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 Forum. It 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.