The Pain of Letting Go


Sometimes it can feel dangerous for us to not know what is going on with our loved ones. We use this as an excuse to disregard boundaries. As long as we are involved, at least we won’t be surprised by relapses, arrests, or screw-ups. Surprises are scary. We don’t have time for that.

At least that is how it feels initially. Right now I am really trying to stay away from my mother’s “recovery”. I am not asking a lot of questions, I am not visiting, and I am not checking to see if she is sober. It’s painful.

I hear about her hosting parties for other people and I get anxious. Was she sober for the shower she threw for our neighbor? Did everything go smoothly? Was anyone disappointed? I don’t know the answers to those questions. I have to remind myself that even if  I did know the answers, that wouldn’t change anything.

I see pictures on Facebook of her at dinner with friends. Did she drive? Do they know she doesn’t have a license? Is she being open about what is going on? I don’t know. I can’t know. I have to put these boundaries in place.

My phone rings and I cringe when it’s a family member. Are they calling to tell me she’s missing? Has she been in an accident? What am I missing?

Does my family think I am selfish for not asking? Are they mad I am not visiting? Do they think I do not care?

I care so much. I miss them all. I have to visit soon but I am making it quick and don’t plan to spend more than an hour with them even though I haven’t seen them in a month. What will they think?

Each day it gets a little easier. Each day is a little more focused on my own experiences. The quality of my day is less affected by her sobriety.

These questions that are pounding my brain are coming slower and less frequently. I talk my guilt out with my husband daily to try and ease the anxiety. It is painful and it is necessary.

I could do what I used to do. I could call my dad, sister, or mom daily and find out how she was doing. I could show up for the parties my mom is throwing to make sure things are going smoothly. I could visit more often to see the progress or lack of progress with her recovery.

Those efforts do not play a role in her recovery though. Those behaviors are enabling and only hinder us both.

I hope that if you are trying to establish boundaries that you remind yourself everyday that you are worth the struggle. It is not our job to get them sober or keep them alive. I cannot imagine the guilt I would feel if something happened to my mother but deep down I know I am not able to live a life trying to prevent anything from happening.

Fight for yourself. You are worth it.

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-Grumpy Sunshine



2 Replies to “The Pain of Letting Go”

  1. Very moving. Definitely relate to the struggle that is detachment from my mother. It gets easier as time marches on but I STILL get a flash of panic every time an unknown number flashes across my cell phone screen. Is Mom hurt? Did she hurt someone else? Is she in jail? Is she in the hospital?

    So glad that you are making such progress in your journey!

    1. I have the same feeling! I don’t know if it will ever go away. Thank you for reading!

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