Sunday, April 27, 2008

Breaking free

I am sitting in the living room at my BFF's house. DH and I arrived on Friday night, and B had just returned from his recovery center. The three of us sat together and talked-- for this first time, in a very long time, I realized that I was talking to my son... and not his addiction.

I could see that his eyes looked alive again. I kept looking at him, realizing that he had an air of maturity to him that I had not seen before. In some ways, I felt as though I was speaking to a veteran of a war. B talks a lot about his addiction-- he talks about the kind of people he hung out with. He talks about the times he was "jacked" of money when trying to buy the drugs he needed. He talked about the different ways he went about getting the drugs he needed. I kept noticing how animated he was, but I could understand him! For so long, when B would come to my house, he would talk a mile a minute. Often, he spoke so fast that his voice sounded slurred. I think that the biggest difference I can see in my son, is that we can talk without hostility. I was talking to his addiction, before, and now I am talking to B.

I have taken my first baby step in letting go of the umbilical cord between mother and son.

Any mother who is reading this can understand how difficult this is. I really don't think I'm the kind of mom who wants to meddle in my son's life. I was raised by a mom who wanted me to be independent. My own mother never gave me money. I had to earn my own way, and so I was ready to leave home when I turned 18. My mother brought me a suitcase and said it was time to go. I never looked back, a month after my 18th birthday. While that might sound cruel to some, it was the best thing my mother did for me. She raised me to have good work ethics and how to balance a checkbook. So, while I've given my son $20.00 here and there, or given him a few dollars to buy food-- my closest friends and family know that I'm not one to financially enable my son.

Now-- "Mommy wisdom" is something I have a hard time trying to keep to myself. I know that kids hate lectures! But, if I see my son doing something that I find morally wrong, I can't keep my mouth shut. I have been screaming inside my head since Friday night! I'm still appalled at my son's twisted ethics. Call me a Jesus Freak, I don't care. My son and I are polar opposites on worldly versus Godly living. I keep my mouth shut, though, because he will have to figure this out on his own.

Yesterday (Saturday), DH and I spent 90 minutes attending a class on co-dependency. My son sat right next to me. It would take thousands of words for me to consolidate the kind of knowledge that was given to us. In time, I'll try and share some of what I learned.

I have said this to many people-- I was stuck on the work "dependency" as being a contradiction to the type of person I perceive myself to be. Therefore, I've rejected any thoughts that I have co-dependent behavior. I think I'm highly independent, and that I'm not needy at all. I see myself as a person who is very comfortable being alone with myself. In fact, I cherish "me" time when I'm at home alone.

I am beginning to move past that stumbling block. I am beginning to see certain tendencies of co-dependent behavior with my own son. I have allowed my son's addiction to become a knot in my stomach and a constant state of fear for his health and safety. I try not to worry about him, but I end up doing it anyway.

This weekend, I had plans that my son would be hanging out with us. We'd take him to dinner and go to open meetings with him. That was not B's plan, at all. Instead, he has been attending meetings with his friends from his treatment center. I realize, now, that addicts prefer to attend closed meetings. Having me there, would make him feel uncomfortable.

This morning, the three of us did a lot more talking. Out of the blue, B accused me of sabotaging his recovery. He was angry with me for making a decision that I had nothing to do with (this is too personal to share the details about). He became agitated and said that he shared this with his group, and that they all felt I was wrong. I felt unfairly attacked, and defensive. He calmed down, but I wanted to run away and be alone, because I felt like crying. My past behavior would be to fight back. It's useless, though. So, I sat there feeling hurt and realizing he was completely oblivious to the damage he had done...once again.

So, here is an area of my life that has bled into my relationship with my own son. My childhood was one in which I never felt I could please my mom. I would go on to end up in relationships with men who would belittle me. Looking back, I see that this is all part of low self-esteem-- a sense of unworthiness. I have a hard time, to this day, when I feel that someone is criticizing me. I become deeply hurt if I feel betrayed by a loved one-- I have a hard time letting go of finding out that something I said has been taken out of context.

This is one of the co-dependent tendencies that I have discovered between my relationship with my son. B has a way of saying that "so-and-so" told him that I said "such-and-such". That is where the tension can build up between the two of us. I can barely contain my emotions.

So, today, I am feeling that I am taking the hardest hit of blame from my son. These are moments when I can feel myself fighting back the tears of frustration, betrayal and hurt that are triggered by feeling attacked.

This is a co-dependent cycle that I need to focus on breaking.

I am feeling very hopeful that B has a strong chance of success with his recovery. I truly believe that he is clean. B has made it very clear to me how much he fears withdrawals. For that reason, he says he does not want to use. He's had some moments when he's admitted that he is craving to use opitates, but he finds a way to deal with it-- he calls someone to talk him through it, he exercises, or he drives around in his car.

As for me, I need to find a way to break free of my lack of self-esteem becoming a voice in my head. I need to remind myself that "The Enemy" uses this to try and break me down. My husband is always there to put his arms around me. He is learning to recognize the hurt little girl that resurfaces when I feel that I am being attacked.

It's late morning, now, on Sunday. In a few minutes, I will pack our bags and tidy up the home where we have been staying. My BFF and her family should return in a few hours.

I am looking forward to returning home-- the weekend trips to B's recovery center have been tiring. I want to get my regular life schedule back.

B's desire is to stay in this new area-- 2 hours away from where we live. He is in-love with the excitement of living in a big city. I've even noticed that he is speaking with a lot less "street" language and slangs. The place that B has called home has too much "gang" influence. Where B is now, there is none of that culture.

B has three days to make a decision. We have given him options, but ultimately it is his decision on what path to take.

I pray that he will follow God's path. I pray for strength to not meddle or try to influence B. He needs to take responsibility for his recovery.

I need to work on my own recovery. Addiction hurts a lot of people.



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