My son was released. I just received his text: “And we are off!” I have been waiting nine and a half years for this day. It is hard to describe how I feel, how all the people who love my son feel. I am reminded of the line in the Joni Mitchell song that goes: “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”.
My son is schizophrenic and when he was 22, he committed a crime and took the plea, “not guilty by mental defect”. Some people believe this plea is a cake-walk. Nothing could be further from the truth. I wouldn’t wish what my son has experienced or witnessed on anyone. I am extremely proud of how he has handled himself in the face of the circumstances he encountered. He has had to learn how to find his power in the face of true powerlessness.
Most of the people I work with are anxious about making mistakes. They worry about taking risks and making mistakes which have catastrophic consequences. My son made a terrible mistake that did have tremendous consequences. He paid a big price for his actions and yet one of the things we have all learned is there is always “gold in the dark” as Carl Jung said, and sometimes you have to dig deep to see it. The monumental gifts that came out of this very painful chapter are that self-awareness and taking personal responsibility for yourself are life-changing. My son is a changed and better man.
My son didn’t want to have a mental illness. He didn’t want to deal with addiction. The cost of not taking ownership of these facts about himself made him dangerous to himself and others. What I’ve learned is that we are all a danger to ourselves and others if we aren’t self-aware and don’t take responsibility for ourselves. Self-awareness is the true power and taking responsibility for ourselves is the path to real happiness.
Acceptance of who we are and our traits is something sages across time have written about. It is a process to own and accept our light and dark qualities and when we don’t, we suffer the consequences in our relationships. True freedom comes when we tell the truth about who we are and use our self-awareness to make good choices.
I am so grateful for my son and all the ways he teaches me about life and humanity.
My love is over-flowing and I send it out to you.
Kate Crow Pfeffer