Are the police after him? Does he have a place to stay? Is he cold, hungry, sick, desperate? Does he hate me? Is he alive?
My thoughts don’t stop. I am an addict’s mom. I can plaster a fake smile on my face, fill my Facebook page with happy thoughts and most of the world would never know. But listen to my thoughts and you’ll know.
I currently have a restraining order against my son. It put an end to the drama, anxiety and anger. It was initially a relief. But over time, once he was no longer harassing and abusing me, a feeling of loss set in. I don’t think I was prepared for how sad I would be. I have lost a person, a whole person. He can’t be in my life right now, and it hurts.
He is angry, violent and abusive. He lies, breaks the law and can be vengeful and vindictive. This is a hard thing to accept about your own child.
As I consider this truth, I realize that there have always been angry, violent people in the world, and they all had parents. I’d never thought about that before. Bonnie and Clyde had parents. Billy the Kid had parents. Hitler had parents. The very first offspring in biblical history included a murderer. Cain murdered Abel and his parents were literally created by God.
“But I was a good parent!” my emotions scream. “Life is not fair!” logic screams back. People get cancer, babies die, people get divorced. Life can be miserable. Why did I think I would be exempt?
So, now the question becomes, how do I deal with the life I have been dealt?
First, I decided to be brutally honest with myself. I look at some hard truths.
- I am the mother of an addict and I don’t know why he is an addict.
- I cannot save him or control him.
- His life will be unpleasant until he chooses to change.
- He may never choose to change, and he may die
- I will continue to feel pain as long as he stays on this path.
That’s a depressing list. How on earth did I end up here? Does the “how” matter? I can’t change the past. So, where do I go from here?
When I refuse to accept the truth, I suffer. I ruminate and worry and beat myself up about a situation that is completely out of my control, a problem that has literally been around since Adam and Eve.. I can accept that I am one of them and get on with my life, or I can question God and the universe and analyze my parenting and every move I have made and ever will make. I can obsess and worry and cry and fight against the truth with every fiber of my being. . . and I will suffer. Or can I accept the truth, give up my expectations for acceptance and find peace. I will still experience pain, but I will not suffer as much.
I am not saying that I will never try to help my child. I’m not talking about resignation or loss of hope. I’m talking about accepting the truth of the situation and giving it space in my head in a way that is not trying to figure it out, or fix it, or control it. Just accept it. I am a 20-year veteran of this war, and I have not been able to save my son, figure him out, control him or anticipate how to stop the next catastrophe. It is time for me to accept the truth, give up my expectations and stop suffering.
I’m through with worry and recriminations and panic. My life is what it is. I will live in and focus on the present moment and stop reliving the past and worrying over the future. I will stop the tsunami of thoughts whirling in my head through radical acceptance. This is my life, and I will live it with as much grace, acceptance and serenity as possible.