Enjoying family and friends is a sweet part of this journey we call life. As we get older, taking the time to appreciate each other and get together on important occasions, like birthdays, is even more meaningful. When my daughter Marcie suggested a birthday party for me I was tickled. I gave her an invite list which excluded Melvin, my middle son. An easy decision was still a deeply painful one and yet another reminder that the disease of addiction has hurt us both.
What Happened Between Us
Melvin did not accept my own birthday wishes to him recently. He said if I contacted him again, he would block my number. What son behaves this way? Tragically, alcohol use continues to ravage Melvin's mind and body. He's no longer himself. Even though I have come to expect angry responses from him, I still feel hurt by the continuing rejection of a deeply loved child.
My sponsor often reminds me that I am one of the lucky ones…Melvin is ignoring me.
- I don’t have a front row seat to all the pain and harm that is happening in his life
- He isn’t constantly sending me angry texts
- I am not going broke funding his addiction
While my mind and my wallet agree with everything my sponsor tells me, a part of me still feels as though I am abandoning Melvin. Yet what choice do I have? He is lost in a disease that is beyond my help.
The Missing Child
When a parent loses a child, they exhaust every resource to find him. After years of trying to find Melvin in the disease of Alcohol Use Disorder I have accepted the fact he must find his own way home. He would rather stay with this disease then be with me. What I have learned after years of experiencing his rejection and anger?
- I can change what I can and that is to love and cherish my other children
- Not let Melvin’s unhealthy choices distract me
- Work my own program in Al-Anon to help maintain my boundaries
- Give the love and acceptance I have for Melvin to individuals who want it
Yes, it will be sad to look at the birthday pictures with my beloved son missing. It will be bittersweet to have all my children there, but one.
The Good News
The good news is because of my recovery work I can accept what is. I can hold onto hope that Melvin’s own Higher Power will reach into the darkness of his disease and show him a way out. I can continue to look for happiness despite my mother’s heart ache.
I am grateful for my other children traveling to wish me a happy birthday. They all have been affected by the disease and are doing their best to deal with it. Some are doing better than others, but for one day I will focus on the fact that we are together and able to hold each other in a world where no one is guaranteed tomorrow.
Will this party be the one I dreamed of? No, but it can still be a great one. It will be exactly what it is supposed to be and my only task that day is to stay present and love my family no matter where they are.
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: Madeline Schloop