Under ordinary circumstances, my columns are written and published weekly. I write about special people, community events, the theatre life, and about meaningful traditions of family and life in small towns.

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
Under ordinary circumstances, my columns are written and published weekly.  I write about special people, community events, the theatre life, and about meaningful traditions of family and life in small towns.
But this week, I am sharing a column that was written one year ago. That column was very difficult to write, as I was writing about something so personal, so intimate - with my head in the sand for years. I suppose one could say that one year ago, I came out by pulling my head out of the sand and facing head-on - my life as a mother of a drug addict.
It took me many years to share the hat I had been wearing for 12 years. During those years, I hid in shame - ashamed and disappointed in my skills as a parent. But, after research and meetings and talking with others whom were walking the same journey, I slowly realized that I could not stop the train wreck. Only my son could do that.
December 1, 2017...the day I celebrated the life and the hope of recovery of my youngest son Andy from the horror of addiction.
Today, Andy is two years clean...and for two years, he has remained drug-free. For two years, Andy has not picked up and used his drugs of choice. For two years, Andy has lived the life of the recovering drug addict. For two years, Andy has gotten through 730 days...17,520 hours...1,051,200 minutes...63,072,000 seconds of his life with nothing but strength, courage and hope of recovery.
And today, this ostrich (me) continues to stand tall, and even shout to those who are hurting, to those who are snorting and shooting poison into their veins, that THERE IS HOPE. You don't have to die. You don't have to pick up that needle. You can put away that spoon. You can stop smoking that crack.
YES, YOU CAN.
I no longer hide in the shadows of drug addiction. I no longer hide behind closed doors, ashamed and scared...praying that I don't receive that dreaded phone call that my son is dead. And, I no longer hide from myself.
Yes, my son will forever be an addict. But somehow, solely on his own, he is beating the monster, he has slayed the dragon. Hope is eternal, my friends. It is all I have had since Andy was 16 years old. And hope I will cling to until I take my last breath.
Recovery works. Meetings and step work - they work. Friends who struggle each day with the desire to use - supporting and encouraging each other - works. I have seen it with my own eyes.
And today, after two years of the hardest thing my son Andy ever had to do in his whole entire life, he lives. And it matters. He matters. Addicts matter. Let us always remember that.
Andrew Morgan...I am so proud of you. I love you dearly, as I have ever since the day you were born. And, I am forever grateful that you are here - celebrating your life with Samantha and your two children Aubree and Ryder. Because of your choice of recovery, my grandchildren will thrive with the example you have set for them, and we all celebrate your life today.
* * * * *
This newspaper column below was written by me one year ago for this newspaper. Please read it if you have a few moments...my perspective as the mother of an addict as written one year ago.
And for you moms out there hiding behind masks, reach out to me on Facebook. Share your story, cry with me...and let's help each other. Let's get your son into treatment. Let's find a place for your daughter to detox. Let's work past the stigma of drug addiction, and don't hide your head in shame as I did.

Today, I write a very, very personal column...and believe me, there will be tears all the way throughout. For you see, I will be sharing something that I have kept hidden from the world for over ten years...sharing something that no one but a select few are aware...a journey no one wants to walk, yet we do because we must.
A journey no one wants to talk about, a journey that has remained hidden in my heart, a journey where failure is death...the slow, painful death of one’s joie de vie.
Today...I put the words to paper, my most private and secret thoughts...lifting the heavy burden from the back of this ostrich with her head in the sand.
And tomorrow, I will celebrate the moment the ostrich stood tall.
Once upon a time (if I can use the old fairy tale opening), I was a young woman with many hopes and dreams. I dreamed of a happy life - filled with a loving husband, beautiful children...a nice comfortable, simple life. And it has been...overall.
But today, I hope that what I hesitantly share with you will touch at least one person. I hope that I can find some peace in knowing that there may be someone out there struggling with a life and death situation with someone they love dearly...someone they are so afraid of losing...to the beast of drug addiction.
For those who know me well, they may be shocked to hear that our family has been dealing with this beast...this demon...for over 10 years. Our youngest son, because of his addiction, has literally brought this ugly demon into our home.
When he was my beautiful little blue-eyed baby boy, I would never have imagined what was to come. As a child he was such a charmer. He was always on the go, he had lots of friends, was happy and involved in baseball, football and basketball. In elementary school, he was quite the trumpet player, and was always so excited and proud when he got to play his trumpet at his Mema’s church. Throughout his high school days, he excelled at sports, and we, as parents, were very supportive and encouraging of his athletic endeavors. We were always there for him - doing our best to set examples of a tobacco, alcohol and drug-free life and being involved in small-town life and church.
I don’t tell you all this for pats on the back for being responsible, loving parents. I tell you this because our lives and our children were like many of your lives and your families. Just a typical, middle-class family...trying to raise little boys into young men who would then live happy, healthy lives.
Well, in our case, as time would tell, we would come to feel like failures as parents. When Andy started using drugs, we were oblivious. We knew his behavior was changing, we knew something was going wrong, and we did everything we could to help him. The first thing we did was get him into some counseling, but that was a big fail. The counselor just could not reach him. He would go to the hour-long sessions and literally put his head down and not speak for the entire hour. It was all a roller coaster ride from then on over a period of ten years. To be specific...it was hell...for him, for his brother, for our family, for our marriage.
From my perspective, I felt like such a failure. I loved my children, and I knew I had done the best I could to raise them. And for each incident we lived through, that failure became more and more a reality. We were drowning in it. We did not know where to turn. We did not understand the life of an addict and all of the devastation that came with it. But, we had no choice but to learn...the hard way.
Our lives revolved around the absolute chaos of his behavior...from sleepless nights - worried sick about who he was with and what he was doing; coming home drunk or stoned - at first, we had no idea how to tell that he was. We were naive and uneducated in terms of drug abuse. This monster of addiction lived in our home, circling around us, waiting to pounce and devour.
Over the years, there would be lies, tears, deceit, stealing, trips to pawn shops, rages and drunken stupors, several stints of rehab, halfway houses, interventions, clinics, hopping from one job to the next, life on his own and then back in with us, paying his bills, getting the most awful phone calls in the middle of the night...laying a path of destruction everywhere he went. And yet, we remained silent to family and friends for so many years. For me, I felt worthless as a parent, I felt lost, embarrassed, humiliated, alone. I was living a double life. On the outside, I appeared to be well-adjusted. My husband and I had full-time jobs, we were involved in the community, we maintained a sense of normalcy.
But that double life took its toll. There came the time that we had to learn all about the 12-step fellowship and how not to enable Andy’s lifestyle. But for me, I was his mother, and there was no way I was going to let him die under my watch. That’s not to say that I didn’t see him at his worst. Oh yes, many times...enough to break my heart over and over again. I would look around at other families and wonder - do they live double lives too? Is there really such a thing as happiness? And why can’t we have that? It was so hard to live this life.
Truly, there is so much I could write. There are so many horrible, disgusting, scary things we have been through. One fact that is true, and very hard to hear, is that according to the horror stories we have listened to as Andy goes through his program - we almost lost him many times. He has been close to death many times, not just from using drugs, but from being in dangerous situations with very dangerous, unpredictable people. 
But through it all, there was always hope. A mother clings to that. I never gave up on him, but it came as great cost, and many times, frowned upon by others. But, that’s what we mothers do. Somehow, we find the strength and the courage to do what we must. Somehow, we take our broken spirits and rise above the pain.
Today, December 1, 2016, my handsome and charming son celebrates his one year anniversary of being clean and sober. That is the milestone I hold on to today. I celebrate his recovery and the work he has done to get here. He lives on his own, works full-time, and he has such beautiful, dear children...my grandchildren. He takes his 12-step fellowship very seriously - mainly because he knows the downside and eventual death that awaits if he does not. Death came knocking too many times, and the beast now sleeps.
This ostrich - me - I buried my head in the sand for so many years, trying to pretend that everything was all right, and I shut my eyes to what was right in front of me. Well, I now stand tall and proud, for my son lives today.
One year ago, though, we were watching our son suffer through full withdrawal, all on his own. That was such horror. But, he did it, and the pride I have always felt as his mother spilled over...hoping that this time would be it, that this time, he would slay that dragon.
Now one year later, he is proving that an addict can lose the desire to use and find a new way of life. My son speaks and shares at his fellowships, reaching out to those who are hurting and hungry for life without drugs. He has a terrific network of friends in the fellowship who share common ground, and they love and support each other.
On a final note, there are addicts all around us...in many families...hidden from the spotlight...just like mine. There are families wondering what to do, where to turn. And tragically, there have been deaths in our community. We all must stand up and speak out, and become part of the solution. No more hiding, no more shame, no more blame.
My good friend Jane from Wisconsin said it best, “I’m praying for you as you make this journey, Trish. I’ve done it myself, through my INWARD JOURNEY here on Facebook. There is great freedom in bringing to the light that which we have kept in the dark, and what you share will help others who have been hiding their shame and pain. What we humbly share breaks the power of our greatest enemy, who can no longer hold us captive.” 
Today, this humble ostrich is no longer in the dark. My advice to those hurting is simply this: don’t be afraid to speak up and share and reach out. Keep it simple. Call your health department and tap into resources they provide. It’s a start. Do everything you can, because we all matter. The addicts around us matter, for they were once pretty little girls playing jump rope and hopscotch, and they were blue-eyed baby boys with strawberry curls, too. Let us help one another, and love our neighbors.
God’s blessings.