It has been just over 22 months since one of the worst days of my life happened. A lot can change during that time.
If I were to look at life back then from a distance, everything seemed great on the surface. I was married, although not extremely happily. Our children were all moving along their own paths in life. Everyone experienced the occasional roadblock.
With my son’s first DUI, I was right there to support him, which back then meant, “Let’s fix this as fast as we can so you can get back to your life.” I was extremely codependent and didn’t realize the extent of it. I was the kind of mom that tried to head problems off before they happened. I was a mess and didn’t even realize it.
Because of the way I was raised, the way I coped with life as an adult was to never rock the boat. I stuffed my own feelings and covered them up with a nice, thick layer of alcohol.
After another incident with the police, my son’s interest in college dwindled even more. At this point, he was doing everything a young college man did in Baton Rouge, except go to classes. I could see there was a problem. Like a mother who would distract a toddler by scooping him up and moving him to a different room to play with something else, I insisted that my son go to college in Orlando. This would fix everything, right? I thought my plan was the best.
Needless to say, when my son came home on spring break, I was not expecting a phone call from him as he sat in the backseat of a police car. When he told me he was getting arrested for drugs, I knew there had to be a mistake. What drugs? It was so obvious there was a problem, but in my codependency, I justified it in my mind and made it something much less than it actually was.
I was still quietly drinking a lot and actively managing everyone’s lives for them. There were times over the past couple years that I really wanted to stop drinking. I didn’t know how to stop. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without something to numb me.
I will never forget that humid spring morning after the drug arrest that my son said to me, “Mom, I need help.” He was sitting next to me in my car and his head was hung low. “Then you will get it,” I responded, not knowing what this tiny pebble of a statement would mean.
Here is what ensued:
Gratefulness that he acknowledged he needed help;
Confusion on what to do next;
Embarrassment about how to quickly “fix” him and get him back to school;
Anger that I even had to deal with this;
Fear about everything… about the unknown; and
Exhaustion from trying to keep all my proverbial plates in the air.
All at once, my plates fell down crashing all around me. That was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Finally, in the stillness of the aftermath, I could really listen to what was going on.
My first telephone conference with my son’s counselor instructed me three things. I should see a counselor myself, I should read “the Anatomy of Peace,” and I should read “the Four Agreements.” Thus began the unraveling of my life. I quit drinking the day my son did to try to be in solidarity with him somehow from my end of the country.
Over the past 22 months, I have worked with many different counselors in order to address my severe codependency. I joined Al-Anon. My son invited me to my very first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous when I went out to visit him in Los Angeles. That meeting changed my life. Immediately, I knew I found my tribe. For me, nothing put the pieces in place as quickly as AA did. Finally I understood why I spent my whole life feeling like an outsider. Finally I understood why I was the way I was. Finally I had hope that in my brokenness I might find a way to be unbroken.
It has not been easy. Our interventionist told me that when one person in the family gets well everyone gets well. Not everyone makes the choice to get well, however. My new and improved relationship with God, along with my work in the 12 steps, keeps me sober 24 hours at a time. I am much less of an isolator now. I am comfortable in my own skin. The thing that blows my mind the most is the fact that I can face life on life’s terms and stay sober while doing it.
It has taken me almost 40 years to get to the point where I am now – where I like myself, where I know God loves me, faults and all. I know now that life is much more enjoyable when I realize I’m not in control. I can trust my Higher Power for that.
All those feelings that I listed above have turned to love, acceptance, and understanding. Mostly though, I am inspired by the people I meet every single day on this journey called life.