There was a time before my son's recovery when he was telling me a story of a lost job, another one. It was the third similar story in less than a year. I wondered, "What does he want from me?"
I assumed he wants money. He didn't come right out and ask me for money though. But that didn’t stop my immediate assumption that he’s manipulating me!
Where do we go when we believe we’re being manipulated? An almost automatic reaction might be to blame. There’s been an offense, and it’s against me, right? We might think, “I want them to get their act together.” “They should be more honest.” “I need them to just love me, and then I can have my son or my daughter back.”
But, what happens when we don’t get what we want, they’re not doing what they should, and we don’t feel loved? Pain! We may react with resentment, blame, we feel lonely, disconnected, scared. So, maybe we’ll try to control the situation, control our emotions, pretend it’s ok, avoid them, preach to them, educate them, make suggestions they haven’t asked for. We assume a lot, we fear a lot. It just really isn't contributing to a better result, and could contribute to continued conflict and suffering.
It’s a very familiar and common occurrence if or when the disease of addiction has a hold on your loved one. Doesn't mean it has to stay that way.
There’s no peace believing someone is manipulating us, no peace in blame, and no peace in fear, and there’s no heart connection. That is a lonely and sad place to be, for sure! The only thing we’re connecting to is fear. And it often leads to deeper fears that we’re losing our loved one, and they’re not coming back to us?
Let me describe a way out of fear. Please, join me.
At the very moment I believe my son is manipulating me, that he should be something other than what he is, do something other than what he’s doing, I have lost touch with reality. I don’t even really see him because I am so stuck in my thoughts and assumptions. He is not in my control. I have also lost the most valuable connection I so dearly want with my son. And that is the moment I lose myself. And when I lose myself, I can not find him, I can not be available to show up as love, take a different approach, and address the situation in a much more effective way. The more effective way is to stop assuming, to listen, to communicate more effectively, to become aware of what is going on within me, and what choices are available to me.
Those choices are very clear, if and when I get clear. What I really want is connection, to be a safe place for love to shine. Despite drugs and this insidious disease, my son is my son, a human being with strengths and abilities, with potential, and I want to love him as he is, where he is, and show up capable, skilled, and loving. This is what I know will help him! Help our relationship! And it may inspire his choices too! It does not mean I give him money, or even stay in conversation. It means I speak carefully, and with care to any denial, using communication skills learned along this difficult journey. I try my best, might be imperfect, or might have to take a time out and discuss at a later time. I have choices. The first choice is to connect, to love well.
So, he’s manipulating me? Not really, not deep down. He hasn’t asked me for money, he’s telling me a story. I’m assuming he wants money. And if he asks me for money, well then he’s been clear with me. There can be no manipulation if I’m not participating in it. Look how I’m manipulating his intentions, this situation with my immediate assumptions and my jumping thoughts. How about I manipulate myself, in a more positive way, back into reality and being present and available to be with my son, to listen and to respond as this conversation continues?
Do I really want him to get his act together? Yes, but I am not in charge of his life, his journey. I am not God. Do I really want to play God? No! Is there any chance that this conversation is part of my son’s progress? Could be! I can want, want, want, but to demand I get my way in my time is just adding to disconnect, and stress. How about I get my act together? Yes, that seems like the more doable and more effective response!
Should he be more honest with me? Well, that would be wonderful, yes … but, at this time he can’t or won’t and, again, arguing with that reality sets me up for the argument in me, and with him. Not something I want to risk. I want connection, honestly, not to feed excuses for stress and using. Am I even available and ready to respond calmly and kindly if I heard “I want money for drugs, mom”? Can I just get honest with myself, and with him? I can, and it will take continued work on my part, and practice.
I need him to love me, to come back to me. Oh my goodness, how painful it is believing he doesn’t love me and isn’t with me. It is exactly at that moment that when I believe he does not love me and is not with me, I have left myself in fear, and I have left him. It is really hard to connect to my heart, and to be in a place of love when I’m way in the future and way into the fears of it, and the fear he doesn’t love me. It’s hard to realize the truth that that love has not left him. Under the layers of the disease, I do know in my heart there is love, and it really starts and ends with me. He is coming back to me when I remember that. I am coming back to me when I remember that. The power of love, in its divinity, in its essence, remains now and always.
It’s not about getting love from from the outside, but being it. Love is just so inviting, it find us, and sometimes we need to look for it. It waits for us everywhere and anywhere, at all times. It invites us to drop our assumptions and expectations, it invites us to release the conditions of our way and time and to welcome love into our hearts and lives. It is receiving that in order to give it.
We speak of unconditional love, and that’s what it is. There are no conditions. Nothing and no one has to change. The only condition is to be and act from that state of grace, gratitude, open mind, and open heart that love will inspire. From there, other ways and solutions arise. Love allows time and patience, the unfolding, and the return to love when we get distracted by fear. When we’re open and willing to come out of fear and into love, our choices become clearer. Our communication becomes clearer. Our connection with our loved ones becomes clearer, and we light the way.
In the darkness of addiction, these lights must shine. Within each of us is this light. Under and around fear, with understanding, the light of peace and love will shine.
Let your light shine. Drugs don’t win here. Love does!
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