STAY CLOSE

A mother wrote an email message to me. This is part of it: Things are better at the moment, but we have ups and downs. I am working on the “loving with detachment” issue. I spend hours each day analyzing where I went wrong as a parent or what I should have done differently. I’ve been to Al-Anon, Nar-Anon and private counseling, but the pain is always there. The best advice I ever received was from my counselor who told me, “Keep on telling her you love her and mean it because you’ll never regret those words.”

My personal reflection on the passage offering my thoughts today: There is a Tibetan expression, “Even if the rope breaks nine times, we must splice it back together a tenth time. Even if ultimately we do fail, at least there will be no feelings of regret.”

The Director at San Patrignano said it a different way, stagli vicino – “stay close to him.” Loving with detachment was a hard concept for me to understand, but I understood clearly stagli vicino – “don’t abandon him, but don’t give him money.” This made sense to me and, in the end, this is what helped our family and my son.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today I will stay close to my child. Even if he is unlovable and certainly when he is at his worst, I will stay close.

472
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

13 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pat Nichols
Pat Nichols
11 years ago

We parents are so very defenses in situations that require our detachment but our love also.

When my wife I reached that moment of strength where we said no to our enabling and yes to our love and hope for him, he came unglued, to say the least.

“You love me, what kind of love is that?” “What kind of parents are you?” “You don’t love me! I will never speak to you again.”

Of course, I am giving you the “mild” version of his response.

The good news, it got easier and easier after each call to say no until finally we were freed of our fear and guilt. We thank God for his strength each and every day.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

When my son was in active addiction, one thing that helped me was to understand that most of what came out of his mouth was the addiction talking. Addiction is a monster disease that takes on the body and mind of our loved ones. It was easier for me to remember that I was not dealing with the son I raised, I was dealing with the disease. Detachment with love, I believe is very helpful to the addict, it forces them to realize that the ones that love them don’t have to put up with the disease. Love Ya Libby, the picture of you and your boys is so beautiful:)

Victoria Derby
Victoria Derby
11 years ago

The post above was mine

Libby
Libby
11 years ago

Dear Pat, Your last paragraph says so much. You are right: fear and guilt destroy us and allow the addiction to stay in charge. We need to find a place of peace. The Serenity Prayer helped me. My best to you and yours. Libby

Libby
Libby
11 years ago

Dear Victoria, Addiction IS a monster and takes over our loved ones. I used to say the same thing, “This isn’t Jeff talking with me. This is the addiction. I love my son, but I hate the drugs.” Under the drugs, Jeff was alive and his humanity was there, but the drugs took over and became his goal and only preoccupation. My love and prayers. Libby

Carol Green
Carol Green
11 years ago

My 36 year old son and I live 1700 miles apart. I fly out every 6 months to see him. Last weekend his “honesty” devastated me. I couldn’t wait to fly back to ATL, get into my car and scream. He told me that for the past 12 years he has been using every drug under the sun off and on and at the same time deceiving his parents, sister and AA that he was in recovery. He even invited me out to LA to present him his 5 yr cake. We called him “strong” for beating his addiction. Our life together was all a fraud. The red flag was waving-cuz he could never stick to a job or school, was always broke, always sick, always dreaming of making 10K/m, etc. My siblings and friends ask me now how was my visit with my son. I say okay. I’ve only told my best friend and her husband the truth. My son has called me every other day since I got back. I listen to your words, Libby, and remain loving to him. But the trust has evaporated. It is hard to talk to him. I have heard so many years of nothing but lies. Who is my son?????

Libby
Libby
11 years ago

I’m sorry. You’ve been betrayed for 12 years. I have no advice. All I can offer are some thoughts about what Jeff and I have been through.

There is a saying in AA, “How do you know an addict is lying?” Answer: “His lips are moving.” Jeff was a chameleon and he learned to live a double life: one for me and one for him. I denied the red flags for years: the glassy eyes, the lost jobs and the nodding off during conversations when he’d tell me he was ‘just tired.’ I wrote in my journal that I ‘feared’ he wasn’t clean and that I ‘thought’ he was using, but I never said these words out loud.

Jeff once told me, “When addicts use, our family thinks we don’t love them. Families think that if we really loved them, we’d stop using. That’s not true. I always loved my family, but I couldn’t stop using. I’m an addict.”

Dr MacAfee told me, “An addict lies to keep his addiction. He can’t stop using, but he doesn’t want to lose the people who love him.” Dr MacAfee has over 40 years working successfully with addicts and his advice in the Afterward of Stay Close is golden. You might find something there to help.

Stay Close means that we love our sons, but we don’t enable or give money. Your trust in him is evaporated and this is fair. Who is your son? I don’t know, but my son was under the drugs. Jeff had to decide to save himself. I stayed close: I answered his emails and his phone calls, but in the end he had to choose.

I once told Jeff, “I had to fight my cancer or I would have died. You have to fight your addiction or you’ll die. Fight for yourself. I believe you can do it.”

My prayers are with you,

Libby

Carol Green
Carol Green
11 years ago

Your words gave me comfort and inspiration to stay close and not give up!!!! I’m calm now and it has finally sunk into my head-my son will always be an addict. I should not forget that. And I did forget and thought he had been healed. I must pray that he has the strength to never forget the consequences of his addiction when he is tempted to do drugs/alcohol again and overcome the hellish moment. I bought your book on my Kindle last night and read the afterward. I only question “continuing to dream”; dreaming has produced only nightmares-It is time to face reality of each day of life and live it in the present. I feel you can dream when you are a little kid but an addict must realize the drugs destroy any chance of living that dream. I hope my son stays focused on what is real and possible because of abstinence. We will continue to talk to each other and I will tell him to stay close me, too, and I will stay close to him. Thanks, Libby for your encouragement. BTW, my son also attended B.U, but dropped out his senior year. :(.

Carol Green
Carol Green
11 years ago

I’m 16% into your book and feel I am reading the story of my life with my son instead of your story. My son attended military school, even was kicked out of his BU dorm “for burning candles” and rented an apt at 1056 Commonwealth-I will continue reading…..

Libby
Libby
11 years ago

Dear Carol, The similarities among addictions always surprise me, but then I think that must be why Al-Anon and AA work. We all suffer and in our stories we can help each other and find hope. Your son and Jeff – military school, kicked out of BU dorms and both moving to Commonwealth Ave! Jeff is sober today and is able to dream again. He is productive, working hard and loving life. I am humble and I know to be grateful for today and pray for tomorrow. Addiction is cunning and every day I pray. My love to you, Libby

Sarah Bonanno
Sarah Bonanno
11 years ago

Libby & Jeff,
Thank you for your note back to me and directing me here… This is a beautiful blog. Thank you for sharing it with us, I look forward to finding much comfort here.
Much love, light and peace.
Sarah

Aileen
Aileen
10 years ago

Dear Libby,

Thank you for writing your book, I have not been able to put it down, we can just change the names and places and its all the same. My beautiful son is dying each day. I saw him for one day that he was clean and it was like seeing a wonderful old friend, but he soon left me, like a ghost. In my intelectual mind I understand the disease, the need for detatchment and every other thing that goes with this monster,however my broken heart will never understand, my mothers instinct will never understand and no one I know can understand. Your book helped me see I am not the only one, that I am not crazy and most of all that a glimmer of hope is there. I hope to see my old friend again. Your boys are lovely.

Thank You Libby

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear Aileen,

Thanks for reaching out to me. I understand what you write – that in that moment when our sons are good, life is wonderful and we are reminded of who they were and still are under the drugs. Then they leave, ‘like a ghost.’ You are not alone and we are here for you. Where there is life, there is hope. Please stay close.

My love to you,

L