This is part of a journal entry that I wrote in April 2003: The sun is trying to bake the sadness right out of me. Work your magic, Sun. Bake me thoroughly so that I am happy – like blue and yellow instead of gray and the color of mud.

I struggle with knowing how to be a good mother to my son. I struggle with knowing how to let him go and to keep him close at the same time. I know I need to let him go, but how? I try to extricate myself, to free myself, but I remain staunchly enmeshed. I’m his mother.

My personal reflection on the passage above offering my thoughts today: I reread my words and hear my own suffering. How do we as parents let go of our children? I lived with the continual fear that my son might die.

But finally I understood that I had no control over his life or his choices. I could love him, give him compassion and verbal support, but I couldn’t make him do anything. He needed to feel the consequences of his addiction and I needed to get out of the way. Sometimes I think that I impeded his recovery by rescuing him continually. He told me many times, “Never deny an addict his pain.” I heard his words, but I never ‘heard’ his message.

Last year, I asked several recovering addicts, “What brought you to recovery?” All of them said the same thing, “I couldn’t live with the consequences of my addiction. I had to stop. I was sick of being sick, of all the madness. I had to do it for myself.”

Today’s promise to consider: I’ll stay close to my addicted loved one, but I’ll acknowledge that I can’t force him to change. He needs to decide. I need to give him the dignity of his own choice.

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13 years ago

I hear what you are saying on this and that’s why I have such a hard time with it, it’s because I know there is nothing I can do and that’s what drives me absolutely crazy with despair and a whole bunch of other emotions.

Not only am I dealing with my son and his girlfriend’s addiction but now I am dealing with what this has done to my grandchildren. My son’s girlfriend gave birth to an addicted baby and just when I thought the nightmare couldn’t get any worse it did. Both children are now in foster care. The other child is 18 months old and my husband and I have come to love him so much so this has really been very painful for me. It’s one thing to deal with a child who has an addiction problem but when I now have to worry about my grandkids it’s just too much.

We are hoping that this will be their wake up call, their rock bottom so to speak. If this is what it takes to clean them up, make them better parent’s then I could live with that. But it’s the not knowing how this nightmare is going to end that scares me. What if they don’t clean up? The girlfriend has already skipped out on 2 drug tests. I am terrified of losing my grandkids to foster care but on the other hand we have talked about taking them in and we just can’t. To do so would give them a license to not even try to clean up and I could see her getting pregnant again, and then what? Take a 3rd child in? A 4th?

Thanks so much for your thoughts and for listening, I just really needed to get this out. I keep praying and praying and just hope that this is going to end well for everyone.

13 years ago

Dearest Glenda,

Addiction destroys lives and laughs in the process. It crushes the lives of our children, our innocent grandchildren and ours. Where is the way out? How do we save those we love?

How I wish there were answers. All we can do is pray and hope for a better tomorrow.

With Jeff (and my situation was easier than yours -one son and no grandchildren), I had to surrender my will. Somehow by letting go, I found a modicum of peace.

Please know that I am with you and join you in prayer. With love and respect. Libby

8 years ago

I am new here, I had read this the other morning,about allowing an addict the dignity to recover…. I kept thinking of those words,over and over. That same day, had spoken to a social worker ,head of behavioral health, at the county jail, and we spoke of my son, he said to me , let your son have the dignity to recover. Second time,hearing this. As I read the above letter, I am thinking my son recently said to me to allow him to reap his own consequences of his drug abuse. Not for me or my husband to summon the cops, when he has stolen from us, or is abusive, verbally,physically ,, So am confused.. We called the cops , and was arrested, but now am awaiting his court date, to plead with the judge to give him treatment and not jail,, Is this what let him recover in dignity means? I should not step up and ask the judge/DA , for him to receive treatment? The DA, at this time told us she is not offering him help , because he is not requesting it , himself. Can you comment and help straighten me out/ Thank you.