Support For Families
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go” ~ Jamie Anderson
When I look back on the years that I spent trying to help my son while he was struggling with substance use, I now see that my words and actions had become desperate attempts to change the behaviors that were killing him. I spent hours tracking his phone and when the location turned off, that energy went into texting and calling until I either fell asleep or he answered.
What was I looking for? I can’t even tell you. He was clearly not Ok and was most likely engaging in the activities that I was imagining and
My behaviors were not helping him. In fact, they were hurting him, me - and our relationship. My days of begging and pleading for him to see what was going on and change. My nights of tracking and spying to try to keep him alive and safe. My hours of crying and yelling to get him to hear and see what his actions were doing to him and to ME.
I called it loving him. I told myself that this was what a good parent should do. I convinced myself that my actions were justified because if I didn’t do these things and something terrible happened, I would have caused it or at least not prevented it. The power that I convinced myself I had was not power at all.
What I have come to understand is that this was love. Only it had nowhere to go. My son did not see these actions as love because they were not about him as a person. They were about him as a problem. He was not receiving the message of love, but the message of brokenness.
What I was experiencing was grief disguised as love. I was grieving the dreams and potential that I had imagined for him. I was grieving the connection that we had before all of this started. I was grieving the milestones that I believed that I had earned as his mother. I was grieving the person who seemed lost in behaviors that were killing him.
There are no rules to grief - especially the kind of complex grief that involves loving someone who is still physically present. Grief is not a framework or diagram that we follow to the other side. It is a surrender. It is an ebb and flow of our hearts breaking open. A dance of
pain and love. Grief alters who we once were and changes who we will be forever.
In working through my own grief, I learned where to put the love that had no place to go in those late nights and long years. For me, love stopped becoming an idea that I bought from society and convinced myself was good and instead became an action - guided by my own values of connection that I chose to live by.
My face expressed gladness rather than disappointment when I had the opportunities to be with my people.
My actions expressed the love that needed a landing place. Hugs were longer and tighter. Closeness and connection was felt. Without pulling or grabbing, but with entering into his space - on his terms.
My words were few and my tone was soft. Intentionally delicate just like a butterfly landing on the tip of a flower.
My grieving did not stop. It was still hard and there were days that I did not think that I could grieve anymore. On those days, I allowed my love to find a home and land on me. And I found others who had love to give and I let myself receive theirs.
In addressing my grief as real, I learned a better way to love. ♥️I learned to love the person, not the behavior.
♥️I learned to love the moment, not the outcome.
♥️I learned to love my son, as the person he was not the addiction he had.