I was going through my facebook messages and saw a picture of my oldest daughter. I looked at her beautiful face but kept going back and focusing on her eyes. The gateway to her soul. And I saw life. I saw peace. I saw beauty. I saw freedom. I saw my daughter’s soul again.The one I KNEW lived inside her. I saw the beauty of recovery. My daughter is a recovering addict. As I looked in those eyes, I had flashbacks of when what I saw in them frightened me beyond any fear I have ever felt in my life. I had witnessed seeing the evil hell of addiction stealing her soul and felt at times I was truly looking into the eyes of Satan himself. There were times I had to turn away as I felt that if I looked too long, the darkness would suck me in. And I still shudder everytime I have these flashbacks. Which thank God, are not much any longer. I believe though, that sometimes we have to go back so we remember and celebrate the victory over this horrible disease. The beauty of recovery. And the freedom of a precious soul.
For those of you who may be dealing with a child, a husband, a wife, a friend, a relative, a coworker... I pray you will NEVER EVER EVER forget the person they were before this disease. I pray that you always remember the beauty of them and the soul you saw through their eyes before addiction. Addiction is like other diseases but it attacks the brain. Sadly, addicts cannot go to the James and have surgery to remove the disease that is killing them. And their families. As some who have suffered with cancer relapse, sadly, addicts do too. But where family and friends gather to support both ill and their family in cancer relapses, the support for the addict dies as an addict has relapses. People forget the soul of this person before the disease. And this disease does not just harm physically, moreso, it attacks the emotions, the self esteem, the ability to feel they deserve love, self worth, their children, their parents, their work, their friendships. Their life. It attacks their soul. That beautiful soul that you keep asking where it is and what happened never left. And you must believe that. Through everything with my daughter and being asked how I personally was able to never give up it was because of these things primarly: I love my daughter with all I am. I NEVER forgot, even at the worst times, who she was. The soul inside her I knew lived. And Jesus Christ was a part of my every second. I grew to know what complete faith and trust and belief in Christ is. I learned what completely surrendering was. And my life has been changed forever.
Addiction is a very “alone” disease. For the addict. And for their support. Please, please, understand addiction before you judge the addict. How can you condemn someone or something that you don’t yourself understand? How can you walk away from a mother who is watching her child die right before her eyes and say to her she needs to back off as this is killing her too? Would you say that to a mother of a child dying of cancer? Because I am here to tell you, the mother of a child of an addict weeps in her soul for her sick child the same way a mother of a child with cancer does. Everyday she prays for help. Everyday she prays for recovery. For peace. For healing. Remember the day your child left alone with your car for the first time after being licensed. Remember pacing the floor? Asking for safety and praying they would be okay while out on the streets? That sick feeling you got but tried to fight when they started the car and pulled away? Those feelings are but a piece of the day in the life of a mother of an addict. She moves on with work and family and responsibilities but her mind is consumed with the hell of what is happening. She needs her friends. She needs her family. She needs you. She needs you to never ever ever forget her child before the disease and she needs you to never ever ever forget the love she has had for her child always. And she will fight Satan himself, if alone, to free that beautiful soul she knows is alive beneath the darkness of addition. But she could sure use your support. And she prays everyday maybe she will gain it.
Please understand addiction before you comment things like “they deserve to die”. Or, “they will only use again so why try to save them from an OD?” These are just a couple of the incredibly horrible harsh things I have heard, read or have been said to me. Do you know a diabetic who doesn’t take care of themselves and is in and out of the hospital for lifesaving treatment? A smoker who is dying from lung cancer, emphysema who is in and out of the ER for the same? Would you say the same? The only way we are going to be able to fight this war is to understand addiction this way. It is in fact a disease.
As the addict will have their story to tell when successful recovery happens, so will those around them. And that will be those who stood by them never forgetting the soul behind those beautiful eyes as well as those who forgot them. This is not said in judgment, it is said as truth. Please stay on the side of what is right and never ever ever forget the beautiful soul that lives in the eyes of the addict. Please know that addiction is a disease.
Robin Barton is a Bellefontaine native who currently resides in Hilliard. As a mother, she watched her daughter struggle with drug and alcohol addiction for 10 years before finding long-term recovery. She now volunteers with the Community Coalition for Opiate Relief Efforts. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org