Hi friends and supporters!
Last week in The Final Face of Addiction, I shared about my final encounter with drugs and alcohol, one that led to another hospital visit and one final trip to a cold, lonely jail cell. That jail cell finally pushed me to admit to the people in my life the gravity of my addiction. I had fully accepted it long ago, but never could admit to another human how bad it really was. As I sat restlessly in the most depressed state I had ever been in, I remembered a very significant event that happened a year and a half prior.
It was the summer of 2009, and my brother asked me to ride along with him to pick up some drugs from someone he didn't really know. He knew just how to influence me - feed my ego by requesting my presence as his backup, and offer me drugs as part of the ride. So, we drove from Claremont to Waseca. We got closer, and were actually nearing my grandma and grandpa's place. Coming down the gravel road, he said, "Look, mom is there, and so are our uncles. Should we stop and say hi?" I was well into a state of oblivion, and happily agreed to stop and enjoy a visit.
I took two steps through the door and realized quickly we weren't stopping to socialize. There at the table sat my family, a couple friends, a probation officer, an assessor and what turned out to be an interventionist. They would be the ones talking. My first reaction was what it always was when trouble or responsibility showed up - run. I turned, but two people at the front door, blocking my way. I went for the back door, only to find two more. They had me. They wanted to talk, but I did not. I was so furious that they would jeopardize my freedom. I said things I can't take back, then left the room. I went to the living room and sat on the couch, angry and hurt.
One by one, family members came in to share their concerns, tears, and wishes for my life to change. I ignored them all. The last person to take a turn was my grandma. My grandma practically raised me for much of most summers and weekends as a child. She didn't work, so we'd spend all day with her. She was an amazing cook and loved the heck out of us, no matter how much trouble we caused. And there she sat, tears streaming down her face, begging me to go to treatment. She told me how much she missed me, how badly my son needed me, and how much she wanted her grandson back. I couldn't say much. I had nothing in me. The last words I remember speaking to her are not appropriate for this post. And all she did was love me.
After much convincing, they agreed to let me leave and meet the interventionist several days later. I walked out with so much resentment toward my family, with no desire to see any of them again. I began the long walk, and was eventually picked up by the probation officer, who took me back to Claremont. The intervention didn't have the happy ending. Yet.
Back to the jail cell. I asked my mom to call the interventionist. I was ready to talk. She came on a Wednesday. I walked through the door and broke down, apologizing for all my lies over the years. She told me very simply there was nothing to be sorry about. She assessed me, then told me she was going to look for a bed and request I go to treatment from jail at my next court date. That court date was scheduled for the week of Christmas. I was notified they needed to reschedule for after the holidays. I begged to have it moved up. I was suffering immensely. One week removed from an overdose, and still withdrawing badly. My lawyer called, and they moved the date to the next day. We went in front of the judge and asked for a furlough to treatment. He asked if I had a ride. My mom told the judge she'd take me right away. He allowed it.
On the drive the treatment, my mom asked if I wanted to stop and see my grandma. She was in Albert Lea, where I'd be going to treatment, and it was her birthday. I was scared of the consequence of going back to jail, so I declined and headed straight for treatment. You see, my grandma was sick at that time, in a nursing home. I knew she had been sick. In fact, I took several days off the group home job to go see her. And I never made it. Drugs and alcohol prevented it.
A few days into treatment, I had an overwhelming desire to begin trying to amend my relationships. I wrote Christmas cards to several family members. As I began writing to grandma, grandpa and family, I stopped and decided to write a separate card for my grandma. I shared how badly I felt and how I was going to do everything I could to make my life right, for her especially. I expressed my love and sent the card with my family.
It was less than a week later that I was told I had visitors. I knew something wasn't right, because it wasn't visiting day. My mom and uncle arrived, and I was right, it wasn't good. They told me my grandma had passed away. I lost it. All I could muster up the strength to ask was, "Did she get to read my card?" "She couldn't read, Jason, but we read it to her. She knew you were finally here." My grandma passed away the next day. Maybe they were trying to comfort me, and maybe it was true, but they told me she knew she could finally let go, knowing her grandson was where he always needed to be.
The guilt, shame and remorse I felt for those last words I ever remember speaking to my grandma was as painful as anything I'd ever felt. And I was sober. I had no idea what to do, because my only solutions, drugs and alcohol, were out of reach. I found myself in the chapel just minutes later. I had never been spiritual or religious, but something led me there. I knelt at the cross and said something like this: "I don't know if this is real, how to do this, if it works, or what's next, but I do know one thing - I need help, badly." I don't remember much else, other than a strange sense of relief. Something that said it would be okay. From that day on, my life changed. I prayed every morning and every night. I made it through my grandma's funeral, and promised I'd never allow a relationship to end like that again.
All my grandma ever wanted was to know her grandson was safe and had a chance at life again. As painful as it was to carry that guilt, it launched me into a reliance on the Universal Spirit that would begin to change my life. Though I never would remember speaking to her after that intervention, I know today that entering treatment and eventually finding a God was a greater gift than any words I could have ever spoken. Grandma's Dying Wish. Granted.