You mean, I can set boundaries?

You mean, I can set boundaries?

A father recently asked, how do you handle the guilt when you don’t want your loved one to come home after rehab?  When you fear she is not ready?

His question sent me spiraling back years ago, a moment when Jacob was “between” rehabs.

We had dropped him off at a rehab center in Maryland with an acclaimed reputation, a place where many men and women find sobriety.  But it was not to be for Jacob.  Ten days in, I saw it in his eyes.

When he was dismissed for sneaking in drugs, he agreed to enter a second treatment center, this one closer to home.  There was a single night before admission to the new place.

So, home he came.

After a 14-day inpatient stay at the local facility, he left for South Florida and continued treatment.  There was no longer the ease of returning home and I was grateful for that. It was time for my son to find his own way – without the safety net of his childhood bedroom.

Later, I heard a word at an Al-Anon meeting that buoyed my resolve.  Boundaries. A lightbulb went on.  Really?  It was permissible to set boundaries with my loved one?

Within months I had the opportunity to test it.  My daughter, her husband and my grandson were joining us for our annual summer vacation in Rehoboth Beach.  Jacob longed to be with us, as he always had.  That family time was important to him, to all of us.

I still recall sharply the warning I gave him: “You can join us.  But only if you are sober.”

“Mom,” he promised, as best as anyone struggling with addiction could, “you will have your son there.”

And he kept that promise.

I wish I could say that was the end of his drug use, but it wasn’t.

Still, it was a small victory for him – and for me – on the road to recovery.




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