"Refuse to fall down. If you cannot refuse to fall down refuse to stay down. If you cannot refuse to stay down, lift your heart toward heaven and like a hungry beggar ask that it be filled and it will be filled. You may be pushed down. You may be kept from rising. But no one can keep you from lifting your heart toward heaven." ~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Things happen for a reason and there was a Universal karmic force at work for why I was not introduced to this quotation from America poet, scholar, Jungian psychologist and post-trauma specialist Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes early on in my recovery.
I simply was not ready to receive it. I would have blown the opportunity.
I had been introduced to Dr. Estes years before when I was more concerned with what was happening to and around me than within. Her Warming the Stone Child is one of the many books on my list of must reads.
This quote was thrust upon me for a reason. It is the perfect metaphor for what we as parents feel, what we must endure to persevere, flourish and live life to the fullest!
We all refer to our children's fall to addiction like a punch to the gut. At first we are knocked down but like Rocky Balboa in the first movie (OK, in ALL the movies) we keep pulling ourselves up for more punishment, body blows, more head shots. It isn't until we are down and beaten that we can begin our recovery. The "bottom" that psychologists refer to that an addict must reach - there are actually many bottoms accompanied by relapse, bottom, relapse - is also true of recovery of parents of addicts. Nothing we do to mask or combat our son's or daughter's addictions will help. We spiral with our children in their co-dependent, enabling, belittling, addictive, learned behaviors.
We become like Richard Gere's character, Zack Mayo, in An Officer and A Gentleman who emoted to gunnery sergeant Louis Gossett Jr., "I got nowhere else to go!"
But where to go is the question, isn't it? Taking Dr. Estes quotation in segments can shed some light on how we can begin.
"But no one can keep you from lifting your heart toward heaven."Being beaten and spent emotionally and physically is one thing. Accepting this as our forever life status is another. The acceptance of "being beaten" is so defeating we can become paralyzed. Men, especially, are not supposed to be helpless or clueless. We are programmed to fix things whether these things are fences, faucets or our addicted children. Reaching out to a Power, an Entity outside ourselves we can instead say, "Here, take this from me, I can't do this."
It becomes apparent that not only can we not fix this thing that can't be fixed or controlled, it was not in our power to do so.
This is the ultimate epiphany. Now what do we do with it?
"You may be pushed down. You may be kept from rising."Our children often remain addicted, spiraling downward despite our best efforts. We become scared, angry and helpless. We can give the task of saving our sons and daughters to a Power greater than ourselves but now what are we supposed to do? Out of nowhere angels will appear if we look for them and are willing to see, inspiring us to work on our recovery, our relationships, to seek out parents in similar situations (oh, we're out there!) and to open our hearts to the possibilities inside of us.
We may be down, but we are not out.
We can allow ourselves to stay down for now. It's ok. We can bolster the courage to accept defeat and await answers and miracles - but not on our terms or timeline. We can simply let it, all of it, go.
"If you cannot refuse to stay down, lift your heart toward heaven and like an angry beggar ask that it be filled and it will be filled."Our defeat can become our salvation. We can stop reacting. We can stop raging. We can cease forcing our wills upon our family, friends coworkers and our addicted children. We can become changed souls even to the extent that our change is uncomfortable to those around us .
We will experience energy we haven't had in years. We'll want more for us and realize that the new life energy we are experiencing is meant for us to use in our recovery journeys. We can open our hearts and souls to possibilities.
The mantra of "…take this off my shoulders" will soon be accompanied by, "… show me the way!"
A line in Billy Joel's song James that I often quoted even prior to my son's recovery is, "Do what's good for you or you're no good for anybody".
We can become the embodiment of Joel's composition.
"Refuse to fall down. If you cannot refuse to fall down, refuse to stay down."So we refuse to fall down, although sometimes we will. We relapse. We find ourselves dipping our toes in old behavior, thoughts and those damn "coming attractions" of future events over which we have no control.
But we can refuse to stay down.
What were once body blows become mere glances. We may feel their sting but we can anticipate the jabs, uppercuts and crosses that our son's and daughter's addictions may throw our way. We can leave the ring. There is no time in our lives for the boxing match. There is so much life outside that dark, dank, oh so familiar gym waiting for us.
We can strive for perfection knowing we will never attain it. We can get up knowing our possibilities are limited only by our belief in the Universe and its plans for us.