How would you feel if your whole life was literally torn apart within the space of week? The two people you loved the most, taken away from you?
In March 2015, Julie Nagy experienced just that: Her husband, Ivan, passed away after losing his battle with cancer, and then, her son, Truman, died of an overdose.
It’s her son, however, she feels the most pain in losing — the fact she couldn’t save him from drug and alcohol abuse. To this day, she harbors so much guilt.
In her own words, Julie tells her story:
“My son, Truman Patrick Deeb, was such a genius child, he won the highest merit-based scholarship offered by NYU at the age of 16. It was $100,000 plus all these other amazing things such as trips all over the world during the winter sessions, etc. I didn’t hesitate for a moment to expect him to accept this most prestigious of honors. But, Truman, was not so sure. He wanted to go to the University of Oklahoma where all his friends from OSSM (Oklahoma of School of Science & Mathematics) were all flocking to because they all get full scholarships with everything paid for plus living expense money. I was not interested in my son going to a football school. We argued and argued, but in the end, he did as I expected and agreed to go to NYU. This was the beginning of the end for my only child, my precious Truman.
“When he came home for Spring Break in March 2010 at the age of 17, he had dreadlocks, smelled like a homeless person and looked like one as well. I was horrified. After a few days, he confessed to us that he was a full-blown heroin-addict. I was mortified and instantly began researching drug rehabs. The main problem was most rehabs required you to be 18. This was a serious problem. While I was busy, up day and night. Unbeknownst to me, my husband had pulled my son aside and told him, being a junkie was a very difficult habit to break, a lifelong problem, and he should do himself and his loved ones all a favor, have his mother drive himself to Wal-mart buy a rope and hang himself. My husband was a very practical man. I, was not told about this conversation at the time.
“I finally found about this conversation when I went to pick my son up from drug rehab in Nevada from the Scientologists about two months later. I was obviously very upset. So upset in fact, I refused to go home because I was afraid I would homicide my husband. I had only two suitcases to my name as I was only in Nevada for the weekend to pick up my son. This was June 2010. So began my separation from my husband and the end of life as I knew it.
“Because the financial success my husband, I relied on the relationships that I had established with the systems such as DISH Network, iNDEMAND, etc., and I was certain my husband would not do anything to jeopardize them, neither did I. But I was wrong. Even my son, went back to placate my husband, but that didn’t work. My husband got a default divorce. But I got that overturned in the Oklahoma Court of Appeals. My husband tried to beat me by not giving me a dime of money for three years. It was hard, but I survived. In the meantime, he was diagnosed with cancer. Just as I was winning in court, he was losing his battle with cancer. As all my friends were urging me to finish him, I could not. I had to go to him, because I always and still did love him. I just couldn’t let him defeat me over money and I could never forgive him for trying to kill my only child, my son, my Truman. But, I loved this man so, I went to him.
“He had given so much of what we had away because of his diminished capacity and the evilness of those around him. It was so sad to see him like this. I did not care about all that. I just wanted to be there for him and comfort him, love him and take care of him because I loved him, regardless. He was so happy to see me. It was just us and I took care of him. We were so happy. But my baby Truman felt so betrayed by me because I left him to take care of Ivan after all the hell he put us through while he lived the high life off of all my contracts and contacts. Yes, it was wrong and not nice, but I am much more forgiving and my husband was dying and I just wanted to be with him. Truman was not so understanding, he didn’t have to be, but I needed him to try to understand for me, but he couldn’t so he descended back into his world of heroin, pills and insanity — I could not be in two places at once and it was awful, but I knew Ivan was dying and I hoped that I could repair my relationship with Truman once Ivan passed and we could begin again.
“In December of 2014, my mother sent my son Truman to stay with Ivan and me because she couldn’t handle his insanity. I got him into drug detox and sober living, but he escaped and went back to Oklahoma with my mother’s help. I was not talking to either my mother or Truman because I was doing tough love, realizing this may be the last chance to save Truman’s life.
“Then on March 24, 2015, Ivan, passed away. I was all alone. I knew better, but my mother and my son drove from Oklahoma to be with me. They arrived the next day. Truman was back to all his old tricks, ordering marijuana, drinking, God knows what else. On the 27th, I woke up and there he was, dead on the floor, my little Truman — it was all my fault!!!!! Had I not been so weak because my husband died, he might still be here with us now. God played a cruel joke on me, he took them both away from me, I truly have nothing.
“I only wish God would have let me also go with my family those three days when he took them, I really mean it. It is more cruel to make me live now without them and have to survive and try to live with nothing and such hardship & pain. It is cruel.”
Obviously, Julie’s guilt is impeding her life and close to two years on, stopping her from even leaving the house.
When we did our makeover with her, it was the only one we couldn’t get through — her pain was so heartbreaking to witness.
We consulted various experts to try and delve deeper into not only a way to help her more, but to help us all understand that overwhelming feeling of drowning in the depths of despair.
Dr. Howard Samuels, PsyD. is the CEO and Founder of The Hills Treatment Center. Samuels knows first-hand the tragic reality of addiction. Sober for more than 30 years, he had to reach rock bottom in his battle with heroin and alcohol, before he could dedicate his life to helping those who are falling into the tragic abyss of addiction. His self-written autobiography, Alive Again, details his road to recovery
We asked him the following questions:
Q) Is it normal for a parent, or say a partner, to blame themselves for the other person’s addiction?
A): Yes, it can go either way, most parents definitely feel like they’ve made mistakes that have contributed to their child being addicted to drugs. Parents are usually the ones that feel guilty whereas partners or married couples, not so much. This is because they didn’t “raise” the partner or wife. Also, besides the parents feeling guilty there is usually a tremendous amount of anger towards the addict or alcoholic because they’ve created so much damage because of their using.
Q) Does there come a point, where no matter what they do, there’s nothing they can do to save the person addicted to drugs?
A) Yes and no. First of all, you never give up on interventions to save your loved ones. I say that because my family never gave up on me and it was because of their interventions that eventually saved my life. But at the end of the day, it’s up to the addict, they are the only ones that have to power to change their lives.
Q) How does drug addiction not only destroy the person in question’s life, but those around them too, and in what way?
A) The addict/alcoholic burns everyone that loves them. The family is fried, emotionally and financially because the addict or alcoholic is lying, is irresponsible, puts themselves in dangerous situations and causes such chaos that the whole family is turned upside down, constantly.
Q) What should you do immediately if you discover your partner or child is on drugs?
A) You should immediately research the best drug and alcohol treatment program in order to get some advice and direction on how to intervene on your loved one as soon as possible. If the person in question was in denial, I would put together an intervention and get them into a treatment program.
Don’t confront them until you get some direction from an professional on how to handle it.
DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.), the media’s Go-To Relationship & Life Style Expert, serving clients worldwide at www.DrGilda.com, penned this letter to Julie in a bid to help her begin her journey of healing.
Dear, dear Julie,
As you have seen, God does have His own ways to teach us to grow. You have made excuses for Ivan’s behaviors and for Truman’s as well. But each person is ultimately responsible for himself and his own well-being. As much as a loving mother tries, she cannot control her almost-adult child, especially when he’s dependent on and addicted to poisonous substances. As much as a loving wife tries, she can neither control the people her spouse attracts and befriends.
Your biggest issue now is to grieve your OWN behavior, for not having done enough for either Ivan or Truman. Actually, when is enough enough? When does a woman decide to take total responsibility for her own life without overfunctioning for those she loves? This is a common issue for many women for continue to give to everyone but to themselves. When we overfunction for others, we underfunction for ourselves. So now that these two men are gone, you note that you are left with little means of support, little ability to sustain yourself, and little reason to continue living. But, girl, this is a brand new year. This is when you can totally change your life and make it your own–without having to answer to anyone else. You are free of all the problems you previously had. This is your time. While you accuse God of playing a “cruel trick” on you, it’s obvious that you have a lot of work to do on yourself before your life ends. Take back your life, take back your power. You, your mom, Ivan, and Truman DID THE BEST THEY KNEW HOW. What’s to say Truman would not have ended up a dependent addict if he had gone to the University of Oklahoma? What’s to say that Ivan would have been more discriminating with other friends if he had not chosen the “scum” you say he did? This is now all in the past. Grieve their loss, but not your own failings. Because you did the best you knew how, too, given all the circumstances. Now it’s time for you to shine! Find a support group, some good female friends, and totally realize your strength. You have plenty of living yet to do!!”
Meanwhile, if you have a family member or someone you love battling addictions, Brad Lamm, CIP Intervention.com and Founder of Breathe Life Healing Centers recommends to do the following:
- Determine if an Intervention Is Needed – Steps to identifying behavior that warrants change
- The deciding factor will be adding up the costs of that person’s behavior – the costs to that person and their friends and family.
- There are emotional costs, health costs, and financial costs.
- Craft a “Circle of Change” – Bring together the group of people who will work as a team to be part of the intervention
- When someone faces several people, it’s not as easy for them to dismiss the whole affair as a personal disagreement, or ignore the heartfelt wishes of parents, children, their spouses, and friends. They will better grasp the gravity of the situation and more people can present evidence that a problem really exists.
- Make a List – make a list of clear examples of his/her actions (rather than just behaviors) that affect their lives and the lives of others
- Pay attention to the behavior you observe in your loved one, partner, employee, or relative. Maybe it has recently changed for the worse. He has started abusing drugs or alcohol, become moody or aloof, or begun picking fights with you. Then ask yourself: What is this behavior doing to you? Do you experience errors in judgment, accidents, and poor physical and mental health? Are you satisfied with the way things are?
- Deliver the Invitation to an Intervention – how to get the person to attend the intervention without forcing the issue. You want him or her to be there at their own free will!
- Stick to these points when asking your loved one to come to a family meeting: (1) We love you, (2) we need a change, (3) we’re getting together to begin change, and (4) it is really important that you come.