It started out just great. Another phone call with my son sharing the events of the day. I was so happy, so thankful because I know it's fleeting. Isn't everything? My son's addiction has caused many days of unknowns and fear. Is he alive? Where is he lying dead without identification? What else can I do? He needs to do more to beat this! The imagination knows no bounds. Either do drugs! They're not selective, they love anyone who's going to use. And they're so generous too! They love to give more and more and will make themselves available to anyone who seeks them. It is so easy to blame them, blame the addiction, blame someone or something. Something has to be responsible for this insanity, right? I just can't put a finger on one particular thing, it's such an enormous issue. I think I need to point the finger of blame somewhere so that something will finally change and relieve these struggles. But, all fingers eventually lead back to me anyway. It's my recovery, it's my imagination, it's my experience of it all and it's got to be my intention to take care of what I can. This blame does me no favors. I could think it might inspire my actions but really I don't need blame to act, and it surely doesn't feel good to be in the energy of blame. However, until I get mentally clear, I am stuck!
I started out thinking (and believing) my son is stuck in resentments: bringing up the past again, blaming me, self-pity. That phone call, like many others, took a nose dive. There goes my happiness, again. Just like that! Definitely time for Inquiry! He's stuck in resentments? Is it true? I'm not even sure he's so stuck. It's a phone call that started out just fine. I didn't think he was stuck then. How do I react when I believe he's stuck and blaming me? I can surely see where I am stuck. As soon as he blames me for that one thing that triggers me, I am stuck in attaching it to a string of stories and even more thoughts: he should stop talking about it, stop bringing it up, focus on now and not the past, on and on and on and on. Back on the roller coaster and it's a wild ride! Whose blaming whom? Yes, I am. There's plenty to go around. But, I'm the only one who can take care of mine.
So I do. He blames me for sending him to a therapeutic boarding school. Really though, was he? Who would I be without that thought that is wreaking havoc in my internal and external world? In the stillness of looking for the truth and questioning all this, he didn't blame me. If I just stay in the present, I see he's talking about his experience. I also see that when he's talking about his regrets, I go into self-blame. Ouch. The almost immediate reaction is to turn this off, stop this conversation, we've already had it so many times before. I go into defending my decision way back then, I interrupt so I can teach him and change his mind. As Bryon Katie says, "Defense is the first act of war." Boom! Way, way off! Control, trying to change someone else, blame. It hurts because all I really wanted was to connect with him and let him know I love him. That can never happen when I'm trying to change him, and not listening (to him or to a clearer me). It's all so enlightening, lightening, light coming into dark places. When you know the truth, it sets you free. Yes, it really does!
What happens when I do start really listening ... to truth? Who would I be without all these stories, without all this blame? PEACE! I become available with compassion that of course he, like all of us, have things we wish went a different way. We've been touched by circumstances and we get confused. I am now connected with him. I can be still and listen. I can hear that he's upset because I'm not listening and not understanding that he's just trying to explain why he feels lousy. I now can listen to the fears I have about this becoming an "enabling conversation". In that, I open up to observing me and my thoughts. I can stay on the phone and in this conversation until I'm moved naturally to remain available or not. It will unfold. It might give me more thoughts to question, but on that call, I'm on it with him and with me. Not wasting precious time in blame. Through it all, I become a kinder listener. I'm hearing his story, his story and my love to hear it. In that place, I can also hear any more thoughts and stories for me to take to Inquiry, because peace is far more preferred to the war.
Even deeper, in this self blame and with more Inquiry, I come to see that at the time of that decision to send my son to a therapeutic boarding school, I really did do the best I could. It was with great resistance and fear that he would not survive the years until graduation, much less graduate. I believed we were in a downward spiral and the costs would be too great to not intervene. The threat of arrest and expulsion loomed, the threat of unchecked substance use and peer involvement complicated matters, and I did the best I could with a motive to give this boy a chance of a different way. No blame, we were all doing the best we could at the time. That is really how it goes all the time. More peace, forgiveness.
So, when my son talks about the complications and confusion of that school, I can absolutely understand him! What's not to listen to? I get it! I can now listen in silence without feeling threatened and speak my truth. Yes, son, I understand. I hope I get another chance to practice this. I sure need the practice. With a clearer mind and a softer heart through Inquiry, the game is LOVE.
On another phone call with my son, thinking "Here we go again, his recovery plan isn't solid enough. He's not thinking rationally. He needs to have this, do that (but he's not!)." And I'm not feeling comfortable or agreeing to what his plan is. Why? Because I think I'm the one who knows what is best for him, because I know what a good recovery plan is, and what will work for him. Really? When did I become God? When was I put in charge of my son's life to dictate the days and plans for his life? First of all, he's an adult. It would be easy to say I could do that when he was a child, but that's not quite true either, is it? I could parent and provide directions, but truth be told life changed dramatically and I didn't know even then!
Well, the most effective way I know how to meet confusion and come to a deeper understanding is with Inquiry doing The Work. Truly, a gift from God! Is it true he doesn't have a recovery plan? Is it true I want him to have a community of other people in recovery and remission? Is it true he should focus on one thing at a time for his "better" recovery? Oh, how easy it would be to think I'm right, to easily say yes, yes and yes! But, no none of these beliefs are even true!! Here's why...
He does have a recovery plan, and the most important thing to realize and accept (that really comes from this deeper understanding I'm talking about here and through Inquiry) is it is HIS recovery plan. He's not asking for my advice, not even my feedback. In fact, he's not asking me for anything. He called me which indicates he's trusting me to tell me his plans, share his experience, and his frustrations. BUT, when I believe I know what he has or doesn't have, I can't be there for him, or for me in the way I really want! That disconnect is what really hurts! I care deeply and what is most important to me, if I could get out of my own way, is that I care more to be that trusted person who he can share his stories with, to listen to him deeply and connected with him, silent, available, just loving him and not trying to change him. Then, what is real and true is that I'm curious about his plan, his goals, his newfound determination and can hear that this individual I'm calling my son and saying I love is full of potential, his own dreams, ability, designing a plan that is his own and one that he can better pursue because it is his own. My experience of him, of many and myself, is we like to talk about our plans, hear ourselves, whittle it down into more doable actions. But, I can't get to any of this when I'm worrying, and when I'm the one who knows what is best for him. Clearly, I didn't even know what is best for me on that phone call. Now I do!
So, doing The Work has shown me so kindly, so clearly the truth and what I can do instead of arrogance, instead of separating from my son, and opening up to the truth that I don't get a vote on another's path in life, even if they invite me in. Isn't that really between him and God? Yes, a very clear yes! And, I don't want to waste time and showing up as love. I don't want to miss out on being with my son, hearing his voice and another phone call. So when I also get with God and truth, and I am and will, this is my recovery plan:
Listen; Ask my son to tell me more because I would love to know more about him and not waste time in this illusion of who he is or supposed to be; Acknowledge that he really does have good ideas; Encourage him; Realize I'm not being asked for advice and not share my unsolicited advice; Notice any fear in me and repeat the above (take care of my thoughts and fears after being present with him); Thank him for calling me (I'm so thankful! He's alive and reaching out to me!); Write these instructions on poster board for what seems to be a necessary reminder for me to stop and really listen; Be the one I want to be, be the one who can be trusted to be available and offer love (not the kind with assumptions and expectations as that is so self-serving and not love); Trust that every part of his life has served and will continue to serve. And if it includes a relapse, even death, it will serve. Back to one moment, one day, one me with more clarity and a recovery plan that feels more effective and kinder. It all serves to come to these truths. I may not like it or feel entirely at peace with it yet, but there's space for this truth and so there's freedom and ability to meet my son where he is, and how he is, and just love him there, right there. And me too! Or else, I stay in confusion and stress. No thank you. There's another way, and it feels like unconditional love.
Weeds or Wishes ?