When you are the parent of a child (or in my case children) who sufferers from substance use disorder- you seem to clean their rooms on a variety of occasions. It starts when they are small, you tuck them in at night, careful to dodge the stray lego, lest you cry out in pain from an unforgiving plastic corner of “bad design”. Then you realize, as they sleep- life couldn’t be more peaceful. There is nothing quite like the feeling you get watching these little versions of yourself happily, peacefully sleep. It truly is/was one of my most precious moments. The room cleaning never stops, even as they grow older and you give them more responsibility- to CLEAN YOUR ROOM before you go outside. They seem to never do it right, oh my; if I could go back to the simplistic days of them just having to do that simple task. A bedroom is much more than a place to lie down- it becomes a sanctuary for the teen, a realm of their own. They can decorate it, organize it, paint it- something the “room owner” can call his own. A sense of pride.
I have had had a few occasions as my sons have gotten older to go into their rooms, sometimes to fight and yell, sometimes to hug and kiss, sometimes to help clean and organize. The times I spent on their rooms are always better when they are there with me. You see, there is nothing sadder than going into your child’s room when they are not there. In my case, with my oldest son- he is never coming back to his room. I had to go through all of his personal belongings. And I wept. I wept uncontrollably. I still weep when I think about it. There are still times when I need to go through one of my surviving son’s room. He recently moved back in with me. Fresh from treatment, bright-eyed again, and again I am hopeful. Certainly love will be enough- this time.
I am wrong, again. I can not save him from himself. I can not walk this path of recovery for him. I can not MAKE him sober. I am powerless… again. He called me the other day from a new treatment centre. This time it is a surprise to me. He is admitted and on a 30-day “blackout” period. I will have no contact. His brothers are rightfully skeptical, my wife is new to this end of recovery. I am praying that what they told me in AlAnon, that God has no grandchildren, is true. I am working my own plan of recovery, I am staying in the moment. Working with God’s other children. And I plan to clean the room again, to go through personal belongings, personal triumphs, clothes, and personal life. This is going to be sad- the comfort I have is that he will return home. Although, at this particular moment I can not get past the lingering thought:
There is nothing sadder than cleaning your child’s room…