A mother wrote to me: I picked up my son last Friday to go to his grandparents for the weekend. I suspected he was using, but in truth I knew he was using. Why didn’t I have a plan? Why didn’t I tell him to get out of the car and that he was not welcome to be with us? I have to set clear limits, communicate those limits to him and then stick to them. Why is that so difficult?
My response to the above passage: Boundaries keep us safe, yet I found them difficult to put into effect. Fear kept me locked in the gap: fear that I’d lose my son, fear that the boundary would hurt him, fear that I was too harsh and not a ‘good mother.’ But when I learned where I started and stopped, I was better able to be stronger for my son and my family.
Today’s Promise to Consider: “No” is a valid response. I’ll practice setting boundaries to keep myself and my addicted loved one safe. He needs to know what I can and will accept, and what I won’t. It’s only fair to him. Consistency and peace can be found by respecting my own boundaries.
The way my wife and I finally were able to ‘maintain’ our boundaries and overcome our fear was to remember that each time we enabled him a little more of his brain was damaged. Then we asked ourselves, “Do I want to help damage my son’s brain?” And the more damage to the brain the longer and more difficult the recovery journey.
That being said, it was very difficult for us to follow thorough but through prayer, our Families Anonymous sponsor and counselor we accomplished our goal to stay true to our appropriate boundaries while still loving our son and letting him know we would always be here for him when he wanted to accept recovery.
It has been my experience that the only way to help our children find recovery is to allow them the freedom to experience the natural consequences of their actions. Their disease must be shaken to it’s very core before the child will be freed to accept long term recovery.
Prayers for all our children.
So true. Your sentence, “Their disease must to shaken to the core before the child will be freed to accept long term recovery” was true for Jeff. He has said many times, “The consequences of my addiction were what made me change.” Prayers.
The same exact thing happened this past weekend that had happened to the Mom that wrote to you Libby. We sat at a dinner with my in-laws and I knew that my son had used. After nine months of him being clean I guess I wanted to believe that maybe it was his contacts that really were bothering him; of course it wasn’t. But I had just began trusting him again, and what if I was accusing him and he wasn’t using. These questions were swirling all around my head. Of course three days later he admits to using.
This time is different though. He has roommates that have set clear boundaries and have asked him to leave the apartment. And when he called me for help, I told him I loved him but that he would have to figure this out for himself. And the next I suspect that he is using, I will use what I have just learned from Pat’s post.
Thanks again Libby! Un bacio
Setting boundaries is the hardest part for parents, I believe. I went through the same process of saying yes, but meaning no. We are desperately to try anything to fix the problem and constantly second guessing ourselves. Listening to other parents and how they solved this issue has helped me tremendously.
n setting boundaries, I sometimes felt that I was hurting him in the beginning. Then it became more clear that it was hurting him when I did not set boundaries. Still very hard to do and harder yet to stick with it. I had to call 911 a few times…the hardest . I also had him leave our house..even harder. Each time I felt more convinced that I had no choice but to take that action. Did it help?? I will never know for sure. I do know that he was getting the message that we were learning how not to enable any more. He usually used horribly after being thrown out of our house. On a few occasions that made him a little more ready for treatment again. I think he may have finally reached a point where he just got sick and tired of it all. He is a few months sober now. I pray it continues. Life is more serene without all the chaos and drama. I pray for all of our families as well. God bless
I’ve done the same thing many times over: denied to myself that Jeff was using when I knew he was. Your story brought back the memory of when our family was at dinner and Jeff returned to the table with glassy-eyes that kept closing. When I asked what happened, he said angrily, “Aren’t I allowed to be tired? When other people close their eyes and are tired, it’s OK, but with me it’s never OK?” With that he got up and left the table. Of course I blamed myself for wrongly accusing him and apologized.
Learning – we are always learning. Jeff is good today and I live in a space of gratitude. But we can’t forget and must remain humble. Love to you.
Thanks for your comment and thanks for you blog Treatment Talk. We all hold hands and help each other. My love and thanks for all you do.
Boundaries are hard to set and (you are correct) harder to maintain. We moms blame and second guess ourselves. Your son is good today and I’m happy, deeply happy, for you both. Let’s join together in prayer for our sons and all the people suffering – including moms and dads. Love to you, Libby
I learn so much from all of you…boundaries are so difficult to set and maintain when we’re parents. I struggled with them for years along with the denial. If we can be consistent with the boundaries, we’re half way there….
Pat, thank you for your insight. Your comments help all of us.
Thanks to all of you for your kindness and support.
My prayers go out to all of you.
per conoscenza … lalitwist.