“I’m just saying, I wouldn’t tell my kids they can’t do something outside my home that they wouldn’t do in front of me. So, if they want to drink, they can drink in front of me first. If they want to try something like drugs, well, I hope they won’t… but if they do, they can try them at home first. That way, they won’t be so tempted to run off and do things away from home just because they can’t do that thing at home. You’ve got to give kids the chance to try stuff, or they’ll just try anyway, but without your knowledge.”
I’m paraphrasing a little. Words spoken aren’t always remembered word for word. But that’s the gist of the conversation.
I looked deep into the brave, young eyes of the speaker, a brand new guest in my home, and someone new and dear to my child. I sat listening as my parenting skills were challenged.
A year later, those words were still rubbing hard against the sore spot left from four years of trial by fire. Four years the beloved child lived addicted to drugs. We had been the parents who just said no. No to drinking. No to smoking. No to drugs. And while we were at it, no to tattoos too. For Heaven’s sake, just no to anything that might steal our beloved children from us.
I’ve lived as the child and the sister of the addicted. I’ve lived the years of secreting away my own addictions. And then, after all those years, I’d stood face to face with my own addiction in order to stand toe to toe with my child’s. I’ve run that race, fought that good fight, and walked out of the darkness of addiction. And I’m stronger for it.
Yet, here in my living room, sat this young soul face to face with me, angry, hurt, and implying accusation. Wanting to convey a message. I should have done things differently.
That evening, a little over a year ago now, I sat quietly, acknowledging the condemnation. The lecturer finished and I smiled, said something unmemorable, and the awkward conversation came to a stumbling end.
For most of the last year, that conversation swirled around me, questioning my parenting skills and numbering my mistakes. The early beginnings of a list of things I’d like to say to my kids began taking shape in my mind. In fact, if you look back from this post, the lists are found here in the pages. And there are more lists to come, but today, the fourth day of a new year, I wanted to say something–to myself. And maybe one day to the young soul.
You didn’t sit at the table.
That table is why I have this blog now, but I didn’t even know that myself until a cold day just this past December when your words came to mind again, loud, accusing, rattling around inside my brain. And that’s when the realization crept in slow, like a low fog rolling in, covering a multitude of hurt and angry regrets… You didn’t sit at the table.
See, after those agonizing years of a loved child’s addiction, and while our loved child went through a year long program of addiction recovery, our family gathered around a table alongside others who were hurting just the same. We were those who currently or in the past had personally battled life controlling issues, or we loved someone who did. We shared the ache. We spoke honestly about the fear, the hurt, the anger, and the hate. We were honest about our pasts. We laid bare our souls, took off our masks, and bled out from our fractured hearts of pain and regret. We left everything at the table. Everything.
But you weren’t there. We didn’t know you then.
Even the loved child was in the recovery program miles and miles away and couldn’t join us at the table. So, no one’s told you the stories of the table. No one’s shared with you stories from the weeks of soul baring moms, dads, and almost grown children. So, for your year-old, bravely spoken words of admonition, young soul, I can only extend grace, because you don’t know about the table.
It’s been a month worth of days gathering forgiveness for the young soul. Love came from the ruins of my hurt and anger. Forgiveness is the gardener of blessings.
I’m slowly moving on from those years of reliving and questioning decisions we made in the child rearing years. I’ve quickly moved on from reckoning with a year of pondering my own aging. And now I’m moving on to brighter things. Better choices. Healthier living. Younger living. If you stay with me, you’ll see the difference here on the pages. At least, I hope you do. We’re into Young Living around here nowadays. but truly, we’re just in to living younger.
Thank you for joining me at this table. It’s a place we gather. We’re honest here. We’re bold, we’re tender, but most of all, we give grace here.
God bless- more next time.