Many Paths to Freedom


"The advice given too often is that we can't help our children. We are told that tough love is the only way and we must let them hit their bottom.

This black and white, cookie cutter approach must change. Each child together with his family brings a different dynamic. Each family is unique. Too many, including parents, are giving advice to kick loved ones out of the house, to detach, to let them hit bottom.

Tough love can work for some, however, we must respect all paths to recovery and we must be careful to give advice. Tough love was not an option for our family. This is not an approach we would have taken if our child was sick with another medical disease.

I will never give advice based on what worked for our family but rather share what worked for us."

Denise Mariano

I am a people pleaser. I do what people tell me to do. I follow the plan. I listen to professionals. I seek external validation and a pat on the head that I'm doing it right.

But now. With my son. The flow, the professionals, the world around me, is telling me one thing and my cells are telling me another.

Reading Denise Mariano's words bring me hope. And self compassion. And self-forgiveness that it's ok to try different ways to help my son.

Has he hit bottom? Was there a defining moment when he lost all hope and dignity and self-respect? I don't know. But if there wasn't such a moment, I don't necessarily want to wait for one before he turns around.

Perhaps he hit bottom when he ran out of money. When he woke up in a detox facility surrounded by fellow addicts enduring painful withdrawals. When he lost his job and our trust. To many, that wouldn't constitute bottom because he still had a place to stay (home.) He was provided a sober companion (indulgence.) He asked for, and was given tools & opportunities to start anew. (respect.)

Our cookies are a different shape than those cut from the mainstream thinkers on addiction. We will wait and see what comes of them. But as far as gut instinct goes, I'm feeling love and feeling him settle a bit into his skin. I'm seeing him be less afraid to look me in the eye, to sit at the table and say nothing. I am seeing hope.

The tiniest flickers of dignity are beginning to shine in my son. He is 13 days sober and is helping create his treatment plan. He is speaking and we are listening. Granted we are not about to do everything he suggests....but we are listening and so far his suggestions are sound.

Maybe by listening to him, we are holding up a mirror for him to listen to himself.

And hear himself. And learn.

Thank you Denise Mariano for showing us that there are many paths to freedom.

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