Long ago, I came face to face with a frightening scene. My daughter was being her teenage self with full on attitude, when an invisible switch flipped. Before my eyes, everything changed from her expression to her voice. She curled up on the floor of my room and began pulling at her hair.
Unprepared to handle what I could only describe as demon possession, I called my nearest pastor and he quickly came to our home. I left the room as he dealt with a situation that overwhelmed and frightened me. After a while, I heard my daughter’s laughter ring out, what they sharedwas left between them. Joe went home, and we picked up where life left off.
That was 12 years ago. Since that troubled night, things only got worse. For over a decade, I have shed tears for a lost child. As I fought to remind my daughter of the light that has always been there, even if suppressed for years now, I grew tired. Something changed along her journey as a young teenager. The light was replaced with a darkness I have been unable to penetrate with my words. Lord above knows how hard I’ve tried.
For months my breath has been labored by the trials in addiction. Each glance into her beautiful brown eyes sold the truth for an evil laugh. I heard each mumbled word, cringed at the smell of every swallow of alcohol, until I could taste it on the tip of my tongue. Every sense was heightened to the oncoming train wreck. When she added the drug use, I traded hope for hopelessness and prayer for a silent retreat.
It was in December that I realized what was going on.
We woke to crashing and movement of furniture. I quickly ran upstairs and listened at my daughters door. She was screaming, “Let me out of here!” With caution, I approached her door and began to turn the handle. It wasn’t locked, I’m not even sure it has a lock. There was my daughter, on her knees, fighting the lockless handle, to escape her room. She kept screaming he was there, and she had to get out.
On the floor were two shooters of whiskey and an empty bottle of unisom. She kept mumbling about ‘him’ being there. I calmly and gently told her no one was there, and go to bed. As she calmed down, her voice was eerie, and she pulled up her blankets on the wet mattress. In her one man fight, she had managed to knock over the nightstand, spilling her water, flip over her vanity chair, and toss her clothes rack across the room.
“Do you want me to change your sheets?” I asked.
“No. It’s fine. You know these are your sins, not mine.”
I was stunned, felt fear run through my spine, and held back the fury I wanted to unleash. Now was not the time. She lay in her bed, having an intense conversation with whoever was there, and I quietly left the room. I took up residence on the couch for the night. My son came out and asked what that was about, and we talked for some time.
Her door opened, she filled her cup with water and went back to her room. I peaked down the hall to see the light still on under her door. An hour or so later, the light shut off, she was asleep. I remained awake and ready should anything else happen.
The next morning, she woke up to get the kids ready to school. I was grateful they hadn’t been stirred the night before. God protected them. The act of pretending nothing happened was more than I could take. I invited her to join me in the room, and told her, for the fourth time in as many months, I will not tolerate it and this was it. She looked at me and asked what I was talking about. I noticed she had picked up a few things, but the mess was still there. She swears she had no recollection of the incident.
Less than three weeks later, she would disappear from a downtown parking garage, and everything in my mind and heart would change.
That’s her story. What happened to me, and is still happening to me has been remarkable. There is no happy ending here, we are still at the start line, my friends. But who I am today verses who I was on December 18th couldn’t be more opposite.
I resigned that night. When hearing those words come from my daughter’s mouth, but in a different voice, I was shaken. I reached a breaking point, and concluded this was my fate. I was destined to live in some curse planned long before I entered this world. My sins were unforgivable, and this was the end result.
For a month, I stumbled through each day in a deep, dark depression. With anger, I became confrontational and distant. Everyone assumed it had to do with the frustration of our ongoing issues with addiction, and they were correct. Yet, there was more to everything. I kept it hidden and no one inquired or checked on me. In fact, it would be weeks before I reached out in a desperate plea and begged for prayers.
On January 5, 2021, I sent a message to the support group I follow:
I need prayer for me. My mental health is declining, I cannot take anymore, etc etc etc..
On the 6th, my daughter left.
As the days pass, I learn more about me and my relationship with God. This is what we call a spiritual battle. The spirit of addiction welcomed along the spirit of anxiety, depression, anger, hate, manipulation, lies, and deceit. Over time, Satan used those spirits to not take one out, but two. All he needs is an inch of doubt, in our case, my daughter is plagued by the words, “Not good enough.” No matter what I say, she hears it differently with condemnation.
When I heard those words that it was about my sin, I lost sight of my faith and turned in shame from a God of love, mercy, forgiveness, and faithfulness. He never turned from me. The nudge to reach out and share my burdens with others was no coincidence. God knew what was to come, and guided me back home.
It was a month after her disappearance that my beautiful daughter left for treatment a few states away. The day she flew away, I began a whirlwind of depression, anxiety, and fear. Every time the phone rang, my heart skipped a beat and and ran a marathon right there in my chest.
Within a month of this experience, I entered into Christian counseling. Another month later, I began a powerful study for women in distress at HealingHearts.org. A study I highly recommend for the lost woman who needs some time to engage her heart and mind and find healing within.
I spent six months working to reconnect with God. Spending so much time in their addiction became a raft I drifted in alone, away from the peace, assistance, and security of my Father. I resurrected a lost prayer life, reconciled with my myself and the flaws of my being. Jesus met me in a broken place of hopelessness and cared for every wound. His tender love woke me up to this defiled world. A gentle reminder to be in it and not of it.
By summer 2021, I was free from their addiction. As I made my way across that threshold, my daughter would relapse and disappear for six weeks. This time I was prepared with boldness and strength of the Holy Spirit and peace that passes all understanding, of which I cannot explain.
While the ride swirls back and forth, I am firmly planted in safe ground. So many parents are still riding along, holding on for their life. Addiction swings and whips them violently. I hear their pleas and see their story. It seems impossible, I know. But jump off and you will land softly. Make today the day you take your life back. You are worth it. Your life must go on. Love your addict, don’t love their addiction.