I’m sitting here this morning, drinking my second cup of coffee, and journaling. Lately, my thoughts have gone into this blog, but long before I started one I had this routine: Get up, start my coffee (if my husband hasn’t done it already for me), clean the ashes out of the fireplace, get a fire going while enjoying my first cup, then sit at the computer for a while journaling whatever is on my mind. After I’ve freed my mind from the clutter, the rest of the day takes care of itself. In the late Spring, Summer, and early Fall, I have the luxury of bringing in the morning sun outside on my steps, or on the old bench I keep tucked away near the tree in the yard. I like routines. I need routines. Routines throw any doubt to the wind and keep me moving.
I can get preoccupied with problems and distracted to the point nothing gets done if I didn’t have these routines to fall back on. Like this morning, as I sit here consumed with what’s going on with my 26 year old son, and wrestling with how much responsibility I should take for his actions. This is the kind of thing that can throw me into a funk, and derail my whole day if I let it. I try not to anymore. I try to remember that I can’t change anyone else, only myself, and that we all make our own choices.
I received a letter from him yesterday. It was pretty brief; just let me know how he’s doing, told me he misses and loves me, and that he’s taken an interest in studying Jungian psychology, modern China and it’s Confucian past, and also the Roman empire. No, my son is not in college studying for some degree. He’s currently in a classification center awaiting processing so that he can start serving his prison sentence. My son, an intelligent man, has made some very stupid moves.
The Midwest is full of drugs. I guess I don’t have to tell you that. We’re right dab in the middle of all the shit. It’s coming from every direction, and our cities, our children, are the bulls-eye. If you’ve never had to worry about this in your own family, don’t brag yourself up and pat yourself on the back for doing such a good job. Thank God that you were just plain, damn lucky! I’ve seen people that are far better parents than me have this same problem. It can affect anyone.
Where to put the blame? This is something a parent wrestles with. What I am wrestling with. How much responsibility do you take for your kids’ mistakes? I look at my past and see imperfections around every corner: Left with two, preschool-aged children after being victimized for years by their father, I had to struggle more often then not, and drag them with me. I made some good choices (getting my high school equivalency diploma and starting college), and some bad choices (quitting college and getting married to my second husband). I spent a lot of time in and out of therapy trying to figure out why I let a man kick the shit out of me and cheat on me for years, which probably contributed to my second marriage failing, because I’d become a jaded, bitter woman. Still, my children never had to deal with drugs in our home or a mother that used; in fact, I spent a great deal of time trying to detour them from that path, citing the affect it had on my late, brother’s life and their own father. My daughter turned out fine; never had any typical problems one might face by raising a girl: promiscuity, drug, alcohol use, etc. She is still with the first boy she got intimate with, juggles the responsibility of work and mothering, two, small children, and makes it look easy. She has nothing to do with drugs, you seldom even see her drink a wine cooler, and doesn’t so much as smoke cigarettes. So how much responsibility should I take for his shortcomings? Didn’t I raise them both?
I’ve learned some valuable lessons from dealing with him and his problem for years: You can’t beat yourself up for what you did in the past or think you might have done, and you have to love your child in spite of anything and everything. He has disappointed me, but I never let him think he’s shamed me. He’s made poor decisions because of his addiction, but I still tell him I’m proud of him, because I alone know his heart and mind. I never let him feel alone against the world, I extol I am his biggest advocate. I never let him doubt for one moment that there is someone who loves him more than they love their own life. I never stop being his mom.
I know some of you probably wonder why I share these intimate details of my life with anyone and everyone who might stumble across this blog. In fact, they might make you wince. It’s because I’ve found that no one can heal in silence; not the person who’s going through it, or the person who needs to hear a story similar to their life so they feel they’re not alone. Many of us have not been fortunate enough to have marriages like June and Ward Cleaver, or perfect children like Wally and the Beaver. Many of us have baggage from our childhood that spill over onto every area of our lives. Many of us are just plain, damn imperfect! That too, is okay though. There’s power in numbers. There’s healing in the telling. There’s coping through the tough times in routine.
I don’t know what the future will bring for him and I. I hope it’s filled with a lot more promise than the past has been. I only know that because I have people who care for me on my side and this blog to purge myself, we’ll both get through it. I hope knowing you’re not alone in your problem helps you too.