Louise knows more than most about transformations. Not long ago her two sons were on a self-destructive course which threatened the entire family. Thanks to Gloucester House Rehabilitation Centre, both have beaten their addictions and the family is slowly healing.
Here she tells her story:
Watching your grown child gradually fall into the grip of drug addiction is one of the worst things a parent can go through. For me, this happened to both of my sons.
Describing the last twenty years is near on impossible. I prefer to conjure an image to explain it. It was like being on a ship at sea, battling against dark winds and pelting rain. As it swayed from side to side and powerful waves washed screaming people into the belly of the water, I gripped on with all my might, willing the storm to subside and calm until the next one appeared.
My internal world was worse. My heart literally throbbed in pain watching the boys dissolve into the depths of drug depravity. I believed that, as I gave birth to them, it was my fault.
I became immersed in a deadly mind-set that took my sanity away. I kept thinking; “If I had been a better mum to them then this wouldn’t have happened.” I tried to figure out what went wrong and I agonised over the past and how I’d raised them.
I lived in shame, guilt and denial. At first I thought I could sort them out. We had long talks and I was forever on a mission to say the right thing, something that would urge them to take my advice.
It took a while to realise what I was dealing with. Drugs become their master to the point that they were living in madness.
I became someone in the shadows, a nervous wreck. At times it felt like they had died, I felt such grief, especially when I knew they were robbing and cheating.
I lived in dread of the day that they would be found dead in some filthy alley. Our family became affected; no one knew how to handle it. We became fragmented. Most of the time, I carried the burden of my sons’ lives around in secret. Only my husband, my mum and one good friend were there for me throughout.
I would hear friends chat about which ultra-healthy diet to give their kids or discuss their university choices, while I had just watched my son being arrested at his family home by ten police officers and dogs (again).
My grandchildren had blank faces and their hearts were broken. Another low point was when my other son and his wife had lost any parental rights to their young son. I ached for their loss and my grandchild’s loss. There was so much suffering.
Despite the darkness and despair there were shards of light. Pain changes you. It smashes your expectations. It made me accept what was happening. It forced me to my knees praying to God, begging Him to “save them, guide them, love them and make them men that serve You.”
I gained comfort and strength through God, He knew everything. I would accept whatever He willed. I got help through the counselling and a 12 step family programme that Gloucester House offered. This helped me to cope and take my focus off my sons and onto myself and the wider family. I had to accept that I was powerless; they were grown men who could find their own way.
At different times my sons’ have had the opportunity to go to Gloucester House rehabilitation centre. There were people there that I could trust, they knew and understood what we were going through.
The work at Gloucester House is professional and the staff are highly skilled with many years of experience. My sons were in the company of the best. Watching them transform into the men that I admire, love and enjoy being with today, is thanks to Gloucester House.
My family is slowly healing. I now have a little peace in my heart that’s growing one moment at a time.