My name is Michaelle and my husband and I lived in Colorado Springs back in the early 2000’s. I am going to use an analogy here:
There is a hurricane and you are a boat, at sea. You have lost your rudder and all communication, so you cannot call for help. You know you are near land, but you can’t see it because it is pitch dark and you are in a raging sea. The boat is taking on water, you are bailing as fast as you can, and then you see a spot of light in the distance. The waves are throwing you around but throwing you in the direction of the tiny light spot. Then, thank God, you see it is a lighthouse!! You know that you can use it to get yourself to land. David Petersen was that beacon for us.
He was the Lighthouse, my son was the hurricane and we were in the boat, sinking, desperate.
Our son started using when he was about 12 and it increased as he got older. By the time we arrived in Colorado Springs, he had already been in rehab a couple of times. During that time, I started to go to Al-Anon, trying to get a handle on the situation. Before we left home for Colorado, we made sure he had a place to live, and that he enrolled in the local junior college. We moved, and he started deteriorating fast.
We were referred to David by a physician. In his quiet way, he started to calm us down, and listened to our tale of woe. He started to re-orient us to US, and away from being so focused on our son. David reminded us about Step 1: “We admitted to ourselves we were powerless over (alcohol) — that our lives had become unmanageable.” And our lives were REALLY unmanageable! We had had other counselors in the past but none with whom we had really connected. David was that one with whom we did. He wrapped what he taught us in his own experience when it could be helpful, and we began to realize what really had to be done. We HAD TO focus on ourselves because there really wasn’t much else we could do for our son. He was of age, on his own, and as far as the law was (and is) concerned, responsible for himself. David helped us to see that. (He saw that we were heavily enmeshed and “co-dependent” with our son and unable to hear reason.) David helped us see that we had done EVERYTHING we could to save him at that point. A caring and responsible parent CAN let go without giving up on their addict.
Professional guidance helped us to grow up. My husband and I are still together. Currently, our son – now in his late 20’s – is in prison. ( And don’t think it won’t happen to you — because it could!) and we are ok with that! He is speaking more in what David calls the ‘unmistakable language of recovery’ than ever before, with a shorter sentence and the opportunity to restart his life clean and sober. The way we see it now, as painful as it is for us, we are certain that our Higher Power finally stepped in and saved our son’s life. And maybe the lives of other people who he could have harmed.
Recovery for parents is a lifelong experience which doesn’t go away. Even if you think you can manage your addict, and yourself over a period of time, you will change. Your spouses and siblings will change. If you do not now attend Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, there are groups everywhere. The more you go, the more you will see that there is hope. Hope for you. And hope for your son, daughter, spouse or sibling.
Hopefully, you will come to see that you MUST take care of yourselves first — with awareness. And David Petersen was the one who helped us see that. He opened that door, and we walked through.