Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The World of IS vs the World of OUGHT

It is very hard to live with a son incarcerated. I know all the sides of he is safer there than using on the street, he needs time clean to help get his head on straight, he did things wrong and he must pay. These are all things I have written before and they are actually things I have come to believe and trust. However, that doesn't stop the emotional turmoil that boils inside of you when you think about incarceration and what it means. You miss your son, you still worry about his safety and most of all you constantly think about if any of this is doing any good to help him with his disease.

I think as a parent, not just a perspective of a parent of an addict, we are always wrestling with the concept; the world of "what is" versus the world of "what ought to be". As it pertains to our own children we make it personal. No matter if your child is an angel or an addict we parents want the best for our kids. We want them to never learn a lesson the hard way. We want them to listen to the wisdom we have acquired over the years. We want smooth sailing and calm waters as they grow and mature. This is "the world of ought to be".

The world of "what is" causes us pain. The world of "what is" only allows us as parents to do the best we know to do and are capable of doing. That world requires our kids at times learn there lessons the hard way. The reality too is that if our children listened to us all the time and did as we ordered there would be very few free thinkers. Innovation and progress would slow. Our progress as a species relies on our children not being satisfied with the status quo. Unfortunately, many times that causes us parents anguish and grief.

What are the lessons learned and how does this all apply to our son and us? Yesterday our son was transferred from the county jail to the Department of Corrections prison in El Dorado, KS. I can be angry but that will change nothing but my blood pressure. I can bemoan the fact that he shouldn't be there, he ought to be in treatment. I can stress about the past and how he ought to have stayed away from the drugs and those people that led him down this path. He ought to, I ought to, they ought to, ought to, ought to, ought to. As it pertains to my son and his situation "ought to" is a thought process that leads to anger. Trust me when I say that dealing with my sons addiction in the past anger has been a domineering emotion and upon reflection it has not served me well. Nothing changed or got better while I was angry, me being angry was just me being stubborn.

The world of "what is". It has been very hard for me at times accepting the fact that if something is wrong, like his addiction, I cannot change/fix it. That's living in the world of what "ought to be". Moving towards the world of "what is" allows that I cannot change this. I must accept what it not only does to him but what it does to me also. If the world of "ought to be" was my design there would be more rehab centers, there would be no drugs and there would be a lot less sons and daughters incarcerated and they would be getting the help and treatment they need. Living in the world of "what is" allows me to speak and try to get people to recognize the need for treatment centers for this disease. Living in the world of "what is" I realize I have little effect on the influx of narcotics into my world, however I have a platform where I can try to educate others before they begin, convince them early not to enter this world of pain.

"What is" versus what "ought to be" causes pain. I am not saying we accept the status quo simply because it is what it is. My point is getting angry over this struggle serves no useful purpose. There is a reason things are the way they are. Until we have a very clear understanding of the whole picture, not just the picture we are allowed to see we will never move closer to the world of ought to be. It is a struggle because the picture is ever changing but if we are all doing the best we can then that means we are doing all we can. Isn't that all you can expect from anyone, no matter if they are an addict or an angel.

ps.: As a side note, we have been doing this blog for about 9 months and we have been writing what we feel and any way we feel. A couple weeks ago I found out from another blogger you could have your blog submitted to people that review blogs for content, appearance and I guess just a general critique. I decided to ask for constructive help and submitted ours to see if we could make it better for you readers. We got a 4/5. If you are interested you can see the critique posted online at:


Carol said...

From one parent of an incarcerated addict to another, bless you for writing this. I struggle each day with the "ought to be" and the "what is". Its very difficult, but getting easier as time goes on.

My son "ought to be" a great kid! He's intelligent, he comes from a loving family, with 2 loving parents who have been married for 22 years. His brothers are fine upstanding citizens - Christian school attenders (one with a straight A average, the other about a B average). What the hell happened??? That's what I'd like to know!

I've told him many times, "I don't understand it, I'll never understand it." I still don't understand, but I must accept. Its how we go on. Acceptance and hope.

Gin said...

It's so true. What ought to be rarely comes to be. Acceptance is the only way to deal with that. I am having to practice a lot of acceptance lately. I have to accept that the loving, generous, caring, un-selfish man that I married is no more and he may never be again. If I don't accept that I will never move on with my life.

Annette said...

Acceptance is a huge part of *our* process. Very well said Dad.

And Carol...yeah, I get your questioning. I asked that same question for a long time. It still comes up occasionally when things are particularly bad. We have been married 25 years in Jan and by all appearances nothing like this "should" have happened in our lives. But it did... and as painful as it has been we have learned a lot and grown in ways that could have only taken place through suffering this heartbreak.

clean and crazy said...

it is life on life's terms. not on my terms. i do worry though about treatment facilities, and some of them the things they teach or preach not sure if that is for me. but i am a 12 step kind of gal and that really works for me. hope your son is well there is a new NA meeting in El Dorado called the "Misery is Optional" group. maybe if they give him time he can check it out, or they can bring a meeting to the prison, i think El Dorado closed the H&I that was going in there, not sure why, something about the pastor wanting to teach the prisoners about the church rather then 12 steps. it is sad when ego gets in the way of progress.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

I give you a 5/5.

I hate what "is" right now too and it sounds like they sent your son to a state prison??? That's ludicrous if you ask me. I AM angry lately at the way our govmt. handles this issue and the way the laws are written and they way addicts are considered to have a DISEASE yet are treated like CRIMINALS. You don't go to jail for arthrisit or diabetes! The GOVT accepts addiction as a disease yet treats it as a crime.

Sorry, got on a soapbox. I am trying to figure out what I can do other than sit around b*tiching about how mad I am (its not helping but it does make me feel better).

Keep up the great work on this blog, I know its a special one to many of us out here!

LisaC said...

My son is not in jail, but I learned this morning he overdosed (we did not allow him to come home to live this past Friday night as he had relapsed). So right now I'm surrounded by the "What is" whether I want to be or not.

We are now looking at a residential treatment program that is not based on the disease model. I don't know if it is right, but it is what we are thinking about.

Thank you for your continued blog and your thoughts. It helps.

Dad and Mom said...

Yes, he is in state prison now. He is in for shoplifting. He has never been to court or charged with a drug crime. His problem is he steals to support his habit. Obviously he is not a very good thief.

Syd said...

It's like the "why" question I used to ask. It never got me any closer to discovery of the truth. The shoulds gave me a lot of grief too. I wish you the best and the same to your son as this phase of life moves forward. Reality isn't pleasant but I like it better than denial.

Jayne said...

what if,,, What should be.. What is.... I understand the entire content of your recent blog oh so well. One part of prison that I hate is that drugs are available their too. county, state, even federal. My son has been in all and has told me about the drug trafficing that terrified me. We can cry, plead with them whatever until we are blue in the face, but the choice it up to them. We suffer too. Thanks and God bless you.