Thursday, June 19, 2008

Playing on One's Strengths

In my last post, if you recall, I recommended some reading material to you -Magazine Man's blog -Somewhere on the Masthead. Well, as things often happen when I am blog reading, I come across someone's post that really sparks something in me and frequently MM's do that to me -which his Tuesday post did hit me that way.

In this post, he was talking about his young son, facing up to some "demons" -if you will -in his life, in his Little League ball-playing career and how the boy had handled things. Tuesday evening, I was dealing with some mental demons of my own too and as the night progressed, was feeling the anger from earlier in the day with my son just mounting by the minute.

That is, until I read his post about Playing from Our Strength -and I knew what I needed to do to bring myself out of the situation I was dealing with. I knew what I had been forgetting, neglecting and the rules of the game as it was now being dictated to me - I needed to revert back to things I learned many years ago from Al-Anon, the Serenity Prayer and stop trying to control that over which I had no control over to start with.

My son is, as I frequently refer to him here, my "Favorite Son" because, he is my ONLY son. He holds no place of honor higher than his sisters, nor do they carry a rank above him either. I love each of them equally. And yet, I suppose it is fair to say I do love each of them a tad differently too though in the way I may react or respond to each of them but that is based on the differences in each of their personalities too.

My son is a sweet, most lovable, very friendly, also very funny, young man. He's handsome, has a certain flair, is firm in his beliefs about social injustices, hard-working (where he's getting paid), sentimental, an animal lover to the max, has a fantastic talent for art as well as imitations and he is also something else too -alcoholic.

However, he is still in the denial phase -refusing to believe, to accept that his actions have long ago crossed over that fine line between social drinker and abuser of booze. He doesn't comprehend how what he is doing is damaging not only his system and hitting hard on his life, but is now impacting, more and more, on me, his sisters, friends, acquaintances.

His job, as you may recall, is driving tractor-trailer -mainly long hauls, with a partner. Because of the way they run -hard, fast, as few stops as possible -when he is working, I really don't worry about this aspect of his life style as I know he doesn't "drink" while driving on the job. At home though, it's a horse of a different color and he has this carefree attitude that he is careful, he knows his limits, etc., so although he does drink -then drives -he thinks he is okay. Maybe, but only if he is very, very lucky! And we all know, all too well, don't we, that a streak of luck will only carry us just so far and then we get dumped. When that happens to him, unlike if it happens to most of the rest of us, he will also lose his livelihood because he would lose his CDL license. And, once that happens, there is no redemption, no re-acquiring that aspect of a driver's license.

Even if he didn't need the CDL for his job, there are so many other consequences that could happen if he drives and has had a couple beers -it only takes two beers you know to put a person over that .08 BAC level that determines whether you get a DUI or not and even if one is in an accident and NOT at fault, a DUI colors the entire spectrum -greatly! Way too much risk involved to take such chances. Right?

But there is more to this than just those above mentioned risk factors too. He does things that are hurtful to us -his family, his friends -by his drinking to excess too now. Fails to show up for events as he has promised he will do, doesn't attend to other things of importance around his home, within his home life and it is also -though he doesn't totally grasp this concept -very depressed because he is single, can't seem to meet someone he's fully comfortable with, feels he is lacking "something" then but can't put his finger on it. And on and on and on -around and around goes this merry-go-round.

This time, after his latest slap-in-the-family's-face espisode, I was so angry with him, so upset, that I was in the very quiet voice anger, which for me is much worse than when I am livid and loud and venting, ranting mad. I even jumped on my son-in-law's case when he made mention about my son and his difficulty establishing a good relationship. As SIL had said "What is so darned difficult about finding a girl friend anyway?" Humph! My retort to him was "If it's so damned easy to do, then why did it take you go-rounds with two women (neither extremely desireable in the grand scheme of things) to find someone?" Don't criticize where you have no room to speak for yourself, ya know is my theory there. "If it were so easy to establish a good relationship, why then am I basically by myself?" I'd asked the SIL. Oh yeah, suddenly his light bulb came on as he realized that it ISN'T a walk in the park to meet someone who is compatible, is it?

In my son's case, a lot of it has to do with the market place where he does his "relationship" shopping too. Comes under the heading then of "you reap what you sow" ya know! A change of venue would be a darned good starting point for him but since he chooses not to hear that advice, I shall no longer deal it out to him either.

Why? Because you see, it is ultimately HIS problem and not mine to try to change.

I may want what I think would be best for him -and yes, I know deep inside he does too -but until HE decides to do something in a manner that would be better for him, more conducive to meeting people, adapting to life and its rigors (Life is SOOOO Hard he tells us and his sisters and I think "Yep! So Right. But, that's life!") then things are always going to be difficult for him. Not that to stop drinking is an easy thing to do -hardly -but without that as interference, one can grasp the complexities, the hard stuff of life, grapple, struggle with it and although it may still be difficult, it doesn't seem quite so much that way.

Playing to one's strength -that's what MM had told his son and that is what I realized I have to do again now too.

I have given him the information he needs and which he has to process to decide whether he wishes to function as a part of our, of my family here. I will not, I can not, pick him up after every lump, bump, fall, mistake he makes and he will be the one who is going to have to be acountable -totally -for his actions. Do not call me expecting me to come hold your hand, rub your head, soothe your ailments caused by drinking because Mom has gone completely out of business in that respect. You are welcome to come into my home any time you are sober but do not cross the threshold here anymore if you've been drinking.

I don't want to see it, nor do Mandy or the SIL. I don't want Maya -who worships her uncle -to see him like that either. Right now, Kurtis is too little, too into his own little domain to comprehend any thing different but Maya is of an age now where she has expectations and gets hurt when her uncle fails to show up as promised. He and his sisters didn't like when their Dad did that to them so don't pass that on to your niece and nephews now either.

Finding things he can do to try to occupy himself when he is home is not going to be an easy thing for him because most all activities around here generally have alcohol has some part of their being. I guess it's an excuse at times, because there are plenty who don't feel the need to indulge and have perfectly happy lives but it is going to be an adjustment he will have to make if he wants to have any kind of life, any real comfort, happiness in his life now and in the years to come.

I hope for his sake that he understands I mean what I told him -completely -this time.

So, because I don't want to lose him completely, don't want to see him lose himself, he has to make the choice now and hopefully, it will be the right one.

Hopefully, he will play to his strengths and put his many talents to use to be the wonderful, productive and sensitive -as well as sensible -adult he can be. Not for me, not because I am walking away from that part of him but to do it because it is what he wants, needs and knows is right and best for him.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Those words were my strength, my salvation many years ago and I need to apply them even more today than before.


Anonymous said...

oh, I am sorry for your pain. You are a good mother and a rocking woman. May god grant you the serenity...and may he/she grant your son the wisdom

fermicat said...

I'm sorry to that you are having to deal with this. I think you are doing the right thing for him AND your whole family. You cannot control his behavior, but you can control what he does in your home. And you have other family members to think about and protect.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Jeni. You amaze me. It takes such strength and courage to take a stand for what you know is right, even when making that choice is one of the most difficult things you've ever had to do. I admire you for standing your ground.

It was so good for me to read this too, because I also have a son who struggles with believing in himself. No, he's not an alcolholic. He's only 17 and I know it's very different than dealing with alcoholism, but I often think about the things he does to undermine himself, the things he does that show his own lack of self confidence, and how much I think and worry about what I could have or should do differently with him. As I read your post, I realized that as a parent, no matter what your child's struggle, there comes a time when you have to let go and let them make their own choices. It's never going to be easy, but realizing that you can't control everything is a huge step. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Magazine Man said...

From my own experience with my Dad, the hardest thing was to stop being an enabler and to let him make his choices. It requires making a tough stand and committing to it. I really commend and admire you for doing that. I'm glad if my little baseball post helped, but sorry too if it caused you any pain. Stick to your guns! --MM