I thought my love was enough. It wasn’t. It is a hard lesson to learn as a parent.
I did everything for my son to ensure his happiness and comfort. I don’t think I ever told him “No” for anything that really mattered. When life was hard for him in high school – whether it was classes, studying or coaching demands, I fixed it. I made it better, solved all his problems and NEVER let him feel uncomfortable. I thought I was helping him. I was wrong.
When my son committed to stay 90 days at New Life House, I was beyond thrilled. I was desperate to get him the help that he needed. However, my greatest fear was that he would leave. It took 72 days for that fear to become my reality. My son left the house and management called to tell me. They were able to get my son on the phone so I could talk to him. He said, “I’m done. I am not going back.” I remember pleading with my son to please return to the house. After I was unable to convince him, I said what I knew was wrong, but could think of nothing else. “Please go back for me.” He acquiesced, but let me know he would leave the following day.
During those 72 days my son was at New Life House, I had begun attending Al Anon meetings. I was starting to work the steps. I realized I had to change. I was definitely codependent and needed to detach with love from my son if either of us had a chance at recovery. I admitted my powerlessness and that I did not have control over my son’s life.
My son stayed at New Life House after he returned – until his 90th day. I received the phone all again from my son, but this time I had tools and support from my Al Anon family. This time, I knew without a doubt that I did not have control of my son’s life or whether he left, but I did know what what I had control of – my life. When he asked for me to pick him up, give him his car, laptop and cell, the answer was, “No, absolutely not.”. That was the hardest thing I had ever done. It was a spiritual experience of surrender. I was powerless over my son’s alcoholism. I knew by working the steps that I could not help him. I had to let go and give him to God. My son left that night with a plastic bag full of clothes, minimal money and the knowledge for the first time in his life that he would not be rescued. He walked for hours, alone in the dark. I humbly prayed to God for Him to intervene.
My son realized he had nothing that night and had his own “white light” experience. He called the house and asked to return; this time for himself. He later said it was the best thing I had ever done for him. Without Al Anon and my faith, I would never have had the strength to let him go.