My son returns home from treatment tomorrow. Almost a year of being gone from my daily life. It is a day that I was not sure that I would ever see again. It was possible, and somewhat likely that he would age out in treatment and then move on to whatever came next for him. Moving from treatment to his own life, never to return home again. I am so grateful that is not the case.
Tomorrow, he comes home. He returns to me, his mother. And I am excited, nervous, but not scared. I am not the same, he is not the same. It is up to both of us to fuck it up, or to smash it out of the park. We are both aiming hard for it to be the later.
I wrote him this letter today, sending it before our last treatment therapy session today. I pray that he can hear my words and see how very proud I am of all that he has changed. I marvel at what his day will be like tomorrow, arriving at the airport and being given his life back. No adult to oversee his every move, and to walk out of the terminal and into my loving arms. It kills me, to think about that. In the best way...
I do not know what the future holds for him, or me. I just know that I love him. I am excited to get to know this new version of him that I have only a passing acquaintance with, I know that I am as ready as I can be to accept him home, with love, conviction and boundaries.
I see all too clearly that I loved before without limits. And that was part of the problem. I did not love myself so I was hampered in my ability to love others, even my own children. But I too have worked hard this last year. To change, to grow, to find a way to love all the very many parts of me...and to bring that woman to this new relationship with my son.
There are no guarantees, only the hope that I can and will show up differently and that differently will be enough for us to live in peaceful harmony. And when the serenity fails, that we both have the tools to move forward differently than our reactive pasts have indicated.
Here is my letter. Here is my welcome home message to the boy I sent away a year ago. I am filled with tears, and love, so much fucking love. Thank you God for all the pain and hardship, because it caused us both to grow, change and develop into better versions of ourselves. I can’t wait to meet my son tomorrow, this new kid that I have loved the whole of his life, but have never met before. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for the perseverance, the love, and the fortitude to stay the course.
My Dear Logan:
You will be home tomorrow!
I can’t believe it. I can’t believe how much time has passed, going slowly and quickly at the same time.
I am so proud of all you have accomplished, how much agency and control over yourself you have developed. I am grateful to the Sean’s that have helped you so much along the way. Sean from Alaska and Sean from Montana. And all the other people, but mostly for the Seans.
When I sent you away last year, I had no idea what was going to happen. I had no clue whether you would run away, ever speak to me again, hurt yourself, refuse to have a relationship with me ever again. I could only see the angry you. Because that was all you were capable of showing back then. And it was that angry, rageful young man that I decided that I would rather risk not ever having you in my life again, than to keep you here and risk you killing yourself eventually. I decided that your life, your happiness, your living was more important than me having a relationship with you. And that was a hard choice. Mostly because your death was not imminent. I mean I saw the path you were on, I know it well. I also know that it leads to jails, institutions and death. But I also knew that was likely years, if not decades away.
I sent you anyway. Because I wanted you to have a life more than I needed or wanted to be in that life. I don’t think you can or will understand this feeling, this very hard choice I made until you yourself become a parent. It is this thing, this parenting thing, that is well, sacrificial. I would really give up my life to save you and your sister. Without question. Absolutely. That is not even a hard question...but you living and hating me...that was a harder choice.
But to me that is the whole purpose of motherhood, to raise your children, kicking them in the ass when they need it, loving them always but not allowing yourself to become a doormat for which there is no appreciation, no two way love. Just an endless cycle of codependent relating that is largely dysfunctional for all involved.
That is what we had when you left last August. You saw me only as a means to an end. You took advantage of my love. I was foundering and unable to really set and hold appropriate boundaries. We were both caught, held hostage to each other in this ever evolving spiral of mistrust, dislike and anger.
I will never know where I got the courage to send you to Alaska. I mean it had to be God. Because when you walked up to that truck, my knees buckled. I wanted to run and grab you and hold you and take you home. I didn’t want to leave you there. What mother leaves her child in Alaska? Me. I did. And I am so grateful for Sean and his wife, holding me up (literally) as I walked to their car. So grateful for their kindness and love. They didn’t know us, but they knew us.
In that moment, everything changed. Everything. You became untethered to me. And I to you. Both of us free to grow and change and evolve into better versions of ourselves. And I think we have.
Your time in Alaska and Montana reconnected you to you. And hopefully got you a lifetime relationship with a God of your understanding. I know for me, that God is in nature. I mean God is everywhere for me, but when I am feeling lost, unsure, sad, lonely, hurt, worried, I go to the woods and find God in every blade of grass, every branch, every rock. I hope it might be the same for you.
I have seen you founder while away. I have seen you return to old ideas about yourself, me, your life. But I have seen you sit in the very painful place of being changed but still interested in whatever those old patterns got you. I have watched you waffle between the two yous. This new emerging young man who loves himself, is proud of how he treats his family and friends, works hard and goes to bed each night feeling like he gave something to the world he lives in. And I have seen moments of the old you...and I have seen you put that guy in check and in place. Sometimes with great effort, sometimes without any effort at all.
I guess what I want to say to you on the eve of your homecoming is this: I can’t wait to meet you tomorrow. I am going to do my best to greet you tomorrow with a curiosity about this boy I gave birth to, raised and loved every day of his life. I am going to allow myself to not know you. To allow you to teach me who you are now. To do my best to let our relationship be free, new and loving. I will fail, but I promise to keep trying.
What I have learned about change is that it requires an ongoing commitment when old ideas and patterns return with a vengeance. I have to keep turning towards the light, leaving darkness to deal with itself. I have to keep showing up and doing the hard things, even when my head tells me that it should be easier, it shouldn’t feel this way. I have to keep showing up and doing the deal. And if I am true to that, then I get to have a new experience with myself, about myself and others.
You are not the boy I sent away. You are returning as someone I do not really know. You are someone new and changed and I am excited to get to know this you. It is a weird thought to think that I am picking up a stranger tomorrow evening and bringing him home to live with me. But you are not a stranger, you are now the best version of you that I have ever known...
While you have been away, I have been working hard on my issues. The things about me that have contributed to the collective shitshow. I have been going to therapy, reading books, meditating, walking in the woods with my grief and shame, asking for guidance, forgiveness and to be given another chance to love my son better, more kindly, more openly and more gracefully. I hope I don’t let either of us down.
But if I should, I am asking you to think about how much I love you as evidence by my willingness to make sure you had a life, rather than insisting that I be a part of that life. I want you to try to see that my sending you away was a desperate act of love from a mother to her child. It was all that I had left. It was my last ditch effort to save you from you. And I hope that one day you might understand that that is what loving your child means. That you would rather have them alive and living even if that means they won’t speak to you. Even if they blame you for all their problems. It is better to be the villain in your child’s life, than to be the undertaker’s patron.
I love you always, forever.
I have missed you so very, very much.
I am so incredibly proud of all that you have accomplished.
I am so excited to get to know you all over again.
You have worked hard my handsome son. You have showed us all what you are made of, who you can be when you put your mind to it. We have a year of childhood left together. I pray that we both can make it the best year of your life. And for the first time, in forever, I believe we can.
So let’s do your senior year, with all the milestones and cool things, let’s do it up. Let’s live this new life together to the hilt. Let’s ensure that we both enjoy this time, because I was not sure a year ago that I would ever see you again. That I would ever be willing to have you return to my home. I was not sure that you would even still be here. So let’s celebrate all the wonderful things you are, you have accomplished and let’s get on with living. We have both lived like we were dying for far too long.
See you tomorrow!
I love you Logan, always, forever and with all that I am.