Posted by ann on .
My mind flashed back to the day I placed my own son in a rehabilitation program when he was 15. I could feel the heavy, painful ache as I recalled the door with metal bars clanging shut and locking behind me. I felt the same knot in my stomach and the lump in my throat. I remember the empty months and years that followed, too. In my desolation I feared that I wasn't doing the right thing. I wondered if I had just loved him a little better, would he be okay.
My son's disease was not accepted by the family. We weren't supposed to talk about it. My husband said if I would just stop overreacting and be a better mother, everything would be all right. He didn't believe my son needed rehabilitation, but my son begged for help because he tried to kill himself and could not stop drinking. I didn't have Al-Anon then.
When I looked at the woman in my meeting and saw her lip quivering from trying to keep her composure, I knew this is what it's all about. After I had been in Al-Anon for a while, I made a decision. Alcoholism affected both my family and my spouse's family for many generations, and with my son's disease we all experienced severe pain and confusion. I knew all this suffering needed to lead toward something positive, and I was going to make that happen.
I made a commitment to always be an active Al-Anon member. I would involve myself in service in order to keep Al-Anon alive for those who needed it in the future. I promised to attend at least one meeting every week and to pass on to others what I felt so blessed to receive. When the meeting closed, I walked up to this woman and said, "What a loving, caring mother you are. Your son is so lucky to have you." She looked at me and said, "It was so hard."
Turning to God for Help
As we hugged and I held her in my arms, no words were necessary except when I said, "I know." After many months of sharing at meetings, we knew what was in each other's heart. We both felt the enormous pain that comes when a mother sees her child on the destructive path where this disease leads. We both knew how deep within ourselves we had to reach to be able to say, "I love my son enough to let him go." We realized a bandage and a kiss wouldn't heal our child this time. He needed the wisdom and assistance of those who could really help. This was the heartrending point when I realized I can't, but God can, and I need to Let Go and Let God or my child will surely die from this disease.
I shared something with her that someone once said to me. "By not enabling, by letting go and letting your son face the consequences of his actions, you give him the opportunity to grow up and become a responsible, loving, caring adult." I was also able to share with her how my son, who is now in his 30s, and his alcoholic wife no longer drink. They have a wonderful, loving family and a close relationship with their Higher Power. Their three children are growing up in a loving, caring atmosphere.
The last 16 years haven't always been easy, but my son and I have always been able to say, "I love you," with deep meaning. Through it all, he has always said, "Thank goodness you are in Al-Anon. If I ever need to talk, I know you will understand." Each of us had a Higher Power to lean on when the going got rough. We could rely on that Higher Power when we didn't know which way to turn.
God helped me separate the disease from the child and has allowed both of us to know and share our love for each other no matter what else is going on. My gift is to remember where I used to be and to know how I got where I am today, so I can and will pass it on.
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