I stared at her name in my iPhone contacts. Just a first name as I did not know the last. I had copied her number off the group’s phone list. A voluntary list of members willing to accept phone calls when someone is in need of support. Over the years, I had taken down several names , tucking them away, just in case. But I never called. Despite the tremendous support I received from attending Alanon meetings, I never took the next step of reaching out to one person when I was struggling. As bad as things seemed at times, I always thought that I could handle it on my own.
But the situation I was in with my son D, felt far more unmanageable than any I had encountered before in my life. Neither my resentment towards my mom’ drinking nor my husband's could compare to the terrifying grief of watching my son struggle and feeling incapable of helping him. I needed more support than a meeting could give. I felt confused, scared, and alone.
I gripped my phone tightly, my hand sweating not from the warm spring sun hitting me as I sat on my front porch but rather from the nervous energy coursing through my body. My heart pounding as if I were about to jump from a plane, not make a phone call. I willed myself to press the red call button glaring at me from the screen under her name. *Andrea.
Although I barely knew Andrea, since sharing with our Alanon group the heartbreaking journey with her teenaged son, I felt an instant connection. I returned every week, hoping Andrea would be there and share more. I was ready to absorb her words like a withered sponge. Her wisdom was like water and I had never before felt so drawn to a virtual stranger.
I stood up from the porch, pacing my way around the small sloped lawn in our front yard. Andrea was the only person I knew that had openly admitted to walking the difficult path in which I was now traveling. She had made tough choices regarding her son and yet she seemed at peace. I knew if I called her, I would find the support, knowledge, connections, and courage to help my son and my family. But I was also aware by making the call and honestly admitting my struggle to someone other than my therapist I would be crossing a pivotal line. By reaching out to someone who understood my pain, my fuzzy reality would become clear, no longer allowing me to wish, ignore, rationalize and blame in order to avoid making an agonizing decision. But to do so, I was going to have to set aside, at least momentarily, the things D, actually I, was hoping for; his graduation from high school, potential lacrosse scholarships, and acceptance to Cal Poly, his dream school.
With that call, I would finally understand I could no longer allow what I wanted for D to get in the way of what he needed from me.
*Name changed to protect anonymity