Just over thirty years ago I became a mother for the first time. I can clearly remember the emotions of that moment, which included a fullness of love, warmth and an undying determination to protect this beautiful child of mine. I was a relatively young mother, yet even in my inexperience you could have never convinced me back then that I would one day purposely allow one of my own fall.
Since that first sweet baby girl, I have had three more beautiful children. And with each one, those feelings have been the same; love, warmth and that undying determination to protect.
Yet here I am fighting against every fiber of that determination to protect. To protect my son against the evils of addiction; the homelessness, sickness and brokenness that inevitably follow when one is addicted to drugs. The love in this mother’s heart is crying out to catch him in mid-air. Just as any parent would when they toss their child in the air. Never would we dream of letting them fall, our intention is to catch them while they squeal and giggle.
The only thing is… I’m not the one who tossed him into the air. Addiction has done this to him. And it has tossed him to such a height that I could never safely catch him. Never mind the winds of relapse that consist of stealing, lying, and violence that would make it impossible for me to catch him safely. Those ingredients bring with them way too many consequences to those around me and to me as well. The absolute chaos it brings trying to find just the right place to get under him is exhausting and destructive to our family.
Letting him fall, and maybe even fall hard to the point of complete brokenness is not what I ever imagined I would have to do as a mother. But I am learning that sometimes the hardest things are truly the most loving of choices. Rescuing him as I have in the past has done nothing to promote his sobriety. My catching him in the fall, only seems to perpetuate the use, abuse and addiction. When we make it too comfortable for them, protecting them from the evils they must battle themselves, we do them a huge disservice.
Letting him fall, and letting that complete brokenness happen is the scariest best thing I can do for him.
I was an enabler for wayyyyy to long. As disruptive, and annoying as it is to enable them, it feels better than to use tough love and let them fall. In my case I did use tough love at the end, and my son did not survive. What I know is that no matter what I did, whether it be enable him or let him fall nothing worked in our case. My older daughter used to get mad at me, and say Leave Him Alone, don’t let him live with you, finally after years of this I let him go, and he died. I am heartbroken because I miss my son so much, but I also have NO guilt, because I tried to do everything I could and nothing worked. I did my best, and for the first time in 12 yrs, I know my son is no longer struggling, I don’t lie awake wondering if he’s dead in a snowbank, or if he’s in the train station trying to keep warm. I spent 12 years getting him into programs he didnt want to be in. He had no desire to stop. Parents, use tough love, your child may be different and want to change. Don’t enable them, if enabling worked then go for it, but IT NEVER DOES.
Oh how my hearts aches for you in your loss. I pray all the time that my son makes it out of this pain and terrible cycle addiction and relapse. Thank you for your strong words, coming from you they are even more valuable. Thank you, and may God continue to give you peace and added strength. ~ Susan
Hi Susan, It’s been 7 mos now since my son passed. I dream about him often, every night they were terrible dreams and nightmares. Last night I had a dream that I was looking out the pantry window into the back yard. He was out there walking out of the woods as he got closer to the house I could see he was looking up at the window at me, and smiling. That was the first good dream I’ve had since he died. I’m going to take that as a REAL message. I think he’s okay now Even though I finally had a dream that was good, I felt so sad because I miss him so very much.
How my heart aches over your loss. That has certainly been a fear of mine, one I’ve had to wrestle with several times. Know that I will be praying that your dreams from here on will be ones filled with pleasant places, and smiles from your son so that your heart can find peace.
My mother’s heart aches with you.
You did your best, and that is the most any of us can do.
It is all in God’s hands.
Your words have blessed me because I am still struggling with a drug addicted son who is not ready to stop using.
What can I do???
Do I just have to watch as he self destructs?
Is there anything that a parent can do if an adult son is bent on self destruction?
I know here is MA we can go before the courts and do a Section 35 for when we are fearful for our children’s lives when they are actively using.
Other then that establishing firm boundaries and refusing to enable are the best gifts we can give them. It eventually can force their “bottom” (they have to hit bottom, no matter how much we want to protect them from it) in order to realize they need help.
Its a process, none of us want to watch this mess… but we have to let them fall.
Several times the doctors told me to go to the court and get a section 35. I would wait all day in court, finally get what was required and when I would bring it back to the hospital they would end up saying. “Oh we released him” or “We decided we aren’t going to do it”. Obviously they were wrong, he’s dead now..
I am so sorry for your pain. I know it like I know my way to the grocery store. There is no feeling more hopeless than trying to help a child that doesn’t want your help. It has now been almost 7 months and I still sit up out of a sound sleep when I hear a siren. My son’s addiction was so bad that it turned into an honest to God severe mental illness. He asked me for money one day, I had learned not to give him money, I would grocery shop for him and bring it to his house which was right around the corner from mine. It was hard not to see what was going on. One day when I refused him money, knowing full well that he would buy alcohol or drugs with it, he walked out of my home and jumped in front of a car. All that happened was he got knocked down, but he laid in the street giving me and the driver close to a heart attack. He played such mind games with me at the end. He wanted to pay me back for not giving him the money for a fix or a drink. He was very ill at the end mentally. I lost jobs because of his issues with booze and drugs, because I wouldn’t sleep for days on end worrying that he was dead. One day we had a heated argument because I wouldn’t let him move back into my home because he was using at the time. I didn’t want him homeless but I couldn’t give him a place to use and OD on his meds. I had a 12 yr old that I didn’t want him seeing that. When he was leaving my house he started smashing his head against my steel front door. To this day, there are 6 dents in that door. He did what he could to manipulate me. Don’t fall for it. I dealt with this for 12 yrs. He was 31 when he passed. He drank with the xanix the doctor gave him and they found him dead on the street in front of his house. I miss him so much because I remember him before his addiction and he was the sweetest, kindest most loving young man you could ever meet. I will admit, I have peace now because I don’t worry that he’s dead in a gutter or worse. I know where he is now. I wish I could tell you what to do, but all I can say is DON”T ENABLE him. If he’s hungry, feed him, don’t give him money. Don’t give him a roof over his head if he’s not clean and sober. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. I don’t envy your situation at all. Been there, done that. Lee
Blessings to the mothers . . . for is it the mothers who carry them into this world, yet despite severing that umbilical cord never know what it requires of them when they struggle to let go.