By Lori Bateman, Renascent Family Program Alumni
From the moment my brother, Iain went to detox, to four months later entering Renascent for his treatment, it was an unravelling. The following day after dropping him off at the detox centre was very surreal and I was filled with so much emotion. I couldn’t stop crying. It was like the lid had been taken off years of keeping it all inside and it had to run its course. Except I didn’t know this at the time.
The day before when I received a phone call from Iain’s boss telling me he had crashed and was on the verge of suicide, I didn’t know what to do. I drove to his friend’s place where he had been since he no longer had a home after being evicted earlier that afternoon.
I started speaking to him straight. I knew that an intervention was necessary. This time, wasn’t the same as the others. His friend and his girlfriend and I were there to support him, but it meant getting him help, not just giving him a pep talk.
It took some talking and finally he agreed. I let him know I wasn’t leaving until we got him help. While I was talking to Iain, his friends were calling around to find a bed for him.
In August 2019, Iain entered his treatment program at Renascent and I started with Family Program sessions. I was so grateful to have this opportunity to talk about what I was feeling. In each session, I learned what it was like to be a family member of someone who is addicted. While it may sound obvious, there were many things that were validated for me that I didn’t have words for during the years Iain was addicted. As his addiction grew worse over time, it was like we were living in a weird vortex of tolerating an obnoxious friend who he dragged everywhere with him.
I learned that the cycle of shame, guilt, sadness, regret, and anger, was all a normal and natural part of what family members feel as they try to help their loved ones. It was comforting for me to know that my trying to help him was part of the pattern; that the guilt I felt when I couldn’t help him was part of the cycle; that the anger and rage that was building inside was also part of the frustration of wanting to help and feeling helpless.
The day Iain entered Renascent for his treatment, I began writing him a journal. I wanted to express to him how much I was rooting for his success. I wanted him to know how much I loved him and what a special person he is. Because throughout it all, not liking who he had become, I never stopped seeing the light inside him and who he really is.
Heather, the Family Program addictions counsellor, said that we often feel we are in rehab right alongside our loved one. That is how it felt for me. When Iain went in to begin his recovery, I also began to heal. Well, it actually started the night he went to detox, and Renascent was the significant and defining opportunity to create something new.
As he learned about his addiction and learned new ways to cope with triggers and inevitable challenges, I was able to let go of worrying about him because I learned that I am not responsible for him. That was a big one. I was able to reconcile the guilt and shame I had felt for years. I saw that the tears I cried were releasing tension, sorrow, guilt, anger. And that it was now time to let go of it all.
Two plus years later, I am so happy and proud to say, Iain has remained committed to his sobriety and has changed his life in ways I dreamed for him. He is in training to become an addiction councilor, and is doing his field training at Renascent. Yes, a full circle! I can’t even put to words how profoundly proud I am for every giant step he has taken to be at this new place in his life.
As for me, I no longer worry about him. I look forward to seeing him. I love seeing the changes in him and his light shining brighter with each day.
And what I love most of all is that he is no longer suffering.