Sunday, August 30, 2015
The Face of Addiction
I actually wrote this post in July of 2013. At the time, I was honoring Brandon's dad's wishes by not making this public because of family. I knew I would eventually post this, though, so I saved it for the right time and that time is now. I haven't changed it, except for the typos, even though I planned to add a lot to it, because I think it says exactly what I want to. For now. There is much, much more to this, but we'll save that for another day. Please share this piece of my son's story proudly for International Overdose Awareness Day tomorrow, August 31, 2015.
Brandon was never embarrassed about his shortcomings, the demons he battled, the mistakes he made. He hated to disappoint us and felt like he constantly came up short, his real potential felt out of reach, but he wasn't embarrassed to tell people, especially if it meant he might help them. I was. I was embarrassed and afraid. In Brandon's struggles, I saw my own and I was afraid that admitting how real his struggles were, it would breathe life into them when, in fact, they'd been given more life in my denial. I know that there's real power in keeping secrets in the dark. Bringing them into the light takes their power right away and yet I still let very few people into our reality, doing what I do, trying to fix everything by my own determination.
Brandon was such a good kid. He broke many rules, but never defiantly, hurting so much at our hurt and anger. He had this gigantic heart, especially for someone in pain. When I yelled in frustration that if anything ever happened to him it would destroy us, we would never come back from it, never go on, he cried at my pain. I wonder sometimes if I didn't speak it into happening by the mere mention. If I believed in tempting the fates, this would be the ultimate proof, I guess. Brandon told me he loved me every single day, several times a day, even if he was mad at me. He put up with me telling him to pull his pants up and change his shirt and cut his hair, without saying much. When he got tattoos he knew I didn't want for him, he made sure to get faith and family so he could show what things were important to him. He was a REALLY great kid.
That was the Brandon I wanted everyone to know, not the Brandon who couldn't figure out how to like himself, who didn't know that he was so good he deserved the best this life had to offer and then some, who struggled with drugs to make the pain go away. That kid would be judged and people would ask 'where is his mom' and I would say I was right here, I'm not perfect, but I love him more than my own life, I'm trying so hard, you have no idea how hard it is, but they'd already have their minds made up. So, while I tried and tried to convince Brandon that other kids would not judge him, to just give them a chance, because teenagers all have the same fears and insecurities, I kept quiet. I asked for prayer for him so often, from so many people, but most did not know our real issues.
Maybe I shamed him, maybe I should've asked for more specific prayer, maybe I could've kept him alive if I'd just done something differently. Maybe not, I'll never get the chance to know, but I know this... Brandon would never want one other life lost because of someone's silence. I thought I was honoring him, honoring our family by not airing dirty laundry, but Brandon needed more help than I could give him. He didn't even get a chance to become a serious problem child because his life ended too soon. If he'd had the chance, I bet he would've gone on to be a drug and alcohol counselor or something and so now I'm going to honor him by never being quiet, never being embarrassed and being proud of the identity I have in being Brandon's mom.... the kid who helped get other kids clean, the kid who had the huge heart, the boy with those beautiful eyes and old soul.
Yes, I am his mother and I am damn proud of the lives he saved, in his life and in his death. Now, I want him to be proud of his mother for making sure his death was not in vain. I already know that I will honor the boy by someday giving another grieving mom hope, but I hope I can help to ensure that no other mom has to feel ashamed or alone in her child's struggles, struggles that do not define our children, but are just one aspect of a beautiful gift to this earth.
God so graciously puts the right people in our path in our darkest hour and I know it is with the understanding that this will be paid forward. I will never forget those other sweet mamas who were able to comfort me, some with their own grief still so raw, still crying themselves to sleep every night, hurting all over again with me. One mama lost her beautiful daughter in a horrific manner many, many years ago and it was this mama who first gave me hope that there someday may be a light to see, smiles to come, a life to actually enjoy and it's to this precious mama and her sweet daughter that I dedicate this post. Thank you for your courage and light and lack of judgment.