May 13 – Mother’s Day

by Fran S.

August 30th has become the happiest and saddest day of my life. On August 30, 1967, my lovely daughter, Simone, was born with a head full of curly black hair. This first child (and first grandchild on the maternal side of the family) was a blessing. When I held her for the first time, I felt pure love. On August 30, 2012, I sat in a crowded courtroom in Florida where a cynical judge announced that my second child, my son, might be going to prison for a long time. When I heard the news, I felt pure fear.

My adult son has been challenged with a serious mental health illness (bipolar disorder).Like many bipolar individuals, he has self-medicated with illegal drugs. He’s been in and out of treatment, in and out of mental health facilities, in and out of trouble. Our family has experienced the joy of recovery and the sorrow of relapse. We speculate on “what if,” ask ourselves “why,” and wonder, “how can this be?” What if I hadn’t lent him money when he was broke? What if I hadn’t believed him when he lied? What if I hadn’t divorced?

Why God? Why me? Why again?

And how can this be? I’m a professional. I owe a nice home. I drive a nice car. I have a loving extended family and caring friends. My son graduated from a good college. He worked for the National Basketball Association in Europe. He comes from a good family. How could this have happened? Turns out that no one is exempt from addiction. The disease cuts across gender, race, nationality and affects family members, friends, employers, and co-workers. Seventy-six million Americans, about 43% of the U.S. adult population, are exposed to alcoholism in a family.

This coming Sunday is another special day. Mother’s Day. Since my daughter is working in South America and has limited phone access and my son is in jail, I doubt that I’ll receive a phone call or a card. And forget about flowers. But I plan to honor it anyway. I’m having brunch with two of my twelve step friends. Three moms whose offspring are troubled. No doubt we’ll vent. But also we’ll help one another “accept the things we cannot change.” And that’s a big step toward coping with the tragic news I received on August 30, 2012.

Fran is new to Story Circle Network. She recently attended her first conference and looks forward to future experiences with SCN.

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3 responses to “May 13 – Mother’s Day

  1. Thank you for sharing with such honesty. I woke up this morning feeling alone as a mother of two sons… one in prison and one mentally imprisoned in his addiction. It’s s a hard day for some of us but always better when we remember we are not alone. Enjoy your lunch and why not stop on the way home to buy your own flowers? You deserve some.

  2. Today’s sadness does not erase the joy or love that grew out of yesterday’s situations. We celebrate the dreams and optimism we once felt, because they were real. Just as we did not know the future, then, we do not know the future now. We do not know of the blessings that are in store for us. Happy Mother’s Day!

  3. face what you know

    Having addiction in the family is a peculiar kind of hell. It is truly tragic how often mental illness and addiction interact. I offer you my sympathy and understanding. As a writer, a lover of words, I found it a bit annoying at first to hear all the slogans used in 12 step programs. I thought, surely there could be more varied and original ways to say the same thing. Then I realized how brilliant it is to be able to convey so much in so few words. One I hold on to in moments of despair is, “Didn’t cause it, Can’t control it, Can’t cure it.” The three “c’s” are gentle reminders to the partners, friends, and families of persons suffering from addiction that the best we can do is to love them and offer support and encouragement during recovery periods and keep firm but loving boundaries at other times. I wish you and yours only well.

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