Monday, 22 December 2014

away for the holidays . . . distance between families Part 3

As an answer to the frequently asked question, how do you handle your family being in the US while you are in New Zealand?, I picked on my three adult children to help me answer that question.

You can read the intro to this series (part 1)HERE.

Part 2- the perspective of my first born can be found HERE.



Today we hear from Keegan, the youngest of my first three children, age exactly twenty and 1/2 (my solstice baby):

Loving from a distance certainly has its benefits in certain situations, and today in retrospect I find myself very grateful for my mother's move to New Zealand.  I was here, a drug addict in on and off active addiction and no semblance of recovery whatsoever.  Being a parent in that context is something that is extremely heart wrenching and difficult, especially when you are an ex-substance abuse counselor who knows the true nature of addiction and the places it can lead. I would say my mother and I share a strong connection but during that time, in active addiction, there was no one but myself.  To realize you are powerless over your own child's self destruction is something that I can't even imagine having to endure, and that distance, that 8000 miles, might have been the only thing that kept my mother sane.  Now with more than two years of recovery there actually is a long distance relationship, where before there was none. The time spent when she does come and visit is very valuable time. Maybe it's kind of sad that we have to separate for us to value each other's presence so much when it is available, but I suppose that is human nature. It transforms that interpersonal relationship into something that is no longer a commodity and the time spent together is all the more precious for it. I am grateful that my mother is able to pursue her dreams and I wouldn't want it any other way for her. It makes me feel so good when I see all of the beautiful things she is able to see, when I see they are constructing an outdoor kitchen at there newest residence, and all the other assorted things, small and large, that are just the stuff of dreams.  I could not be more happy that that is available to her. 
As you can see, Keegan and I have covered a lot of heart-wrenching and heart-opening ground and I am overwhelmed by his openness and honesty about his struggles.

My description of that time with Keegan is simply, "the perfect storm."

never judge a book by its cover
these were some difficult days
but love always prevailed
Ever loving. 

Even fewer emotional outbursts than a typical teenager.

Yes, money would go missing sometimes, there were the upheavals addiction causes, but somehow we managed to circumvent many of the tragedies others in the community did not. Partly due to a zero-tolerance approach (due to knowing there was a genetic predisposition on both sides of his family) which kept him pretty close to the nest-- but still couldn't control Addiction's wily ways.

And throughout that time I was still the recipient of full-eye-contact-I-love-yous and his trademark super-hugs.

Keegan is right.

There has been nothing more difficult than knowing, with certainty, that if your precious child continues to use drugs and/or alcohol-- they will end up dead.

So today I enjoy the gift of every day and every interaction we have-- one day at a time.

I have never been so proud as when I went to his car to ride with him and saw the bumper sticker "higher powered" and as he started the car, my eyes followed the jingle of his key ring to see that he was carrying every token he'd received from his meetings to celebrate periods of sobriety.

Getting to take in his acting during one visit, he happily introduced me to his sponsor.

And when I asked him if he might ever want to be a sponsor, his answer was without hesitation. 

YES.

Anything else Keegan achieves is icing on the cake as long as he continues to "walk the talk."  

A prolific and gifted writer, we share our work with each other and discuss ideas. The internet allows more in-depth discussion of this nature than in-person interaction frequently allows. 

We also share our hearts with each other.

The distance has provided fertile soil for people who love to write their words to communicate in real time via the internet.

Distance has allowed an easier space for me to "let go and let God" as the recovery jargon says.

In some ways-- distance has allowed us to define our relationship in a much richer way than we would be experiencing living in the same location.


Eric, Rachel, Bernadette, Luke and Keegan (shining brightly) 
Keegan Otwell is active in the Springfield theatre community, writes voraciously-- a play, working on a book, short pieces, etc., and is co-owner of the Fog Factory.

Mom and son may join forces on a writing project exploring the tumultuous terrain of surviving addiction . . .

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