So...... as life often gives us, I've had another chance to learn to "walk the walk" more closely to the way I'm trying to "talk the talk". Our son was clean and sober for 4+ months. He used again last week (the hard stuff). I gave him a ride to pick up his paycheck last Monday and he told me. He said others in his clean and sober house told him not to tell me, but he said he felt compelled to. I just listened. In the past, times like this had us both playing Hide & Seek with what we shared and how we responded. For me, that has often meant: To berate or not? To instruct or not? To scourge or to enable? For him, that has often meant: To lie or be honest? To stay put or to physically flee? To blame or to accept responsibility? I can now see (often couldn't in past years) that many years of this tug-of-war have brought us both a gazillion lessons. So I listened (without condoning) and only briefly instructed (mainly that it's HIS choice and HIS consequences -- he's a grown man). But I added that I now have gained some trust/faith in him. It's true. Couldn't say that before, but honestly can now. He shared far more than I expected, stayed put, and accepted responsibility for his actions (no hedging). Pleasant surprise. He also added that he now had gained more trust/faith in us -- his parents. I guess we're all learning something, eh? Was it happy news? No. But was it a hellish and anguished sharing/hearing of news? No. It was pretty straightforward, honest and calm. Can't ask for much more than that -- honest calm -- given circumstances. So, he says he's been clean again for about a week. I'm mostly inclined to believe him. We'll see what time reveals. He is responsible for his choices. And I am responsible for my choices. Sometimes, over the years, my reaction choices have been huge and poor. It used to tear me up inside. When our son got clean, others said to me, "Don't get your hopes up too high. How will you feel if/when he relapses?" In early years, my response was saying, "I can handle it", but, really, I was crushed -- alternating between sad and angry, often blaming myself. Love is both strengthening and weakening (in a sense) at the same time. With his second relapse, I said, "I'll be grateful for ANY clean time he has." Mostly I was, but still hard on my heart. Yet I learned not to blame myself. With his third relapse (last week), I really DID still feel the gratitude that he had ANY time clean. I handled the relapse news better than I ever have before. And, to our son's credit, he appears to be handling it better, too. He's now had 3 relapses -- each coming closer together (i.e. less time in-between getting clean again). Given enough years of this, I can see how the pattern of longevity emerges. I learn and grow in handling my part (being the mom of an addict) more calmly and wisely -- much better at not getting enmeshed (what's mine is MINE and what's his is HIS). But it also gives me comfort to see him learning that what's mine is MINE and what's his is HIS. On a graph, his life is deeply troubled and progress is s-l-o-w. However, there is TANGIBLE progress and I took the time to literally show that to him one day. He was surprised (so was I!) and glad. Now what I say to him all the time is, "No matter what happens, remember that ultimately your graph is going UP!" (and, frankly, so is mine!). Sure, I could focus on the yucky stuff. But why? Sure, it's there. I acknowledge its reality and respond accordingly. But I also choose to acknowledge the reality of the GOOD STUFF and respond accordingly. So, in other words, I'm learning better each day how to "walk the walk". And I've got to say, today is a good day and that's ALL it needs to be! PS -- Thanks for listening. Sometimes writing it all out helps me sift and sort and sculpt my feelings out better inside my head.