A mother wrote to me: My son is still on the revolving road to recovery. He has been in detox three times, rehab (both inpatient and outpatient), in a sober house, involved in AA with a sponsor, and is presently trying the suboxone route with individual counseling. My heart is broken, but I will find my courage.
My reflection: Our suffering loved ones must learn to live in abstinence and that’s a new and scary place for them. They know how to occupy addiction, but sobriety requires skills that are foreign to them or skills they’ve long forgotten.
At one point Jeff wrote the following about a friend who relapsed, which helped me understand in a deeper way how complicated it is, “I know that place. He was in pain, and it was too much. He used to kill it. Then he needs to keep using because the addiction has kicked in. An addict loses all sense of free will; you’re thrown back into the space of obsession, of always needing something more. I’m sure he’s scared and confused.”
Today’s Promise to Consider: Relapse scares me as a mom, but I will remember that it’s also frightening for my loved one. I can’t fix my child’s addiction or fight his battles, but I can love him with distance. His goal is to learn to live in the solution. My goal is to have the courage to stay close.4420
Our most terrifying days are now behind us, when our son was in the deepest depths of his addiction, and when we were driven by terror. This does not ever mean I will breathe a complete sigh of relief. We re-acted out of fear when he relapsed. We would feel it necessary to spring into some sort of action when the best would have been to simply “stay close” as Libby discovered through her journey. It seems impossible not to rescue, to fix. They’re our “babies” after all. AlAnon and Families Anonymous, the 12 Steps and the community I am deeply involved with have shown me the way, to love him and care but weigh my “doing for”. There is no perfect master plan. We have to know that we love them and do our best. Sometimes there are good outcomes, sometimes not. We have to love and forgive ourselves first and foremost. There is no play book for parenting. Sometimes i loved too much, if that is possible.
Dear Mindy, Thanks for your wise reflections. All that you write resonants with me. Yes, they are our ‘babies,’ and we want to fix things and make them better. In time, we learn that we are powerless. This was one of the most difficult lessons I had to learn. We do our best, and that’s all we can do. I made many mistakes, and I had to work toward self-forgiveness. Your last line hit home — “Sometimes I loved too much, if that is possible.” I almost loved my son to death. You’re right that there is no perfect master plan. Thanks for writing. xo
I remember my son saying two things to me about relapse. .
Relapse is part of recovery but not an excuse for me to use again. If I do, it is on me. I thought this was so brave. And honest.
He taught me.
The other thing … I am not “cured’, I am an addict getting better, but the pilot light Is always on.
That was when I knew he was in active recovery. That we walk forever that fine line .
We who live with this knowledge know so much about love and courage.. And faith and hope.
Prayers to all.
My dearest Joy, Your son was wise, and we can all learn from his words. He told you these things because he trusted you. Your love was embedded in his heart, and he wanted to ease your burden. He wanted to help you understand that it wasn’t your fault and that he understood that you did everything you could do. God bless your son. His words continue to help us. God bless you for sharing.