By Mary Cucarola – 3/4/20
“Managing the power of choice, with all it’s creative and spiritual implications, is the essence of the human experience.” Caroline Myss
This is a topic I haven’t wanted to talk about at all and still really don’t. It’s about me, not my son. I decided to write about it after I heard a Ted Talk with Caroline Myss called Choices That Can Change Your Life. I related to her talk but not in the way you would think. With her suggestion, I looked at a part of my life as an observer, instead of deep in the confusion of my choices about love.
Many people are curious why I am still single after so many years of being on my own. They have aptly wondered why I haven’t seriously tried online dating or taken advantage of the opportunities I have in meeting new people. They have tried to set me up with someone they know. All of these kind souls have received resistance from me and asked me why.
I understand that I don’t have to justify being single to anyone, but I have asked myself this question often over the years. Mainly, asking myself if I am weird, which might be the case :-). I haven’t really known why I resisted getting involved in another relationship.
I was married to my son’s father for almost 28 years, and we divorced when he was a junior in high school. I have dated a little, keeping most of it to myself, for fear of all of the probing questions and knowing deep down I wasn’t ready to answer any of them.
I haven’t been able to articulate why a serious romantic relationship hasn’t been important to me. Now, I have come up with what I think is an authentic, if not a complicated answer that may resonate with others who have either lived with addiction or lost someone to it or want to understand it.
I choose to be on my own because of the power of choice – to feel safe.
My life story is not typical in any way, and it’s sad. When a stranger asks me how many children I have, what am I supposed to say? It triggers my grief and an intense emotional reaction and response. Losing a child changes everything and it breaks your heart in a way that no one else understands unless they’ve been there. It’s impossible to explain it. The best way to avoid this conversation is to choose not to have it.
When someone I don’t know asks me what I do for a living, I give different answers. Mostly, I say I am a CPA or a business owner, but the truth is I retired from my CPA business in 2016. I am the founder of an addiction non-profit started in memory of my son after his fatal overdose. I am uncomfortable telling a stranger the truth, and it makes me feel better in the moment if I don’t. So, I choose not to be put in this position of being untruthful.
My pain is too much for most people to handle. Being alone is better than feeling like a failure before a relationship even gets started. My anguish is not directed at anyone, but toward the stigma that shows up on the faces of people when they hear the word “heroin overdose”. As if my dream was to be the mother of a heroin addict. I’d like to share my insight rather than my pain, but it is a hard thing to do on Match.com or eHarmony. It feels very contrived to me, so I choose to stay away from it.
The personal choices I make each day are powerful. They can nourish me or drain me.
My spirit comes alive when I help others in memory of my son. I have created a new normal by expressing my creativity, love, and authenticity in my work. I am grateful because I am able to support myself financially and still do the work that gives me purpose.
The heart is the knower of truth, so my heart is open to a true moment, when someone is being authentic and real with me. How do I do open my heart when I am made to feel a sense of shame and inadequacy inside? How do I let someone into such a complex and sad situation?
I am the mother of an addict. I loved and lost my only child. I am his voice and his happy warrior, but I am also broken.
I need to give myself more time to heal and rebuild my sense of self-worth. I try to bring more presence to my life as it is now, accepting my circumstances, and expressing what is true for me, but only when and where I feel safe. I have the power of choice to nurture myself for as long as it takes to feel worthy enough to find love again.
Mary Cucarola – 3/4/20