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. 


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Visiting my Blog Home Away From Home - Random thoughts


Another eight months has passed, and I haven't written a post in all that time. I just now cleaned out my SPAM comments (and there were hundreds) and published those comments that were "legit".

I'm sorry.

I've written, more than once, that the reason I quit posting here is because the crisis of my son's addiction has subsided. 

Of course, there are many people who feel that I'm a fool for thinking that my son being on suboxone is sobriety. They say it is NOT.

So be it.

This is how I view my son's current sobriety (or un-sobriety for you suboxone naysayers).

Of course, I wish my son had an "organic" sobriety.  I would love it if he didn't use any kind of medication to keep my son from using. That is simply common sense.

However, let's look at things from my son's perspective.  True that, he had a severe addiction. He was strung out and had sold everything he owned to avoid the misery of withdrawal.  This was my son's "bottom" he says.  He realized that, in his last relapse, that he had sold everything of value that he had.  Fortunately, my son didn't have it in him to resort to theft or robbery (for that I am truly grateful) and he finally came to the realization that he absolutely had to conquer his body's craving for drugs.

Methadone didn't work for him.  So, he turned to suboxone.  Lest you naysayers judge him and/or me, it is working for him.  He is going on four years of working at the same job.  He doesn't make a ton of money, but he has money.  He bought a brand new X-Box, a new HDTV and he can afford to buy things he wants-- here and there.  He doesn't ask us for money, either.

All of the friends he was using with, are out of his life. He has a very small, but new circle of friends. They don't use, but they do drink--- no differently that I do. That is, we are social drinkers. The glass of wine with dinner, or  a beer while watching a football game.  Nothing to worry about.

My son's brain has healed. He is no longer forgetful, or spaced out.  He can focus his thoughts, and that brilliant mind of his is back.

B has lived with us, ever since he detoxed with the help of suboxone.  He pays us rent, faithfully, and never EVER complains about it.  We are charging him the going rate it would cost him to rent a room-- or share a cheap apartment.  We use the majority of that money to subsidize his medical expenses (health and car insurance, diabetes supplies, suboxone), groceries and cost of living-- and a small portion goes into a rent savings. 

Best of all, my son and I have the kind of relationship that any loving mom longs for.  He is kind, respectful, thoughtful and willing to help me when I ask for it.  The relationship between my son and his stepfather makes me smile with such gratitude and joy.  I have watched the two of them interact as two men-- "dudes", "guys".  I've watched my husband help my son to learn things that guys should know how to do-- like how to fix things in his own car.  My son asks for advice from his stepdad.

Best of all, my husband tells me that my son is a "good kid" and a "good room mate". 

So, if my son is doing so well-- is it such a bad thing that he uses suboxone?  He's cut his dose down by 75%, and has to see a doctor once a month.  He has to take a drug test, and always comes out clean.  If he didn't, this doctor would no prescribe suboxone.

Again, I keep praying for the day that my son gets off suboxone completely.  B says, it's just around the corner. He was waiting for the slow season to come to his job (now).  He needs to take a couple of weeks off work to detox from the suboxone.

Of course,  B and I talk about this, candidly. I've asked him what his plan is, once he is off the suboxone. That is, what will steps will he take to prevent him from relapsing? You would think he'd have some grandiose answer. He simply says, "that last relapse made me realize that I don't want to go back to that again." He says the withdrawals were horrific, and he never wants to experience that again.

Just like religion, this is a question that has a myriad of answers.  I've written, countless times, why I don't believe that NA meetings is the answer for everyone.  I went to Nar-Anon meetings, and they did not work for me at all.  I couldn't deal with the whining from the same group of people.  I didn't find the meetings helpful. In our small town, my son says that NA meetings didn't work for him, because that's where he was most likely to reconnect with people he used with. He says that anytime he went to an NA meeting, someone would ask if they could hook him up with drugs.

Before anyone gets upset by this, and writes a harsh comment, because you believe that NA is the only way-- please don't.  Otherwise, I might have to say that "Jesus is the Only Way" (written tongue in cheek, okay?) 

So, what prompted me to write today-- after such a long absence?  Partly it's guilt.  I still get an occasional email from someone who is asking me how I am doing... or someone who wants to thank me for sharing my story.  Collectively, to "you", I want to say that I am doing just fine, thank you. To those of you who ask me for advice, it takes my breathe away.  I wish I had some dazzling advice to give. What I've learned, during this painful chapter of my life, I have shared on this blog.  I'm not an expert and never professed to be.

I have become a much better mom, a much better listener  and a whole lot less judgmental about other parents. I no longer assume that bad parenting is why kids use drugs. 

I have become much more compassionate to parents and drug addicts. My faith in God grew by leaps and bounds, during these painful chapters in my life. Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for sparing my son from death, incarceration or physical harm.

The tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman really affected me. That a man, who had so much talent-- and certainly financial security-- relapsed AFTER 23 YEARS of sobriety-- really shook me hard.  It was a reality check, that my son has no personal guarantee that he will never use again. He knows it and I know it.  My deepest sympathies go to his family and loved ones, including his small children.  What a tragic death.  Will we ever know why he relapsed? Will we ever know what it was that woke the demon of addiction in him? 

Once more, I am reminded that my son will have to fight the disease of addiction for the rest of his life.  For today, I see a 25 year old young man, who tells me that his last relapse wasn't worth all that it cost him. He tells me that he didn't even enjoy it, and didn't really get that "buzz" from using Oxy Contin that he used to get.  I pray, with all of my heart and soul, that he will continue to hold on to that memory.

As B's mom, I choose to forgive and forget what's happened in the past. Today, I can hand my son my credit card to pick some things up for me while he's in town. I don't have to hide my wallet, choosing to leave it in plain sight with money in it. The money is always right there, where I left it. My son no longer sneaks out, in the middle of the night. He is always home, playing on his X-Box, with his invisible online friends.

In a perfect world, I would love to see him get a better paying job-- with benefits. I'd love to see him buy another set of golf clubs, and get outside for exercise and to play a sport that he is really good at. I continue to invite him to join us at church (the very church he urged us to come to with him, years ago). We continue to counsel him on the importance of financial wisdom-- like saving money (which, for now, falls on deaf ears).

So, I guess my son has gone from a "using" drug addict to being a typical young man.  He has so much wisdom to learn in life.  My husband and I are doing the best that we can to be positive role models for him.

I think some of our wisdom is beginning to stick.

We will never give up hope.  I feel comfort, gratitude and joy that my son loves me. I know he feels the same way about my love for him.

For those of you who are suffering with addiction-- be it YOU who is the struggling addict, or for the loved ones who are dealing with a struggling addict-- I pray for you, collectively, all the time. I know there are plenty of people who think prayer is useless. Or that there is no God. I've had plenty of comments left, calling me a fool to believe in a God that doesn't exist.  Well, that's one more prayer I add to my list... for non-believers.

No matter what, my heart truly feels your pain and agony.  I have lived it. I have cried. I have whined. I have been angry. I have failed. I have enabled.

I have learned.

If any of my blog posts gives hope to anyone who reads them, then this blog is accomplishing it's purpose. 

I will try to post more often.  I'm here, and I read every single comment. I truly do. If I don't respond back, please forgive me.  Sometimes, I just can't deal with the emotions that they stir in me.

May God bless you and give you comfort, whether you or not you do or don't believe in Him. He believes in you, and loves you.

Friday, June 21, 2013

My own experience with Oxy-Contin. I'm serious.

Wow. It's been four months since I've paid any attention to this blog. I have no really good reason. The truth is, I've been trying to move forward with my life, marriage, job and relationship with my son.

What more would I have to share? I'm not the kind of drug advocate that I thought I could be. That is, I'm not involved with any kind of organization for parents of drug addicts. I no longer attend Nar-Anon meetings. Pretty much, I think I've put my son's addiction to Oxycontin and Heroin way in the back of my mind. Like, filed under "past" and I didn't want to reopen that file.

Then, something happened. After a few years of procrastination, I finally went ahead and had a total knee replacement.  This isn't my first major knee operation (same leg).  My arthriticaly diseased knee finally made my daily life a battle against pain. Standing, for more than a few minutes, hurt. Walking down a steep hill would blow out my knee. Forget sitting in a theater, unless I could stretch out my knee.

So, on June 11th I spend three nights in the hospital, after a success operation.  What did my doctor prescribe for my pain?

Oxycontin. 10mg.  One to two, every 12 hours.

My heart sank.

When my doctor checked in on me, it just leaped out of my throat. "I don't want to take oxycontin!"
He was a bit taken aback. I quickly explained that my son is a recovering drug addict, and this is the very drug that tore our lives apart. 

I'm not gonna lie. The post-surgery has been a daily heavy dose of pain. The physical therapist causes me nothing but anxiety-- though he's the best.  Bending my stiff knee, under his trained body pressure makes child birth seem like a walk in the park.  I find myself unable to hold back the blood curdling screams.  I am begging for mercy.   So, I have resigned myself to reserving the Oxycontin for the days he is coming to see me. I also have Oxycodone IR, and I can take 1-2 every 4 to 6 hours.  I opt, instead for Tylenol 500mg, no more than four times a day. So far, the Tylenol does a decent job with pain management... except for when the Physical "Terrorist" arrives at my house.

At least, my fear of becoming addicted was unfounded.  While Oxy gives me a sense of relaxation, and eases some of the pain (except for the excruciating stretches), I don't like the feeling of nausea that follows the "come down".  I sleep a lot, too. My appetite is pretty much non-existent. I eat, because if I don't, my body has the shakes. You could feed me my favorite gourmet dinner, and I might as well be eating sawdust with gravy on it. 

As I was laying on the bed, watching daytime TV (which I never do) I caught an episode on "Katie" about drug addiction.  One of her guests was a 23 year old boy, who was addicted to heroin. His path to destruction was no different than my own son's. 

Oh my God, the emotions welled up inside me.  I saw my own son, who was a shell of himself.  I listened to the boy talk about how he's been in and out of rehab and still can't get off the stuff. What I didn't hear this kid say was that he wanted to be clean-- with enough conviction. He was carted off to a top level rehab center in Malibu, CA-- free of charge. How I wish this young boy success in his sobriety.

Next, came a guest who is a 27 year old girl who has been clean for 5 years.  She was beautiful and articulate. She shared her journey in her addiction to Oxycontin and heroin.  She said exactly what my son's words were-- the key to her sobriety is the key to my own son's sobriety.

In my own words, this is the summary of why my son is no longer using.  The #1 reason, that my son could not find success in staying clean, is that he was terrified of going through withdrawals.  That's what the girl admitted, herself.  I can only relate to that moment, when my physical therapist tells me to lay flat, and I feel him picking up my leg that I begin to hyperventilate. I try to talk myself through the pain that I know is going to happen.  He stretches... he stretches, the pain begins and then I'm screaming bloody murder! 

My son says that withdrawals are a pain that he wouldn't wish on his worst enemy.  If it's anything like what I've going through, I understand.  Fear of pain is paralyzing.

Yesterday, I told my physical therapist to stop. I had no more to give. I couldn't give him ten stretches. I had to stop at three.  When he relented, I wanted to cry with joy.

Maybe, for my son, that is what his relapses were to him. Relief from the agony and pain.

So, when people write to me and say to tell my son to quit "being a bitch" and suck it up-- well, I can tell you that I wish I could the same for my leg therapy.

We all have different pain tolerances.

I receive numerous emails from desperate parents and family members-- and they ask me what they can do to help their loved one become sober.

It all comes back to the addict. The only thing we can do, is to educate ourselves.  Try to learn as much about addiction that you can. Take classes. Read. Talk to other parents.

To see our own child, suffering from addiction, is an emotional pain that I don't care to repeat.  Yes, I was one of those parents who helped my son to buy the drugs he needed because he was so "sick". No, I didn't buy the drugs for him. But, I gave him money for some "need" he convinced me that he had.  I was in self-denial that the money would go to buy drugs.

That is so hard, because it is counter-intuitive, as a mom, to not want to help our children-- when they are in pain or danger.  I've watched enough Dr. Phil shows, to hear his rebukes that enabling our addicts is the worst thing we can do.

Reluctantly, I told B that I had Oxycontin as my pain management. At first, he was upset. For me. He began to question my physical therapist on why this was the prescribed pain med of choice.

Later, B told me not to worry about hiding the meds from him.

"Mom, don't worry about it. I no longer have cravings. Besides, the last time I relapsed and used Oxy, I didn't even like it. "  He also reminded me, that even if he took Oxy that nothing would happen, since the suboxone blocks those receptors of "pleasure".

While B is still on suboxone therapy, he is no longer using street drugs. B says that he no longer has cravings. He has an entirely new circle of friends. He still has the same job, for more than three years. He pays us rent, never complains and doesn't ask us for money.

He has stepped up to the plate, and is helping to take care of me. Role reversal.  I'm not as mobile as I had hoped-- though it's only been ten days since surgery.  I putt around, on a walker, but I'm not gonna lie-- as of today, I regret having the surgery.

That sounds bad, I know. In two more weeks, I'll be singing a different tune.  I just wish I had known that all my old scar tissue, from previous surgeries, would cause my knee to have a 50% decrease is my range of motion.  I thought I could endure the physical therapy, but I can't take the pain!

A year from now, I hope that all of this will be behind me. I visualize myself walking with my husband, without fear of stairs or steep hills.

With my own son, I still long for him to have an "organic" sobriety.  Clean. No prescribed drugs to keep him from using.

But, you know, this is his own sobriety.  I have learned to let go. I rejoice in God's Grace on us. I am so very thankful that my son isn't strung out on drugs. 

Best of all, I have watched my son's true personality emerge. He looks healthy, again. He laughs a lot. He is respectful and affectionate.

Yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I had to make a decision to endure pain, so that my knee would be good as new. My son had to make a decision that he didn't want to live his life broke, and spending every waking moment thinking where his next fix would come from.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, that nothing is too great for you. Thank you for wiping my tears, holding me when I lived in fear. Thank you for sending people into my life to support me, to educate me and for making the finances and insurance available, to help my son.

Thank you for reaching my son's heart and for helping him to see that he had a choice to make in which path he wanted to follow.

He chose sobriety.

Amen.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Overwhelmed with sorrow for parents of drugs addicts-- like me

When I first started this blog, I was one of those shell-shocked moms. I never, EVER imagined that my son's life would take a bad turn. I was so ignorant about drugs. I mean, I knew about drugs. Heck, when I was a teenager, I puffed the magic dragon-- so to speak. That was in the 70's.  But, I really didn't care for drugs.  I never got into dropping acid, either. I guess those movies, that were shown to me in middle school, scared me to death.

As a divorced mom, I did my best to raise my son with manners.  I tried to be a good role model, as a mom.  In retrospect, I wasn't perfect. But who really is?

I never thought about my kid messing around with pills.  Honest!  I had never even heard of oxycontin, until my son confessed to be that he was addicted to them.  Heroin? Oh, c'mon!  Not my son!  He's a clean cut kid. I knew all his friends. They were all clean cut kids, from nice families. Right?

Wrong.

It has been almost five years since I became the mother of a drug addict.  There will be no cause to celebrate.  While I never expected anything like this to happen, I've had to face that this is the way it is.  In a strange way, my son's drug addiction has made me a better person.  Wait. Did I really say that?

What I mean, is that I have learned to be less judgmental of parents.  Up until that fateful month of April 2008, I would have told anyone that if a kid becomes addicted to drugs, then the parents failed to raise them right.

What a stupid thought that was.  I was so wrong.

Several times a month, I receive emails from families, or even addicts, who tell me there story.  It's always heartbreaking for me.  I try to answer them back, as best as I can.  Yet, how can I possibly give them the comfort or advice that they so desperately need?

I'm not gonna lie.  Sometimes those emails just paralyze my brain and fingers from being able to write a good answer.  I type very, very fast.  I love to write.  But, these emails-- I just feel so sad for them.  Yet, I am honored that they would write to me-- telling me that this little old blog helps them.

Every single Sunday, as I sit and listen to our pastor-- who is one incredibly gifted speaker-- sharing powerful messages, and helping me to better understand the Bible... truly, I feel so inspired and uplifted.  I actually find myself drafting a blog post.  I can't wait to go home, open up the editor of this blog, and share with anyone who will read this blog.   I want to share with them the hope I've found, in my faith in God!

But then, it seems that I can't write.  I get distracted with wanting to read, or doing chores, or cooking and baking (one of my therapeutic passions).  So, I don't write.

I have not responded to a few emails that were written to me in the last two weeks.  I need to do that, and I will.

I admire Ron, from "An Addict in my Son's Bedroom".  Ron found my blog, a few years ago.  At that times, his son (Alex) was in the throes of his addiction to heroin.  I mean, it was bad.  Ron was there, for me, lifting me up during my darkest times.  There were other bloggers, like me, who would visit my blog.  They helped me to get through so much.

So, I feel a bit guilty that I'm not being like Ron.  But, I shouldn't feel that way.  Ron has a great way of writing, and I am happy to say that his son is clean and has turned his life around. Yet, Ron continues to share his message at schools and on his blog.

I am writing this post, because I finally logged on to post comments that have been waiting for my approval (I get too much spam, so I have to moderate this blog.)    I'm not going away for good.

I need to regroup and think about how I can be of some comfort to those of you who follow my blog. To those of you who have written to me, personally, and I have not answered you-- forgive me.  I have not deleted your emails.

I'm going to try and compile responses and post it right here...because the majority of you are desperate, and heartbroken, and you don't know how to save your loved one.

I know that feeling.  I wish I could give you an easy answer.  You need support from people who really understand addiction.

I'm sorry, but I need to end this post, because I have piles of laundry to do and bedtime comes very early for me on work nights.

My son is almost one year clean.  He has the same job. I will say this-- every single friend that he had, who he used with-- they are out of his life. Gonzo.  He doesn't hang out with anyone who uses drugs. Amen for that. 

Monday, December 31, 2012

Another Year, as the Mother of a Drug Addict...Out with Old, In with the New


Today, is the last day of 2012.  It's a quiet morning and I finally have some "me" time to sit, reflect, pray and just "be".  

Gosh, it's been a very long time since I've written a blog post. I must appear to have abandoned my blog. That hasn't been my intention. After all, I've invested a lot of time, and money (having it professionally designed.) I have poured out my heart and soul, and have documented my experience as the mother of a drug addict. So, why am I not blogging much? I have been blessed to receive emails, or posts, from people whose lives are being ripped apart by the scourge of drug addiction. When I read those emails, I feel so bad for them. I want, so much, to have just the right words to say-- to give them comfort and hope. I'm embarrassed to say, that I've gone silent. Again.


I think it's because I have come to peace about my son's situation. It wasn't easy, I can promise you. I try not to do this, very often-- but, if I do allow myself to go back to 2008,  I can almost recreate that feeling of helplessness. I can remember the shock and horror of it all.

My son's drug addiction put a lot of stress in my marriage. I learned things about myself, I didn't realize. My relationship with my son was so fragile, and we were not getting along at all. I felt like I was such a total failure.

For you-- if you have stumbled across  this blog post-- and you are in the throes of addiction...be it you, or someone you love-- my message to you is that there is hope.  The best advice I can give, to a person who is watching someone's life being destroyed by addiction is this-- take care of you.

When addiction comes into your life,  it can bring out the worst in everyone.  I might upset a few people who read this, but I'm going to make this raw and honest.  I was guilty of this, and it shows in my earliest posts. Ready?

I got caught up in the drama. I became a whiner and complainer. I wanted people to come to my aid, to rescue me, to coddle me, to feel sorry for me. Oh, woe is me!   I finally saw where I was going, and I decided that I needed to find a different way to learn to cope with watching my son's life unravel.

What did I do? I came to understand what codependence is. I began to dig deeper in my relationship with God. My spirituality began to grow stronger and stronger, and I began to find those quiet times of prayer and meditation.

I also began to learn more about addiction, and I learned a lot of addicts, themselves.

I began to admit that I was enabling my son's drug addiction and I began to gather enough courage to understand that saying "no" was helping my son to see where his life was going.

So, how is my son doing?

B is 10 months free and clear from using any kind of street drug-- be it heroin, oxy or smoking weed.  Please note that I didn't say he's 10 months clean and sober.  From an NA point of view, he's not considered clean, since he is on a very low dose of suboxone. He is under the monthly care of a good addiction doctor. (Thank you, President Obama--and my husband's job-- for making my son's health coverage good for two more years. Amen.)

From my point of view, my son is clean. I'll tell you why--
He's held his job for over two years, and still loves it and is well-liked by his co-workers.
B pays $600.00 a month in rent, to us, never once complaining-- and it's always on time.
B has cash on him, all the time. This Christmas, he saved $200.00 to buy gifts. He looked so proud and pleased with himself, as he gave generously to us and to his uncles and cousin.
B has a new set of friends. He calls them "geeks", because they're all online "gamers". 
B has matured into a respectful, and interesting young man. He is no problem  as a roommate. When he isn't working, he's in his room, gaming on his BIG TV that he bought with his own money.

As a mom, I'd love to see him spending far less time with video games. I wish he'd go back to playing golf (that he's so good at), finding a career that will pay him benefits. I wish he didn't smoke. I wish he'd save more of his income, for his future.  He's talking about moving into his own place, this Spring, with a new friend that he works with. I'll miss him, but it's time for him to be completely on his own.

But, that's what moms do. We worry about our kids, because we're nurturers.. and dangerously wired to be enablers and coddlers. 

What's most important, is that I have learned to "let go" of my son's life.  By that, I don't open his mail. I don't snoop in his room. I don't question where he goes and I don't give him advice. I rest, assured, that he's not using drugs.  I know, I know, so many of us "thought" our kids weren't using drugs-- and they were.

The reason I know my son isn't using is simple. Drug addicts (unless they deal drugs) don't have money on them. They struggle with keeping a job. They look gaunt and unhealthy. They're secretive. Things go missing-- money, valuables. 

B looks healthy, and our relationship has been restored. Sometimes, when he gets home from work, I'm still in the living room. He sits and just chats with me. I love those precious moments. We chat about life, work, movies. 

My marriage is intact, and my husband treats my son as an adult. The two of them get along great, which makes my very happy.  It's interesting how our finances are much better, now. I didn't fully realize how my my son's drug addiction cost us.  B never asks us for money, now. Halleluia.

I'm not trying to brag, here. I'm rejoicing. If you're still reading this, I hope that I have shown you that a drug addict can get their life back. It isn't easy, and I'm not fooling myself. I do know that this could all change.

There are "trolls" out there who have written rude comments and emails, telling me that my son's use of suboxone is just temporary. They have told me that he'll go back to using, as soon as he quits using it.  I say to them, you don't know my son. Every person's story is different.

Bottom line, I have come to realize that only the addict can make the choice to get clean and sober. There is nothing in the world that I could do to make my son realize that he didn't want the life of constantly looking for his next fix.   The only help I gave my son, that worked, was to not help him-- and love him.

I'll repeat that. The only help I gave my son, that worked, was to not help him-- and love him..

I am a follower and believer in Jesus Christ. I believe there is a God. I don't worship the Universe, but I worship the creator of the Universe. I study his Word (the Bible) without shame.  Without my spiritual faith in God, I would not have had the strength to get through the five years of hell that B's drug addiction put all of us through.

2012 was a good year.  It wasn't perfect, but nothing and none of us are.

I look forward to seeing what 2013 has in store for us.

May the love and Grace of God, pour upon you.  Whether you know Him or not, he knows you. Be blessed, be loved, love others-- and be filled with peace and hope in your lives.