This letter is for every Mother who struggles with a child who has run away from the relationship. It is a difficult concept for a mother to grasp that there is the loss of child, but no funeral, no closure. There is only the endless pain of loss. Over time we learn to handle it, but it is still a deep wound in our lives.
I have a son, Mitch, who isn’t speaking to me. He tells me I need to apologize for his childhood. He says I don't see him as a full human being, whatever that means. That I was a terrible mother to him. I have tried numerous times to meet with him, but he refuses time after time. Our only form of communicating is texts. They often aren't conveying the correct tone and people's feelings get hurt.
I Lied Constantly
If I were honest, Mitch and I haven't spoken truthfully to each other for over 10 years. I walked on eggshells when I was with him. I thought I had to lie and make nice in order to keep the little bit of relationship we had. I pretended everything was fine, and I wasn’t honest about my feelings. I would smile and try to be the mother he needed. What chance did the relationship have if I was always lying? Over time he grew angrier and angrier with me as his own life fell into addiction. I instinctively pulled away more and more. Was I supposed to live my entire life as a passenger on Mitch’s emotional roller coaster? Little did I know my Higher Power was going to show me how to get off.
The Eye Opener
What helped me stand up to Mitch's bullying was what I witnessed at a birthday party. I witnessed a woman about my age being verbally abused and dismissed by her four adult sons.They would open beer bottles by flailing pointing the lids in her direction. They would tell her to "shut up" and "no one wants to hear what you think." It was shocking. Yet she stood there and took it. She would laugh nervously at their unkind words or say, "You don't mean that." It was heartbreaking to see her accept their treatment of her as normal. It brought into focus my own relationship with Mitch. How much of what was happening was because I willing to accept disrespect in place of a healthy relationship. I left that party with a new perspective on the high cost of trying to have relationship with my son.
The Disease That Divides
Mitch struggles with alcohol use disorder. He is resentful and speaks the foreign language of “victimese.” He is always the helpless one in every story. Someone or something else is always the villain. As much as I would love to reach down into his life and pull out the son I know is in there, I know it isn’t possible. Instead I changed what I could. I asked my sponsor to meet with me.
Sponsor Gives Me The Green Light
I bounced the idea of being honest with my Sponsor. I felt I had to be honest with Mitch. She agreed and told me it wouldn't be easy to let him go, but it would be best for all concerned. She had listened to many AA speakers. She said they have a saying, “Poor me, Poor me, Pour Me another.” Addiction feeds their sense of being victimized by life and loved ones. In their unhealthy state they are never to blame. They are innocent and focused solely on finding someone to blame. Their healing starts when the narcissism stops. I began to see how my own way of allowing Mitch to give me nasty comments over the years was enabling him. She gave me her fulll support to stop texting Mitch. I didn't need her approval, but I knew I would need someone who understood I wasn't abandoning him. I was protecting myself. She got that and her support helped me to be honest with Mitch for the first time in a long time.
Heartbroken, But Sane Mother
It wasn’t easy in the least to be honest with Mitch, but it was the best thing I could do for myself. I finally decided to stop the merry go round and said, “No more texting. If you would like to meet I am here.” He went on a texting rampage and I concluded the conversation by telling him I loved him and knew that I was a flawed mother, but I was also not a scapegoat. In “Courage to Change” Al-Anon’s daily reader, it says, “When you do what is best for yourself, it is usually best for everyone else.” I continue to pray for Mitch to find his way home and I work on becoming the best mother I can be when he gets there.
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: Madeline Schloop