January 10, 2011
Banging Your Head Against the Wall Over and Over
Tonight I was doing some reading out of my "Hope for Today" and flipped to a reading that really struck me. I will not quote it completely verbatim but loosely.
Could it be that all the pain and suffering I have been going through with Z for the past several years could have all been his fault? Through Al-anon meetings, my sponsor and counseling sessions I have come to understand that I must take responsibility for my own peace and happiness.
Early in my own recovery I would often bring the same questions/problems to my sponsor, counselor or bring them up in meetings. I would often liken it to hitting my head against the same wall over and over, that is what it felt like what I was doing. I kept trying to "fix" the problems of my son's addiction by doing the same exact thing every time without it ever working, sometimes making things much worse.
From today's reading there is an expression that was given that reads "an addicts behavior and your response the first time it happens is a fluke, second is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern."
What did this mean for me? If I was still suffering in reaction to Z's specific behavior that has happened over three times, I needed to stop hoping the behavior would cease and instead, detach and start changing my attitudes, expectations and responses.
I have been able to see my own suffering was as a result of my own reactions to others which has helped me to be aware of my contribution to the problem. Sometimes my part is bringing up something better left unsaid (like hey son, you look a little pale today; oh, so you are really doing well even though your pupils look like pin needles), etc. Or sometimes I would start a serious conversation at an inappropriate time (this happened too many times to count and at too many locations to list). Other times my part is harboring unrealistic expectations of others (especially Z) and of myself also. When I am willing and aware and can see my part of the pattern, I can choose to respond in a way that will not cause me suffering. There is no need to suffer because of the behaviors of others, I can only change my responses and attitude, which allows me to enjoy my own life.
"Thought for the Day": The next time I react to another's behavior, I'll ask myself how many times I've reacted the same way before. (If I am always reacting, then I am never free)"
I must say that a little over a year ago, if you would have told me I would be writing something like this I would have thought you were a little crazy. I mean come on, me being the problem, he is the addict! What responsibility other than the guilt of creating an addict (which I know now is not my fault). The relationship I had with my son one year ago is so very different than the one I have with him today. We laugh and joke, I almost never get up in his life journey (notice I said almost as we all slip). The pattern talked about above in the reading is so very true and I believe one of the most important elements in parents moving forward from their pain over their addicted loved one and the addict taking responsibility for their own journey and path they are on. The pattern between Z and I was completely diseased for many years. I don't think it has changed his addiction, but it has changed our relationship and a much deeper understanding of each other, compassion for each other and boundaries that are understood by each other. I thank God and am so grateful for getting to a place where it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I choose to have a relationship with my son whether he is clean or sober, again with boundaries. He knows not to come to my home completely stoned out of his mind anymore. Most days when I speak with him I can actually understand his words now and we both speak with much more respect towards one another. This has made a HUGE difference in both of our lives, how happy we are, how much more peaceful life is and how much we love each other openly. Acceptance that my son could be an active addict for the rest of his life, grieving that and then deciding if I wanted him in my life on life's terms was essential to me getting to this place. Z is doing better than he has in years and is proud of himself. I am doing better than I have in years and am also proud of myself. I think for me, this is what it is about.
So much gratitude to this blog community, my sponsor, my counselor and the Al-Anon program for helping me to get this far. To helping me break the pattern.