When I came to Nar-Anon, I learned that my interference and my attempts at controlling them were actually standing in the way of their recovery. I learned to let go of the control I never had in the first place.”

Magnolia New Beginnings

Photo Credit: Randy Mason Photo Credit: Randy Mason

In recovery, we learn to profoundly adjust our expectations, hard as it is. We raised one child, and now we have another. We are all too aware of the change that drugs have produced in our children. A parent wrote in Sharing Experience, Strength and Hope ( the SESH book) a very revealing statement, something I could have written myself. It is a key to understanding my story, my mother and father’s stories, and my daughter’s painful struggle:

“I expected my children to be perfect, to always do the right thing. I tried to control them by giving them direction and making them do things in a way that I felt was correct! When they didn’t, I could not handle it.

I could not accept their drug use and I felt that their behavior was a reflection on me. I was embarrassed for myself and scared…

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Magnolia New Beginnings

Photo Credit: Randy Mason Photo Credit: Randy Mason


Libby Cataldi

This is part of a series of monthly posts that reference many conversations with Dr. MacAfee. Thanks, Doc.

A dear friend of mine and Dr MacAfee’s, a mother of a recovering addict, wrote to me:Addiction within a family brings a thick cloak of shame to all. It surrounds and permeates us to our very core. We agonize over our loved one’s behavior, and we cringe over what people must be thinking of us. Addiction brings shame, and we isolate ourselves.

My reflection:When I had breast cancer, an army of women surrounded me with love and support, but when my son was in active addiction, many of these same friends didn’t know what to do or say. I was in deep pain and confusion, so I isolated. I let no one in.

Today’s Promise to consider:Today, I will…

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Resistance Training


Magnolia New Beginnings

Girl splashing water in a puddle after a rain

From In All Our Affairs, Making Crises Work For You, Surrender:

“’Let go and Let God.’ It sounds so simple. But when our circumstances or the circumstances of those we love weigh heavily on our minds, we may have no idea how to do it. Some of us struggle with the very idea of a Higher Power. Others begin to question long and deeply held beliefs, especially in stressful times…

Many of us review the same scenario again and again, looking for that elusive answer that will solve everything, obsessively wracking our brains for something that we could do differently or should have done differently in the past…As long as there is a chance of figuring out a solution, we reason, we should keep trying…We may secretly feel that this problem is too important to trust to God, as if we had the power to prevent God’s…

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Double Edge Sword.


Magnolia New Beginnings


Addiction is a disease like none other. A double edge sword. It tears families apart. It bonds strangers forever. I never wanted to play this role in life. I was happy being a NICU nurse. Helping families cope with a premature or very sick newborn was what I did. It gave my life meaning and purpose. I was happy with my life and saw the world through rose colored glasses.

That was until my son became an addict. My handsome, life loving son became a victim to a horrible disease. There were no instruction manuals to prepare me for this journey. No section in the bookstore on What To Expect When Your Child Becomes Addicted. I was left to figure this out the hard way. It was an education I didn’t sign up for but could not escape.

I had no clue that Matt would come to depend on the…

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Redemption And Freedom


Magnolia New Beginnings

Photo Credit: Randy Mason Photo Credit: Randy Mason

My daughter Angie told me once that she hated NA meetings because pimps, dealers, and strung-out junkies just itching for their next high often attended them. But in her case I don’t think that’s true. I think she didn’t go to meetings because she needed to deal with her addiction her way, and not be told by anyone else what to do: CSR—compulsively self-reliant—just like her mother.

Or maybe she just wasn’t ready to embrace recovery at all, a painful possibility I had not yet considered. I was still determined, at that point, to believe that she was going to beat her addiction and that I, of course, would be the glorious savior she would spend the rest of her life thanking, handing me my redemption on a silver platter.

I would finally, thank God, let go of the oppressive burden I was placing on my…

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Magnolia New Beginnings

brewster-015 Photo Credit: Randy Mason

An excerpt from S.O.B.E.R.* written by a mother and son

An acronym for Son Of a Bitch Everything’s Real


When we arrived at the family treatment program, I finally started to understand and believe that addiction is a disease. I was more than a little nervous, wondering how my son’s brain was ever going to be normal again. Was he up to this daunting task? There was no surgery for this illness. There was only a lot of hard work and the desire to change. I was cautiously optimistic. Only time would tell.

I was getting more and more anxious about seeing him for the first time. My husband and daughter were excited and hopeful. I, sadly, didn’t feel that way. I didn’t trust my son anymore and wondered if I ever would again.

Sunday morning, we were all led into a very large nondenominational…

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To Be The Mom Of An Addict


Magnolia New Beginnings

Welcome Sandy Swenson to Magnolia New Beginning’s Blog http://www.magnolianewbeginnings.com

Photo Credit: Randy Mason Photo Credit: Randy Mason

Once upon a time I was just a mom.
A regular mom.
When I held my little miracle in my arms for the very first time, I rubbed my cheek on his fuzzy head and whispered, “Joey, my beautiful son, I will love and protect you for as long as I live.” I didn’t know then that my baby would become an addict before becoming an adult, or that the addict taking his place would shred the meaning of those words to smithereens.
When Joey tumbled into my world, he arrived without an instruction manual, but I was the best mom I could be as someone with good intentions and no experience. I stumbled through parenthood like everyone else — rocking my baby to sleep, kissing the scraped knees of my little boy, setting unwelcome limits for…

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Do Something…anything!


It’s important to take action–any action–on a daily basis. It does not really matter whether your action is successful or not. What matters is making a decision, a choice and acting on it in some way. This fights feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Taking action empowers and affirms our ability to influence others, life and […]


Peace In The Storm


Magnolia New Beginnings

Photo Credit: Randy Mason Photo Credit: Randy Mason

The road to my spiritual life began when I was a young child growing up in an alcoholic family. But I didn’t start to walk this road until halfway through my life when my daughter fell ill with drug addiction.

I was very unhappy growing up. It’s a classic story of family dysfunction that many of us have experienced as children. But back then I didn’t have Alateen to go to. My father was never treated and died prematurely because of his illness.  I, too, was untreated for the effects of alcoholism, and grew into an adult child.

Many of us know how rocky that road is: low self-esteem, intense self-judgment, inflated sense of responsibility, people pleasing and loss of integrity, and above all, the need to control. I carried all of these defects and more into my role as a mother to my sick…

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