What I Know Now

Ron Athe
A black and white photo of the author and his young granddaughter

When I think of my son today, I remember his wonderful qualities.

But, when he told me he was going to become a father himself, my reply wasn’t what he expected, and I regret that every day. At the time, I didn’t think he had any business having a child. I was wrong.

I was wrong about that and so much more during the 13 years of his substance use disorder. Those were hard years and I got an education that I didn’t want or ask for.

When my family was in the throes of addiction, I didn’t know or understand what was happening, what to do about it, how to move forward. Sadly, I was not open-minded to learn either. I thought, “I’m his father and I have the answers. I know it all.” I was wrong. I was selfish, mean, and arrogant. I can’t change that, and I am paying the price now: regret.

Between the education gained through that experience and now spending much of my time continuing to learn about addiction and mental illness, I am confident and willing to share what I know to help others.

I wasn’t open to this at the time, but if you find yourself in this situation, I urge you to seek help, go to therapy and support groups, learn, and talk. I do these things freely and regularly as a way of helping other families. It’s not an easy journey, and the emotional roller coaster is torture.

To other dads and families who are in the shoes I once wore, I urge you to learn and try to understand as much as possible. Listen to parents who have been there. The more you know and understand, the better you can support your child and give them the chance and hope they deserve and want. Commit and never quit! No work meeting, client, conference call, or appointment is more important than your child. (I am guilty of that, also.)

Like with so many things we experience, there is no definitive cure or guarantee that everything will turn out okay. But there are tools that can give a family and their child a better chance at overcoming and beating this disease. There are so many positive, successful stories out there!

Ryan was a great father. Patient, loving, and gentle. He spent every minute he could with my granddaughter, Olivia. She was his number one priority from the day she was born. She looks like him, and was blessed with his personality and his heart!

I’m so proud of him and miss him every day.

Ron Anthe is a Shatterproof Ambassador based in Texas.