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My Beautiful Boy

Me and Bryan in front of the poster for Beautiful Boy

I read the book, Beautiful Boy, on the plane going to visit Bryan in rehab. I think at that time I was still trying to understand how we got to where we were in this life and wanted to know how to make things better. At the time I was reading the book, I didn't know 'how it ended'. I didn't know if Nic lived or died and that was how I felt we were living; is he going to live or die?! I cried a lot reading the book....David Sheff described perfectly the emotional roller coaster of this experience. So when I saw that they were coming out with a movie, and one of my favorite actors was going to be in it, I knew I wanted to see it. When I watched the trailer for the first time, I thought, 'there's no way I can watch that movie'....afraid I would cry through the whole thing.

When I saw that the movie was showing in the area I asked Bryan if he would want to go see it together and he said yes. It took some time to find a time that fit for both of us and this past weekend we went. To my surprise, no running tears! My takeaway for me, from this movie:

* The Powerlessness of addiction cripples people. I watched David going through the motions of his life and it was evident that that was what he could do. He did all he could do for his son and tried so hard to understand something that is baffling, and the outcome of his efforts were that he could not control the outcome. There were times during the movie I physically felt the heaviness of this in my chest; I remember the despair and sadness that permeated my life.

* Love and connection are so important. I was reading a post on FB the other day and someone had shared that someone in recovery had commented that their parent continuously loving them and being there for them made all the difference to them to work toward recovery. Another mother commented that she felt that the statement was saying that it was 'enough' for the person to recovery; she stated that she had loved her child and never stopped trying and they died. The point was that staying connected as best as possible is important and helpful, though certainly there are no guarantees.

* There is hope. There was a time during Bryan's active addiction that I had lost hope; he had returned to using and left a program and I was confused and scared. I could not understand why he left when he had been doing so well, or so I thought. People would say, 'you have to have hope' and it would really make me angry. I had had hope and now look where I was...the roller coaster of the ups and downs of the process of change. I did NOT want to go through that again, so if I didn't have hope, I then couldn't crash when things didn't go well. Brene Brown talks about how emotions are like a faucet; either they are on or they are off...if you shut down emotion to the pain and hurt, you also shut down the possibility of joy and pleasure. I regained some hope and worked really hard to stay there, focusing on the possibilities in the positive direction. I practiced the serenity pray and worked on changing what I could; me and my attitude. Where there is breath there is life and hope.

* There are no guarantees. As much as I can and have worked on staying positive and hopeful, I know that it does not ensure anything. I have read about so much loss. the numbers of overdose deaths in 2017 are staggering (72,000). I know that many of those families were also practicing recommended ways of communicating, feeling and acting to try for the best outcome for their loved one, to no avail. This has always felt like a gamble and random at times. With the drugs that are out there that are killing people instantly, the gamble was real. I hate gambling and I hate roller was a really hard several years with those two realities being part of my life that I did not want and did not know how to change. For us, today, we are recovering from those years. Bryan is thriving in his life right now and I feel the difference in my life as a result. I, like David Sheff and thousands of other parents around the country, continued to live my life, but the joy was not quite attainable.

My heart hurts for all the families who still struggle and more so for those who have lost loved ones. I cannot imagine (or only imagine) that pain. At this point, my goal is not to succumb to survival guilt and let that overpower my life, but to use the gratitude for the recovery we have now to help others and share about this epidemic with anyone and everyone who will be open to talking and listening.


This is our beautiful family....all affected by addiction and we work to recover and build healthy relationships together.

The Hardys, Lynches, Massey, Munoz and Hanifans; our family.

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