By Mary Cucarola – 10/10/23

“I am so tired. These callous circumstances have stolen away my energy and motivation. I am left without the power to continue moving; I can hardly imagine the strength even to stand in place. I want only to give in to my exhaustion, to sleep and sleep until I can wake up to another, less evil reality.”    ~Molly Fumia in Safe Passage

Imagine a caring and loving mother, who is fully invested in her child’s wellbeing, noticing a meaningful change in her teenage son’s behavior – his appearance, his grades, his attitude, his friends, his sadness, and yet does not connect the dots right away.

She tries to get him help for his suspected depression, but it turns out to be the exact wrong thing to do at the time. It pushes him deeper into depression. He will not talk to her anymore, even though she encourages open and honest communication; he is anything but open and honest.

Finally realizing her son is not only depressed, but caught up in the grips of addiction, she experiences a tumultuous range of emotions. Shock and disbelief wash over her as she struggles to grasp the reality of the situation. Questions race through her mind, trying to understand how her once vibrant child ended up in this grim situation.

She feels a sense of guilt, blaming herself for not noticing the signs earlier or wondering if she failed as a parent or if some unknown awful thing has happened to him. Tears run down her face as she reflects on the potential harm her son has endured and the challenges he faces ahead. The fear lingers as she worries about his health, safety, and unknown future.

No one seems to be there for her. The parents of her son’s friends avoid her. The coaches disrespect her as she tries to explain her son’s ineligibility to play. The teachers complain about his lack of motivation. The school counselor is not interested. She withdraws from school boards and parent activities she used to take part in. She feels isolated and in it by herself.

She is so distraught she flees from her strained marriage, and it turns out to be the exact wrong thing to do at the time. It pushes the whole family deeper into despair and everyone gets worse.

As the weight of the situation settles in, a mixture of sadness and extreme concern replaces the initial shock. She reminds her son he is loved and offers her help repeatedly. She starts to educate herself about addiction, noticing how prevalent it is in her own family; how everything revolves around alcohol. Her son finally comes to her for help and the long ten-year addiction journey begins.

This is how our story starts, my son’s and mine. I stayed steadfast in my efforts to help him and educate myself, but ….

  • I wish I had seen the signs earlier.
  • I wish I had gotten him the right help to begin with.
  • I wish I had put him in a different school.
  • I wish I had connected the dots sooner.
  • I wish I could have waited longer to leave my marriage.
  • I wish I hadn’t isolated myself in the beginning.
  • I wish I knew addiction had such deep roots.

Things may have turned out differently from the beginning if I had made different decisions. I’ll never know for sure. Grasping the harsh reality of the situation was about all I could handle at the time. I know others have had similar experiences to mine and know what I am saying. Having an addicted child turns your world upside down and inside out with seemingly nowhere to turn.

By Mary Cucarola – 10/10/23