Mothers Day (Just a year ago) I went to visit my son. As I sat across from him (The jail glass shield between us) I tried to be upbeat and positive so he wouldn’t see the pain. His skin was grey and yellow, his eyes dull and lifeless, his posture and gait full of shame. This was the longest stint so far and I thought for sure that when he was released this time, he would not go back to a life of drugs and alcohol. But, that would not be the case – only a few months later he was arrested again.. I was devastated.

My son is 25. His addiction began at age 14. I lost my son to drugs and alcohol for 11 years. He has been in and out of jail, rehab and sober living – his choices and struggle have been heartbreaking.

Ryan met RJ at an AA meeting while still in his 30 day residential program. He immediately had a connection with RJ and he was at a point in his treatment where he needed to find a sober living. RJ was known for running a no-nonsense strict house where everyone is held accountable. That is what my son wanted!

Upon meeting RJ I immediately felt relief – I knew Ryan had made the right choice for his recovery. From day one RJ bonds with the guys. He is always available. RJ knows just how to guide and mentor to regain the lives that have been lost. Oak Forest’s all male house is vital to their recovery – they are able to be themselves in a non-threatening environment. They have become a family – Ryan call them his “band of brothers”.

RJ encourages them to stretch and grow beyond their comfort zone. They all help with chores, rides, jobs, planning BBQ’s and meetings at the house. They even had a sober New Years party – inviting all the other sober houses.

Within the first few weeks of Ryan living at Oak Forest, he mentioned to RJ about wanting to try a triathlon. RJ encouraged him and signed up as well. For a couple months they trained and focused on that goal together and completed their first triathlon. What an awesome day! I believe that training with RJ was pivotal in Ryan’s recovery. Showing him that he can achieve anything he sets his mind to and works toward.

Ryan has worked very hard these past 6 months. The gym everyday, meetings, step work, DUI classes, outpatient classes, legal issues, finding a job and excelling at it, paying off legal fees and debts, building new friendships – It hasn’t been easy. As RJ puts it “He has had some growing pains” and RJ stood by him every step if the way. It’s truly remarkable the transformation Ryan has gone through in just 6 months. With RJ’s help I have been able to let go and watch Ryan grow into a healthy, happy, self reliant young man.

This Mothers Day, I saw my son (without glass separating us), his eyes sparkle, his skin is fresh and clean, his body healthy and toned. There is a peacefulness I have never seen before.

He speaks with humbleness and hard earned wisdom. As he held my hand he revealed to me, that for the first time he feels content and that life just feels good.

Over his heart reads “Blessed” – That says it all.
RJ you have been a blessing beyond measure.

Love Debby