Did you know that in ancient times, it was said that God changed people’s names? Names meant a lot back then. They were more like titles or declarations of who people were and not just something that sounded pretty. I feel like my name has been changed.
Death of a dream
It wasn’t changed from Margo to Heather. It was changed in such a way that profound meaning came along with it. I was a stay at home mom and my job, my title, my purpose was being a mom. That’s it. My self-worth was wrapped up into this mom role and then my world blew up. My name changed and I HATED it at first. I fought it, tried to hide it, did everything I could to NOT have my new name be what it was. I was no longer a “Great Mom”. My new title was “Mother of an Addict”.
Let that sink in a bit. All the pain of watching your baby destroy them self, all the shame associated with addiction, the questions, the judgement, the friends that turned their backs (and there were a lot of them). All of it. It’s a name I didn’t want and a status I hated…. at first.
My new name and title come with a price, the price of my child’s pain and by default, my pain. We spend our lives as moms and dads protecting, training, being proactive, dreaming of their future. We take what we know, with the resources we have and we make the best decisions we can. And yet still, we never really know if they were the right decisions. Pain doesn’t quite describe the experience of it all.
Addiction isn’t the end for those that are still breathing, there is ALWAYS hope. You see, once my name was changed, then and only then did my purpose or mission come into being. I have hope for my child, for freedom from drug addiction and recovery. Because my child is worth the work it takes to get and stay clean and my child is still breathing, and I have seen addicts recover, I have looked hope in the eye and it’s a beautiful thing.
I was a good mom. My child doing drugs didn’t make me a bad mom.
I am a good mom, still to this day.
Perfect, no. Good, yes.
But once I said “yes” to my new name, it then became my purpose. It’s a title that comes with significant pain. However, it is also a title that I proudly bare. Why? Well, (insert big sigh and a few tears here) I was ignorant, and judgmental and all around unaware of the beauty in addicts. Their sensitivity, their love for their families, their desire to help each other on this treacherous road. Even while my child is deep into addiction and recovery seems distant for us, I can actually see a future where all this pain could be put to good use.
Addicts need second chances and so do us parents. Second chances and third chances and maybe even more. We need to learn right alongside of them. We need to understand that this is not the end of our child, although it may feel like the death of a dream. It’s simply not the plan we had for them, it’s a different plan. A different path, a hard road but not an impossible one. I can tell you that with certainty because I have seen it. I have seen recovery, and redemption, and new names become titles of honor.
My new name is the “Mother of an Addict”. My addict has a future and my addict is SO much more than an addict. I am proud of that name, I wear it like a badge. You can too, whatever your new name is. Remember, after your name is changed you will be used for greater good. I am living testimony of that.
Heather Henry is the Art Instructor for Victory Bay Recovery Center. She encourages and helps individuals and families struggling with addiction through art therapy.