There was a time when I pretended he didn’t exist

There was a time when I pretended he didn’t exist

Impossible to believe today, but there was a time when I pretended he didn’t exist.
I had no son.

When Jacob was actively using, and I felt so hopeless that no matter what I tried he kept trudging down a dangerous path, I had an inconceivable thought.

If I could steel myself against the crushing wave of love for him, brace my head and my heart against the overwhelming fear, disappointment, hurt and abject sorrow, then maybe I could function.

Like the father in “Fiddler on the Roof” who is disappointed in his daughter’s choice of husband, the phrase ricocheted inside my brain: “If you do this, you are dead to me.”

The moment was fleeting, but today, I recall this memory with horror. Who was that mother? How could she have imagined – even for a minute – that her son no longer existed? That with one dark determination she could block him from her life?

By then Jacob was no longer a topic of our family. His sister had stopped talking to him. Friends barely mentioned his name.

When he moved to Florida for rehab, he was beyond my sight and far from my touch. It would be “easy” to move him even farther away – beyond the painful thought of how he was destroying himself every day, every minute. And us, too.

Then I heard a phrase at an early All-Anon meeting that caught me short: “Detach with love.” Wasn’t that what I was doing?

The coming weeks and months taught me otherwise.

Just like Jacob was not the son I knew, I was not the mother he knew. Addiction was erasing us both from each other’s existence.

It took time and patience, but as I practiced how to separate from him, how to “detach” but with “love,” I gave Jacob – and myself – the freedom to come back to ourselves.

Hope returned.
And so did we.


8 Replies to “There was a time when I pretended he didn’t exist”

  1. Dear Lisa: Recovery is a painful process. Your wise words, written from the heart, help others to heal. Thank you for being unafraid to share.

    1. “Unafraid?” Don’t we have to face our fears?
      AND our friends!
      Thanks as always Mary Lou

  2. Strange, but I never had those thoughts. But now I just “pretend” Andrew is traveling with his band as he so often did.

    1. Ronnie, yes interesting. Actually, I love that you think of him off with his band.
      He probably is!