When I met author Loretta Eidson at an ACFW conference a few years ago, I discovered we both had completed Jerry Jenkins’ writing courses. I knew she was special and her sweet southern drawl and joyful smile immediately drew me in. And she was so funny, too! But it wasn’t until much later, when our writing friendship deepened over time, that I knew of the dark moments she’d endured as a mother of a son who’d made bad decisions that cost him years in prison. I asked Loretta to share her story of faith and decision to persevere through depression as part of the Let Resilience Arise series to help others who’ve had a child that turned to darkness. She will inspire many to continue to press on with resources for deep resilience from above.
By Loretta Eidson
“Mom, they sentenced me to 10 years in prison.” My son’s words reached through the line and sucked the breath out of me.
I held the phone from my ear and stared at the receiver. Tears dripped from my cheeks as I dropped the phone and gasped for air. The room spun.
Physically, I couldn’t sink any lower than the floor allowed, and yet in my brokenness, the earth opened and swallowed me. Colors faded as my surroundings merged together into one big blur.
A dark fog formed around me while gut-wrenching sobs weakened every muscle. My emotions spiraled out of control.
I slammed the bedroom door and turned out the light. Despondency lured me into bed and pulled me under the cover. I curled into the fetal position. Was I dreaming or was it reality?
Please, someone wake me up. I . . . I can’t breathe.
Days crawled as weeks passed. Depression crushed the already broken pieces of my heart. I was alone in my pain because I thought no one could possibly understand my grief.
He’d made his choices, now he had to suffer the consequences.
Life as I’d known it dissolved in an instant. Could our family ever recover?
Words failed me. I had known this would eventually happen if he didn’t seek professional help and make better decisions. He’d refused, denying his addictions. I thought I would be ready when that day arrived, but I was wrong. It was like watching a loved one draw his last breath. You know it’s going to happen, but hearing the last puff proclaims finality, and your heart breaks.
I approached the prison and my stomach writhed in pain. I paused and took a breath before walking through the open gate. Two high fences were draped with three rows of razor wire. Stern-faced security officers scrutinized my every move as I stepped through the metal detector and approach another security station. No one smiled. My hands grew sweaty and my knees weakened.
They stamped the back of my hand and I stood there like a lost child. The security officer thrusts his hand out pointing to the next security station. I held my stamped hand up to a high window along with my ID. They looked me up and down and sent me to another security station.
My pulse raced and my heart beat like a jackhammer against my chest. I was an innocent visitor, but the process made me feel like I’d been sentenced. I wanted to run back to the safety of my car.
Unconditional love pushed me forward as I took in the surroundings of my son’s new home. He is the youngest of my three. My baby. I swallowed hard. Don’t cry.
Where had I failed as a mother? What could I have done differently? Would anything I said have made a difference? Why me? Why my son? Humiliation wrapped around me like an icy blanket. Couldn’t someone else carry this pain? And yet even in my anguish, I didn’t wish this emptiness on anyone.
My dreams for him to have a family and succeed in life died. How would I let his name slip from my lips without wilting to the floor in uncontrollable wailing? Could I ever forgive him?
The road to recovery was slow. Depression pierced me like the sharp talons of a predator capturing its prey. It had the ability to squeeze the very life out of me and I had to find the strength to fight back. But how?
I grasped for direction as I cried out to God. No, I screamed to Him for help. Verses from the Bible filtered through the raw wounds of my heart. Verses like:
- I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).
- Love never fails (I Corinthians 13:8 NIV).
- Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God (Psalm 42:11 NIV).
- Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27 NIV).
I recognized them, but how could I apply such soothing, life-giving words to this broken, useless, vessel? It was like standing at a window watching children laugh and play outside. I wanted to be happy, too, but there was nothing left inside me.
During it all, I still knew enough to call on God to help me fight this emotional crisis. I couldn’t do it alone. I needed His help.
Day by day I forced my body into action as I crawled over shards of scrambled emotions. I dragged myself out of bed, and with a blank stare, I dressed and put on makeup.
I drove to the open-air mall and walked. Mall? Yes. It wasn’t a shopping spree by any sense of the word, but I had to get out of the house before this inner battle against depression could begin. I walked aimlessly while the wind blew in my face and tossed my hair. Just breathe.
There was no avoiding the issues. My family needed me—and I needed them.
I had to face my battles one-by-one, trust God’s Word was true and believe Jesus would carry me when my legs couldn’t. Next, I forced myself to pray and face the decisions standing before me. I had:
- A choice to make: Did I want to live the rest of my life in this dark hole?
- To realize I wasn’t the only one in my family hurting. I had been too blinded by my own pain that I couldn’t see theirs.
- To quit blaming myself for my adult son’s choices in life.
- To quit dwelling on shattered dreams.
- To move beyond remembering the precious, lovable little boy I once knew to the grown man he’d become.
- To overcome the humiliation of my son’s behavior.
- To forgive and let go of my anger toward him.
Forcing myself to do these things created a lot of turmoil as I jumped each hurdle and followed through. The weight of depression and grief slowly lifted from my heart. It wasn’t instantaneous, but the consistent, gradual steps moved me to where I am today: Wiser, happier, forgiving, humbled, thankful, blessed, restored and filled with true peace that passes all understanding!
The additional help of Christian counseling, close friends who prayed for me and persisted in taking me places, an understanding and loving husband who prayed and consoled me, and my daughter who visited, called, cooked, and reasoned with me continually…I survived and was restored. Regardless of everyone’s involvement in my life, ultimately, I had to make the choice—to live a victorious life.
The battle for restoration was a tough one, despite my son’s prison sentence. To meet me, you would never know the dark clouds I’ve walked through or the scars on my heart. But one thing is sure: A resilient life is possible for anyone who’s willing to fight for it.
God is my healer and my deliver. He forever reigns within my heart.
Peace be still, and breathe… just breathe.
Loretta Eidson writes romantic suspense. Her novel is a finalist in the 2017 Catherine Contest. She placed in the top ten of ACFW’s Genesis contest in 2013 and 2015. She was a finalist in the 2014 Genesis Contest and won in her genre in the 2014 Novel Rocket Contest.
Loretta is agented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency.
She is a graduate of Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild where she completed four years of study through the Apprentice, Journeyman, and Craftsman courses.
Loretta and her husband, Kenneth, a retired police captain, live in Olive Branch, Mississippi. In her pastime, Loretta enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with her family.
What is the Let Resilience Arise series all about?
Elizabeth Van Tassel is a wildfire survivor who lost every possession and her home in 2007. Since that time, she’s been cultivating fiction and nonfiction projects of her own to inspire kids and adults alike with her lessons. But she’s also developed a wonderful network of amazing authors in all different genres and professions who have compelling stories to boost you or perhaps a friend you know who’s struggling with a similar challenge. Subscribe to this blog for these articles and a monthly newsletter to come to your email or stop by again for more amazing stories. Also have your teens and tweens check out their own page and posts HERE. Want to share your story with others or have Elizabeth share hers with your group? Contact Elizabeth HERE and she’d love to discuss bringing lessons of hope and new beginnings to your group too.