My Justin: Boy Wonder and Snake Charmer

I have refined the poetry just a bit.

My Justin:  Boy Wonder and Snake Charmer

If you have a child who struggles wtih addiction or mental illness, if you have lost a child to addiction  or mental illness, you will recognize the swirl of love and pain that is introduced through cycles of abuse. I am sharing this for you.  That you will know that all your feelings are normal, that the anger you cannot shed is normal, that you can at once be angry with your child and yet never let go of the love you feel for them.  That you can dislike their behavior and weep bitterly over their decisions.  That is a part of your love for them and your hope for them.   It simply means you are sitting in the pain of their consequences and their decisions, are a betrayal of the hope you hold for them.  Whatever the range of emotions, there is no shame in them.  Love hurts when you have an addicted or mentally ill child.  
I will forever believe my Justin was bi-polar and self medicating, unfortunaltely we were not able to see that in the middle of the storm nor was it as openly addressed as it is now.  Thank God that now many children like my Justin, will be able to receive the care they need.   I am grateful as I watch the narrative of mental illness and addiction change and the stigma and shame beginning to be removed.

I have never shared this because I felt such shame at the depth of diappointment and anger displayed in it.  I felt as though I was betraying his memory in some way or even that it showed too much of my pain.  The thought of sharing it made me feel deeply vulnerable to judgement.  I, like so many of us who have children struggling, was reticent to share my pain out of fear that others would not understand it. That others would offer opinions of what I should have done, could have done, what they would have done, etc.  This side of the story was isolating and shameful.  While my son was alive I had already had someone plant a deep seed of shame in my heart and I had no desire to revisit it.  As a matter of fact I have worked hard to uproot it from my heart.  To rewrite that narrative with the grace it deserves.  Somehow I  wanted to preserve a memory of Justin that portrayed all the good times but the truth is there was a pain that will forever be a part of our story.  That pain does not devalue the love I had for him.

I journaled this a month or so after the death of my son from an accidental overdose.  Please don't allow his death to rob you of hope for your child.  The odds are good for overcoming many addictions especially with all the new treatments available.  Please continue to love big and hold hope in your heart.  Do everything you can each day that is all you can do.  Take care of you, have good boundries but love freely.  Get the help you need to see truth in the situation but never let go of hope.

My hope has always been centered around heaven and I hope you can see that in the midst of this tangled web of emotions.  I hope it honors his goodness and his struggle.  I pray it sheds light on the pain of a mother and her love for her child. I hope somehow it helps someone to let go of shame and step into light.  I pray it brings revelation and a letting go of judgements.

May this bring comfort to your soul and peace in your grief. 

He was a boy wonder and a snake charmer.
He was the first and a superstar.
He was sticky sweet like candy and he was poison.
He was the laughter of thousands and the weeping of a mother.
He was a master magician and a disappearing act.
He was a roller coaster and a sink hole.
He was a lover and a fighter.
He was a little boy and yet a giant.
He was broken and fully functioning.
He was the brightest star and the moonless darkest night.

He was a boy wonder, a manchild and the hope of a mother,
He was the joy of a father, a brother, a grandson and a cousin.
He was my son hard and twisted and light and love,
He was hope and darkness all rolled into one.

He was my baby and my heart shattering pain.
He was my greatest joy and my greatest failure.
He was my hope of victory and the devastation of terrifying nights.
He was struggling imperfection and tormented beyond understanding.

He is perfection and no struggling.
He is every bit of wonderful and no more pain.
He is my longing and my joy.
He is my hope of heaven and my boy.

Be comforted friends in every season with the hope of heaven.  None of us are alone in our pain, but often it can feel that way.  Please share this with those you might know that are struggling with this type of pain.  I long to see my pain redeemed through helping others. 

We live in hope,

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