Letting go bit by bit and all in good time – a mother’s journey

As a Stepping Stones to Success leader for FDS, there have been many rewarding moments in delivering the course. This includes seeing participants have ‘light bulb’ moments – a moment of clarity, self-discovery and forward movement in coping better with their journey.

In Stepping Stones, we explore the notion of ‘letting go’. This is a place where a family member has finally ‘let go’ of their expectations and agendas, their need to control the situation and ‘fix’ the problem for the person they are supporting. In doing so, what’s left are acceptance, love and on-going support through a genuine application of self-care, honest communication, co-recreation of trust, the establishment of workable boundaries and many more factors.

For many, it may not necessarily mean the person they are supporting has stopped or reduced their drug or alcohol dependence.

The timeframe for ‘letting go’ and what it will look like is different for each person. Real change towards ‘letting go’ can start for some people within the course. For most, the real change happens some time after Stepping Stones.

As leaders of Stepping Stones, we can but trust in the process and the rest is unknown. Yes, we can track changes through the follow up questionnaire but that only tells part of the story.

Every once in a while, we do receive feedback and it is a gift - one that if shared with others will bring hope and joy. The following is a letter from a mother who completed Stepping Stones. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to write it and it is a privilege to be allowed to share it with you. I believe it encapsulates the challenges and struggle of ‘letting go’.

The letter

I have come to the realisation that our “challenged” son will always challenge us – and I think I now accept that this could potentially be forever. This can be an overwhelming thought/fear and hard to accept. There is a lot of grief to come to grips with before I accepted this realization: such as…

Q: Why can’t he be like his other two brothers?

Q: Why can’t he just hold down a good job?

Q: Why does he get so sick all the time?

Q: Why can’t he hold a relationship together?

Q: Why can’t he just settle down and act “normal”?

Yes, this and many more questions which simply don’t have the answers that are “so” called “normal” to me. So, I guess in a way I finally have to understand that this is his life which is “normal” to him. I admit, I don’t like it. I don’t understand it and it will always be confusing to me. However, rather than trying to fix everything and “hold back the tide’ I am learning – albeit very slowly – to step back and not carry his bags for him even though it still gives me great pain and anxiety depending on the day of my own mood and mental stability.

It’s a daily thing – some days are crap and some are diamonds.

We talk, we laugh and we enjoy each other’s company. So, I guess that’s a pretty good platform for any relationship. Sometimes, I slip back into rescue mode – without even realizing it – “damn” I hate that! But at the end of the day, I love him, even though sometimes I don’t have to like him for how he lives his life.

His brothers have difficulties in accepting his behaviour which is always hard especially when there are special celebrations together. But now, I accept that as being “their stuff” and I try not to own that or become the 3rd person in the triangle!

Meanwhile life continues and I love him and will try and support him the best I can.

There you have it, a mother’s journey towards ‘letting go’. For those who have read the Velveteen Rabbit, this is the true journey towards being real. ‘It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time…once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always’.

I wish all of you well in moving towards ‘letting go’.

Theo Chang