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My Hero:
Wayne Ross Bryan, MD

On June 28, 1982 I got sober. I had gotten married in April on a dare and in a complete blackout. Crazy, right? That’s another story. July of that same year, I got pregnant. This was a disaster. I was still in withdrawals from a myriad of drugs and living in a hotel room - literally. I went over to see my mom at Willingway - the treatment center founded by my parents and where they spent the majority of their time. Running into her office, I closed the door, sat on the sofa, and started crying. “What’s the matter?”, she asked. I sobbed “I’m pregnant.”

Half expecting a lecture or a stare of disapproval, I was met with a long moment of silence.  Dot Mooney was the master of the “pause.” Finally, she said “Well Carol Lind, you know this just might be God’s way of keeping you sober long enough to find out it’s what you want for yourself. “


Boy, was she right! Ross was born on April 19, 1983, when I was just ten months sober. When I was a teenager and all of my friends were earning money babysitting, I was out getting high. In fact, I don’t recall ever holding a baby before he was born, much less, changing a diaper.  But here I was, responsible for a life. The two of us grew up together, although he did it a lot faster than I did. He gave me motivation and courage I never knew I had.  


Thank God I didn’t get a child like me. I believe God knew that I couldn’t handle it! I watched him excel at everything he wanted to do. It’s not like things came easy to him - he worked hard at everything. He learned to play the piano at a young age and spent hours upon hours practicing, even when he was told he had it mastered. He composed music while in high school that the University band performed. He did the same thing with the trumpet until he became first chair in the band. He practiced so much that our pet cockatoo, Chad, mimicked the trumpet and I couldn’t tell who was playing, Ross or Chad! I always looked at him in awe because I never had that kind of dedication and passion after I started using drugs. This helped me to realize how important it is for kids to have something that they love to do. Sometimes it takes time and trial and error to find that out. Keep encouraging!


Ross also was raised by a community of folks in and out of recovery. He never complained about going to someone’s house so I could go to a recovery meeting. Learning to “go with the flow” came naturally to him.  He would sit in meetings with me and stay up long past his bedtime. I’m so grateful they didn’t tell me he wasn’t welcome.  


When he was very young, around nine or ten, he made a decision that alcohol and drugs wouldn’t be a part of his life. I’ve been very open with him about my addiction and he knows there is a genetic component to this disease. As far as I know, he’s kept that commitment. By the way, he did that on his own. Today, Ross is married with a family of his own.  He is a Hospitalist and an avid fisherman. Every time I see him or think of him, I silently thank my Higher Power for letting me be his mom. I truly don’t know if I’d be sober today if it wasn’t for him. Having him gave me time to get involved and dive head first into a program of recovery. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating having a baby to get sober, but this was my path. I do believe I was ready and Ross gave me the drive I needed to continue on the path.  

So, Ross, I thank you, and this is why you’re my first free-falling hero!

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