A LETTER TO MY SON by Laurie Lamsus Vogel

I finally got my parents' family therapy packet from my son's residential treatment facility. (Yep, we have homework and I still love this place.) My first assignment was his biography, then yesterday, I had to read him a letter I wrote about what his life might have been like if he didn't go into residential treatment. We've talked about this often because he's been gone 6 years. His entire adolescent years -- eleven to seventeen. Here's the letter I wrote to him. It wasn't in detail because I was at the ER with a possible broken hand when I wrote it. 

To My Dearest William,

I know you're tired of being in treatment and want to come home. We want you home, too. You are so close to being ready and we look forward to the day you come home for good. I want you to know that being in treatment has saved you from a terrible future. 

Before you went to residential, you had many unsafe behaviors which were putting you in danger. If you'd continued to run away, and had succeeded, you'd likely be living on the streets with no love or support. You wouldn't have food or water or a warm bed to sleep in. You wouldn't be getting the treatment and medication you need. The likelihood that you'd start self-medicating with alcohol and drugs is high. Then, the people you'd associate with could be bad people and either hurt you, or worse. The aggressive behavior would probably come back and you'd most likely hurt someone and possibly end up in jail. Most inmates are mentally ill and didn't get the treatment they needed. Most of them keep committing crimes and are in and out of jail. Also, if you were to hurt someone, I think it would make you sad because you have a good heart and don't like seeing people hurt. 

You have a bright future ahead and I know, when you graduate the program and come home, you'll be ready to be a productive member of society. I'm so proud of how far you've come and I love you more than words can say. 

Love, Mom