Why would you want to write into uncomfortable places? I do it when I’m feeling frustrated, confused or guilt ridden. I’ve learned the more you avoid uncomfortable places, the more they scream at you for air.
I found myself in this position a few days ago. Guilt and frustration were banging unceasingly at my door about my alcoholic son and his relapses. But, I’m reading a book on how to deal with the adult addict child and it was giving me helpful insights.
I wanted to express my anger, but I felt like a bad mom
I needed to express my anger. Once again I felt like a bad mom, so with trepidation I went to my computer and guess what I found out? I am the source of my own misery.
I implement tough love, but his addiction still occupies space in my head in a room I designed especially for him; mom’s guilt and shame room. In there, I don’t draw boundaries. I’ll listen to him talk for hours, when he’s drunk, about how he hates AA and how he’s going to learn to moderate. Or I’ll lend him money for gas–$40’s here and there (the rare times he calls me). Or allowing him to come to family gatherings and be rude and unengaged.
He does have periods of sobriety
He does have periods of sobriety and during the last 18 month sprint, when he was in AA, he made amends, got his own place, got a job and a car. But he relapsed recently and I headed to mom’s guilt and shame room to go over all the ways I failed in raising him. But because of the book I referred to above, and writing into uncomfortable places, I was reminded of my powerlessness over his addiction and how I needed to accept his pattern–no matter what direction it goes.
Getting back to mom’s guilt and shame room
My writing into uncomfortable places gave me a lesson in cleaning. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m cleaning out the guilt and shame room, and redesigning it, to a place of peace and calm. Which means his choices and consequences belong to him, not me. He is an adult and I have no more control over him picking up that first drink and where it will take him than I do if the sun comes out each day or not. I wasn’t the perfect parent, but I did the best I could and as an adult, his choices are not mine, nor are his consequences.
But what about love? He’s your son
I do love him, but I have to stop trying to get him to love me. I’m sure he does. But enabling him, lending him money, allowing his rude behavior at family gatherings, listening to hours and hours of his justifications to drink, are things I don’t have to do. I won’t lend him money; I won’t deprive him of the opportunity to learn or not, how to budget it himself. I’ll tell him he’s expected to show up at family gatherings and be polite and helpful–not allow him to make people feel uncomfortable with his rudeness.
I’ll listen to him with empathy, but not to the same old conversations on how he’s going to moderate, or get help. Those are boundaries I need to draw so both of us can live our own lives.
And most importantly I need to get my ego out of the way. My ego that says I can do it better than he can, and I’m doing it out of love, which is a lie. I’m doing it out of guilt and that’s not love.
Why would you want to write into uncomfortable places?
Because it gives you freedom. And it gives him the freedom to make his own choices and deal with the consequences. It gives me freedom to do things I love which is the best thing a parent can do–show their kids how to live a happy life.
I write into uncomfortable places to understand myself, my kids, my friends, my relatives and the world on a deeper level. I get out of the way and “live and let live.” By doing so, I make space for my own authenticity and that of others. And I surprise myself– and make room to write into more uncomfortable places and to uncover the next chapter.
Until next week, write into an uncomfortable space and see where it takes you. Let me know by leaving a comment below or emailing me.