Where should I send my son?

Where should I send my son?

A mom asked me recently, “Where should I send my son?”

Even to get the question, I knew we were in tough territory.

The son, not quite 18, was still under his mother’s roof and under her skin. A recent inpatient stay hadn’t “fixed” him, as the mother had hoped – or worse – expected.

Her panic stirred up old feelings.

A dozen years ago I, too, was in a frantic search to find just the right place to “send my son.” Never mind that he didn’t want to go. If I could just find that desirable spot, surely all would be well.

I can still feel the panic in my chest. That deep pounding, my heart racing, a desperate need to hunt down the perfect place for him. Somewhere were kind people who had helped hundreds of other people with addiction to give up their deadly habit and return to the loving arms of their families.

It would be a place that was homeward bound or outward bound or anywhere that was bound to cure him.

I remember Jacob’s first inpatient stay. When my husband and I dropped him off, I was sure a few weeks at this pastoral, idyllic setting by the Chesapeake Bay would “cure” him. The end of our misery – let alone his – was at hand.

Sadly, I hadn’t yet learned that the end was only his to decide, and no place – however pastoral or spiritual – could promise a “cure.”

It would take years of patience, of turning the focus away from him and to myself, to give him the freedom and dignity to fall and rise again.

How could I tell this mom that it was something she, too, would have to learn?

To find the right place for her son meant finding it first for herself.

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