Talking to students is easy. There is nothing to it when all you do is recount stories and the horrors of parenting and loving and addict.
The hard part is maintaining your composure when those stories are ripping at your heart. When you tell about the experience many years ago when my son showed me so well that addiction is not a simple choice but is really a disease that must be treated and fought like any other disease. Trying to tell the story of my son crying and asking me to please help him. How do you tell 30 young people about how that feels when I can barely get the words out of my mouth.
Telling stories of how we shared tears, my son, his mother and I. Struggling to do what no one had answers for. Opening my life, our lives to make a impact on these young adults so maybe there won't be another set of parents living our life.
Then comes tears I see on students cheeks. Watching a student run from the room, grabbing the whole box of tissues from the teachers desk. Students relating stories to me during break of siblings and parents drug use. A student asking me a simple question during break, "Why do people treat addicts so bad? They aren't bad people they are sick. I know everything you said is true, my mother is a heroin addict. I am so sorry you had to go through this with your son." She is trying to comfort me. Setting my business cards on an empty table, they have my blog address, phone number and email address on them. Students taking them from the table as they leave the room.
A couple of people that I admire in this field stress to me that self-care is most important in this field. It is important to take care of yourself so that you can go on doing good things. I told them once that my best self care was writing and sharing with all of you wonderful people that read these ramblings.
Talking is easy. The hard part is listening.