Learning to let go of trying to manage the addiction of a child can seem overwhelming. It is so counterintuitive for a mother to allow her child to suffer the life altering consequences of the addict’s behaviors. However, the truth is that the more we hang on, the more we are hurting our child and fueling their addiction.
This lesson was a very difficult one for me. Learning to go on with my life regardless of my son’s situation required me to work on myself. I was the ultimate controlling mother who thought that if I just tried hard enough I could help my son overcome his addiction. My life consisted of sleepless nights, constant worry, court appearances, family fighting, and an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. I was trying to help my son get better while I was progressively getting sicker.
After several years of dealing with my son’s addiction, New Life House and Al-Anon helped me to realize that I am powerless and have no control over my son’s actions. When I tried to control my son’s addiction, I lost the ability to manage my own life. I realized that worrying will not protect me from the future but was keeping me from living here and now. I now try to not worry about something that might occur in the future. I try to live in the present and remind myself that the future is not today’s problem.
Today I find myself looking through a new set of lenses. I recently went on a mission trip to Haiti where I could not be reached for 8 days. A year ago I would have never taken on something where I was so out of touch. What if my son relapsed while I was gone? The truth is that if he did, I realize that I have no control over it. I now live my life for me and I enjoy all the beautiful opportunities that life has to offer. I know that I take care of my son best by taking care of myself. As the airlines say, “Put on your oxygen mask first and then take care of your child”
Today my son is living a wonderful life of sobriety. He is self- supporting and is working in a high-end restaurant with a lot of pressure. I know that sobriety is one day at a time. I don’t spend my days worrying about him and wondering if he is doing all he needs to do to stay sober. I realize that life is uncertain and I have learned to detach with love. I have learned to hate the disease but not the person and to encourage him in a new way. I understand that my desire to help him stay sober actually hindered him from suffering the consequences of his addiction. Instead of living in fear of things out of my control, I am choosing to create positive things in my life.
To find peace and serenity in our lives, we have to change. I came to realize that my life had become unmanageable because I was trying to control my son’s addiction. By letting go of the illusion of control over his actions and his addiction I found an enormous burden was lifted and I began to discover the freedom that I possess. As the serenity prayer says, I have learned to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can…..myself.