Today I wound up driving through our old neighborhood (in a neighboring town), en route to a particular business. I opted to drive right past our old house (where we raised our son) -- something I rarely do. I stopped right on our block and looked around. Echoes of police incidents with our son everywhere: running from police on one side of the street; threatening my husband in our front yard, threatening to break out all of our windows on our doorstep; being hauled away by police at rec center; police chasing him around elementary school grounds; police cuffing him; him kicking out the back window of police car (surprising); having to start a neighborhood watch on our home as drug dealers threatened my husband and me (calling our home, demanding $$); police telling us there was nothing they could do and we should just get a gun and barricade ourselves in the bathroom while calling 911, if necessary. Wow. What a lot of memories (1997 - 2006) came rushing through. Echoes abound. I feel the sting of it, still, in some ways. However, I also feel far enough removed and detached at it that I gain greater perspective in reviewing it all. What I came away with is a much greater compassion for all of us. Our son is quite clearly mentally ill. And it was overwhelming for my husband and me. Ya know what? We did a damned good job in a very difficult situation. We were so hard on ourselves at the time. We are gentler on ourselves now. We survived and learned. Still learning! I'm grateful my husband and I stayed together, as a team. We booted our son out when it became intolerable and, frankly, dangerous. We did not boot each other out. But I also had a great reminder of how critical it has been for us to establish strong boundaries and KEEP them all these years........and ALWAYS KEEP THEM! (even when things are smoother -- knock wood -- if you've been on this site a while, you know the "smooth" never lasts very long). I appreciated that reminder today. My heart has grown in understanding and compassion. My brain has grown in wisdom and boundaries. Boundaries don't limit love, they just limit pain. If you're wondering about our boundaries......... YES, our son is doing noticeably better. YES, he says he's been clean and sober about a month. YES, we still only believe what's verifiable. YES, we still don't give him any money. NO, he still isn't allowed to live here (in fact, at the moment, we're choosing to see him in neutral, public places only --- that's the boundary that feels best, so we're sticking with it). Yes, I appreciated these echoes today. A glimpse of how far we've come.......and how important boundaries are to maintain that healthier place.