When my son’s counselor recommended that I see a counselor for myself, it seemed like an acknowledgment of defeat. She had been working with him for a while, but it was clear that my son was just not invested in choosing recovery yet. He still thought he had it under control, and quite frankly, I am still not sure if he has an addiction or not.
But what my son’s counselor knew was that our relationship had been shot all to hell by our power struggle over his decision to use. As a father, I knew it was my responsibility to be the strong parent, especially when his mother just seemed to cave in every time he created some mess for himself. She and my son (even though he still doesn’t know it) need me to be strong for them. Often times though, strong came out angry. Strong came out mean. Strong came out like I didn’t love him.
When I sat down with the counselor that had been recommended, she said, “I can help you set firm limits, continue to hold your son accountable for his actions, help you know what help to offer him and when, AND how to help you sustain a relationship with him.” My response was almost immediate. “That ship has sailed – about sustaining a relationship. I know that it is damaged beyond repair.” The counselor looked kindly at me and said, “Well, I hope not, but let’s start working together and see what happens in the relationship going forward.”
Since then, our family has continued to be challenged, but it hasn’t been all bad. There have been times when my son and I could have really good, loving conversations. They don’t happen often, but when they do, I have come to cherish them like gold nuggets. In his rare moments of clarity, I am now able to communicate more compassion than rage, to listen more than I talk, and to remind him that “there’s help when you’re ready.” We aren’t out of the woods yet — by a LONG shot — but I am beginning to believe that our relationship is mending, despite his continued use, and I remain hopeful for recovery.
Today’s Reminder: When I get discouraged and afraid that my efforts to be strong have crossed the line into anger and resentment, I will first focus on me. I will reach out to others to help me find the strength to forgive and extend grace to myself. When I’m feeling better about me, I’ll then reach out to my son to offer loving kindness to him, model that I am able to take responsibility for my actions, and reassure him that my love never ends.
You can listen to an audio of this devotional at our podcast A Dose of Hope.
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