my husbands drinking, and to a certain extent I still do. I finally told my family when it seemed I was forced to (my husband was too drunk to make it to his own birthday party. I thought I was protecting him by not telling anyone, however I think I was protecting me. I didn't want people to think or know my life wasn't the happy one I'd led everyone to believe. When I finally told my folks, I just confirmed their suspicions. It was not easy to tell and I cried big ole tears, but when it was done I felt so much better. Plus I'm now not the only one praying for my husband. And I'm getting some of the support I need. Good move.

  14. Great job! I am proud of you!


  15. Thank you all for your comments and support. Each night I spend some time reading through my commenters' blogs. It is nice to know I am not alone, and yet at the same time, I am saddened to realize how many families are suffering through the same circumstances as ours.