Category Archives: Prodigal Journey

Family Stress on a Prodigal Journey

[Originally Posted at in 2012. The Butterfly and the Stone can be purchased  by clicking the “Books” tab above. ]

end-of-rope-2The cycle continues and we have to figure out what to believe again. He has left yet another “program.” This time it was a community of faith that apparently had expectations for his participation–imagine that. The result is that he is no longer there, and as always, we’re left to try to discern whether it is he or the community at fault. So, now he is going to look for another program–how hard, remains to be seen — and we have to wonder what is going to happen. Continue reading Family Stress on a Prodigal Journey

From The Butterfly and the Stone

BATS-Front-2[An excerpt from The Butterfly and the Stone, God’s Love on a Prodigal Journey. Ch. 7.]

Be not like him who sits by his fireside and watches the fire go out, then blows vainly upon the dead ashes. Do not give up hope or yield to despair because of that which is past, for to bewail the irretrievable is the worst of human frailties.

~Kahlil Gibran

What is done is done and that which was not done must remain so. Therein is the dark soul of regret. Would that it were easy to just let go of it, set it adrift, put it behind me…forget. Alas, it is no simple matter to let go of regret. That which was undone remains, and that which was done is done, but regret means that it is never finished.

It’s a useless emotion, really; still it is powerful because there is no remedy. It is the best case when the consequences of failure and miscalculation only impact us. It is mournful when our children must learn to live in spite of them. Continue reading From The Butterfly and the Stone

Collateral Damage

lonely Road photo
Photo by x1klima

The prodigal journey may seem like a lonely road traveled by a solitary wayward son, but it rarely is. There are those who love him who are invariably swept along in the wake of his wandering. Parents, of course, bear the agony of doubt and the despair of helplessness. But there are the brothers and sisters who also bear a burden—collateral damage. They, too, suffer the disappointments. They are the quietly turning wheels that need no grease. (From Chapter 8  of The Butterfly and the Stone – “Uniqueness.”)

Cocktails Anyone?

army_pills-aPart of our prodigal journey has included walking with our son through the labyrinth of the Veterans Administration health care system. I will never forget a meeting with him several years ago at a local park. Jarringly, the park at which I had suggested we meet was the site of a soldier suicide a few months earlier. I didn’t know that or I would have suggested another place.

Caleb was working through yet another iteration of PTSD and substance issues and we met to try to formulate yet another plan for dealing with it. As we nibbled on our Taco Bell burritos, he opened his backpack and drew out a zip-loc bag filled with prescription bottles and removed one for his scheduled dose.

“Are those all yours?” I asked.

“Uh, huh.”

I asked to see them. Sure enough, bottle after bottle, all prescribed by the VA. Some were vitamins, I’ll admit, but others were antidepressants, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic meds and still others were for sleep and digestive issues—27 bottles in all.

“Does anyone have any idea what these do when they’re all mixed together?” I asked. Of course, I knew the answer: No. Nobody knows. Although, we can guess that at least a few times they result in suicide. One medication, Seroquel, an anti-psychotic drug that was distributed in six month supply bottles to deploying troops, was used as a sleep aid. A possible side-effect? Thoughts of suicide (link to the story). And Seroquel is not the only medication prescribed to soldiers with that warning on the label. Is there a connection with what Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta called the suicide “epidemic” among soldiers?

Although Seroquel was targeted in a lawsuit earlier this year and was eventually removed from the approved list of meds for soldiers in the field and at home, my concern still remains. Why? Twenty-seven bottles. One vet had been prescribed 27 medications. The potential interactions are unpredictable.

The battle for our sons and daughters is fought on many fronts. This is one.

Don’t Believe It

OK, lformica-trust-but-verifyet’s make this quick and dirty: DON’T BELIEVE IT.

If your prodigal has addiction issues, and many (maybe most) do, then truth is elusive — slippery. It’s a rare commodity. Don’t be the one that discovers, months and money down the road, that your love has made you a victim.

You will want to trust your child/friend/loved one, but that’s how you get to be an enabler. It’s your love that makes you vulnerable as you try to help and encourage. If you must be helpful, remember the words of Ronald Reagan as he entered into negotiations with the USSR:

Trust, but verify.

That’s the deal. Tell your loved one, if you want my help, then prove to me that you’re worthy of it. Nobody gets a free pass just because they’re loved.

And you, dear reader, aren’t immune to being used. Remember, addiction is no respecter of persons. Not you, Mom. Or you, Dad. Or even you, sibling or friend. Addiction respects nobody and knows nothing of integrity.

Trust me…