I am back at Step One — a mother’s path to serenity

My mother’s drinking led me to Al‑Anon 22 years ago. I came and went through my eleven-year marriage to an alcoholic. I am back, once again, because of my 19‑year‑old son. Never in my wildest dreams had I expected the path of my life to take this course. Yet here I am, caught in the embrace of this beautiful program that works as hard for me as I am willing to work it.

A parent has a special relationship with their children, particularly when faced with the fear, dread, and shame that addiction can shake loose in us when we are not in absolute surrender. I am powerless over my son’s recovery and my life has become unmanageable. I am back at Step One.

I am powerless over whether or not he chooses to eat.
I am powerless over whether or not he has clothes to wear.
I am powerless over whether or not he chooses to go to the doctor.
I am powerless over whether he chooses to go to bed at a reasonable hour or stay up all night.
I am powerless over whether he has nightmares or sweet dreams.
I am powerless over whether or not he drinks.
I am powerless over whether or not he drives under the influence.
I am powerless over whether or not he gets arrested.
I am powerless over whether or not he gets beat-up.
I am powerless over where he chooses to drive his car—to an A.A./N.A. meeting or to his drug dealer.
I am powerless over how he makes money—a legitimate job, or by doing something illegal.
I am powerless over his sexuality and his choice of partners.
I am powerless over what he thinks, feels, says, does, ingests, vomits, inhales, exhales, shoots, or snorts.
I am powerless over whether or not he is aware of his Higher Power.
I am powerless over whether or not he has a program.
I am powerless over the degree to which he feels joy.
I am powerless to raise him out of the depths of despair.
I am powerless over whether he lives or dies.

I have power over—whether or not I have a program and the degree to which I work that program.
I have power over whether or not I surrender completely, partially, or not at all.
I have power over whether I ask for help and then take it.
I have power over the relationship I cultivate with my Higher Power; the degree to which I accept that my life has become unmanageable; my willingness to change and grow, and the lengths to which I am willing to go for peace of mind, body, and spirit.
I have power over my serenity.

By Vinca R., California
The Forum, September 2012