When my son entered New Life House and made his 90 day commitment, I had no idea about the commitment we all were making to his New Life. I was warned not to have expectations of taking my son out to go skiing or take a family trip. That wasn’t really my worry. You see, we really didn’t want to schedule family time with him at that time.
What I did worry about was how he’d deal with the legal situation he left behind in the community where he was in school. How would he pay the fines? Would New Life House facilitate the community service required to fulfill his legal obligations? When could he go back to school? Wasn’t it time for him to see the dentist? Random.
We are now approaching the two year anniversary of the day my son made a transition from treatment to sober living at New Life House. In these many months I’ve learned that his life is not my life. It belongs to my son and his higher power. While I am a trusted support, I can no longer fancy myself as “in charge.” It was personally challenging to embrace the transformation from the parent of a teenage addict to the parent of a sober young man.
First, I had to let go of all my plans for him. With the help of my Al Anon group and the staff at New Life House, I forged a healthier path for myself and my relationship with my son. His plans are his own. I can provide insight, when asked, but I can’t butt in, influence the outcome with my will and forceful tendencies. He deserves the dignity of living a fully self-supporting life. New Life House helped him get there.
Second, I had to come to grips with his graduation from the program and entry into real life. Without me. Without the constant support of the men of New Life House. This was the part I feared the most. And sometimes I still have nightmares about “the old days.” But a close friend advised, “He has to go back into the real world. That’s the ultimate goal.” Easy to recognize that this is the hard won outcome, but hard to put into practice. A more productive activity is to focus on my personal recovery. Build my own life.
Today I have set personal goals around physical health, renewed social interests, my marriage and adult relationships with my other children. What I’ve learned over the last two years isn’t isolated to my relationship with my recovering son. The lessons are applicable to each and every relationship I build and nurture. Letting go and letting a higher power guide the situation. Taking it easy. Always knowing that a situation will pass.
The reality is that even the wonderful moments will pass. The key is being emotionally present with the clarity to enjoy those moments of happiness and grace with a heart full of gratitude. My son and I have come a long way, separately and together.
I’d still like him to call home more often….