That was until one day when I heard in an Al-Anon meeting the Three C's:
- That I didn’t cause it
- Couldn’t control it
- Couldn’t cure it
Get Out Of Jail Free
I was floored. I was the MOTHER. My reason for living was to control and cure everything. This was a blow to my ego and at the same time a huge relief to my soul. If this was true then I was able to go live my own life and allow others to do the same. It felt like a “get out jail free” card. We would all get out of the "guilt prison."
My son, Melvin, did not go to any meetings so he continued to hear the voices of condemnation and resentment. I had no control over that situation. I could only control the voices in my head. I started to write a new story line in my head, one where I could live in peace and not a tortured life controlled by the whims of my adult son.
My Mini Vacations From Guilt
It was difficult at first to leave my thoughts of Melvin behind and go out to enjoy myself. I would picture him drinking alone in his apt and then my worry machine would begin and I would picture him passed out with no one to cover him or to feed him. I would often have a vision of his funeral and grieve his passing while he was probably just fine. Slowly I began to take what I liked to call, “Vacations from Anxiety.” I would allow myself to go off and do fun stuff telling myself I would be right back and start worrying about my son and trying to solve his problem.
What happened was when I began to have these vacations from worry I liked them. It felt foreign and strange at first, but I grew to love those times away from my struggle. I liked them so much I started looking for more and more reasons to get a break from the dark controlling voices in my head.
I went for a walk and took pictures of nature. I would put on my swim suit and go play in the pool. I would bake cookies and not cry remembering how my son would love to eat them fresh from the oven. I would just enjoy baking them and eating a few and give the rest away to people who weren’t angry and resentful towards me.
I Had the Funeral
As I grew stronger in my own recovery I started to want to keep this good feeling going all the time. I didn’t want to worry or solve Melvin’s problems. In a way it was a funeral of sorts. I was grieving the loss of his companionship and presence in my life. His anger and resentment were all I had left in the way of relationship and when I let them go I felt as though I had let him go. It was painful and I needed a friend to help me process all the loss and grieve for my son. I called my sponsor and shared how much it hurt to let this final piece of him go. She understood and reminded me he was on a “spiritual journey, and I was not invited.” That helped me to refocus on my own happiness and journey.
While our relationship continues to be a silent, angry one, but it is originating only from his end now. I am able to allow him the dignity of living his life on his terms. I can’t control his anger, I didn’t cause all his pain, and I most certainly can’t cure it. I was powerless over him, but I was powerful enough to change my own life.
Yes, life looks quite different since I am not locked in my home worrying if Melvin will call or text. It looks beautiful. I want Melvin to forgive and love me as his Mother again. I can’t make another human being act any way. I am powerless over people, places, and things. I often describe this constant loss as a low grade fever. I can go on and live a full happy life, but there is always a sensation that there is a missing piece in my heart. People can live completely wonderful lives while having a low grade fever.
What Helps Me Get Through
I know there is a beautiful reason I am asked to live this experience. That comforts me when the guilty feelings come late at night and try to steal my serenity. I remember my Higher Power has a plan for this relationship and for my life and Melvin’s life. Everything is going according to plan, it just isn’t my plan. That helps me to go off and play somewhere letting go of the false hope that I can cure the one I love.
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Madeline Schloop