An old acquaintance of mine, who was s sometimes a constant companion, used to show up in my life quite often. Without failure, he was there every time my phone rang late at night, when I couldn't get a hold of my son, when I'd hear the ambulance racing down the road near me, when I got a call from the police, or when my neighbor showed up asking about some stolen money. My old companion's name is F.E. A. R. For a very long time, I could not manage FEAR, although I tried many times. When FEAR was around, I tried relentlessly to control outcomes. Could I have controlled my son's escalation of drug use? Could I control his leaving the house late in the evening to ransack our neighbors' cars and garages? Could I have controlled his use of drugs the night before his probation visit? No, I could not.
Most recently, I couldn't help but notice that FEAR had showed up at our workshop, although I had not invited him. I could sense that our community of family members were trying to manage him, just like I had. However, a very important message was conveyed by our staff, but most especially, by the three alumni who shared their experience, strength and hope. We were reminded that we are powerless over addiction and all of our attempts to manage our son's recovery had only left our lives more unmanageable. We were told to rethink our approach and accept that "normal thinking doesn't apply".
So, how can we stop FEAR from showing up so frequently? By attending meetings, getting a sponsor, working the steps, and building a community of support around us. We heard from these three young men how important it is to build a life that is attractive to us, not to our loved ones. That's not our responsibility.
Over the years, I have learned that it's a daily process, where some days will be better than others. Now, I don't see much of my old companion any more. I use my new tools to keep him away. I don't miss him, either.