The first blog I wrote on our website was about an old McDonald’s cup which I have kept on my desk through the years of Aaron’s addiction and separation from his family. I was just sitting at my desk tonight, the eve of Aaron’s one year sobriety date (May 16), and beheld another memento to which has been on my desk just as long: a picture of Aaron and I from Halloween, 1999.
In the photo, Aaron is dressed up as a cowboy-complete with hat, scarf, western vest, painted on handle bar mustache, whiskers (which I had applied), and a fake black eye. He is sitting beside me on the arm chair of my recliner, with his right arm wrapper around my neck. He was 8 years old, and he was so cute! Me and that little cowboy have always been close. In the picture, we looked inseparable.
Seven years after that picture was taken, drugs entered our lives, and separation became a painful reality. My little cowboy became a drug addict, and the drugs-starting with marijuana, and progressing to cocaine, crack, painkillers, and then heroin-changed everything. Aaron was no longer the same person. As he continued his drug use, he became entangled in the legal system, and would spend literally years in confinement-in juvenile centers, the county jail, and numerous rehab centers. The majority of his teen years were spent away from his family, sad to say.
Having a young teenage son, whom you love, separated from you is a terrible heartache. I can’t tell you how many times Rhonda and I wept for that little cowboy of yesteryear. When he was gone, I would sit at my desk and look at that picture, and wish I could put the video in reverse to return to that time of innocence. I found myself asking, “How did it get to this? How could this happen?” The picture of my little cowboy and I sometimes brought me peace, but sometimes it invoked almost unbearable sorrow. I even tucked it away for a time because I couldn’t bear to look upon it.
You see, it reached a point in my life where I didn’t think this little cowboy would ever recover…never return. Lengthy periods behind bars did not deter him from returning to heroin. Probation did not faze him. Overdoses and near-death experiences didn’t seem to get his attention. He just kept returning to his addictive behavior. Prison or death seemed probable for my little cowboy and there was nothing I could do about it, except pray.
And then, in 2013, after seven long years of pain and heartache, the miracle began to happen. Aaron checked into Allegiance Recovery Center, a detox program in Jackson, Michigan, and completed the program there. He was assigned a case manager, Dr. Deborah Smith of Wellness InX, who developed a plan for his recovery and, in turn, introduced him to Phil Pavona, the Director of Families Against Narcotics in Ingham County, and he became Aaron’s Recovery Coach. Aaron finally reached the point of wanting it for himself, and to fully give himself to recovery. He began attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings regularly and found a good sponsor who has been very helpful.
As Aaron progressed in his recovery, he began reaching out to try to help other addicts and their families. He developed this website with that intent. He has become an active member of Families Against Narcotics and has shared his story in public on numerous occasions in other cities, speaking before large audiences (not an easy thing to do for a quiet guy).
Most of all, I have noticed that the real Aaron Emerson has returned to us, his family. He treasures his time with loved ones again. He loves being a part of family gatherings. He has regained his passion for sports (Detroit Tigers, Lions, Wings, MSU, UM). He is a sports writer for Mason Today. He is an assistant to our youth leader at New Life Fellowship. Aaron has drawn closer to the Lord, reading his Bible and praying every day.
I thought we had lost that little cowboy, I really did. As portrayed in this precious photo, Aaron sustained many “black eyes” along the way, but to his credit, he rose up from the canvass and fought his way through 365 days of battle, drug and alcohol free. I am very proud of my son, Aaron. Recovery is a daily process, however. The addict is instructed to focus on one day at a time, as recovery is anything but easy. In this past year, Aaron has, with the help of God and caring people in his life, done the seemingly impossible. That little cowboy from 1999 has returned. Our picture remains on my desk, and I remain grateful to God. Congratulations Aaron!
Did You Like This Blog? Sign Up For More:
Enter your email address in the form below to subscribe to our blog. You will get every new blog sent straight to you right when it is posted. It is totally free.
[jetpack_subscription_form show_subscribers_total=0 title=”Subscribe to Our Blog” subscribe_text=”Enter Your Email to Get Our Blogs Sent to You:” subscribe_button=”Sign up now!”]