Opinion

Trujillo: Empathy is one of the greatest gifts

By Carolina Trujillo

Last month, we commemorated the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. This day was established by the General Assembly through U.N. resolution 42/112 on Dec. 7, 1987. June 26 is observed as an expression to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, there were 1,617 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths in 2018. In Lynn, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reported 54. Seventy-three percent of those who die from an overdose are men, with the highest concentration among 25- to 34-year-olds. 

Unfortunately, despite all the current efforts, we seem to be losing this battle daily. Drug addiction is an illness that doesn’t discriminate by gender, race, age or socio-economic status. It’s truly an equal-opportunity disease and, as with every other war, we suffer extensive casualties. 

Through the years I’ve come across people who are directly affected by the addiction of a loved one. Even if they are sober and healthy, it almost feels like they are carrying the misery of their loved one’s wrong choice, and, thus, their loved one’s burden becomes their own.

I honestly think this is probably the worst face of addiction: that of all the indirect victims who quietly have to deal with the uncertainty of their loved one’s future; those who fear getting a call announcing a tragedy and who live on the edge as they wait for the worst, at all times.

That said, I’ve also met incredible and tremendously strong people who, despite it all, hold onto their faith and don’t deviate from the aspirations of their loved ones seeking recovery. I would like to share a letter written from a mom to her son, who is actively using substances. Her voice can be any voice, a dad, a brother, a sister, a child, or anyone affected by this devastating illness called substance abuse. 

Her letter:

This morning I’d like to say Happy birthday to one of my four greatest blessings. 

It’s been a tough 23 years, I know… It never seems to get better or easier. From growing up with an addict to then becoming what you despised the most. Who knew that we’d be here today? 

I endure much pain and many sleepless nights praying to God that he protects you as he protected me and more. 

He has asked me to just LOVE you but allow him to do his works. Which means sometimes I get in the way. But I do it because I love and at times there is a fear of losing you. Many times, I cry alone, I fight alone but know I did not come alone.

So, this I know, that we/you were not built to lose. 

You too shall conquer your demon; you too shall begin to heal from the pain of the past and present. The pain that others have caused, including myself and the pain you have caused yourself.

Always remember that no matter what, you are victorious and you can and will rise above these circumstances. This too is only temporary. 

All you have to do is fight for your life and believe who you are. 

You may ask, “WHO AM I?”

That was the very same question I kept asking “myself” for years… The answer forever changed my life and continues to do so as I learn more and love myself.

No one has to ever tell me who you are or who they think you are…

I KNOW WHO YOU ARE… JUST LIKE NOONE IS IN ANY POSITION TO TELL GOD OF WHOM HE CREATED (all of us)

YOU MY SON, ARE NOTHING LESS THAN MAGNIFICENT. 

It doesn’t matter what people say or do…

They are not important. It’s about what you believe of yourself that will determine where you go. 

In the depth of you there is a battle…

The battle is that although you/we can be in a certain place in life we always know that this can’t be it for us and there has got to be more in the story. 

REMEMBER:

It is the cry of the wounded soldier that unleashes an army…

That soldier is the KING.

YOU ARE LOVED AND CELEBRATED FOR ALL THAT YOU ARE TO ME, TO US. 

WE/I LOVE YOU MY SWEET ISAIAH

So please, next time you find yourself full of judgment, almost feeling bothered, and probably a bit disgusted by the person standing in front of you, please remember this letter, and embrace your better self by using empathy and remember that this person is irreplaceable to someone, and that someone is somewhere, hoping they find their way back home. 

 

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