I am a dad, committed to openly sharing my story, my experiences, and the uniquely inspiring lessons associated with my youngest son’s heroin addiction. My son’s addiction has been the single most painful, confusing, dark period of my life. It has also been the greatest gift to me — for it is these experiences that have completely changed and transformed my life.
In living my commitment to be open about my addiction related experiences, I have been blessed to be part of a very large community of active parents offering similar love, support, and inspiration to other parents. I have discovered several trends within this community. First, they are engaged, active, focused, and strong. Second, there are a lot of moms and very few dads. Finally, everyone is openly authentic, honest, vulnerable, and raw in sharing their feelings, emotions, and frustrations.
It is the last trait that prevent most dads from being comfortably active in this community. Most men have never been taught, encouraged, or exposed to a male gender model who is authentic, humble, or freely and comfortable share their emotions. Being part of an active support community requires a willingness to share our deepest struggles, fears, and frustrations. This is not a normal dad thing.
We need more dads and more dads need us. Back in February a fellow, committed and passionate dad shared a blog entitled “Where are the Dad’s?” Recently, I came across another article by another committed father, “Man Up.” Both reference the challenge that Dads have in dealing with the pain of their experiences and enjoining a forum where they can comfortably and safely share their emotions, vulnerability, and frustrations. Joining an active community that encourages humility and vulnerability, while admitting helplessness is counter intuitive to our mindset and certainly forces us dads out of our comfort zone. Instead of engaging in the way moms do, we men would rather find security and safety in the bunker called ego and immerse ourselves into work rather than deal with a monster that prevents us from fixing the problems threatening to destroy our family. Addiction vocabulary favorites like hopeless and helpless are not words dads throw around all too comfortably
I am that dad, I have learned these lessons, and I have found peace in the process. I was that Dad. There was a time early in my addiction experience I was convinced that I could simply drop everything, dive in, fix the problem and save my son. I firmly believed that my love, my commitment, and my passion would enable me to solve the problem of addiction in my son. I learned a painful, confusing, and frustrating lesson — I cannot simply fix the addiction problem in my son. I cannot control it even though I am used to, and quite good at controlling many things.
I discovered there is hope and opportunity in failure. I learned the gift that comes with true wisdom — recognize the difference between what I can control and what I cannot. Focus on being very effective and successful in the areas I can control. Release the desire to control what I cannot.
Today, I am simply a dad who loves his son unconditionally. I find peace in empowering him to live the life he has chosen to live. I accept the pain of those choices even when they hurt me most. I find comfort in the realization that these are his choices and I am powerless to change them. I am committed to be at his side whenever he asks me to be. I will always be there to offer my my encouragement and my insights whenever he asks for it.
I am Dave Cooke. I am 100Pedals. I am a father who has discovered clarity, peace, and opportunity in the midst of life’s greatest chaos. I have also found grace and comfort in being vulnerable, honest, humble, and in need. Why do I do this — To share the road map of this gift with other dads seeking the path.