Peeling The Onion: A Mother’s journey of healing and learning through the years of my son’s drug addiction and recovery.
~By Donna M.
Packed with Gems of Wisdom and Unexpected Information; Brutally Honest and Direct.
Judy Herzanek, Changing Lives Foundation
An Addicted Child and A Mother’s Journey; Peeling The Onion “Peeling the Onion: A mother’s journey of healing and learning through the years of my son’s drug addiction and recovery” is the story of one mom who candidly shares her struggles and personal triumph as she navigates the lonely world of dealing with her child’s addiction.
Donna’s book is not professionally edited and is written much like a journal or series of letters to friends and family members. At the beginning of the book she wisely states: “I want to make one thing perfectly clear; I’m not your typical author; I’m not a philosopher, psychiatrist, psychologist or a drug and alcohol counselor; I’m a Mom who had a broken heart and who found my passion and my voice.
This book contains many valuable “nuggets” of information and insights—which I have not found in any other addiction recovery books. Written in brief vignettes, “Peeling the Onion” can be read in short bits of time—picked up and set back down, in order to process and ponder thoughts, underline, highlight words and mark pages.
Donna M. shares some of her “aha moments” with us. My favorite is from a documentary called “The Sleeping Tiger” which she viewed at her son’s first rehab center while attending the parent’s session. This was the first time she was able to understand her son’s addiction as a disease.
“The film describes addiction as a sleeping tiger cub that resides in each of us. It grows as we grow, through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. The tiger sleeps within us until that one day we decide to take a drink or experiment with drugs. If we are vulnerable to the disease, we wake the tiger. The more the substance abuser drinks or uses drugs, the bigger the tiger becomes until the tiger is in control and the person is lost somewhere within. The tiger is the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction.”
She writes, “I also learned that every time a substance user decides to stop abusing drugs or alcohol and enters into recovery, the tiger goes back to sleep.”
“If we are vulnerable to the disease, we wake the tiger.”
Donna learned many difficult lessons firsthand and she openly shares her experiences. Learning from her wise words can spare families time, money and heartache: “I learned that when a person is active in their disease, they have no boundaries when it comes to taking our belongings. I don’t believe their intent is to hurt us; they are sick and need to self-medicate and they will take from us whatever they can to sell in order to get money to feed their addiction.”
“I learned that my son didn’t have to live up to my expectations. My hopes and dreams for my son are my expectations that I put on him. My son can only live up to his own expectations.”
“I learned that my son’s recovery was his full-time job and none of my business. Every time my son came home from a facility, I would be on him about getting a job, owing me money, going to meetings. I was toxic to my son and he could use me as a reason or justification in his mind as to why he relapsed.”
“I learned to “Let go and let God” because this disease was bigger then anything I had ever experienced in my life.”
“I don’t believe their intent is to hurt us; they are sick and need to
self-medicate and they will take from us whatever they can
to sell in order to get money to feed their addiction.”
“Peeling the Onion” is loaded with insights from a mom who has been there. I thank Donna M. for sharing her thoughts and firsthand learning in such a direct, clear and to-the-point manner.
Her words shed light on an extremely complex, dark and stigma-filled area in the lives of so many families. Parents will take comfort in realizing that they are not alone, there are solutions and recovery is possible—for the addict and the entire family.
Donna outlines how to “trust your gut” when making decisions as a parent, what to look for/signs of relapse and a wonderful sample letter to family and friends that is filled with brutally honest, hard-to-hear words laying out her boundaries regarding her son’s addiction (page 33).
“Peeling the Onion” gives family and friends tools to maintain control of their lives, to cope with inevitable situations parents and family members face and equips readers to bypass many of the common and damaging mistakes so many parents and family members unwittingly make.
I strongly recommend adding this to any person’s library–for helping yourself or in order to understand a family member or friend who is struggling with addiction.
“I am a Mother who had a broken heart. I am not a Philosopher, Psychiatrist, Psychologist or Drug and Alcohol Counselor. I’m a Mother who is recovering from depression and living in fear of my son dying from drugs.
I’m a Mother who found a passion and her voice in hopes of helping someone else who loves an addict.
My intent for writing my book is to share my experience and knowledge in hopes that it may benefit another person who is dealing with a loved one who is afflicted by this horrible disease called addiction.
Six months out of the year I write a weekly column for a small Southern N.H. newspaper on co-dependency and enabling and I also speak at local rehab centers on family day.
I currently facilitate a parent group every Thursday evening in Concord, NH 03303.”
> Phone Counseling for Family Members
> Recommended Books and DVDs for families of substance abusers and addicts
> Low cost, No cost Alcohol and Drug Treatment Directory
> Drug Addiction and Alcoholism Recovery Resources for Friends, Families and Employers
If you found this article helpful:
please see our “Ask Joe” posts listed at the bottom and consider reading:
“Why Don’t they Just Quit? Hope for families struggling with addiction.”
> Our website, “Why Don’t They Just Quit?”
> Changing Lives Amazon Storefront (buy new, from us for much less)
Recent Amazon.com reviews:
Best book ever about addiction. Written by one whose done it and is recovering. Easy to read, not preachy, just honest. I recommend this book to anyone with an addict in their life! ~Lynda A
Got an addiction problem in your family? Read this book. Joe knows his stuff. This book helps you better understand those dealing with friends and family that are addicted to drugs and alcohol. I have read several of these books but this one is the best. ~RJ
I, like many people, have some knowledge of what drugs and addiction are, but are clueless on what the process of recovery entails. This book does a great job in what it would take to help a loved one, who is an addict and is willing to get clean and stay clean. It also gives one hope that your loved one will survive the nightmare they are living through with their family. ~CG
> Do you have to stop seeing all your old friends in order to recover?
> Is a relapse—failure?
>Should my husband “back off?”
> If someone can stop using drugs or alcohol for weeks at a time, they “aren’t an addict—correct?
>Chronic Pain Management & Pain Pill Addiction: What to do?
>How can I know if my addicted friend or loved one is telling the truth?
>How can I tell if someone is an addict/alcoholic or just a heavy user?
>What is Methadone? What is Harm Reduction?
From “Peeling the Onion” to Changing Lives Foundation Blog Home
Relapse, Recovery, Addiction, Codependency