“Ill, frail, and occasionally still rambling, he spends the next three days shivering as if feverish, curled up in bed, whimpering and crying.
Though I’m terrified, I am also encouraged he said he’d go to rehab. I call the agency that we visited when he was in high school freshman and make an appointment. But on the morning of the appointment, when I remind him we are going, he looks at me, revolted.
No ******* way.
Nic, you have to go. You told me you would.
I don’t need rehab.
You promised. You nearly died.
I messed up. That’s all. Don’t worry. I learned my lesson.
Listen, I will be fine. I never do that **** again. I learned how dangerous meth is. It’s ****** up. I’m not stupid. I’ll never mess with it again.
I stop. Did I hear correctly? Crystal meth?
It sinks in. God no. I am horrified that Nic has used meth. I had my own experience with that drug, too.”
The chapter ends, and I close the book. I have been reading out loud to 8 women for an hour. Two of them groan, another lets out a low whistle. A couple others are hunched over, gazing downward. One of the most outspoken women insists that David Sheff, the narrator and author of “Beautiful Boy” (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008) should not be blamed for his son Nic’s descent into drug addiction. This conversation takes up the remaining 10 minutes of our time.
I spent four years married to an addict. I spent the final year confronting him, and praying for his repentance and healing. I wanted to be the wife that was worth coming clean for. Instead he surrounded himself with enablers and divorced me. Eight years later, there is still something in me that desires to see others tangled up in addiction released. Especially women. Today, I can now thank and praise God that he allowed me to suffer only four years. That was plenty long enough to witness addiction’s destructive hold. Some women endure much longer dysfunctional marriages. God has also blessed me with another husband, this one healthy and amazing.
My church runs what is called Community Partnerships, and under that umbrella are Mission Action Communities. It is through these many partnerships that the church does its community wide outreach and mission work. While attending a routine mission action community meeting, the chairperson introduced us to an organization called POWER (Pittsburgh Organization for Women in Early Recovery). We approved the decision to partner with them. And then something within my spirit stirred. I knew I had to learn more about POWER.
POWER’S mission is to help women reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction to alcohol and other drugs, and to reduce the odds of addiction in future generations.
I contacted the volunteer coordinator at POWER and we met to talk about the possibilities. Someone was already teaching them creative writing, cover letter writing and several other basic life skills. What was available for me? I spent a few days praying about how best to serve. During that time, my eyes settled on the book “Beautiful Boy” still on my bookshelf, having survived three moves in five years. I bought it when it was first published in 2008 to review it for a nonfiction writing course I was taking at Kansas State University. The volunteer coordinator responded positively to my suggestion of reading this out loud to the outpatient women.
Those recovering from a drug and/or alcohol addiction have much to teach us. Anyone willing to become so vulnerable and navigate through the web of underlying emotional issues that contribute to addictions should be applauded for their courage.
I’ve watched the dramatized drug interventions on Dr. Drew and Dr. Phil The afflicted always resist and deny the severity of their situation. I shudder and tell myself that a substance abuse intervention could never happen to me or someone I love.And then it occurs to me that this way of thinking is rooted in pride, and pride is a major addiction for any believer in Christ. God does not want me to judge them. God deals with all of us individually in our addictions to fear, approval, anger or hate.
Jesus did the ultimate intervention for all mankind in our addiction to sin when he died on the cross.
I’m also learning to recognize and reflect the Holy Spirit – its power within POWER because recovery does not happen until an addict places her trust in a higher power. Although not every person who attempts rehab and recovery succeeds the first time, the more I hang out and read to some of the outpatient women, the more I realize that they have incredible stories to tell, and I want to be a source of encouragement.
A friend of mine affirmed this when I helped her do a Mary Kay facial for the in- patient women. We were both grateful for the opportunity to serve the POWER women and most of them were smiling when we finished. I wanted all of them to know that the skin care products only enhanced the inner and outer beauty that they already possess.
I thank my wonderful MaryKay friend for sharing her eagerness with me and skin care expertise with the POWER women. I also thank the volunteer coordinator and the MAC chairperson for the roles they played in leading me to POWER. Only God knows how this story will continue to unfold.
For more information about POWER, please refer to the web site www.power-recovery.com