My story is like so many. You, like myself, have been forced to helplessly watch our mother, father, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, son, daughter, close friend or business associate self-destruct due to the devastating effects of drugs or alcohol. I know all too well. I found myself in that position with my daughter. She was a beautiful, young woman with everything to look forward to until drugs and the wrong people entered the picture. I had to watch her life spiral downward, in fact so badly that I believed it was not if but rather when I would receive the dreaded call from the Coroner or the police officer knocking on my door.
But the experience actually started several years earlier through close personal friends. Their daughter became heavily involved in drugs, living under bridges, in abandoned cars, and staring death in the face several times. She finally had her epiphany and, with several years of tough love, beat the drugs. Today she is VERY successful.
Once it became evident the drug problem with my daughter was acute, I sought my friends’ daughter’s advice. The most important advice she gave: do NOT believe one word she is saying ~ it is the drugs talking.
I took her advice to heart. I was lucky to have found myself in a position, together with the help and understanding of a Probation Officer, a Deputy District Attorney and Judge who felt my pain and would listen, where I might be able to change her course. I found out my daughter had a relatively routine probation hearing in a Los Angeles Court, and this hearing plus other surrounding circumstances, created a one-shot opportunity to possibly make a difference. Decision time. In this case, the decision is ~ would I be her friend like her mother, or would I be a parent and enforce tough love? I had first-hand experience that tough that love worked. I chose to be a parent, which has consequences. I knew I was running the risk my daughter may never forgive me and I might never see her again. I was willing to pay this price if it might save her life.
On the appointed hearing date, the courtroom was very full, with attorneys waiting for their cases to be heard and overflowing chambers. Amazingly, her case was called second, making all others wait and the Judge telling me to take all the time I needed. From the onset, the Judge seemed to understand what I was trying to do, as his demeanor immediately changed from the authoritarian to one of a parent or grandparent. I explained how my daughter was fundamentally a good woman BUT the drugs were controlling her and she repeatedly demonstrated she was incapable of complying with Court orders, including court-ordered sober living programs. He was given the entire picture – years. I pleaded with the Court that unless she was placed into a mandatory in-custody interventional program, I was certain it was no longer a matter of “if”, but rather “when” I would receive the dreaded phone call or knock on the door. He understood. He agreed.
When I finished and turned to sit down, the courtroom erupted with applause; mothers, fathers, attorneys, observers. It was like they could not believe what they just heard – no, my child is not perfect and I am taking a stand. I was willing to make the tough choice. As to consequences, I knew my daughter would not understand why I did what I did for a long time. I have not heard from her since that day in Court. The silver lining is I hear through the grapevine today she is doing well and is a professional sound engineer.
I am at peace with myself, as I know I did the right thing, but still it is not easy. Many times doing the right thing is not easy, but it is the correct thing to do. I am eternally grateful to those who helped. I could not have done it alone. Someday she will fully understand why I had to do what I did, but more importantly, I hope and pray she never finds herself in that situation I faced.
Welcome to Epiphany.