Toss out the blankets

Toss out the blankets

My son says it’s counterintuitive.

Parents love their children.  That’s a maxim.  And they do all they can to protect them from harm.  But when that harm is self-inflicted, what is a parent to do?

Funny to think of it now, but when Jacob was abusing pills, and I was desperate to stop him, these images cut through my frenzy: Bubble wrap.  Thick, quilted comforters.   A sturdy football blanket.

If I wrapped him in these, and my husband and I took turns with our arms folded around him, maybe we could  stop his maddening desire to erase himself?

When Jacob was in his first year of recovery, we were invited to speak to parents at a nearby treatment center.  As we have done many times since, I began telling my story.  Then he told his. Sometimes the differences were startling, occasionally humorous, but always revealing.

Inevitably, he “corrected” me on a few facts.  What I remembered wasn’t exactly how it happened.

Except for this moment…

It was the afternoon my husband and I called him into our small library/home office. He was years into his addiction, attending his second year at community college and living at home.

I said these words:

“Jacob, we love you.  But you cannot stay under our roof and use.  You have a choice.  You can either continue to use, which means you have to leave, or Dad and I will pay for your treatment.”

The first time we shared this story with parents whose eyes were mostly on his, my son said, “Yeah.  What took you so long.”

Counterintuitive.  To stop sheltering him.  To throw off the bubble wrap and the blankets.  To give him an ultimatum that no parent wants to give.

Maybe that won’t save all children.

But in the end, it saved him.

And his parents, too.


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