Personally what I've learned along the way through the years of torment is that my life matters as much as Cliff's life does. I know the news media is rampant with the "all lives matter" lingo, but that statement applies to more than just a race issue. It seemed for so many years I chased and questioned and longed for something or someone to fix, heal and save my son because his life mattered so much to me, I'd do anything; anything at all if I thought it would stop him. But I never thought about my life mattering too, and have many horror stories as a result. I never thought about my place in this world. I'm not sure I would be writing this blog if Cliff had never gone to prison as I don't have that kind of knowledge to know what I would have done but I do know that before he went to prison, the situations, tempers and risks were increasing to such a high level of insanity and intensity that I truly was at risk myself. For what? I'm not sure, but I know that I wasn't capable of much but putting myself in harm's way for Cliff's life. How unhealthy and toxic is that behavior?
When our children become adults, we should be able to see them making some smart and wise decisions and choices. Everything shouldn't be done in panic or chaos. Every dime I make shouldn't be used to pay a debt I don't have. Our addicts are smart enough to find a way to get the drug or drink they want without our knowledge or help. Often we don't hear from them for weeks. Who is caring for them? Where are they getting their basic needs met? When I finally began to "see the light" so to speak, it took a great deal of support from others who were in the same place in life. Not just to cry on each others shoulders but to be accountable for making healthier decisions FOR ME. This is not selfish, this is self-care. It might just be a night of sleep that I should be getting, which meant shutting my phone off. It might have been a walk or dinner out with friends to laugh and focus on people living life to the fullest. It could be buying a new winter coat for yourself that you need instead of always putting clothes and shoes on the back of one who is still in addiction.
When our addicts relapse after a period of sobriety, that is the time we need to work the program harder than ever before for ourselves. We can't work it for our addicts. They have to find their own way at this point. We can cheer them on, give them phone numbers to shelters, rehab programs or the like, but this is the time that we must take care of ourselves, or we will both die. Maybe not physically, but in every other aspect of the world we live in. How fair is that to your family, your grandchildren, your co-workers or your friends? How fair is that to you and your Creator?
We slowly learn to love in detachment. If our addicts are using, boundaries are necessary and must be used for our well being. Meet them at McDonalds to be sure they have eaten that day. If you want to be sure they're warm, pickup up a coat, boots or a blanket at Salvation Army so you know they've got their basic needs met. Will it completely take away your concerns or hurts? No, but you'll know you've done something to help and the rest is in their own choosing. It's the hardest path a parent will walk because it doesn't make any sense to us. We may not get supported from family, friends or even our spouses. Self-care is priority one and it's a new way for many of us. It may feel strange but it's absolutely right.
Learning to let go and Let God, Trust God, Believe God in all you do will help you stop worrying and fretting. That solves nothing. If your son wants to be well, he can take those same steps too. God will answer him when he is ready to listen.
I'm praying for you and many others in the fight, Anonymous, as you find your way out of this chaos. Feel free to email me anytime.
God Bless You and all others in this boat.