My husband and I have three adult children. We’re a typical family. I was a stay-at-home mom, I volunteered at each of my children’s schools through the years, we were active in our church, we took family vacations, we cheered our children on through the years at their different events of cross country, track, water polo, swim team, tennis, lacrosse, basketball, soccer, flag football, music recitals, etc. When the time came, all three of our children went to college.
After college graduation, our oldest Charlie* went on to grad school. Our other son, Milo*, started college and in the late fall of his sophomore year he came home since he wasn’t doing well academically and soon his drug use came to light.
Charlie is quick witted, funny, smart, likeable and has a heart for people without homes. Milo is creative, IT savvy, likes video games and is a natural leader.
Our sons did most of their experimenting with drugs while in college, and both were arrested in the same year.
After three weeks in jail, Charlie decided he was ready to try rehab. He had been beaten in the showers and placed in solitary confinement. We drove six hours and bailed him out and helped get him into structured sober living. He lived there for over a year. Currently, he has over four years of sobriety and is going to grad school to complete what he didn’t finish the first time.
When we saw Milo go to court, handcuffed and chained to other inmates, it all seemed like a bad dream. When he was released from jail, he wasn’t interested in getting back into recovery. In the past, he’d been to two rehabs and two sober living homes. Since his most recent relapse of over five years, he’s lived on the streets. While he was in jail, he told us his girlfriend was pregnant. His girlfriend wasn’t sure if she wanted to raise their baby or work with an adoption agency. She made the decision for her baby and chose a woman through an adoption agency to adopt the baby.
We haven’t seen Milo in over three years. He’s been in jail a couple more times and we’ve had the police visit our home looking for him. Occasionally I catch myself wondering when I may get a visit or call telling me that he has died of an overdose.
Through all this, my husband suggested I start a blog to help other parents who walk this same surreal and painful road. While searching other blogs for ideas, I came across PAL. The closest PAL meeting was 70 miles away, I went to check it out since I was considering becoming a facilitator. I decided to become a PAL facilitator because I didn’t want to waste my suffering and I wanted to be of service to others. PAL is truly a program of parents helping parents. No matter where we are on this journey, we offer each other support without judgment. We learn to manage our pain and know there is joy in the midst.
PAL is a part of my recovery program, along with a parent Al Anon meeting, being of service and taking good care of myself. My blessings are countless. I’m very fortunate and try to live a rich, full life; to live while I’m living. The situation with my sons is like a grain of sand in the grand scheme of things. God’s plan is beyond anything I can imagine, I know it’s all for good. My children have their journey and I have mine – I can’t live their lives. I love them unconditionally; my help, however, is conditional. One of my favorite PAL principles is to respect our adult children and treat them like adults, allowing them to face the consequences of their actions and choices. Experience is the best teacher. It takes time and practice to put new behaviors into action. It’s a different way of loving them as adults.
*Names have been changed to protect identities