Letting go of everybody

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Childofmine, May 13, 2015.

  1. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    One of the good things about this awful and incredible journey we are all on is learning to just. let. go.

    I never knew anything about this before I started working on myself about 10 years ago. (Disclaimer: I had "worked on myself" in therapy for about 15 years before this, but the real true work and change began when I first went to Al-Anon. I believe the therapy years laid the groundwork.)

    I didn't even know it was desirable to let go of people, places and things. I thought it was good and normal to "be close" "help people" "Be there for each other" "help solve problems". Of course, if you reread all of those phrases I just wrote, there is a lot of good in those states of being.

    The notion that I needed to work on myself was, well, I thought I was fine and tried to be a good person and lived a pretty good life. I didn't even realize you could "work on yourself."

    I was clueless about all of it!!!! That's why when I crawled into Al-Anon---Literally, because I was doing things like leaving my car running at a bookstore for an hour while I searched for more books about alcoholism and addiction because by Gosh, I was going to UNDERSTAND this disease, and then I could MASTER what needed to happen with my husband. I stayed up all night reading and underlining and highlighting and then I would "share with him" what I had learned...that he needed to do.

    No wonder there was all kinds of yelling and screaming. I am sure I was very very unpleasant to be around. Very self-righteous and sure about what HE needed to be doing, and just HOW he needed to be doing it, and WHEN it all needed to happen.


    I thought I was doing the right thing. For a long, long, long time.

    It's amazing how our thinking can change. One of the things we have been writing a little bit about on some other threads this week is this: Garbage in, garbage out. Good thinking in, good thinking out.

    If we are to behave differently, we have to learn something new. We have to spend time reading, talking, writing about these new ideas and new ways of thinking.

    If we do, things will change. If we don't, I believe we will instantly go back to our old ways of thinking and acting when we are stressed.

    People, places and things I am working to let go of:

    1. My Difficult Child. As you know, he is doing better. But it's still not pretty, i.e., he is still living with the girlfriend who stabbed him last summer. I can only "see" trouble ahead here (in my infinite wisdom), but hey, what I know? Maybe it will work out.
    2. My easy child. My older son and his fiancee are getting married later this summer. The wedding planning has been...well...shall we say, erratic. I have no rehearsal dinner location at this point. They have only sent out half of their save the dates, because there is a problem with the venue. Three of my friends want to give her a shower, but I can't get a firm date out of them. I have resolved to not say one more word about any of this to them. If none of it happens, well, it doesn't happen.
    3. My younger brother who lives with my parents (age 50) and is an active alcoholic. I am learning that he is living the life he wants to live. He is a good person who is helping my parents. I can go on and on about my sadness for his life, but it's his life, and he is making his own choices. It's a complicated situation with my parents, and I end up comforting them and telling them they are not responsible for this situation. They have no recovery program themselves, like many of us do. They are hurting and feel a lot of guilt about him.
    4. My sister, who I have an on-again, off-again relationship with. I wish it was all hearts and roses, but it isn't. So...okay...it is what it is. I try to be consistent and kind in my interactions with her and maintain boundaries.s
    5. My clients. All are different, and I can't "make them" do anything. I can only advise and work, and then let it go. It's far from perfect, any of the situations. I try hard to model myself after their pace and desires and behaviors.
    6. My new husband. He has a lot of recovery, and this is a great foundation in our marriage. We have a lot of mutual respect, good manners (who ever thought I would value that so very much in a marriage?) and love. But I've been learning to live with someone after not doing that for about 7 years, and of course it's an adjustment. Let it go, let it go...when he has four closets full of clothes and I can't find anywhere to put one more thing once the laundry is clean. So what?
    7. My friends. I have a good friend who is "killing" her oldest son. He is 28 years old, lives at their house, works part time at a Mexican restaurant, and basically appears to be willing to do this for the rest of his life. He isn't an addict and he doesn't have mental illness. His mother cannot and will not set any kind of boundaries. It's her, not him. She knows all about my journey and one day she asked me to borrow a copy of Boundaries. I loaned her the book, and a week later she returned it. She read the first chapter and said there is no way she can do any of that in her life. Her choice. It's sad to watch because his own mother's enabling will be what keeps him crippled. He doesn't have a chance. Not my circus, not my monkey.
    8. My parents. They are 83 years old. Their mobility is awful. My dad is way in denial about neuropathy in his legs and delayed and delayed going to the doctor. Now he is ready to go, and there is little they can do. My mother can't drive anymore due to her stroke almost two years ago. They have told us some about their financials, and my sister is on one of their accounts, but we don't know all that we need to know. So...okay. We can't force it.

    I have learned that saying things one time is sufficient. When I repeat my advice and suggestions more than once, I am trying to control the situation. Any situation. I am robbing people of the respect and dignity they deserve to live their own lives, make their own mistakes, learn from them, and walk their own path. People aren't stupid. They know. They just choose differently.

    I have learned to spend time feeling my own feelings. I used to push them away, overeat to stuff them down, stay too busy so I didn't have to recognize them. I have unhealthy behaviors when it comes to feeling my feelings. I am working to change that, and likely will be the rest of my life. We must acknowledge and feel our own feelings. When we do, there is healing. This has to be something intentional that I do because i have more than 5 decades of NOT doing this. I have to actually sit or lie down and recognize that I need to let go and acknowledge what i am feeling. I have to allow specific time for it in the day.

    I have learned to live in the moment, in the right now. So, all of the things i have written above will either work out or they won't. Somehow the time will pass and we will figure it out. If my Difficult Child relapses and goes back to jail, well, he will have to climb back up out of the hole all over again or...not. If he stays with the girlfriend, well, okay, that is reality. Maybe I will be completely wrong. Regardless, it's his choice. He is an adult. He has a right to live his own life. And amazingly, as I let go more and more, people have incredible solutions in their lives that I never even thought of. Funny how that works, if I give them a chance without interference.

    Life never was going to be a pretty, perfect, Cinderella story. I just thought it was.
    And now, I'm finally growing up.

    None of what I am writing here has come easy. It still doesn't come easy. Writing on this forum helps me reinforce what I am working on. It is a great tool.

    We have to let go of people, places and things in order to live full, happy, serene lives. Even our precious adult children who are really sick and messed up. We have no other choice here, unless we want to stay miserable. Thankfully, there is a pathway to doing this. May we all choose to walk that path.
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  2. Wendy23

    Wendy23 Member

    Thank you for writing this. It so helps to see that people make it through the difficult times and even come out a better person.
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  3. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    :winnersmiley:I do believe you have found the TRUTH.
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  4. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    This is wonderful. This is one of those little simple things that can have such a big impact.

    Thanks for sharing your heart with us COM. You have offered some wonderful insight into how one can deal with and accept having a Difficult Child.

  5. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I did that where our son was concerned.

    Not the part about leaving the car running.

    This is a good, intentional thing. I will do this with the intention of realizing that I need to let go. That I need to plumb the depths of the feelings right down to that hurt little place inside, clear them, and let go. Whether we feel ready or not we are modeling behavior and thought patterns and oh, pretty much everything, for those in our lives.

    We all are doing this for one another.

    We can commit to being clear, within.

    Clear as glass.

    And when this happens, the person is able to reclaim his or her own strength and integrity and purpose.

    There is no gratitude in it for us.

    They have done it themselves, and that is where strength is.

    In doing it yourself.

    Efficacy, not fear.

    Or maybe, it is exactly perfect; maybe, there is a purpose here we cannot recognize because our lives are finite things.

    Maybe what I mean is that we have taken the hellish waste of it and made ourselves grow through and beyond where we were.

    We have been strong, and our children have been strong, and we are coming through it, and maybe that is all I know.

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  6. Origami

    Origami Active Member

    Thank you so much, COM for this thoughtful guide to letting go. I'm printing this post for future reference to remind myself of these lessons you've learned. I'm just now realizing how much I've tried to control situations for all kinds of people in my life and become frustrated when they didn't go along with my "superior" ideas. Maybe a dose of humility (as in letting go) is the key to happiness and sanity.
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  7. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    This is what I have learned:

    Think twice before saying nothing.

    The best advice ever, in all situations.
    Who gave me this wonderful advice?
    Sorry I've forgotten who it was.

    I've used this mantra so many times, with so many people, but especially with my son.
    It's brilliant.
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