My son, I still cherish that title so dearly, is an alumni of an executive drug rehab. He was a pain pill addict.
For years, I considered my son a successful, achieved individual. He was someone I was extremely proud of, someone to look for as a source of inspiration. I had blinders on, “rosy glasses” as they say. Today, I am still proud of him. I am just proud for different reasons, reasons that I never imagined myself saying (or writing) out loud. My son is a recovering addict.
He is two years sober and I am still getting used to saying those words. I guess we all learn at our own pace, right? I guess we all let go of our own levels of denial at different rates as well.
Our story is an interesting one –or at least that is what the counselors have told us, separately and on different occasions at different therapy sessions. When I gave my son up for adoption, 33 years ago, I never thought we would ever be reunited but, by chance, we were reunited five years ago. Moreover, I never thought that I would be visiting him in an executive drug rehab many years later.
I guess it was not entirely chance. Fate might be a more appropriate adjective.
I was close friends with his adoptive mother. However, I did not know she was his adoptive mother. I had chosen a closed adoption all those years ago. I was too ashamed of my financial inability to provide for him so I made the difficult decision to let him go so that he would be raised by a family that would not only love but also be able to adequately provide for him.
Five years after I had given my son up for adoption, I met Jane. She was a new hire at my office. It was many years later, after we had grown to be close friends, that Jane told me her son had been adopted. I had always known that she had a son, Tom, who was about my son’s age, but I never considered that Jane and Jim were his adoptive parents! Not in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned watching my son be raised from afar, having given him up in a closed adoption!
It is truly a movie-script type of story.
It was a day that I will never forget. Jane could barely keep her composure at work, bursting into tears every hour or so. I asked her what was wrong. She told me that Tom was diagnosed with Leukemia and was in need of a bone marrow transplant. I asked her why she spoke with such finality when she and her husband could be tested to be donors. She explained that she and her husband had adopted Tom when he was an infant and that they had already been tested on the off-chance that they would be matches for Tom and neither of them were able to donate their bone marrow.
As a gesture of solidarity and support, I went to get tested the next day — without telling Jane. I did not want to give her false hope when I knew it was, scientifically, a long shot. Well, I was a match! We went through with the procedure and thankfully, everything was a success. A few months later, Tom was pronounced well and cancer-free! Everyone could not have been happier.
Except, Tom had some questions. Knowing that he was adopted, he found it more than a little coincidental that one of his mother’s closest friends could be a perfect match to him. He ran some secret tests of his own and found out that he was indeed my biological son. He later confronted me and I was completely stunned! I thought that it couldn’t be true. How could my son be growing up in such close proximity to me? I had always assumed that he had grown up far away and I would never be afforded the opportunity of meeting him. And, here, he was in front of me the whole time! We ran tests again to be sure before breaking the news to Jane and Jim.
As the years went on, Tom and I built a friendship. We got closer. I explained the reasons why I had decided on a closed adoption. He forgave me. I watched him graduate from law school. It is still hard to believe how blessed I am to have been given that second chance.
Years later, Tom developed an addiction to prescription pain medicine. As a high energy, always-on-the-go, anxious lawyer and junior partner at his firm, he found that the pain pills were the only thing that could slow him down, calm him down enough to complete his day.
I found bottles and bottles of pills in his bathroom one evening. It was my turn to confront him. He admitted that he had been using. He promised me that he was going to stop. I told him that he would need help quitting. He couldn’t do it alone. I researched his options while keeping his addiction confidential from my dear friends. After stumbling across an executive drug rehab website, I explained this as an option to Tom. I offered my love and support, judgment-free. I encouraged him to consider it. Eventually, I convinced him to go to the executive drug rehab where his position at the law firm did not have to be compromised. He spent 90 days at the executive drug rehab and two months into his recovery, he was made a senior partner.
Today, I am proud of my son. There is a laundry list of reasons. I am proud of his ability to survive cancer. I am proud of his determination and work ethic — I wish I could claim responsibility for that — that helped him finish law school. I am proud that he became a junior partner, and eventually a senior partner at his law firm — and at less than 30 years of age! I am proud that he agreed to get help when he checked himself into an executive drug rehab. I am proud that he completed the entire executive drug rehab program. I am proud that he has retained his sobriety.
I never imagined, at 53 years of age, I would be saying any of those things, including this: executive drug rehab is the best thing that ever happened to my son. His life was saved — a second time!