It's been a little bit over two years now that I seriously began to take a look at how my life needed changing.
Oh, up until that point I THOUGHT I was working on this aspect and to a degree I had. But that aspect desperately included trying to have my sons respect me and follow rules as the Ten Commandments called out. You know, "Honor your Father and Mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." But they weren't buying into that because they couldn't at the time. What a frustration life always seemed to be and so I plodded through day after day, year after year.
Desperately trying to make my sons world a better place, I continued in the tactic I believed since I was 17. That's when I met their dad and quickly convinced myself that all he needed was someone to love him. His home life consisted of two alcoholic parents. Some of you know much better than I, what that life was like. On our graduation day, he went home with his diploma (his parents didn't come to the graduation for several alcoholic excuses) and found his mother in a rip roaring drunk. She was not a happy drunk, but rather an embittered woman. She was about the most angry, bitter woman I had ever known. Picture the character "Momma" from the movie "Throw Momma from the train" and you get an idea of the personality of his mother. Anyway, when he took his diploma in the house, she was in one of her typical drunken rants and said he didn't deserve this diploma, after all, who was the one who helped him with his homework...and blah, blah, blah. In the next moment, she tore his diploma up in 50 or more pieces and threw it at him. He showed up at my house a short time later, vowing to never go back. My heart ached and the co-dependency took up root. We married and I longed to have a husband love me as Jesus said he should but He couldn't because he didn't know the character of Jesus and so the twisted effects began to develop our relationship in ways that became normal to us. Ugly, and nothing was normal. Eventually, as with most relationships existing under the influence of something, we divorced.
But, so many years went by and my patterns of codependency continued to manifest itself in strange ways that I didn't realize were unhealthy. It twisted my thinking and all logic into a ball of left over yarn pieces. Colorful, yes, but full of knots and broken pieces tied together with ends sticking out all over. As I made decisions and poor choices, usually in an effort to medicate myself from the heartaches and pain, I battled with guilt too and continued in the only way I knew how to try and make my sons lives better. Because their family life had been skewed, I kept stepping in and trying to repair and fix and get them to see the light. I wanted them to have some lovely family memories but those were hard to come by. These efforts were given only temporary result and promise. The rug would be pulled out again and then off we went in another direction.
Finally, when I begged God to take over this situation with Cliff because I simply couldn't do it anymore, He kindly removed Cliff from the premises for a bit over a year. At first, I lay in a heap of sadness and grieved away the lost years. God allowed me to do that for the first winter of Cliff's departure and I spent the better part of 4-5 months hiding out under blankets and numbly watching TV. My only routine was work (only by force because no one was taking care of me, but me) home and my meetings. An occasional bright star would come along when Son #1 and Lovely Espousa with Mini-chick in tow would visit or I would go over there for a fix. A healthy fix for the heart. I slowly began to crawl out from under my darkness when I began to really grasp this thing of being powerless. Particularly the part of being powerless over any body else.
My thinking really had to be changed regarding my parenting. My son was an adult. My son was spared the ravaging effects of heroin so he was able to think clearly and make choices and understand reasonable and sound counsel, if he would so choose.
God began to clarify my boundaries. I was learning to submit MYSELF to the process and allowing God to change me. After all, I couldn't change anything else. Not the weather, the economy, the past (ouch!! I had spent years working on this) and especially anybody else. I don't recall thinking that I wanted to change anyone, I just believed that they would change if they knew how much I love them. How amazingly arrogant that thinking is but I am just seeing that now. Only God's love can change anyone and they have to want it for themselves.
What I can do is influence others but this is tricky too and with boundaries. I can't go out and try to manipulate with influence. No...I have to change myself and my ways, so that others destructive choices and patterns no longer work on me. If I learn to change my way of dealing with those I love and dealing with myself, others may be motivated to choose a new way to live. But that's between them and their Maker.
When this new thinking began to take root, I began to get healthier in spirit and mind and people began to notice. Especially Cliff. He called from prison usually once a week and on one particular occasion he commented at how I had changed. He could hear it in our conversations, my replies to him and my less anxious demeanor. I continually chose to put his choices back into his hands. He had also changed. Simultaneously yet independently God seemed to be working on both of us.
Oh, for the wisdom to accept what I cannot change (others) for the courage to change what I can (me), and to clearly know the difference. Knowing that this is a daily morning choice helps me in more ways than I can count. At the grocery store, at work (a biggie), with friendships, family and mostly myself.
The Law of Power to change the things I cannot change belongs to God alone. The power I have is to choose, and I do.