2017 started out seemingly determined to take me down. January of this year started with getting my son into residential treatment for drug addiction. We got him into one, only to have him walk away a few days later. He was hospitalized a few days after that, and then walked away again. We struggled to find other options.
In February, while a heavy snowstorm was settling over our valley, we gave him the choice of going back to treatment or finding somewhere else to live. He chose to leave. I have never experienced a heartbreak like I did that night. There is nothing natural as a mom to tell your child to leave, especially when you know they are suffering.
He spent a month being homeless before giving in to treatment, and while in RTC he did well. It wasn’t too long after getting out that he relapsed and became homeless again. I dreaded what I knew can be a continuous cycle of watching someone battle addiction. I kept working with my therapist, and occasionally had contact with my son going into the summer.
In the middle of the night, one night at the end of June, he came to the house to let us know he was going back to treatment. He’d reached out to someone from his previous treatment program, and was asking for a ride there in the morning. After we agreed he left, and was back the next day, just like he said he would be. I dropped him off in the morning and I went to work, hoping that maybe in this case, the fourth time would be a charm.
And so far, it has.
So, while I started my 2017 fearful I would lose my son to the national addiction crisis, I’m ending my 2017 watching him fully embrace his recovery. He’s got a job he likes, he’s moved back home this month, and on Christmas eve he picked up his six-month chip. It was the best Christmas gift ever.
While in the process of getting my son into recovery, I started my own recovery. Nothing that we had to do was easy, but I put my trust in an amazing therapist who had been in this same position before. I took her advice as my only option, the only way out, and let myself learn some valuable lessons in the meantime.
I learned this year that it’s ok to say no. It’s ok to not do what you may feel obligated to do. It doesn’t make you a bad person to step back from others, and take care of yourself for a little bit. Or for a long bit. I also let it sink in that where I was with my son, where he was in his own life, was not my fault. We didn’t get here because I was a bad mom. My son has grown up being the center of my world, and he is loved. And he knows, hopefully more so now, how much he is loved. Addiction doesn’t discriminate.
My catchphrase for 2017 became ‘Boundaries!’ and I shared that lesson with anyone who would listen. To have those boundaries in your life – what you will do, what you won’t do, and a clear idea of both – is so much easier said than done. Trust me, none of this was easy. There were a lot of tears. There was a lot of anger, a lot of guilt, and after all of that some more tears.
There was also a lot of reflection in 2017, and in the end, I was able to find a piece of myself I didn’t know existed. A strength that I was not convinced I had until I was challenged to find it. It doesn’t just make for good Pinterest quotes. It really is amazing what you can do once you realize how strong you really are. It’s something I plan on exploring more as we move into 2018.
And my New Year wish for all of you in 2018 is the same thing. I wish all of you the opportunity to explore your inner strength. Explore setting boundaries for yourself that give you the happiest version of your life you can have. I wish you the strength to conquer any pesky demons, and I wish you the confidence to take on any new challenge that may come your way. Find out just how strong you can be in 2018. <3