Graduation Day…as seen through the lens of teen addiction


It’s June, and that means graduation, an event with a potential mortification factor second only to the proverbial Christmas letter.  You know, the one where the Perfect Family flaunts their flawless year, and you cringe because your year was a tad “off,” relatively speaking, while you struggled with your child’s chemical dependency.

I was so relieved four years ago when my son graduated from high school, which had gone down to the wire.  Part of the problem was that I wanted  graduation  much more than he did, just like I wanted sobriety much more than he did. And that’s not a recipe for success.

Now, many of his high school friends are graduating from college, and I can get a bit wistful or wishful, or even downright envious, truth be told.  What do you say when your neighbor’s daughter is graduating from Harvard with high honors and moving to Oxford for graduate studies on a full scholarship?  And your child is graduating from a three-month stint in rehab, with a special certificate in safe driving from the local DUI academy.

You say, “Hallelujah! And Thank You, God, for keeping my child safe, for giving me back a piece of my sanity, for giving us the opportunity to grow and learn and appreciate the time we can spend in each other’s lives.” Feel free to sing praise as you see fit.  If you look around, I know you will find something to be grateful for, even if it’s quite different from what you might have asked for.

And here’s a big secret:  those Christmas letters and graduations can diminish you only if you let them.  To avoid contracting a terminal case of Keeping up with the Joneses Disease, which can be fatal when taken to heart, take one hefty dose of acceptance, temper it with a generous helping of gratitude, and call your Higher Power in the morning.