I was powerless over my son's life—and death

Admitting I was powerless over my son’s drinking brought a sense of calm I had not previously known. So much of my time and energy had been devoted to “saving” my son. I diligently pulled family, friends, church members, and anyone who would listen into my personal drama—hoping someone could save him or give me the answers to save him. The relationship with my son had deteriorated to an intense power struggle filled with loud, angry, hostile words and actions. I knew that if I lost this battle, my son and I would both lose. I did not recognize that we had both already lost.

The first meeting I attended, I felt hope. I did not understand much of what was said. It all seemed like a foreign language. I borrowed a daily reader, kept it with me, and read it throughout the day, opening my mind to a new way of thinking. The unmanageability of my life was not in question—what to do about it was. Finally, I was with people on a similar journey, who had a program, and that program worked.

As I came to accept my powerlessness over alcohol, I also came to accept that my son was “sick” not “bad.” My son felt the difference right away. Since I was no longer trying to “save” or “fix” him, he began talking to me. For the next seven years, we had varied communications as he struggled with his addictions. 

He often blamed me and was angry toward me, but when I didn’t take it personally he would calm down. He was quite talkative when he was drunk or high and shared very openly with me during those times. Bit by bit, he began trusting that I loved him and, several times, he even told me he loved me.

When he died of a drug overdose at the age of 26, this past year, the Steps and the program became my lifeline; a lifeline my Higher Power has given me to walk through the powerlessness of my grief, and the courage to accept “One Day at a Time.” Serenity and underlying gratitude are my constant companions. Because I accept my powerlessness, my life is manageable—even through these painful days.

By Sherrie N., Iowa
The Forum, December 2013