Letting Go of My Son
I couldn’t fix him, but I wasn’t sure anyone else could either
My youngest going off to college meant the end of an era as a mother. I wouldn’t have to do all the things I had always complained about: cooking for my kids’ friends, doing endless amounts of laundry, and always coming second in their lives. But I’ve had a problem my entire life of not living in the moment but instead fearing the future and things not happening as the way I had planned. I was the ultimate control freak, and instead of enjoying the day, I worried that I would be blamed if Mike didn’t like this school. He had wanted to go to Springfield, and I talked him into UVM.
I was afraid of so many different things that I felt nauseated the entire day. Change is supposed to be a good thing, but I was petrified, wondering what the hell I was going to do for the second half of my life. It was all I could think about after giving my son a hug and saying goodbye. I felt empty.
Even though the sun was shining and everything was neat and tidy, just like it had been at UVM that morning, I had to keep reminding myself that this was not college. It was rehab. Son Of a Bitch — Everything’s Real kept slapping me in the face. This was happening. It was real.
I was handing my son over to strangers to help him. Behind those walls, I had no control of keeping things in order and I felt like a failure because I hadn’t been able to fix my son. I didn’t want someone else to be the savior in my child’s life. I’m a mother and felt that if I can’t help him, then no one can. I had no faith in anyone but myself. Thoughts were rushing through my mind now:
Who were these people?
How are they going to help him?
They don’t even know him.
I felt as though I was losing my son, my faith, and my mind all at the same time. I was going deeper and deeper underwater trying to gasp for air, trying to reach for something to grab onto while trying not to drown. At one time that would have been my faith, but at this point, the only one I could have faith in was my son, and that frightened me. The realization that my son would have to commit to overcoming this evil was devastating to me. My faith was challenged every way I turned. Where was my God? Who is my son? I had no answers. I only had questions surrounded by fear and uncertainty.
I looked in the rearview mirror at my son. He looked very serene and even had a bit of a smile on his face. Was his smile sincere, or was this just another manipulative move on his part? I was so done with letting him manipulate us and I was also done with being the one that allowed it. I knew many times that he had been lying to us. I just didn’t know how serious the situation was. I didn’t know he was addicted to pills. I didn’t know a damn thing.
Excerpted from S.O.B.E.R.* Son Of a Bitch Everything’s Real by Anita Baglaneas Devlin and Michael Devlin Jr., copyright 2014. Reprinted with permission.
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