As my son is Section 35′ed in Massachusetts ( Link ) I pray for his improved health.
Life at our home moves on, and although I miss him, this is the nature of both addiction and life as they constantly change. At the house the girls are doing well, the dog is getting very old, and I am pretty happy overall. (Except for that nagging addiction issue that plagues my son.)
I was watching TV the other night and thought, “I wonder how many different mattresses my son has slept upon since his addiction started back in high school?” I would wager that I am not the only parent of an addict that has had such a thought.
Counting the various rehab/ sober homes/ not so sober places and God knows what else, I am positive he has an abnormally high “mattress count”.
Our addict children have become society’s gypsies and often rest their heads when they can.
I only began to hear the term “couch surfing” when my child fell ill to the disease of addiction. It’s a term that many parents use in the halls of Al Anon and all the other tiny support groups that dot this country. We are now dealing with a country filled with couch surfing gypsy children. This is a truly sad situation.
Today my son couch surfs safely, and for that peace, I am very thankful.
My son is still locked up in a civil commitment facility in Massachusetts. While the rest of his family attends a graduation party today, he will be told when and where he can have a cigarettes. He will not be allowed to pull a chicken wing from the grill but rather be told when and what he will have for lunch. Sadly those are the consequences of his 2013 choices.
I get a phone call from him every few days and I tend to listen more than lecture at this point.
I now call these conversations “Quickies”
We all should learn to perfect the art of the “Quickie” when our children call us from their various incarceration facilities.
My quickie recipe is as follows:
When things are flowing in a healthy manner in our conversation I tend to listen and give more of a back and forth chat.
When his “addict mentality” kicks into the gear I quickly point it out (call him on his sh*t) and end the conversation with ” Ok this is an example of not so healthy thinking, I’m going back to my life. Please think about this example of your “stinkin’ thinking”. The length of most phone calls from my son last under four minutes these days. The durations of our calls are very short but I need to keep distance as a tool in my recovery.
I hope this makes sense. New parents should try the “quickie”, as it’s not a bad thing in this arena of addiction and recovery.
At this point I am done trying to seduce my son into sobriety by offering him all the gifts life has to offer. My waiving the carrot days are over. ( Click for a post about carrots ) If he gets it, he gets it, and I will be happy. If he remains on his current path, the inevitable will befall his life. I pray for his health.
Right now my son’s “stinkin thinking” is in full bloom. His brilliant plan to be released to the first “program” that comes along regardless of that program’s history. Genius, truly genius.
He is mentioning a facility that has a horrific reputation in our community. I advised him that this is another example of his twisted thought process. Getting out quickly to a sh*tty home rather than waiting for eight weeks for a quality home is just one example of his “stinkin’ thinking”. But I no longer sell sobriety and use the “Quickie”
Is there anything different I can do as a parent? No! He needs to figure it out. I can only use the Quickie to keep my mind and emotions in a healthier place.
“Nobody says you must laugh, but a sense of humor can help you overlook the unattractive, tolerate the unpleasant, cope with the unexpected, and smile through the day” – Ann Landers
A reader asked me to post her short story about her son. Thank you for your sharing April.
“Band aid” -by April P.
Kids think band aids heal wounds. They rest easy when you apply one to their skin. My story is about being a human band aid. I am the mother of six children, ranging between 19 years and 2 yrs. My children lived with their grandmother for 10 years while I recklessly lived in addiction, while I failed to call, while I failed to show up for visits, while I sat in jail and rehabs. They did all the things kids the other kids did; played sports, went to school, went to church and hung with their friends. At night though, they went to bed minus a mother and father. I hate to imagine the thoughts that plagued them. Wondering, always, were their parents ok?
The focus of this article will be on my oldest son, Benny, who is now 19. The government removed him and the other kids from my care when Benny was 6 years old. From that day, until he was 16, I had no real relationship with him. I was sure that there would be no band aid big enough to cover the wounds I had caused.
At 3 years clean and sober, I got the biggest reward of my recovery. A judge gave them back to me. Finally we were all under the same roof again and we lived happily ever after, is what I would like to write but unfortunately, it is the truth that sets me free. The truth is Benny was not happy. I apologized. I spoiled him. I made him as comfortable as possible. He resented and avoided me. Being a mother, I looked past it and wallowed in the guilt of my past indiscretions, putting a band aid on it, so to speak. As an ostrich stuffs his head in the sand, as did I, with my first born son.
As I tried to shelter him, he was getting high and drunk. I caught him a couple times and put my foot down. If he came home like that again, he was going to have to move out. So he continued to use and drink behind my back. Using recreationally did not work for him. One night after I had returned from a meeting, there he sat, high as a kite, on the couch! This was the last straw. The band aid was off! Under the band aid were a lot of issues that were his, not mine! He had every reason NOT to do drugs! His childhood was terrible because of it. Yet there he was, my son, a budding addict, right in front of me. That night I realized that all my spoiling and helping and apologizing were futile. He was a man now who was not manning up.
That night I tossed and turned. Being the control freak that I am, I was trying to think of how I could help Benny. Eventually his father popped into my head. His father now has multiple years clean and is living about 45 minutes away. I knew that, even though I didn’t particularly like the idea of his father having to “help” out, I may have to ask for it. The next morning I told Benny either he went to rehab or go stay with his dad for a while. On the surface I played tough but inside I felt like a failure again. Had I made his life worse by bringing him under my roof?
Thank God for Recovery! While working the program I learned about boundaries. I had drawn a line for Benny. He had stepped over it. If I allowed him to continue on that path under my roof, his wounds would only deepen, and he would never change. In my opinion, he was an adult now. He needed to get out on his own as much as I hated to accept it.
I was being a Band aid trying to protect my son from pain, covering the obvious. In order for him to heal, I would have to get out of the way, let him out into the open air of truth. So after choking down my pride, I called his father, who was more than willing to help.
Benny packed all of his stuff. We put it in the trunk and headed for his father’s house. Before leaving he pulled the last guilt trip on me by saying, “You left me when I was little and now you’re gonna leave me again.” Ouch. That hurt. I told him that I wanted him to be a good man. He would never be anybody if he stayed with me. He rolled his eyes. A couple weeks went by and he would not answer my calls or texts. That really hurt. Knowing that he was safe was paramount and I rested easy knowing I did the right thing.
I cleaned his room after he left. Kids don’t clean their rooms in general but this room looked like no one had lived in it, ever. A layer of dust coated everything so thick; I don’t know how he even saw the TV. It looked as if he just sat up there, like a statue, vegetating, as life was passing him by.
I went to see him, at his dad’s, a couple weeks later. He met me outside. I got a hug. His eyes were bright, brighter than they ever were before. We had a conversation! A real one! He has affiliated himself as being an addict and is going to meetings, etc. I hate to think of my Benny calling himself an addict but if the shoe fits, I guess he will wear it. I pray that he wears recovery well.
As for me, I miss him every day. I am thankful for the ability to see my own defects in action. Being a band aid is one of them. Live and Let Live is my new goal. I am allowing my son to live out in the open air of life! It will have to be his choice how he lives! Not mine.
Spring has arrived and the commencements from all the higher learning institutions across this great country are in full bloom. Mortarboards fly and proud parents stream tears of joy for their college graduates.
We watch as our neighbor’s children,our nieces, and our nephews graduate college and begin their adult life. As we congratulate the graduates another emotion lurks within the weeds of our battered psyches; ENVY
We are envious of the parents that raised kids that successfully followed a more mainstream path and wonder why our “kids” didn’t do it. We understand they have a disease yet ENVY bubbles deep below our congratulatory smiles.I am not writing to justify the emotion of envy. However I know that this jealousy is a legitimate emotion carried by many parents of addicts.
I struggle less with ENVY today than when my son’s friends were having their high school and college graduation parties. It was tough for me back then as I wanted nothing more than for my son to have a “great life” that had education as one of its cornerstones. Time has passed on our addiction journey and I have better “recovery” tools than back then. I don’t have the ENVY monster completely in check but I can at least “intellectualize” the beast.
I have accepted that his journey is a different one and that I no longer set the “pavers” on his path. Time will tell where his story takes him.
ENVY; I write not to legitimize the emotion but to merely say that “ENVY HAPPENS”.
Are you ever envious?
Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.
It has been approximately a week that my son has been “out of circulation”. This “time out” via the Massachusetts Section 35 is a good thing, as the civil commitment distances him from his drug of choice and hopefully gives him some time to reflect.
Late last week I was told he had a seizure and fell and broke a tooth. That bothered me, as my son is a pretty good-looking kid when he is not strung out. I will be interested in seeing how much damage was incurred. As the dental disaster was relayed I thought “Weren’t these the teeth that we had braces put on so many years ago? My how times have changed.”
I was reminded that consequences come in all shapes and sizes.
I have had minimal contact with my son during the time he has been in this facility and I actually make an effort to keep our conversations short when we do speak. As much as I love my son I am enjoying this court ordered “time out”. Like most POA’s, I need some time to recharge my battery.
The few conversations we have had have been about “where his worldly possessions are” after the exit from his “not so sober home”.
I remind him that he needs to work on his next “stop” as he is not coming home and the goal right now for him is twofold
1. get sober
2. find shelter while you get sober
I have yet to hear the “AH HA” moment that all parent of addicts love to hear. I am not sure if this is his bottom or the end of his drugging. As a parent of addict I will wait for an “AH HA” moment that may never come. But…