I last joined you here following a non-traditional Thanksgiving. That afternoon I was notified by my brother’s assisted living in Virginia that he had been taken to the hospital for evaluation after a fall. Eight days later he fell again, and was non-responsive. He was life-flighted to a trauma unit and within two hours was removed from life support with a severe hematoma that was not survivable. The night before boarding a plane in hope of being with him before he passed, I learned that my youngest offspring was drinking Listerine.
Any parent with an addicted child(ren) knows this moment when you feel that your head is going to explode. Some believe that life never gives us more than we can handle while others dispute this assertion. As the parent of a relapsing user, I tend to fall into the latter group.
Enter the 12-Step slogans! First things first. I finished packing my travel bag and briefcase not knowing how long I would be gone (after wailing to my husband about my exploding head).
Easy does it. I crawled into bed, hoping for a little sleep before traveling to planet end-of-life.
Keep an open mind. There was nothing I could do about my adult child drinking anything. The passing of a dear uncle might inspire more drinking, or jog memories of a childhood time before alcohol and legal consequences.
Let go and let God. I did not know if my brother would live until I arrived (he had not been expected to survive the day of the fall); I did not know if my “using” child would be worse of better off. I gave it all up to the Universe.
There are few times when parents are fully braced for the actions and reactions of actively using children, but holidays and special occasions seem ripe for them. Our 12-step programs work when connect with them. In Chapter 2, I speak of the “new comrades” we learn of when we seek help and realize that support is all around us if we reach out for it at a meeting or by picking up the phone.
Which brings me to Chapter 8 and detachment. How quick and clean to be cut off completely from the vagaries of day-to-day recovery. Indeed, but how devoid of possibility! I am not wired to lop off my child because of disease that is cunning and cruel, which my offspring, without it, is not.
In Chapter One I give fellow parents traveling the journey a backpack for handy “isms” to reach for along the way, and one of the first offers a foundation for detachment with love: Where there is life there is hope. I would rather juggle possibility with relapse on my worst day than walk away from the loved one I raised and know.
One day at a time. My brother lived for two and a half days after I arrived, during which I talked with my children regularly. They were concerned, attentive, and from all I could tell, sober. Again, it was First things first, as I moistened my brother’s mouth, massaged his feet, talked with him, for I knew he could hear. Loved him, Just for today.
Now I am home and we are heading into the Christmas Season. My actively using child is out of money, looking for work, and we interact on good days and not-so-good ones. From where I’ve been I am grateful to Live and let live.
Let it begin with me.