Sheriff Leonard of the much admired HARP (HARP = Heroin Addicts Seek Fresh Start) program in Chesterfield County along with Dr. Gay and the rest of the crew has invited me in to speak to women struggling with substance use disorder. This program is saving lives.
Imagine realizing your disease has landed you in jail. And then go one step further and think about how it feels when you realize some action on your part separated you from your children.
Many of these women struggle to find hope but they are attending the classes and they want to get better. No one wants to be addicted to a substance. I’m going to bet everyone of them feels some sense of shame and wants their family back.
So my topic, will be finding hope.
Basically, I’ll tell my story and how I manage to survive and find hope after the most devastating loss of my life. I will be, of course, emotionally naked. I’ll share with them my own mistakes and grief relapses, my irrational fears along the way. I want these ladies to know they can dig deep. They have to focus out as well as in and they can have their families back. And that the first step is believing all of that will happen and never, ever giving up. I want them to know they are an integral part to re-connecting us as a culture. I would even like some of them to share their stories here.
Because honestly, I don’t know what it’s like.
Just like many of them might not really know what it’s like to lose a child to suicide who was suffering from SUD and depression. So I’ll be there to listen to what they have to say, too. I want to know their hopes, fears, goals and what coping skills they will cultivate to manage adversity going forward.
Most of all, I want them to know they matter. That they are important. And to believe in themselves and hold onto hope with the edges of their fingernails no matter what and never let that pilot light go out.