In order for the light to shine so brightly, first the darkness must be present:
So let me tell you where I am right now. It’s Thursday 23rd November 8.45pm and I’m sitting on my bed in the Premier Inn on Argyle Street in Glasgow after spending what has been a wonderful day delivering Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) to some amazing folk (already I’m sounding Scottish) who support families affected by addictions across Scotland.
I was asked to write a short blog to support Scottish Families’ Christmas Campaign ‘Merry Caremas’ and have to say it was the easiest thing I’ve ever agreed to do as I passionately believe in supporting any family that is affected by drug and alcohol issues.
I know my family was affected greatly – I put them through a living hell.
My name is George by the way, I’m from Newcastle, I’m 44 years old and I’m also in recovery. I have been for a little while now, 17 years to be exact. I work for a family support service in Newcastle called PROPS and I love the work I do. I truly mean that I love it, every day getting to work with the most brilliant and courageous people I know: carers, family members, mams, dads, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, whatever you choose to call yourself. Each of you is truly inspirational people in my eyes, who I value, love and respect so much.
I am always humbled by all of your journeys and whilst I don’t know you personally, in many ways I know you all, and the struggles you face on a daily basis.
My parents who were in their 70’s faced problems like yours, seeing someone they love destroy themselves on a daily basis with drink and drugs, watching their son (me) losing his mind, his identity, his self-respect and almost losing his life.
However, through it all, one thing they never lost was their love for me and their belief in me, even when I was in the darkest of places they held on to love and they held onto me. They loved me; they used to say that they would wait until I was in bed asleep/comatose/out of my head / blacked out. They would come into my room and stroke my head and hold me, I never knew this at the time and it still pains me to know what I did to them and how I made them feel for well over a decade, but I was ill. I wasn’t a bad person trying to be good; I was a sick person who desperately needed to get well.
I was asked to talk about managing family conflicts at Christmas for the blog and I think I can tackle this answer with one simple word and that word is ‘LOVE’.
People say that Christmas is just another day and not that important, but trust me when I say this, a day, any day, no matter what day with someone who is using problematically, is such an important and crucial day as it may be the last you ever have with them, maybe for you it is already is. I have lost many people who I was close to over the years, people who were there one minute and gone the next.
Maybe you have lost someone you loved, someone you were close to. If you have I’m so sorry for your loss I truly am, but what would you give, or what would I give, to have one more chance to say I’m sorry for all the shouting, for not believing in you, for not telling you how much I love you.
Once your moment with your loved one is gone it’s gone, you will never get that chance again to go into their bedroom and stroke their head, to wrap your arms around them and squeeze them tight and say without any hesitation – you’re my blood, and I LOVE YOU, no matter what.
When we deal with addiction within the family we can easily forget that the person we love is still in there somewhere. Look in the whites of their eyes, they’re the same as yours and mine, they are alive and as long as they’re alive there is always hope, never give up on them.
I’ll finish by saying that your love has power, more than you will ever know.
Look at me, I’m alive because my parents never gave up on me they always believed there was a hope and as long as they had hope and that was good enough for them. That should be enough for you, always, never give up!
So what about me, well I’m clean, I have a job I love supporting families affected by substance use, I have a Masters in counselling, a degree, a diploma, I have self-respect, faith, hope, a beautiful wife called Kerry who I love and adore, 2 daughters -Charlotte who is as beautiful as her mum, Maddison who is as crazy as her dad, a dog called Buster, a cat called Rogue and even a hamster called Adrian. My life is normal now but you would never believe the journey I was on to get to where I am today.
And how did I do it? Let me tell you. The people who I loved the most never ever stopped loving me, and to both of them, my beautiful mam Rita who died 12 years ago but seen me get well, and my handsome dad George who has been my rock over the past 44 years, I want to say I love you and thank you for always loving me and never giving up on me.
What I am today I owe to you both x
Have a very Merry Christmas each of you make sure LOVE guides your journey every single day x