My son, Melvin, is angry with me. What did I do?
According to Melvin:
- I haven’t loved him the way he needed to be loved
- I didn’t protect him from the effects of being raised in an alcoholic family
- I wasn’t warm and loving when he needed me to be
- I didn’t write to him when he left home often enough
- He never felt loved by me
I had failed over and over again and now he is full of resentment and anger towards me.
After trying to make amends and setting up many meetings that he would cancel at the last minute, I finally gave up. I realized I wasn’t making any progress. It hurt to read his texts of anger and to know my son was suffering from not only from my mistakes, but from his own alcohol abuse. Alcohol clouds his memories and judgment.
I took this painful story to my Sponsor as well as a trained therapist for help in finding a way to re-connect with my son. They each replied this was Mel's journey. He has to sort it out himself. I should let him know I was here for him when he was ready, but I should not listen to disrespectful communications which hurt us both.
The Need To Punish
My sponsor used a term I hadn’t heard before, “The need to punish.” My son was full of emotion and it was easier for him to find a scapegoat for all his troubles than to face his own pain. He had the need to punish me. If I allowed him to I was not showing him how to be in a healthy relationship and was allowing him to disrespect his Mother.
While it hurt to read his texts, they were often the only communication I had from him. My sponsor said I didn’t have to read, answer, or even allow his text into my phone. I had choices about what was best for me. To a Mother hoping to help her son find his way back from the dark side of addiction this advice sounds so opposite of what I needed to do.
With The Help Of Going To Weekly Meetings, Seeing My Sponsor and Therapist I Learned:
- Melvin was hurting and it was his job to figure out why
- He was on a spiritual journey and I was not invited
- I was not powerful enough to ruin a 33-year old’s entire life
- I could give Melvin my letter of amends when he was ready
- I could not give Melvin a different childhood
- Accept Melvin is 4X more likely to be an alcoholic because of his father’s alcoholism
- To Let go and Let God
- Know that Melvin would have to learn to love himself before he could receive my love
- Breathe Often
- Not gossip to his siblings about Melvin’s behavior
- Keep working on my own recovery
- Have fun everyday regardless of how unhappy any of my children are
As of today I allow him to be angry, but no longer take it personally or respond in any way other than with one short text. " I am so sorry you are hurting, but until you learn to love and accept yourself you will not be able to accept my love." It isn't what he wants to hear, but it is the best I can do.
As I heard recently in a conference on trauma from a man who suffered a horrific childhood.
“We are all flawed humans in relationship with other flawed humans loving each other with a very flawed and imperfect love. It is all any of us have.”
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Madeline Schloop