So it is a little bit over eight (8) months since you have been gone; and honestly, I haven't even been counting until today...I look at you and I miss hearing you say, "Momma, can you bring me ciggies?" "Momma, can you bring me snacks?" "Momma, I am doing good and I love you." Which brings me to today's blog that I wanted to write a few weeks ago, but wasn't ready. Mostly because I have to admit to someone that they were right...and will that be an eye-opener.
At any rate, I have to share with you what has been going on lately. I've been connecting with those young individuals who remind me so much of you. They do not "look" like you but possess the similar characteristics of those moments in your addiction. The homeless young man sitting on the sidewalk dirty and hungry...but too embarrassed to look up because he knew he hadn't bathed in quite some time. But I still see you in his eyes and try to help with a bottled water, some snacks and a kind word.
The addicts in group who are struggling with coming to grips to why they are there. Are they ordered to be in treatment and "faking it until they make it?" Maybe the person is there to appease someone else and not because they really want to stop using. Or is the person there because they are ready and truly wanting the change they've desired for so long and were finally able to receive the equitable treatment they needed to start on their path of sobriety. At any rate, I stop, introduce myself, tell them that I am proud of their bravery, ask if they need help, and to remember to cease the day, because their life matters.
Then there are those that I have been introduced to through a friend and family member who just happen to show up needing immediate assistance. But the person needing the help is so angry and belligerent that they become aggressive, start disrespecting their mother by throwing stuff at her and cursing at her. Seeing the pain in the mother's eyes, feeling her heart break, confused by wanting to help, but also afraid of what her son would do to her. I can honestly say that I never felt that kind of fear with you. Whatever you may have called me, thrown across the room, got so angry...I never feared you, ever. However, this experience is what reminded me, and because my husband so eloquently reminded me...that not everyone is you.
I am learning the main thing in this entire walk...the only person I have any control over is myself. I do not have control over anything an addicted person does or says. I chose not to believe this because I deluded myself into believing that if I could help others, it may erase some of the guilt in my heart of not being able to save you. But I also realized that because they are not you, they could care less of who I was, I am not their mother. I have learned to really grasp the reality of this concept and am learning to live by it. Not because I am selfish by any measure, but because my life depends on it. (as a note, one of the young men I was placing myself in the middle of, a buffer between his anger and his mom, I found out later had physically assaulted her and broke her jaw). So it is at this point where I publicly say...Husband, you are right. I cannot save everyone and I, little 5 foot me, cannot control their choices.
But that doesn't mean I stop advocating for those who need and want help. Using my experience and that of others, through wisdom and guidance, so that I know the difference between what I can and can’t change, and stop trying to control or “fix” anyone other than myself.
So if you get anything from today's post, it is this...learning how to deal with reality of knowing you cannot save anyone, is the most important first step in “surviving” when you love or lose an addicted person. Although it may seem easier to believe that things are going to magically get better, there is no such magic. Things will not get better just because your intentions are good and you wish they would. Coming to grips with reality means accepting that there are things that may be out of your control as a result of loving someone who is engaging in addictive behaviors.
Second, giving credit to my husband by acknowledging that he was right...I cannot save everyone, none of us can. And if you are trying to help others, remember to keep yourself safe, not everyone will be receptive to your help, and you have to accept that. But most importantly, for those reaching out for help and who are actively wanting to change, please be their beacon of hope to guide them in the right direction.
God, Grant us the Serenity To accept the things we cannot change, The courage to change the things we can, And the wisdom to know the difference.