It’s Thursday night and this week’s New Canaan Parent Support Group meeting just wrapped. I’m sitting here thinking about how many of us tend to say, “I’m sorry” or temper our frustrations and sometimes even our joys when we share.
I second guess myself constantly. I wonder if my sharing how my son and I are in a good place, both individually and with one another, sounds like bragging. Or when my son and I have had a bad fight and I share that — does it sound like complaining when I should be happy he’s still sober, still committed to his recovery?
My son celebrated 2-1/2 years of sobriety this month. While I am so thankful for this, I know there are no guarantees in recovery. And it was not so long ago when I was paralyzed by the fear that he would never stop using.
One of the best phrases I’ve heard is, Stop “should”-ing all over yourself. How many times do we think, I should have done this or shouldn’t have done that? Then maybe my child wouldn’t be addicted to drugs or alcohol? Or when we’re sharing, why do we sometimes say, I shouldn’t be so upset, or I shouldn’t expect so much, or something similar?
There are no perfect remedies, reactions or solutions. I have to tell myself it’s OK to feel frustrated, hopeless, helpless – and on the other end of the spectrum, happy, relieved and proud. This journey of recovery is not a straight line and I’ve learned there are a multitude of emotions I can feel even in a single day, let alone a week.
Coming to meetings in the beginning was so helpful because I saw I wasn’t alone. I heard other parents describe practically the same exact experiences they had had with their children that I had been having with my son. But I also found hope listening to parents share how well their children were doing – it made me believe there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
And now as an “old timer,” I find our meetings also keep me grounded, recognizing that there could be another tunnel just around the corner — that my son could have a recurrence. But if that happens, it brings me such peace knowing I will be able to draw on the support, strength and community of our group.
I hope in turn, my sharing my son’s successes and even his struggles will offer other parents comfort and the sense that they are not alone and they will get through. Whether we’re having a good or bad week, we are all here to lend an ear, offer advice based on our experiences, help each other not get discouraged when it feels like we’re not making progress, and especially celebrate even the small steps forward we’ve achieved.
Thank you fellow parents, for everything you do, say and share.