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As a mother of four I've had my fair share of highs and lows, joys and fears and laughter and tears. Every mother fears for her children, you worry about them falling off the swing set and breaking a bone. You worry if your children will make friends in school. You worry if your children will do well in school. You worry about the example that you set for your children and you wonder how that will affect them with the choices they make in the future.
Sometimes I think worrying is a waste of time because what will happen will happen no matter whether you worry or not. You can be the best mother in the world or you can be the worst mother in the world, the world is going to happen to your children whether you're paying attention or not.
I don't know if it was the best day of my life the worst day of my life when my child came to me and told me he had previously been addicted to drugs but was now in recovery. Where the hell was I? Why did not know that that was what was happening? Why didn't I stop it? What did I do wrong? It's like a double edge sword, Yay for him and oh my God!
But it's a wake up call for sure because then you start looking at your other kids and realizing that they're going through addictions too.  Suddenly you are paying attention in a way you never had before.  Hypervigilance.
Their addictions might not be a methamphetamine or opiate or alcohol, it could be the people they choose to have in their lives and the way they treat themselves. It breaks your heart as a mother to feel so helpless and not be able to comfort your own child when they are in their greatest need.
Your mind runs through the memory banks of everything you said or did since the day they were born. You wonder if saying no to that gallon of bug juice was worth the effect that it might've had later in life. And you shake your head and have to laugh at yourself because you know that if it wasn't that gallon of bug juice it would've been that pair of shoes or that Barbie doll. No mother can be a perfect mother, because we're human beings. So I guess that leaves me no other choice than to be grateful and thankful that at least I have a child in recovery.
Sometimes all you can do is pray and hope that God is listening and that when you are not there to protect your children he will give them the wisdom to make the right choices. But even having faith in God doesn't guarantee you that all your children are going to be safe in life. The Devil is always working harder to try and turn them away from the path they were meant to be on. Every little thing that's happened to them in their lives affects them in one way or another.  It will either build their character or it will make them crumble. 

Now that I know more about addictions, I can help and support my children in ways that I never before thought they would need.  Sometimes life can be a battlefield and the only way to win is to stick together.  Always be there for them.  They may age but they will always be your babies and they will always need you. 
I will always worry, it's how I am's what I's who I am.  But now that I am aware I can be there the way they need me to be.  AWARENESS.  The key is to be aware.  Watch.  Listen.  Love....always LOVE.

Finding a Life of Purpose
By: Kamal Haji

My childhood was not a normal one by any means. Although I was brought up in a privileged setting, in the suburbs of New York City, my family dynamics were not typical. First of all I was born in Kenya and have lived on 3 continents in my lifetime. Secondly I have a twin brother who is schizo-affective and has a severe multiple personality disorder. Thirdly, I have two parents who work at the United Nations and traveled extremely often during my childhood and last but not least I grew up in the Muslim faith which meant that alcohol and drugs were not allowed by any measure.
Trying to fit in during my formative years was pretty tough due to my diverse background but it got even harder after 9/11 happened. Simply put being a Muslim in the U.S. during the early 2000’s was not a good look! I needed something to distract my peers from my self-perceived “weirdness” and it was not long before I found the perfect “solution” in Alcohol and Marijuana.
By middle school, the fact that my parents were consistently out of town was “cool” and I took advantage of every moment until they had to send me to boarding school in tenth grade because I was disobeying their rules and getting in trouble in school. When I went to boarding school I learned to live more independently but even more than getting a good education it provided me an ample opportunity to hone my manipulation skills and practice using and partying at an increasingly higher level while learning how to function and hide my use. I was introduced to stimulants during this time period and although I did not realize it, I was abusing my own medication. To my school and to my parents I was a good student, class president, and a “role model” to my peers but in reality I was selling and using drugs daily. In retrospect, not facing any real consequences during my high school years was the worst thing that could have happened to me because the college years that ensued brought me to deepest and darkest depths of my life.
I started university directly after my senior year of high school and like any good alcoholic or addict, I pledged a fraternity my first semester! The fraternity was my 1st priority and school was 2nd. It was here where my addiction took off from using soft drugs and alcohol to using everything under the sun that would get me high. I used to live and lived to use. I maintained my grades for the sole reason that I knew I couldn’t live without the lifestyle that college provided. Although I tried almost every substance known to man during those years, my affinity with Alcohol trumped all other things in my life. I drank to go to sleep, I drank when I woke up, I drank when I took exams, I drank when I studied, and I drank when I partied. I eventually got into some legal troubles my sophomore year so I thought going on a semester abroad would be the best way to evade further trouble during my probationary period. Thus, my junior year I decided to go to Kenya where my parents had a house and I had family support.
I believed that being around sober people might help me.  Not surprisingly, it didn’t! Within four months of being there I was diagnosed with a severe case of pancreatitis at the ripe old age of 21. I was barely old enough to drink yet I had the pancreas of a man who had been drinking for 40 years. For any rational person this would be enough. This would be the time where they realized that they cherished their life and made the decision to stop drinking. I guess you can say I am innately irrational because after having to fly back to NYC (to have surgery to remove an 11 inch pancreatic cist that weighed almost a pound) I drank again on New Year’s Eve. The following months provided me the opportunity to not only drink myself half to death but to develop a new addiction for opioids and to alienate every friend in my life, neglect my twin brother who needed me, and distance myself from every family member, or person who I came into contact. I did not care about life. My purpose was to live outside of myself in a realm of delusion.
The thing I never anticipated was the day where the drugs and alcohol stopped working.  It’s a scary thought when the thing you live for stops working! Not long after that moment I began to believe my only solution to life was ironically to not live at all. This was where my life led me. I had every opportunity in the world to succeed but I felt like a failure. In fact, I was a failure. But I needed to fail. I needed to have nothing left because desperation of the utmost variety was the only thing that would save me.
My last night getting high was on August, 31, 2014. As crazy as it sounds, I had a drug induced dream that would change my life. I was numb in euphoria and call it what you will but something greater than myself intervened that night because I dreamed about another way of life. It was almost as if someone was taking me on a journey of my life and showing me two paths that diverged and in that moment I had the ability to choose my destiny. One path was disparity and the other one was filled with purpose.
It was at that moment where something in me changed. In the program of AA they refer to it as a spiritual awakening. I chose to live a life of purpose that night. The next day I called for help and by that night I was on a flight to Florida to attend a rehab. I was a 22 year old man but in that moment when I got on that plane I felt nothing more than a scared, lost, misunderstood boy.
When I arrived in Florida, I was introduced to a new way of living life. A life of sobriety, serenity and happiness. It was foreign to anything I experienced during my prior 6 years. I learned about the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and my experience at the rehab and subsequently at the sober living facility I lived at allowed me to harness tools that would prevent me from picking up another drink or drug. I was so desperate when I came in that I did anything that was suggested to me by my sober supports. That included going through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous which honestly changed my life. I really bought into the principles of honesty, respect, willingness, perseverance, and others that the program suggests.
To say that maintaining my sobriety has been easy would be far from the truth. I’ve dealt with tragedy, with disappointment, and uncertainty. I’ve dealt with my twin brother going through a coma and my mother and grandfather being diagnosed with cancer. It has been a trying 18 months but today I have the ability to be present for my parents, to be the brother I should have always been, and to be accountable to my friends. The two things that keeps me sober the most today is a spiritual connection with a power greater than myself and the ability to help the next person in need. If you need help please don’t be afraid to reach out to my friends at! Believe it or not, my friends, we can all find our true purpose in life. You just have to be willing to try!

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