As the mom or dad of a son or daughter who struggles with an addiction, depression or some other mental health issue, cutting, an eating disorder, is in trouble with the law, same sex identity issue, or any other self-destructive behavior you know how hard it is to let go. Letting go is one of the things that will help us keep our sanity yet one of the most difficult to actually do! I’ve been thinking a lot about this since my last blog when I talked about learning to live with an unsolved problem.
Letting go — loosening your grip, relaxing your hold, releasing control. Sometimes it helps to understand something when you have a better understanding of what it’s not. So, what is the opposite of letting go? It’s tightening your grip until your knuckles are white; its holding on with a death-grip and clenched fists; it’s being controlling and overly involved because you have to have something. Think of a child who won’t let go of a toy. Been there? It can also be enabling – being too helpful, doing for someone something they can and should do for themselves. If you are doing these things I have two words for you, STOP IT! Step back, take a deep breath and RELEASE!
This doesn’t mean we don’t care and it’s not being unloving. We will always be there for our son or daughter and will do everything in our power to help them when they are ready to change. Notice the key words in bold print! Of course it’s hard to know if they are, and at times we may be fooled and taken advantage of. Sometimes you just have to give them a chance and see what happens. If they weren’t being honest, hopefully we’ll learn from our mistake and make a better decision the next time we have the opportunity.
I think the difficulty in letting go is tied in with our fear. It has been for me. I was so afraid for my daughter that I couldn’t bear the thought of letting her go. I didn’t know how to let her go! If I did, what might happen? I loved her so much . . . how do you let go of all of that fear and worry for this child you would give your very life for?
For me, learning to let go has happened in incremental baby steps (a phrase I’ve borrowed from the movie What About Bob? with Bill Murray. (If you need a good laugh it’s a riot!) It has been a slow process of giving her over to the care of God, my Higher Power, and allowing Him to work in her life as He sees best. Because I believe that He is loving and good, I am confident that He loves her even more than I do. This gives me great peace and comfort. Although I do know it is not a guarantee that things will turn out like I want them to — it doesn’t mean bad things won’t ever happen. They have happened. All the things I tried to protect her from did happen. But I have learned to let her go and to let go of what it was doing to me. Now I can let go of fear, of worry, of sleepless nights, of trying to fix, of rescuing, of protecting from painful consequences. Those consequences may be exactly what is needed to bring about a desire for change!
Letting go is one of the most loving things you can do — for yourself and for your child! Renee, my daughter, even wrote a song about letting go! Maybe you will hear her sing it when her CD comes out, hopefully by the end of the summer!
Here are a few bible verses that help me when I am struggling to let go:
“Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14 NIV)
“Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties and all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7 Amplified)