I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my parenting skills (or lack thereof) these past few months. The reality is I’m looking for answers. I’m a mother/stepmother to three grown men. One of them, the one I happened to give birth to, is an addict. He’s in a relationship with an addict. They have a child, a beautiful little boy who stole my heart the instant I held him. It’s a very sad tale, and I find myself wondering if I’m at fault.
As a parent, I wanted to unconditionally love my children. I thought I did, until my patience was tested, I allowed myself to be taken advantage of, and I had to remove myself from my son’s life (that’s only a quick synopsis of a very complex situation). Being honest, I still love him, I’ll always love him. I just don’t like him very much and I don’t want to be around him.
How did this happen? I wish I knew. Although, maybe that knowledge is moot, unless I could turn back time and life would unfold differently. Since that’s not going to happen, perhaps I should change the question. Which leads me back to, “Is this my fault”?
I could dive into an explanation of why fault is separate from responsibility, but I’ll save that for another time. (If you’re interested, search YouTube for Will Smith’s video on the topic. I found it extremely thought provoking.) Ultimately, it makes sense to me that my son is the only one responsible for his choices. However, I also wonder if I negatively influenced him in any way.
By influence, I’m referring to indirect actions. My boys don’t believe this, but I’ve never used drugs in my life. I’ve had several opportunities and chose not to partake. No, I’m not a saint and I laugh at the idea. Admittedly, I’m a control freak. As a child, I had the displeasure of knowing many adults who abused drugs and/or alcohol.
Their actions frightened me, their lives were chaotic, people avoided them. I’m not interested in taking the risks associated with constant overindulgence. (Now that I think about it, my son wasn’t exposed to any such people.) As a result, I’ve tried to be a good role model for my sons.
Sometimes, I feel like a bad parent who did or said something wrong, causing my son to fill the void with his addiction. Maybe he is traumatized because I didn’t love him enough, or I loved him too much. I chose the wrong father, I should have lived in better neighborhoods, or perhaps I weaned him from the bottle too early. There are no answers, only more questions.
It’s also possible I’m looking for a solution in an attempt to gain control. If I caused this, then I should be able to fix it. Well, that’s what it’s really about isn’t it? I’m a natural caregiver, I show love by helping people. Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to help him, probably because he didn’t want my assistance.
I’m caught in a perpetual loop of thoughts and emotions, trying to make sense of it all. It might be time to take a break from analyzing my parenting skills and focus on my sanity.
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Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash