Waiting for Morning

The original title of the book I wanted to write about my journey with three grown sons who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol was IF MORNING EVER COMES. That if is important. If reflects my decades of praying, hoping, enabling, toughing, failing and flailing, all while desperately trying to keep hope alive. I’ve been advised that the if in the title sucks the hope out of my predicament, but after more than twenty-five years of watching my sons kill themselves a little at a time, dawn still has not broken for them.

Yet in some ways, morning does peek above the horizon. I’m learning that I cannot change my sons’ behavior, much as I’d love to. I’m learning that as much as I hate suffering, my hurt and my sons’ hurts end up softening my heart. Our shared suffering has somehow attracted love—a holy love that is teaching me not to judge, not to roll over and not to be a doormat. To stop enabling but never to stop hoping. Capital L love seeks only to enlarge my heart.

Because my human love is not big enough. And when you add in significant mental illness—what scientists call comorbidity—everything becomes more complicated. Many persons with mental health issues also self-medicate. In fact, it’s difficult to find anyone without both problems.

As loved ones, we
constantly flirt with depression, anxiety and despair, too. Our country’s
pathetic response to both substance abuse and mental illness forms a vicious
circle, a cycle that often ends in tragedy.

Some parents of addicted
children say their kids have driven all the love out of them—or so they say.
Trust broken is not easily repaired. I can’t judge those who sever
relationship—if I’m honest, I don’t know how much of this I can take. Listen, I
am not Mother Teresa. I’m just as opinionated and impatient as the next person.
But I do take comfort in a love much bigger than I am.

Each time I’m sure I’ve
gone past my limit, that Presence I call God pulls me back from the ledge. I’m
sure I fit the classic picture of Enabler at times. OK, most of the time. But
just because I have never found a wormhole to a different universe doesn’t mean
it isn’t there.

Yet I’m also a realist: Life with an addict is horrible, maddening, depressing, sad, interminable. Missing items, sold for drug money. Begging for just “one more beer,” one more excuse to miss work, one more loan until payday. Middle-of-the-night calls to police or from jail. The lies, the lies, the lies.

Glimmers of hope are
almost as bad—mainly because they so rarely pan out. I’m gonna quit this
time. After I get out, I’ll be at meetings every day. I’m done with all that. I
Just need to get on that inpatient waiting list. My motherly
instincts usually stick to false promises like gorilla glue, and I always vow
never to fall for that old ruse again. Until I do.

Sure, I have war stories. You do too. We both probably have given or received enough advice to last until the sun burns out. We try our best, we really do. And we pray—for guidance, for change, for that miracle we need so badly. When we connect with others on this lonely road, we cry, we share, we hug, and we pray some more.

This is the life I live with three grown sons who each battle substance abuse as well as undiagnosed mental illness. If you’ve found me here because of Prayers for Parents of Prodigals, welcome—although we both wish you didn’t need to come here at all. If you are a loved one of an addict, alcoholic or someone with mental illness or all of these, I want you to know that I get it. Really. We’ll wait for morning, and we’ll wait together.

Waiting for Morning will be an honest—sometimes hard—place to read about my situation and yours. I figure you don’t need platitudes, cheerful advice or someone spouting scriptures to build or rebuild your broken heart. Plenty of that out there. No, this will be a spot to be raw, and vulnerable, and authentic. A place where, if the mystics are right, God waits to meet you in the middle of the pain.

If you’re still in the waiting room too, maybe we can comfort one another. I can’t do pity parties, but I can acknowledge the hardships, the regrets, the occasional panic and the always-simmering anxieties. Death, the ultimate fear—losing your child forever—is a dragon who sleeps with one eye open. That’s why hope is something we all need a fresh dose of every morning.

If you find any comfort here, I hope you’ll tell your family and friends. There’s something powerful in all of us waiting, watching together. We may not be able to make our loved one change, but we can stand together in love.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

14 comments on “Waiting for Morning

  1. So beautiful, so true. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Thanks for your honesty and willingness to dive deep into Him.

  2. You are such an inspiration Linda. I know the loss of hope and the feeling of waiting for morning. Loving addicts is such a painful journey for all involved…I know this will help me put some of my sadness to rest…

  3. Linda, your deeply moving blog will extend hope to many. There is nothing more hopeful than seeing the sun rise through the darkest night. God bless you for your transparency and genuine care for others, as you enourage them to “wait for the morning.”
    In Christ, your sister in ink, Kathy

  4. Dear Linda,

    Thank you so much for sharing this!
    I printed it out for my wife Chanie to read.
    PS She is reading your Lost boys book

  5. Thanks Linda!
    Will do. Tim has been on a better path for 6+ months and working five days a week.
    Our daughter Grace age 17 is a senior in HS and looking at college. The writing is going well but slower than I would like. I might have a lead on an agent and a new editor. I’ve had a couple of positive near misses where they say things such as: compelling, Iike/love your story but no I can’t take on a new writer at this time. I’ve finished the entire manuscript at a second draft level. The 1st 70 pages of a partial are in 5th draft. After I get a new editor, I suspect it will be another 2-3 months before reaching out to beta readers.
    How is your family?

    • Michael,
      It’s been a difficult summer. My recovery from rotator cuff surgery on my good arm has been derailed by some sort of deep tissue infection. It’s super painful, the antibiotics have ugly side effects and I still can’t drive! Luckily, I manage to type.
      I hope to be back to as normal as I can be by next year when Mount Hermon rolls around!
      Keep Writing,

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