I was fortunate to have author and mom, Sandy Swenson, make time to join me on the podcast The Addiction Conversation. Sandy has recently released her book, “The Joey Song” which chronicles her story of her experiences with her oldest son Joey and his addiction driven life. Here are a few excerpts from this podcast.
“Once I realized that my son had a disease then I could let go of the feeling of shame and blame. I could realize how lonely and scarred I was. I was really just defeated and crushed. It’s just horrible to be suffering all this with my son and not be able to tell anybody about it. And I believe very strongly that no parent should have to go through suffering along a child’s potentially fatal disease all alone. No parent should have to feel ashamed that their child has this disease and it’s time for us to start talking about this and shinning a light on it and treating it as a disease.”
Talk a little bit a about being the mom of this little innocent miracle and this transition as you define it…to a manipulative monster
“It takes a long time for a parent to think, to come to believe that their child is turning into a monster and or just even understanding what addiction is. We were just trying to figure out how to be parents. This is trying to figure out something that not even the professionals understand. We mess up a lot. It’s devastating to see the loss of a child and the addict starting to wear your child’s face – devastating.”
How do you sustain yourself and celebrate your life going forward?
“Joey was the one consuming the drugs but his addiction was consuming me. I had to make the choice that the disease wasn’t going to bring any more harm to any more people. I could not stop what was happening with Joey but I could stop the damned disease from hurting the rest of the family and having it going on and on and destroying more people. And I wanted to honor this wonderful boy that I held in my arms 27 years ago, not the addict who had taken his place.
So I’ve been trying to fill the space where my son belongs with goodness, not badness; with saneness, not madness; and, with the hopes that when he does come back, when he does find recovery, he comes back to a place where a family is healthy and we have goodness.”
You have a purpose to your behaviors with regard to your son.
“I do. Back when I was writing the book, I started to clarify these thoughts. I never thought things through as clearly, I surfaced-thought them. I thought deep and hard when I was writing the book and I was really able to come to a real clear understanding in my head of what I believed and how I was going to proceed. I will do what I can for my son which is not much. I can just tell him that I love him and take him to lunch and tell him I have his place warm for him and that’s about it. But I am not going to help the addict to kill my son.”