"I am really, really, tired." ~ Jackie ChanLife is beautiful. Life is hard. Recovery is a bitch. Recovery can have its beauty as well, its victories along with its sine wave roller coaster peaks and valleys.
Watching someone in recovery is exhausting. Hope is eternal but can be the cruel ally of The Addiction lulling us into a guarded sense of false, or even real security when everything appears to be turning into daisies and butterflies for our children. It's not that we are naive or let our guard down. It is simply loving our children as we do, we will hang on every victory as if their life, not ours, depends on the outcome of whatever struggle in which they might be engaged. Our far-off view of our children - two joined souls on different pathways - does not always shield us from feeling their pain, anxiety and depression. We can be empathetic without inserting ourselves directly into their lives or restarting the bad-news cinema in our minds.
But still, our recovery can be so hard and exhausting. Even as we get on with our lives we cannot help but keep that sidelong watchful eye on our children. It's like the sports fan who follows a losing team year after year patiently awaiting the turn around, the dream season every enthusiast hopes for and deserves. Like the fan, we can hang on every loss, each strike out, dropped pass or missed opportunity.
Unlike the fan, thankfully, we have learned not to insert ourselves imagined onto the playing field, our better talents turning the lost season into a playoff run. It is a fruitless proposition and one The Addiction wishes us to pursue to divert us from our journey pathways.
Our players, our sons and daughters, know we're there. He hears us when we cheer his triumphs, she when we acknowledge positive changes in outlook or behavior. We've simply stopped the catcalls, the Monday morning quarterbacking, those insulting "you've GOT TO hit the cutoff man" admonitions.
The worst, when I coached, was when I would witness a fellow baseball manager remind his pitcher to "throw strikes" when in the midst of a tough inning. I always wished the kid would turn toward the dugout, take his cap off , hit himself in the forehead with the heel of his hand and say, "Of course, it's so simple. Why didn't you tell me to do that before I got jammed up!"Each day for us is the beginning of a new season. For many of us we're like the fans of American baseball's Chicago Cubs or the faithful followers of Aston Villa Football Club in the English Premiere League. Our seasons are played out one day at a time. We're Bill Murray in Groundhog Day hoping for a different result.
Did I mention this can be exhausting?
We learn to breathe. We carve out time for meditation. We seek out kindred spirits, others with whom we can share the experience strength and hope of parents in recovery.
And still we remain ... tired.
And this, as with so many seemingly insurmountable obstacles we encounter along our pathways is OK. It's OK to reach the point of exhaustion. It's OK to feel the effects The Addiction has thrust upon us and our families.
What's NOT OK is when we insinuate ourselves into the situation. Unlike the stalwart fan, we can and must resist the urge to take personally the ups and downs of our children's lives while we hope for that winning season. We have no control. We are handicapped by The Addiction, a bad front office that simply wants to maintain the status quo.
I live in a baseball town that each season amazes opposing teams with its appreciation of the game, the struggle, the competition. I've attended Cardinal games where the crowd has given both teams a standing ovation after a Redbird loss as a tribute to a game well played - an extra inning Cardinals loss to the Mets in the 80s comes to mind where both starting pitchers worked masterful games. The look of astonishment on the faces of the Mets players after their 1-0 win will be forever etched in my mind. Player and fan were exhausted after the hotly-contested game well played, yet tribute was still proffered.
Let me be clear, just like any city we hate to lose in St. Louis but we can appreciate the struggle along with the successes The reaction that day can be summarized in two words: Shit ... Wow!
All we can hope for when we become exhausted from the effects of The Addiction is to Seek and See the victories our children manufacture on their playing fields. Even in seemingly losing efforts our children may be heroically striving for a breakout season. We can rise and recognize the triumph of a hard-fought battle on any day even in the face of an apparent loss. We can offer our children our love, that standing ovation, that reverent cheer affirming their heroic journey along an exhaustingly treacherous recovery pathway.
It can bring shivers down your spine.
Imagine the utter amazement deep inside our children's souls as we rise up and applaud our son's or daughter's little victories as if to say, "Even in the face of apparent defeat we stand by you."
The Addiction will not know what to do with the ovation.
Just remember it's a long season.
"In Nature's world, every loss has meaning." ~ Julia Cameron