Looking back at some of my long ago posts I see a mom who believed she could fix her son. I believed if I could get him away from bad influences…get him into therapy and the right rehab all would be well again. I was just sure that if I loved him enough and tried hard enough I could fix him and everything would go back to the way it was. I wish I knew then what I have learned the hard way now.
What I know now came with a lot of heartbreak and tears. The odds were stacked against my son from the beginning no matter how special I thought he was or no matter how much effort I put into his sobriety. This basically was all on J and really had very little to do with me in the first place. So here is a letter to my former self the new mom just entering this hell called addiction.
I ache for you I understand the pain and total despair you are feeling right now. I would like to be able to say I don’t ever feel like that anymore but that would be a lie. I can say that I do choose not to wallow there anymore. I don’t make my self sick and not eat for days at a time. My heart no longer pounds 24/7 like it is going to come out of my chest and I now take blood pressure medicine to control it. The antidepressant was also a really good move on my part because it helped bring back my ability to take care of the rest of my family.
I try very hard to choose happiness everyday…sometimes I am successful other times not so much. The only way I was able to do that was by understanding that I didn’t cause J’s addiction. The most important epiphany came when I realized that honest to GOD there was nothing that I was going to be able to do to fix J. Had I REALLY understood that in the beginning things would have been very different I think. I would not have wasted immense amounts of time and money rescuing him from jail with lawyers and rehab and therapy I forced on him. I would have let him fail and fall hard to the point where he could barely get up. If J had fallen hard early on it might have scared him and given him a glimpse of his gloomy future. Instead we rescued him. We got him out of jail….we paid for expensive lawyers multiple times (because ya know I was so much smarter than what everyone else was telling me)….we sent him to the “best” and most “expensive rehab” we could find (umm we actually did this several times cause you know once again I knew best). I went into rescue mode at the expense of my own health and the emotional health of my other children.
I only now realize that everything easily given was just as easily thrown away by J. Every time I stepped in front of him and got in his way it felt like I was being hit by a Mac Truck. I needed to get out of his way and let it happen. I had to give him enough dignity to let him figure it out on his own. Only then did it matter to him. It was hard lesson and I got hit by a Mac Truck on a regular basis for years! Then one day he went to jail….real jail…scary scary jail. It was so hard not to get him out, not to call a lawyer and not to rescue him. Guess what? He got himself out. He got a public defender who genuinely cared!
After I realized he really could take care of himself (even when I thought he was helpless). I untangled myself from his life…who knew that was even possible? He was no longer my first thought when I woke up and the last thought before I went to bed. I joined the walking, talking, living world! I found my husband again who had been waiting there for me. I prayed that I didn’t damage our marriage beyond repair and still pray for that everyday. I joined my other children lives again…we vacationed together and just spent time as a family. Whether J was sober or not was not going to determine how my day was or anyone else for that matter. I was in charge of myself now and J no longer had the power to destroy my life.
I have from time to time gone back and re-read pivotal posts that signaled baby steps of growth. They are stretched out for almost 7 years between lots of hopelessness and despair. I think I might repost some of them at some point just for those parents beginning this journey. Here is my first epiphany of sorts when I realized I truly was powerless:
Looking back, I am not sure it would have mattered what anyone would have said. In my mind…that was their child and mine was special and the outcome was going to be different because I was going to make it different. <sigh>