Have you ever felt the desire to say “Stop! I want to get off!” when riding a roller coaster? Of course you never say it out loud because: first, it would be foolish (no one ever gets off the roller coaster); second, it would be too embarrassing (after all, no one forced you to ride).

Life can be a roller coaster ride, and sometimes it is a whopper of a ride! I had been on this up and down ride for many years … ever since my son started to take drugs. I was coasting pretty well when it all began, thinking the ride was a bit bumpy at times, but pretty bearable. Of course I was going to get off at some point and the ride was going to be over … Well not quite.

This ride never stopped and I never got off … It just kept on going and the bumpy ride was getting bumpier and bumpier. There were spins and corkscrews, sudden dips and breathless falls. I could scream all I wanted but there was no stopping it. Exhaustion was wearing me thin, but the end of the ride seemed almost there and if I could just hold on a bit longer, everything would come to a stop and I could get off … And everything was going to be okay … Well not quite.

The turning point was about to come and my grip was getting tighter and tighter. I knew this was going to be the final dash to the end of the ride. I would hear the brakes and we would make a big stop … I was getting off the roller coaster … finally.

This was the day I called SELF and told them my son was coming in. I reached the end of the ride and I was too tired. Today, I am still riding a roller coaster, but this one is different. I can see that the ride has an end and I know I can say “Stop!” and no one is going to think I am foolish. This time I want to ride the roller coaster and know that I can enjoy the ride because the bumps and dips are there to make the ride worthwhile.

I am no longer afraid and don’t want to get off. I am here for the entire ride! When I turned over my son’s care to SELF, I swore it would be a commitment I planned to keep. I wanted to be there for the long haul, for as long as my son needed me. We’ve had our ups and downs since, but there is a stronger feeling of determination and a plan to succeed.

The kindness and the understanding of the people at SELF have given the word “quality” a clearer meaning. It is something you see every day and in every way. The quality of life my son has been experiencing is giving him the chance for change. I hope to keep on riding a kinder roller coaster in the future … one with mini-bumps, lots of smooth flat stretches, a gasp here and there, but no screams, please!

By: Cookie Guerrero
FAM MEMBER