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  • Writer's pictureDana Starr

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is my Thanksgiving. I know it's not really Thanksgiving, but, in fact, it really, really is Thanksgiving for me. Today, two years ago, I got my youngest son back. It was November 11, 2013 and it was bone-chilling cold. I had gone to bed the night before, but I couldn't sleep because I was worried sick that my son would freeze to death in the night. It's very hard to sleep peacefully when your mind is going to nightmarish places; eventually, I fell into a fitful sleep.

How do you sleep with the knowledge that your son might not make it through the night due to exposure to the weather of an overdose? How do you get up every day and carry on with this knowledge? The answer is pretty simple: you do it because you have no choice. Drugs and alcohol devoured my youngest son at an early age, but not without a fierce, bloody battle on our part, myself and my husband. We lost. Plain, pure and simple; we lost the battle. Knowing what I know now, I understand we lost before we ever even really started fighting. Of course, we had no way of knowing that all those years ago, and thank God for our ignorance. In our ignorance we fought hard for a dozen years. We refused to give up. If tears, anguish, and worry could save a person from the hell of addiction there would be no addicts in this world.

Every tear we shed, every minute of sleep we lost, every angry or encouraging word we uttered, every rehab/counselor/hospital we paid for, every jailhouse visit we made, every mile we drove in the middle of the night searching for him resulted in absolutely nothing. ZERO. Not one thing gained because unbeknownst to us, we had already lost. Thankfully, we didn't know that, so we just kept on fighting. We fought our battle. Our son fought his battle. This is the story of our battle. My son has his own story. It's not for me to tell his story.

When my husband's cell phone rang on the morning of November 11, 2013, he and I were at the gym. He was on a treadmill. I was on a treadmill. As much as I despise walking on a treadmill, there's something peaceful about it for me. I can empty my mind when I'm walking, and I love the solitude. I don't listen to music. I don't watch TV. I don't talk to the people next to me. I walk. I just walk, and I try not to think because that leads to worry, and as we've already established, worry leads to nothing. When I heard the phone ring, I was instantly irritated. Who was destroying my solitude? Not for the first time, It was my son. He was calling to tell us he had no more fight left in him. He was ready to admit he needed help in his battle against drugs and alcohol.

Did it make me happy to hear this? Was I encouraged by this turn of events? As horrible as this sounds, the answer is no. The reason I say no is because we had heard it before. We had walked this road before, several times. I wasn't happy or encouraged. I was exhausted, physically and mentally. I'm not talking about the kind of tired you are when you get off a treadmill. I'm talking bone-deep tired. I'm talking going to bed, pulling the covers over your head, and sleeping for a week kind of tired. I can't really describe the kind of tired I'm talking about, but if you have ever experienced profound loss then you know exactly what I'm talking about. There wasn't time for me to give in to my exhaustion. As soon as my husband got off the phone, we got busy. If our son was willing to admit he needed help to fight his demons then by God we were willing to keep fighting, no matter how tired we were.

The next 24 hours was pretty much non-stop activity, and some of it is a blur in my mind; however, I distinctly remember feeling very calm and at peace with what was happening, and how it was happening. If you are an addict, or if you love an addict, then calm, peaceful feelings are not feelings you normally have the pleasure of experiencing.

A miracle occurred on November 11, 2013, and I do not use the word MIRACLE lightly; believe me. I got my life back, and even more importantly, my son got his life back. I won't go into every detail; although, if you would like to know more for your sake, or the sake of a friend or loved one, I'll be happy to share with you if you want to get in touch with me. This date will forever be my Thanksgiving. As it happens, this date is also Veteran's Day which I think is very fitting for my son. He is a veteran of a war. No, not a traditional war fought with weapons, but a war nonetheless. It's a war he will fight for the rest of his life, his precious, precious life. Yes, we lost the battle, but we intend to win the war.

Please take a few minutes to click on the link below and watch the video featuring Chris Christie. It's not about politics. It's about being human. It's about trying and failing. It's about understanding that you and/or your loved ones are not immune to addiction. He says, "There but for the grace of God go I. It can happen to anyone, so we need to start treating people in this country not jailing them. We need to give them the tools they need to recover because EVERY life is precious. EVERY life is an individual gift from God, and we have to stop judging and start giving them the tools they need to get better."

You may contact me at: or hit me up on Facebook if you have questions, would like to know more, or if you need a speaker who offers raw truth, humor, and hope. I'm available to speak to varied audiences large and small. My presentation, Living with the Unimaginable, is the more detailed story of what you just read.

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