Tuesday, January 19, 2016

...and, he took the bait

It happened.

He relapsed.

That moment that strikes terror into any parent's heart.

I don't know many details right now.  I woke up to a text from B, asking me to "pray for him full force".

As any mother would do, I felt adrenaline rushing through my entire body.   Did he get fired? Did he overdraw his bank account?

It just never occurred to me that drugs would be involved.  Well, maybe a little. But, no. He's been clean for three years now.  He's doing great in new state of Texas.  Sure, he's living at poverty level, but I'm helping him to buy groceries and clothes.

So, I sat and prayed that God would give Brian strength and courage for whatever he is facing. That God would give me the wisdom I need to know what to do-- and what not to do.

I picked up the phone and dialed my son, and he answered.  He was talking fast, because he was at work-- and he shouldn't be on the phone. It all came spilling out so fast, that I couldn't wrap my head around the sentences he was saying.

"Mom, I'm in big trouble".  I wanted to make some fast money, to pay off some debt. I bought the stuff while I was in California.  The guy who was going to buy it flaked. I took the stuff back to Texas. I owe a guy $1500 and I can' t pay him.

All of this dialogue at a rapid pace.

I'm sure my face turned white.  (Breathe...breathe).

I calmly ask him where the stuff was.

"I used it".

And there we have it.

"So, temptation came your way, and you took the bait".

My head is spinning.

It's bad, mom. The guy is pissed and wants his money. He's part of the Mexican cartel.

Oh dear, God. 

The first instinct I have is to transfer the money to him. I have it.

But, then, all that I was told from our drug addiction classes is that I shouldn't do it.

I can't believe he used $1500 worth of heroin in five days. 

"So, are you addicted again? I ask.

(What a stupid question.)  Of course. He's an addict.

He replies that it's been a week since he last used, and he's okay now.

This is the part where my heart breaks all over again.  Heroin isn't that forgiving.  Heroin is like a cancer.  It doesn't let go. It goes into remission, but it lurks and waits... and he took the bait.

I honestly don't know what to do.  The first thing I did was to call his father to tell him that our son is in trouble.  I don't know what his dad can do, and I don't even know why I called him. Was I subconsciously wanting his dad to bail B out of his trouble? He's done it many times, before.

As a mother, the thought of someone hurting my son scares me to death.  With heroin, comes some very dark people who will hurt anyone. They have guns and knives. They have no qualms about killing someone.  I know this sounds melodramatic, but it's true.

All I can do, right now, is pray. I do, every day. I always pray for my son. I always pray that God will protect my son from the darkness that wants him back again.  God gives us free will.  My son made a choice, and he was weak.

It is said in NA meetings that conquering addiction isn't a matter of will.  It's not as simple as saying "I won't do it".  Addiction is a powerful force, and it is something I've always know that my son would have to fight against for the rest of his life. I see in him a spiritual void. I see in my son that he is always looking for a quick fix-- he can't sleep, take a pill. He's stressed, take a pill.  He's had a hard day, have a beer.

I'm most disappointed that his excuse for his decision was to make some quick money to get out of debt.  Tell John DeLorean that.

It has been 45 minutes since I heard my son's boss yelling at him to get off the phone.  So, here I sit, on my drug blog that I've neglected for so long-- because I was so happy that my son was set free from heroin.

I cannot collapse around this.  I freely and trustingly am giving this God-- asking Him for courage, strength and wisdom in this.  I pray that my son's life is not in danger, and that he will find a way out.  He has a tax return he's going to try and cash in.  If all goes well, then that money will cover his debt.

I just emailed my husband.  I didn't want to tell him, but he's my best friend. I told him. He can't talk much, since he's at work.  I could hear the sadness in his voice.

The rain is falling down, hard, and our dry California land desperately needs it. Normally, I would be enjoying the rain, while sipping my coffee and recovering from a bad cold.

But, now, my thoughts are with my son.  I am deeply disappointed in his choice he made. Now, it's backfired.

Dear Father in Heaven. Please, help my son to find a way out. Please, help my son to see the error of his ways and that he would be set free, once again, of his addiction to heroin.  Be his hope, be his strength, and please protect his life.

In Jesus Name. Amen.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Praying for Hard Soil - thoughts from the praying mother of an addict

 
Hello to my neglected blog.  I have a lot on my mind, and need to write my thoughts down. This blog is my safe place to talk about my son, and his addiction.  I am anonymous. Nobody knows where I live, or what my real name is.  Maybe a praying mom will read this post and understand my words. So, here goes:

The Christmas holidays have passed, and my son has come and gone. He's back in his new state of Texas, and 20% finished with his electrician apprenticeship.

Let's back up to a week before Christmas.  I had arranged for a nice hotel room, with a parking package, so that B could leave work on a Friday evening and catch his Saturday morning flight.  He had a three hour drive to make, and I wanted for him to have plenty of time to get a good night's sleep. The hotel had a shuttle that would take him to the airport. B has never flown by himself, so I made things as easy and comfy as I could. It also cost a pretty penny, but I felt that he was worth it.

Then, his addictive/crisis-driven behavior kicked in.  He procrastinated his leaving, until the very end.  It's not worth my writing out all of the details, but he never left his place on time to enjoy the hotel that I spent money on.  He overslept, instead, and raced to the airport... arriving just minutes before the last boarding call.  In the meantime, I was upset and angry that he had so little regard for my hard-earned money, and careful planning.

I tossed and turned all night long, praying that my son would get to the airport.  I had horrific thoughts of his missing the flight and the expense of rerouting him-- and most of all, that I'd miss at least one day of the precious week I was so looking forward to spending with him.  My husband and I joined hands and prayed that the Good Lord would make this disaster work out in a good way. He did, and I headed for the drive to the airport.  I decided to let go of the wasted hotel room, and my disappointment. I just wanted to see my son, and so I pushed my negative feelings aside.

When B came off the plane, I saw a tall and very thin young man. His cheekbones were prominent.  My first motherly thought was that I had a week to try and feed him, of course!  He was soaking in the beautiful green mountains (we finally got some rain in California), and we fell into comfortable chatter. I was beaming with joy.

Each day flew by. I made dinner, so his best friend could join us.  We laughed, and had a great evening.  I knew that B needed to see his old friends. So, off they went, and I settled back into relaxing at home with my wonderful husband.

The emotions I felt, seeing B back under our roof were all over the place. I could see the addictive behavior in him. Frankly, it worried me.  My son is not  using heroin again, of that I am sure.  The first good sign, is that he has money.  Physically, the ravages of heroin isn't showing.  However, I noticed he's drinking-- and that made me uncomfortable.  Common sense tells me that addicts shouldn't drink.  We don't keep a lot of alcohol in our home, and he wasn't frantically looking for it. Still, he tied one on with his friends a couple of times and I am very concerned that his addictive brain will want alcohol to replace his heroin use.  I had to push back my fears and ask God to take the wheel on that one. My worrying isn't going to solve a thing. Still, old fears started to creep back.  Let go, let God.

It is said that parents of addicts should never blame ourselves for our kid's addictions.  However, I could see negative behaviors in B that made me wonder... "did I teach him that?"  My son is a master procrastinator, and it has led him to have a lot of disappointments in life.  His forgetfulness, and lack of planning skills, leads to a lot of drama in his life.  My husband remarked that my son is "crisis driven", and I hate to admit that it seems that way.

My emotions were all over the place, while he was here.  I was so happy to see my son, and I enjoyed talking to him. We watched a movie together, and explored our beautiful coast of California, along with his best friend (who I like).  I was thrilled to watch him soaking in our local scenic park, and inhaling the scent of the Pacific Ocean. I bought him much needed clothes, and was happy to do so.  The week flew by so fast, and before I knew it, we were taking him back to the airport.

I can tell that B really wants to return to California.  He doesn't want to give up becoming an electrician, either.  My heart would love to have him closer, but I need to let him go-- and pray he finds his way, and that he completes the five-year program.  I am cheering him on, when he feels discouraged.  Five years seems like a long time, but he also knows that this is a career that will pay him well and lead to job security. Plus, he loves it.

Seeing B, this time, and saying goodbye made me face something that I have been in denial of for a long time.   I truly have to let my son go. As I washed his bed linens, and returned his former bedroom into the guest room it has now become-- I need to accept that he will never live here again. He knows it, and I know it.  My heart hasn't quite accepted it, yet. I'm working on it.

My son is now a man.  He is an addict, and he will always have to fight the urge to not self-medicate himself.  I am a God-loving mom, who has changed my own life because of my faith in Him.  To me, it seems that my son's millennial generation is moving away from Christianity more than ever before.  With all the gay marriage controversy-- and even traditional marriage values seeming less important-- it seems (to me) that Christians are under attack now more than ever.  My own son labeled me as intolerant, last week.  My answer to that is that I am living my life according to God's written word. It is not for me to rewrite what the bible says.  If am intolerant to how the world is moving away from biblical truths-- then he is intolerant for condemning me for wanting to live my life to please God.  I think he got my point, as he never said that to me again.

I also said that it is my belief that so many people condemn biblical truth, because they don't want to give up the things that they want to do.  I should know, because I lived a life so far from God, for so many years.  Now, the things I once thought made me happy no longer matter to me.  Yes, I'm still a sinner and I make mistakes all the time. Only, now, I know it and I feel shame. I am a much more forgiving person than I once was, and have more peace in my life because of it.

The first night that B was back in Texas, my heart grieved for his presence all over again. But that voice inside me reminded me-- God blessed me with my son.  I need to let him go, and trust that God  has a plan for him.  I cannot force my son to renew his faith in God.  I can, however, pray for him every single day. That is exactly what I do.

In closing, with this journal entry, below is the scripture that our pastor spoke about yesterday.  He, himself, has a daughter that hit rock bottom with alcohol and drug addiction. She is now clean and sober, and has returned to having a relationship with Jesus Christ. She is currently serving as a missionary in Mexico.  I don't see my son going that route. What I pray for my son, is that he would see he doesn't need anxiety medication, weed or drugs to make him feel happy.  I've never shared my personal testimony as to why I gave my heart and soul to God.  I will say that because of my faith, I have found peace in my life.

I pray that for son, and anyone who might read these thoughts that come from my heart. This parable reminds me to pray that my son's "hard soil" would be softened and that his faith would take root and grow.

Mark 4:

3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
    and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’[a]
13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How Is My Son Doing? Wonderful! Thank you, Obama Care for his sobriety!

 

There is nothing wrong with my camera.  This is a photo that I took of my son, just two weeks ago.  I still want to keep his face and real name anonymous.  He is tall, and tan and at a healthy weight for his height. Halleluiah!

I took this photo of him in Texas, just two weeks ago. Yes, my son has moved from the California town where he was born and raised-- and has moved to apprentice to be an electrician!

While in Texas, I visited a friend of mine. She has a blog about a totally different topic-- her struggle to have a baby.  She asked me if I still had my son's blog.  I hesitated, and answered "yes", but I just can't find the strength to go there. She immediately understood. You see, after years of losing two babies that never made it to full gestation, she is now the mother of a beautiful four year old.  We have both found our prayers answered, and now it's difficult to revisit our past.

My son is clean and sober, amen.  It will be almost three years and the process has been very long and hard. If you just happened to stumble across this blog, and this is the first post you are reading-- I sincerely pray that this post will give parents and addicts hope.

My son was really strung out, at one time.  He never looked the stereo-type of a heroin addict.  He was a functioning addict, and also very likeable.  He wasn't a thief, either.  Unfortunately, he took one of the biggest risks by becoming a small-timer dealer, that helped him to support his habit.  Mama isn't proud of that, one bit. I still thank God, every day, that he never got caught. Otherwise, he'd be in prison to this day.

He was in rehab twice, and relapsed many times more.  He used methadone, to no avail.  He used suboxone for a few years.  For a while, he had me convinced that this was going to be his miracle detox.  I am not saying that suboxone is bad!  I think this was the beginning of his journey back to being clean and sober and I truly believe this is a better choice than methadone.

It is Obama Care that was the turning point for my son.  When he could no longer be on our insurance, he had to switch over to Obama Care. Then he was informed that his new health insurance would not pay for his suboxone and neither would we (it's expensive, without insurance, in California).  He appealed and pleaded, but they steadfastly said "no".

So, that was that catalyst that helped my son to make the decision that he was going to safely taper off suboxone.  After all, he had no choice. The time had come to face reality. He was scared, but determined. He knew that the withdrawals would be brutal. He started to chat about it in the Suboxone Talk Zone ForumIt was there that he found a lot of support from people who helped him to get through all the side effects.

His stepfather and I agreed to let him skip paying us one month's rent, so that he could take a couple of weeks off from work.  It was painful to see my son going through the withdrawals, but he had a doctor who helped to prescribe some meds to help him get through it.  He was vomiting, had the shakes and chills, and those horrible cramps that he said he wouldn't wish on his worst enemy.

But, he made it!

With B's 100% organic sobriety-- no pills of any kind, no shots, no vivitrol... just waking up, each day, not thinking about his next fix.. I began to see my son emerging as his true self, and I began to like this person so much more. No, I began to LOVE him even more.  He began to make a circle of entirely new friends-- and his new best friend doesn't drink or smoke.  I could hear the joy in my son's laughter coming back. He was free!

To make a very long story short, he met someone who lived in Texas through online gaming.  This person is a an electrician with years of experience. He told my son that he had more work than he knew what to do with.  So he offered my son a chance to move there, and that he would apprentice him.

When he asked me what I thought, I said "do it"!  (Of course, his step dad and I investigated this person, to make sure he was legit.)  Three months later, we helped him pack up his few belongings and waved goodbye as he drove off to Texas-- sight unseen.  I grieved for several days, but I also knew that it was time to let my son be a man.  I felt, in my heart, he was ready to be on his own.

The good news is, that he loves where he's at. His "mentor" is married with children and 7 years older than B.  We liked him, when we met him, and found his family to be wholesome nice people.

My son scored a really nice cottage where he lives alone. Because B never went to college (he dropped out a month after starting) so his stepfather and I are helping him out with expenses to help him get started with his new career.  I felt confident that my son was happy he had moved away, and that he was going to stay there for at least four years... which is how long it will take him to be a Journeyman.

Two weeks ago, we flew to Texas to visit B.  He was tan, and had gained weight (which he desperately needed to do).  He was so happy to see us, and believe me, it was returned in spades.  We would go out to dinner, each night, and my son was eating like royalty.  It gave me joy to treat him to this, knowing he is currently eking out his living with his low wages.  But, he is paying his rent and learning how to fend for himself. That makes this mama very proud of him.

I have to say that the area where he is living is quite nice. Though it was hot (for June), it's nowhere near as humid as Austin.  We bought him more work tools, clothing and a brand new bed.  While he worked, that Monday, we took care of getting his Texas license plates.  Of course, like all moms do, I filled up his refrigerator, freezer and pantry.  I was determined that my son would not go hungry, once we left. He was extremely thankful.

A few days later, the three of us drove a few hours away to our timeshare (outside the San Antonio area).  I drove with my son, and his step dad followed behind us.)  That gave me time to talk, one-on-one.

Mom: "Do you realize that this is the first family vacation we've taken, since you were a little boy"?
Son: "Why would you want to?  I was a real pain in the a$$, and I couldn't leave my precious drugs behind." "I would have been trying to figure out how to use, and you wouldn't find out."

Yes, that's so true.  We were on a vacation, free from my son worrying about withdrawals.

Our seven days, spent together, was so much fun.  We all laughed, and at one point, my eyes welled with tears of joy and gratitude. I was watching my son and his step dad interacting as two adult friends. My husband was helping my son on how to fix things...how to take care of minutiae with licenses and insurance.  They were laughing, together, and I really felt as though we had become one very happy family. I was so proud of how my husband, who has no children of his own, had become the adult role model to my son that I had prayed for.

My son drove back to his hometown, as we headed back to the Austin airport.  My last words to my son, as I squeezed him long and hard were "See you soon".  There were no goodbye words said. I could not look back as he walked to his car.  My husband, who is my Prince Charming, held my hand and knew that I was choking back tears.  I love my son so much!

My son now lives halfway across the country, and I miss not seeing his smiling face every morning.  My son is now a man.  He is a man who has won one of the most difficult battles of his life.  He has beaten the odds in the war against drug addiction.

Through all that I have been through, I have grown a heart of compassion towards addicts.  I have a much better understanding that beating addiction isn't about willpower.   My son has helped me to understand that the fear and pain and misery of withdrawal was the main reason that he kept relapsing. He had to make that choice, and truly want to be done with that miserable way of life. He had sold everything he owned, and had nothing to show for it. He was sick and tired of being sick and tired. He was ready.

As a parent, I finally learned that I could not fix HIS problem.  I had to learn that I could not, as much as I wanted to, shield my son from his addiction.  I could not blame myself, either.  I had to learn that, no matter how much I loved my son, I could not trust anything he said or promised me.  I had to learn to set boundaries and to not enable his addiction.

During this painful ordeal, I grew much closer in my relationship to God.  I began to pray harder and more often than I ever had.  I found a family of parents who were going through this via this blog. This ordeal threatened to come between my husband and me. In the end, it only strengthened our marriage.

Today, I can say that my son is a drug addict who is completely clean and sober. He says that he has absolutely NO desire to use. None, whatsoever.  He says that on job sites, there are addicts fresh out of jail-- and that constructions sites are one of the few places that former inmates can find work. He says that he gets angry if propositioned to buy or use drugs and that they stay away from him.

Secretly, my fantasy is that he will become really good as an electrician-- and that he will return to his hometown again.  I pray that he will find a woman who will love him for who he is. One day, if he chooses to, he will have a family and a good career to support them.

Of course, I 'd love to have my son quit smoking. He's into vaping, and smoking black & white cigars (with his boss).  I realize that addicts need something and that smoking is a habit they find difficult to give up. Still I continue to hope that he will.

In the meantime, I'm booking his ticket to fly home for Christmas-- as my gift to him and us.

I have a feeling I will be visiting Texas again.  I'm so very proud of him.  But, I give all the glory to God for his grace and mercy.

Yes, your child can find sobriety.  It can be done.

My son is living proof.

I will try to post more often, but no promises.  This does open up a lot of painful memories, but the joy I feel at my son's new life helps me to come here and share.

I do read your emails and comments-- and I thank you so much for your encouragement and support.

May those of you who are feeling overwhelmed and hopeless against the darkness of addiction find comfort through Him.  He loves us all.




Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The last of 2014 - I'm still around, and checking in

 
Gosh, it's been seven months since I've posted on this blog! I had comments to moderate and post, from months ago-- my apologies.   (I leave comment moderation turned on, because the spammers love to attack blogs with the keywords "drugs" or "oxycontin" or "heroin" in them. )

I was just thinking about how 2014 has been for me, my husband, marriage, job-- and not least of all, my son.  I am filled with so much gratitude for so many things.  This blog is really all about my son, and his drug addiction, so that's what I'll update about.  I have no idea if anyone is still following my blog, because I've been so scarce. But, here goes:

"B" is almost three years completely clean, and over one year of no methadone and no suboxone. He is organically clean, and I'm ecstatic about that.  Ironically, it's Obama Care that made my son make the decision to get off suboxone.  His Obama Care insurance wouldn't pay for it, and he couldn't afford it-- and we weren't going to pay for it.

B went through the detox, under the care of a physician-- who specializes in addiction. Obama Care did pay for that, amen.    It's been a while, and my son isn't around to ask-- but, as I recall, it took a couple of weeks and a LOT of cigarettes (and I am not a smoker at all).  B was amazed at how good he began to feel, and he says he was 100% ready to not rely on prescriptions to help control his cravings. He made it!

Fast forward to right here and now.  I have my son back.  He has matured into a 26 year old adult male, who is very respectful to me and his step dad.  He is still living at home, but he is paying us rent. He never complains, and never misses rent.  He is cheerful, helpful and he makes me laugh.  He is my world, and I love him so very much.

I am so thankful to have my son back.  Our relationship has been completely restored.  B talks less and less about drugs... not even joking about it as much as he used to.  In other words, he has stopped glorifying his drug dealing/drug using "hey day" stories that I got tired of hearing.

B also has an entirely different group of friends. His new best friend doesn't smoke or drink.  He's a nice guy, and very responsible. B is still into online gaming, but that's toned down quite a bit. I'm happy to see him going out, at night, to hang out and watch football with his friends, or going to the movie theater.  At last, he has a normal social life.

He's pretty much quite smoking cigarettes. He's got one of those e-Cigarette "vape" gadgets.  He's down to almost no nicotine. I'm still not thrilled, but it beats finding a coffee can of overflowing cigarette butts in our backyard.  I continue to pray that he will completely quit smoking. 

My son has been offered an opportunity to move to Texas to apprentice as an electrician.  He doesn't have a wife or girlfriend. He's been at the same job for 3 years, that doesn't offer any kind of benefits. So, I said "go for it"!  Learning a trade like that would be wonderful for him.  He has never been outside of California (save for a 5 day trip where we flew to Phoenix for a golf camp...when he was 12).  If he doesn't like Texas, he can always come home.  So, he is talking about leaving in February.  Already, I'm feeling a sense of panic of letting my son go.  I have grown to love his company, and he's a perfect roommate.  But, I know it's time to let my bird fly away.

What give gives me added comfort is that he can move without trying to find out where the closest methadone clinic is. He doesn't have to find a doctor to keep prescribing suboxone....  my son is free!

Emails still trickle in to me, from heart-broken parents and families of addicts. They ask me what they can do-- and it makes me sad to respond "you can't do anything to make them change their addict behavior".  I continue to tell them to educate themselves about addiction. Find a good support group.  Learn about manipulation, because that's what addicts are so good at.

My son made the decision to get clean, when he hit HIS rock bottom. He had sold everything he owned (including hsi good clothes) to support his heroin habit.  He said he was sick to his stomach trying to keep up with his lies-- and knowing I was growing less and less able to be manipulated.

In keeping things real, I remind myself that my son will always be an addict.  There always remains that possibility that months, years or decades from now, that he might succumb into using again.  But, I remain hopeful that my son remembers the misery that his addiction put him through.  He admits, now, how his addiction robbed him of any kind of joy or peace in his life.  He swears he has no desire to use, nor has any cravings at all. Amen to that!

My heart goes out to those who are still struggling with addiction.  I especially think about, and pray for, those families who are feeling that sense of helplessness and worry.  Just recently, my son made me aware that our neighbors (across the street) had a son who was using.  B said he could hear horrible family fights, late at night.  He said that "sketchy" cars were arriving late at night (his bedroom window faces the street), and he told me that he was 100% positive drug deals were going on.  The parents are still in total denial. It's such a long story, but one day, one of our neighbors called the sheriff because she got tired of all the strange comings and goings from people who didn't live in the house.  The sheriff found a young man with heroin on him, INSIDE the house. (NOTE: why in the world would the parents allow their drug addict son to have his friend staying at their home?) The son was on probation, and also had drugs on him. They were arrested, and I have no idea what's happened.  Peace has once again, descended on our block (and we live in a quiet, gated community).

I was very tempted to go over and talk to the parents, who are so obviously co-dependent and in denial. Then, I thought better of it.  I don't think they wanted to hear my story. Maybe. One day.

So, that brings me back to why I keep this blog online-- though I don't post every often, anymore.

If my story can help just ONE person to have an epiphany-- by reading my own journey, from scared and ignorant mom of a drug addict... to woeful and frightened mom...to educated mom... to "Tough Love" mom... and to know that it is possible for an addict to become clean... if I can lift just ONE person's hope, then this is all worth it.

It is my sincerest prayer that 2015 will be a year for renewed hope in each and every one of your lives. While Christianity is under attack now, more than ever, I still remain a firm and sincere believer in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.   I believe that my faith and trust in God held me up through those very painful chapters in my life.  I give God 100% of all the glory that my son is clean and sober, and doesn't have a criminal record. That, in and of itself, is a miracle.




Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Reflections on my son-- the drug addict and a wonderful and hopeful update on him!

Today, I wrote a tribute to my own mother, who passed on to heaven in 2002, and shared it on my personal facebook. Our relationship wasn't quite as loving as I wish it could have been. There are times when I read magazines articles, that features a shot of a mother and daughter posing cheek-to-cheeck. They are each other's best friends.

I didn't quite have that, growing up. My mother was a good mother, mind you.  I have no doubt that she loved me, and my two brothers. In some ways, she was a victim of her own childhood. It took many years for me to fully appreciate how a beautiful young teenager's life was affected by growing up in a Bavarian town that was bombed by the Americans during World War II. I cannot imagine the horrors of war that my mother witnessed. She didn't have a good relationship with her own mother, and was raised by her grandmother-- whom she loved. My mother ended up marrying an American soldier, who promised her the moon and the stars, as she followed him to the United States. My father didn't quite deliver those promises. He also surprised her with plenty of punches, slaps and both verbal and physical abuse.  I began to realize that this explained why my mother was such an angry women and why she would take it out on her kids, whom she truly loved. She had no problem hitting me with cooking spoons, rug beaters or her fists. Consequently, I developed an inner rage and (misguided) hatred towards my mother.

All of these things left scars in my life. Fortunately, today, I have found healing and forgiveness-- and even redemption, by the faith that I found in Jesus Christ in 1996.  Today, I can fully appreciate the sacrifices that my mother made to make sure that her three children were well educated, fed, and clothed when she finally divorced my father when we were young teenagers. 'Nuff said on my own childhood, because I want this post to speak to the mothers (and fathers) of drug addicts.

While my postings have become fewer and farther in between, I still receive occasional emails from parents of all walks of life-- police officers, teachers, lawyers, secretaries... you name it, I've read their tragic and desperate stories. I feel powerless to give them the hope and solutions that they so desperately need. I can only empathize and I try to share my journey through this blog.

When I first discovered that my son had a drug addiction problem, in 2008, I had absolutely no idea! I missed every single warning, every single red flag and I felt like a failure as a mother. Can you identify with that?

In retrospect, I missed a lot of the obvious signs that there was trouble brewing.  His school grades had plummeted. His attendance was becoming sporadic.  Following in my mother's footsteps, my 17 year marriage to B's father collapsed.  B's father and I had totally different parenting styles. My son learned to take advantage of this. His father would excuse his absences, blame the teachers for his failing grades. I, on the other hand, found myself overwhelmed with trying to keep my business alive, eeking by a living and barely able to pay my bills. The bill collectors were beginning to circle above my head, and my son was giving me a hard time.  I can remember my anger and resentment towards my son's teenage behavior. I felt like I had lost control and at times, I was just too tired to battle with him. At times, I think I just wasn't there for him. Self-blame, I know.

My mother was a very opinionated and judgmental woman.  As a result, I inherited a lot of her traits. I used to judge other parents whose kids had gone down the road of perdition. When a very close friend's son was charged with murder, by shooting a teenager at party that had gotten out of control-- and worse, "gang charges" were added to the mix-- my first thought was "Well, it's her fault. She was too busy working and wasn't keeping a close enough eye on the boy."

I was so wrong. I was too quick to judge that mom.  I take it all back, and I'm sorry. She did everything she could, as best as she could.  Her son, simply got caught up with the wrong friends. He was in the wrong place, at the wrong time. He had never been in trouble before. He had a 4.0GPA.  He says things "just happened".  Only God knows the total truth, but I have relinquished my judgement attitude towards his mom. Her heart is broken, and he won't get out of prison for at least 25 years.

I know a Christian family where the parent have been blissfully married for 35 years. They have three children, who have all grown up to be strong in their faith in God. One even married a preacher! They are all college graduates, and truly very beautiful and handsome young adults, now. This mother posts a lot of photos of her kids, on Facebook. I see photos of her walking, hand-in-hand, with her financially successful husband. They're in Italy, or some exotic island.  I see the videos of her beautiful young grand children, and her pride in them sometimes makes me feel envy.  Then, I remind myself, that's very wrong. I should be very happy for them.

I work with a woman who has three children. They are agnostics.  But, their kids are very similar to the Christian family. They're wonderful young adults and the family is very close. I call them her "stepford children".

Why do some children turn out to be so "perfect", yet, I know families with similar dynamics, and their children take a completely different path? One of my pastors experienced this himself.  My son kept telling me that his daughter is an alcoholic and drug addict. He went to school with her, and said they crossed into the same circles of addiction.  A few years later, this pastor stood before all of us and shared that they just found out the depths of their daughter's addiction. He shared, with tears in his eyes, how they received an emergency call and found their daughter completely strung out-- with pills and empty bottles of alcohol in her bedroom. Praise God, she is also clean and sober for one year.

So, you see? Drug addiction hits all walks of life. Addiction takes no prisoners.

Six years later, I have learned to stop blaming myself.  Sometimes, my memory dredges up some incidents where I wish I had handled things differently. Why didn't I search my son's closet and backpack? My son says I would have found his stash. He says he had thousands of dollars hidden, from his drug dealing days. (Did he? Is he exaggerating? I don't know...)  But, what then? How would I have handled it? Would I have gotten angry and grounded him? Would I have had the courage to call the cops on him?

Was my divorce part of the reason my son "self-medicated"? Did I destroy my son's self-esteem when I'd lose my temper and yell at him? Yes, the behavior I experienced from my parents did affect the way I parented my son.  I wince, when I look back at those moments.

For me, the changing point in my life, was the day that I realized I believed that God is real. I began to read the bible, from A-Z and to study the word. I began to, earnestly, seek the truth and I discovered that there is plenty of evidence that validates the truth of scripture.  It's been a difficult battle, because once someone proclaims their faith in Jesus, I had to learn to defend those who considered me to be -- well, let's see... on this blog I've been named "a fool... misguided...stupid..f$$$ed up".  Fortunately, I've grown a thick skin, and so I just let them throw that stuff at me, and it slides right off.

I regret that neither one of my parents learned the healing that comes with forgiveness. My father's rage came from being sexually abused as a child, plus the horrors of war he experienced fighting the Japanese in World War II. It really messed him up.   If only my mother had learned to forgive her parents of their own parental failures, and my father for how he treated her-- her rage might've been diffused. I believe that her anger robbed her of truly enjoying life as it was meant to be.

As for me, God taught me the power and healing that comes with forgiveness.  I learned to forgive both of my parents, and I did not use the physical violence on my own son that I endured.  That cycle is now broken. Amen.

I'm so thankful that I was "saved" in 2006.  Otherwise, when my son's drug addiction came into our lives-- like a Category 5 hurricane-- I doubt that my life would not have changed for the better because of it.

Yes, that's right. My son's drug addiction made me a better person, friend, wife and mother. My son's addiction tested my marriage to B's stepfather. We survived, by the Grace of God.  C has been a supportive stepparent, and I love him all the more for it.

I have learned that my judgment on other parents was very, very wrong. I have grown far more compassionate towards trouble teens, which works out perfect for the career path that God put me in. Since 2006, I now work in the counseling office at a public high school!

The way that I talk to my son has changed, dramatically. That "willful" and bossy tone that I learned from my mother, has been leashed.  I no longer resort to raising my voice to my son, when I'm angry. That doesn't mean I don't try to share my advice, from my own experience. Of course, he's now 25 years old, and that wouldn't work anyway!

Am I a perfect mom now? No, not at all.  Sometimes, my own self-doubt creeps into my thoughts, where I question where I went wrong in raising my son.  Despite these times of self-doubt, my son does know this... he knows that I love him.   I still think I share some blame, but he reminds me that it was his choice to use drugs. He reminds me that I didn't force him to take those first pills, or to buy the heroin. 

Other than seeing our own drug addicted child (no matter what their age) in the throes of withdrawal, or know they are incarcerated (thank you, God, this never happened to my son)  -- or, the worst of all-- losing your own child's life to drugs or alcohol addiction--

Well, the worst part of this ordeal, for me was having to kick my son to the curb in the hopes that he would hit rock bottom.  For me, that was the most painful part of all.  As a loving mother, how can the "rehab experts" advise me that I needed to cut my son off and let the consequences fall onto him?

This goes against the  nature for any mother!  It is in my DNA to protect and nurture my son.  When I think back to the day that I had to tell my son to pack his things and leave, the pain resurfaces. I couldn't even look at his room. My wonderful husband (B's stepfather) packed up his things, so I wouldn't see them.

I digress.

Today, my son is truly clean and sober!  Six weeks ago, he quit taking suboxone, under the guidance of a physician.  Obamacare was the catalyst for this. My son switched over to Obamacare and they will not cover the cost of suboxone. His boss agreed to give him 2 weeks off work (without pay). He packed up all of his prescriptions for anxiety, sleeplessness and the suboxone and asked us to get rid of it. He asked us to, no matter how much he begged, not give it to him.

He went through about two weeks of hell (which took a total of 3 weeks off work), but with the help of Dr. Junig and his website "Suboxone Forum", B was able to get the support that he needed.  B weighed 129 pounds, at 6'4.  He says the suboxone made him feel listless and he didn't really eat much. I was really worried for him, as his cheeks looked sunken in and his long legs looked so bony.

Today, he is up to 147 pounds, lifting weights, and eating like a horse.  His skin looks healthy, and he's beginning to have a social life. He's doing far less online "gaming" and spending more time voraciously reading books.

I got an early Mother's Day present, last Thursday. B showed up at my office (for the first time in 3 years) and I couldn't help but "show him off" by re-introducing him to my co-workers.  The last time they saw B, he was strung out and covering his face with a hoodie. This time, he was dressed in his work clothes, and he was personable and I was so proud of him.

B and I both know that my son isn't cured of his addiction. He says that he has absolutely no cravings for drugs. On occasion, he suffers from "PAWS" and has hot flashes and then cold shivers. He has lost touch with all the "friend" connections that he used with.

Best of all, I am slowly seeing my son developing an awareness of responsibility. He's beginning to understand the importance of being financially responsible, and he's sharing his hopes and dreams for the future.   When he is ready, I hope that one day, a women would love my son for the person that he is-- and that she will become like a daughter to me. But, that can wait. My son's recovery is what's most important to me.

This is the best Mother's Day that I could ask for. That you, God, for setting my son free of the bondage of addiction by ridding him of all the prescription drug "bandaids".  I am thankful that I have learned to be a better mother, by learning how to lift my son up instead of tearing him down.  I have learned to recognize when I'm lured into being codependent or enablling.  I am learning to let my son live his life on his own terms. When he makes mistakes, I cannot fix them. He needs to learn from them. That is not easy for me, because my nature is to teach and lecture.

I pray for you parents, who are at the end of your rope.  Maybe your child is not at that point, of wanting to help themselves.  Maybe you are at that point, where you have to kick your child to the curb.  I do know that anxiety all too well.

May you find the spiritual strength you will need.  I'm so sorry. I truly am.

I keep saying this, because I've lived this--  there is hope. Never, ever give up.