God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me. ~Author unknown, variation of an excerpt from “The Serenity Prayer” by Reinhold Neibuhr
I am a big believer in the true & complete version of the serenity prayer. When my 14-year-old son was reeling out of control from advanced drug use, there were nights the only way I could fall asleep was to repetitively say this out-loud. When morning came,Ii gave my thanks that one or both of us was still alive.
I heard this other version at a 12 step meeting one day, and of course we all laughed. But, as you work on your own recovery, and it doesn’t matter if it is AA, Al Anon, OA, GA, SA….the truth is the same. All change begins with me.
My son has a dual diagnosis, and now at the age of 29 it is still hard to know at times when love is love, when it is easier to enable him, or am I detaching with love. My sister was an addict from about the age of 12. Of course, back in the 70’s, no one knew what that was, or that incest could be the culprit. We watched her function many years as an addict, until she couldn’t anymore. I lived in the same state, so although I was the “baby sister”, I never was the baby in our family of origins. I watched her life slip away year by year, until the last 12 months of her life became unbearable. By that time she had 10++ years sober, but her health was so bad, and she was addicted to her pain pills. I felt like once again, I was paying her bills, buying her groceries, driving her to Dr. appointment, and watching her suffer. The difference this time was she was not on crack. She was on pain patches and pain pills and had an apartment to live in (barely). The good thing by this time, I had over 12++ years invested in recovery as well. I could separate the disease from the person (most days).
The last 4 days of my sister’s life in April 2011, were perhaps the best 4 days of our entire lives. I smoked with her (this put me into smoker status), drank coffee, ate M&M’s. Walked her dog, pushed her in her wheelchair. And accepted her choice of the end of her journey. It was the most peaceful and serene I had witnessed her being in such a long time. I could never change her. I tried for so long. I wanted a better life for her, that wasn’t up to me to decide, it just left her feeling judged and not good enough. I miss her quirky laugh, and her strange sense of humor. I would not change those last 4 days for anything. I finally changed.