As a mother of an addict, it seems there comes a time when either the chaos in your life wears you out or the realization that your help isn’t helping will stop you in your tracks. Or both realizations occur and you hit your bottom. From the depths of that bottom, survival may seem like the ultimate goal while the thought of actually thriving or feeling peace seems unattainable. At that place, you hit the stage I call the “both-and” stage. The best way I can describe the “both and” stage is through the questions that represent the struggle:
How do I both accept the picture of my beautiful, little tow-headed, blonde boy and the tired, face of an addict struggling to live his life?
How do I both show love for my son and yet not demonstrate it in ways that enable his disease?
How do I both give up “my” dreams for my child and not give up hope for his life?
Finally, how do I both live my life enjoying peace, joy, and gratitude and still see whatever circumstances his life is in at the moment?
The “both-and” stage… That is exactly where I am.
I am struggling to answer these questions so I can do more than just survive this earth. I hit my bottom about a month ago. Thankfully, through God’s power and not my own, I am finding love and support to do just that. With God’s gift of loving family, friends, counseling and Alanon, I am ready to engage in my own recovery.
It occurred to me that my son and I have been on a journey since he was conceived. And we are still on a journey. It is different, but we are still connected. For me then, the goal is to stay connected with my son on this journey in a healthy way. Part of that is to honor what God is doing in both of our lives, understand and have compassion for the struggle, and to acknowledge the desires of my soul. And so, that is what I intend to do. Two desires that I have walked away from (on more occasions than I care to admit) are running and writing. I have always wanted to run a long distance race. I reset that goal to accomplish before I was 50. I was training for a half-marathon when I hurt my foot late spring. But since then, I have let obstacles, stress, emotions, and other things get in the way. But I am learning that each day is a new day and a new chance to address obstacles differently and persevere through mental, spiritual and physical challenges. Each day is a new chance to reframe my thinking.
My new day is today. I am going to set a personal goal to run (or walk) 1000 miles over the next 12 months. For those of you who run, this may seem like a piece of cake. But for me, based on age, schedule, speed, and time commitment and prior experience, this is definitely not a piece of cake. Over the course of the year, I will use that time on my path to connect with God through prayer, to spend time with friends, to enjoy doing something for myself, and to honor the journey that my son and I share. You see, I know that I will have moments when I want to give up or feel bad. Moments when the goal doesn’t seem worth it and I will have to look to God for healing or energy. Moments when I think to myself, “who really cares”, and I need to be reminded that I do care. Times when I will have to sacrifice my immediate desires to make progress towards my goal. It will be a journey of sorts to accomplish that goal of 1000 miles.
I also know that this will give me insight into the struggles my son endures on his journey with addiction. Although it is not the same, I do think I will get a better sense of the struggle and build my compassion for his experience. During this journey, I will write. I will share the ups and downs, the gifts and insight, and the whispers and hugs from God along the way. Perhaps, those experiences will help someone else on their path. I know that both the running and the writing will advance the healing in my “both-and” stage. It will feed my soul. Most importantly, I will honor what God is doing both in my life and my son’s. I will be more conscious both that we share our journey with each other and with the same, loving, Heavenly Father.
Now, off to run…
Sallie Polk received her BA in Psychology from the University of Mississippi and her Masters in Counseling from University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has spent the majority of her career in Human Resource and Leadership Consulting with the past several years focused on International Human Resources. Sallie is married and stays busy with four children. She is involved in a number of outreach activities both within her community and internationally. Sallie has supported and been supported by the Barnabas Center for over 20 years and has just recently begun her own blog at www.1000mileproject.blogspot.com.