Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I am what I can best described as "observing" my son.
I see a new relationship between us. My son has become a lot more respectful. In fact, his attitude is stellar! The two of us don't argue anymore. My son is respecting the rules we have given him. I don't like the word "rules" because it sounds like we are running a prison. But, with an addict, we have to set "boundaries", which are really rules.
My son is keeping the curfew we set for him. While he is 20 years old, we imposed a curfew because he was staying out until 1am...and another time until 3:00am. He was playing video games with a friend, but I was unable to sleep with worry.
When we talked to B about his late nights, he agreed that it wasn't necessary. He understands that it puts angst into my heart, for fear that he's out "using".
Another reason for his curfew is to help him to readjust his brain into sleeping at night and waking up at a decent hour, in the morning. B has been known to be awake all night long and then to sleep all day long. He is starting to make that adjustment, and I can hear him snoring throughout the night.
B is applying for jobs, with the help of my husband. It's a daunting task, given the high rate of unemployment. Still, he needs to learn how to do this and something is bound to "stick".
Physically, I see improvement in B. His skin is almost clear...not riddled with zits. B is dressing differently, too. Gone are the baggy "gangsta" jeans that sagged below his boxers. His oversized shirts have been replaced with golf shirts. His hair is no longer shaved extra short, but has grown out to reveal that his golden blond locks have turned dark brown.
His speech-- it is no longer slurred and the "street talk" is gone. He is speaking in a more refined way and I am loving it!
B has a sponsor, and he is going to meetings. Part of our rules, is that he must attend five meetings a week and bring us proof that he went.
B will be randomly drug tested, and he has not refused to do so. He understands the consequences if he tests "dirty". So far, so good.
We have family meetings on Saturday morning-- to review how B is doing. We had one on Saturday, and it went well. Nobody got mad, and there were not blowouts. B admitted he was lagging in his job searches, but we commended him for how pleasant he has been to live with. He is a good and considerate "roommate".
On January 15th, it will be 30-days since he moved in with us on a probationary status. At that time, we will review our rules and make adjustments. Ultimately, B needs to have a job, be going to school (adjusting units and job hours to make it do-able). Once he is paying rent, then the curfew is lifted.
I am learning in this process, about myself. I have work to do, in order to learn how to live with an addict. I need to learn patience-- which is not my strongest virtue. I need to be patient with my son, because he is still struggling. The suboxone has quieted the demons that want my son to use heroin.
I still see behaviors in my son where I am struggling with distinguishing as being "the addict" versus being a young kid who is stunted in his maturity. He is still disorganized, lacks motivation and puts his social life before everything else.
Baby steps. I need to trust God and let Him do His work.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
But, this blog is about my son. I don't want to write Tolstoy's War & Peace, though it seems that my son's young 20 years of life could fill a book of that size.
B is trying. He really is. As his mom, I've had to make a lot of adjustments and I've had several days of feeling anxious and out-of-sorts. Last night, at our family therapy session, I identified that my feelings of angst is because my son's life seems so unmanageable-- so "drama" driven... it seems that my son cannot organize his day, be on time for anything. It seems that he bites off more than he can chew. Me-- I've got that German organization going on, but much of who I am is who my own mother was. I won't even go there, because I'd be fodder for a good psychiatrist.
But, back to my own son.
My observations on B is that he is very immature for his 20 years. Years of drug abuse has affected my son's ability to think clearly. He is easily distracted. He has a hard time focusing on one task...one goal. He is unable to sleep at night, and he dozes off during the day. The more I strive to learn about drug addiction, the more I see how much his drug addiction has ravaged my son's high intelligence. I have not lost, hope, though. Still, I struggle with my own ability to be patient with him. I know that this comes from my mother, who wrote the book on guilt and controlling behavior.
With the help of an excellent therapist, my husband and I are getting honest feedback about what we expect from B. Our therapist is helping us to understand that we need to take baby steps with him. I have to remember to praise my son and to encourage him. There is a trust issue, of course.
We have fine-tuned our "guidelines" for his living with us. B has agreed to them-- some rules we have toned down, to be a goal my son can see hope in. We are helping him to choose classes at our community college that won't overwhelm him. My husband is helping B to learn HOW to apply for jobs.
Most importantly, we got B in to see a doctor who is certified to prescribe Suboxone. This is a very controversial step in helping an addict who has an addiction to opiates. Suboxone is not for every one. But, I can see that my son needs this prescription drug to help him cope with life.
On Saturday, I drove with B to the Bay Area to attend the memorial service for his former Benicia roommate. "Allen" shot himself, it turned out. He lost hope, and he could no longer battle against the demon of alcoholism. My son is traumatized by this, but he is learning not to blame himself. Hopefully, the memorial service helped my son to gain closure to Allen's death, at the age of 48. It is also a painful reminder, that untreated addiction (and mental illness) can ultimately lead to prison and/or death.
It seems that every friend that B has made in "the program" has relapsed--every single one of them. One of his "rehab friends" is drinking again, and his marriage is in the process of a divorce. The mom and daughter he was living with, most recently-- the mother is drinking herself to death and it is rumored that she is now using heroin. The daughter is an anorexic/bulimic and she has a lot of emotional issues. This is the environment my son lived in for 6 weeks!
So, you see, my son is surrounded by people who have relapsed, killed themselves and who has so much emotional baggage. I long for my son to find friendships with people who are healthy-- mentally and physically.
On a positive note, my son IS working the 12 Steps with his sponsor. My son has agreed to attend meetings no less then five days a week, and he will bring us proof of his attendance.
I know that my son has a hard battle ahead of him. I need to keep myself healthy-- emotionally and physically. I need to work on myself and to learn how to set boundaries and keep them. I need to learn not to allow my son to provoke me to anger. I need to work on my lack of patience, so I'm going back into therapy for myself.
What my son needs is a loving mother who can be there for him, without enabling his addiction. He needs to feel hope, and to be encouraged.
Tomorrow night, we celebrate Christmas Eve, in my German heritage/traditions. Our family will be together, as a whole. I pray that we can focus on the true "reason for the season"-- on the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
My Heavenly Father has been so good to us. He has blessed us with the ability to provide the medical insurance my son needs. He has kept my son alive with an unblemished criminal record. I have a husband, who is kind and gentle and patient. My husband is becoming my son's role model by teaching him basic Life Skills. My husband loves me, despite the fact that I've been on an emotional roller coaster. Most importantly, I am forgiven and absolved of the sins of my past. Without Jesus, in my life, I could not find the strength to break free of my own childhood dysfunctions. I give God all the glory for the changes that He has made in my heart.
I pray for those who are homeless...those who are without jobs...I pray for those who are suffering from addiction and who cannot afford to get the professional help that they need. I pray for the families of addicts-- that they will not lose hope.
I wish to all of you who are reading my blog-- thank you for your prayers, encouragement and support.
26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
34"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[c] the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God."
38"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I received a phone call from my son, last night. He blurted to me that he just received a call from his former roommate's sister-- "A" had killed himself. It freaked me out, because my brother shares the same name as B's former roommate. It took, what felt like an eternity, to realize that B was talking not talking about his uncle. He was talking about his former friend/roommate, in Benicia.
I had a really hard time sleeping last night. All I could think of was the first time that I met “A”. My son had met “A” in the Sober Living Environment that he moved into at the end of April. “A” was an alcoholic. He had just finished his fourth stint at a treatment center (a different one from my son’s).
“A” was in his late 40’s. As far as B could tell, he didn’t have any friends. I thought it seemed a little peculiar that some his age would “cling” to my young son. I even asked “A” about that…he said that he wanted to help my son. “A” was lonely… and he succumbed to his addiction to alcohol. It was obvious to “B” that his roommate had started drinking again. “A” became angry, and had resorted to yelling at my son a few times. I stayed out of it, though.
The last time that B saw “A” was September 3rd. That was the day that “A” returned (after disappearing for a few days) and he literally through my son out of their apartment. We had to call the police to gain entry, so that B could get the last of his belongings.
B is devastated, to say the least. He feels that it’s his fault that “A” killed himself. I can imagine how my son might jump to that conclusion—but I doubt that his suicide happened 3 months ago. Otherwise, his apartment manager would have entered the place much sooner. All we know is that his body was discovered, at B’s former apartment, around Thanksgiving.
I didn’t know “A” as well as my son did. Still, I could only stare at my ceiling while trying to fall asleep. I prayed for “A”—for his family. I prayed that “A”, in the last moments of his life, cried out to God. I cannot imagine how someone can feel such hopelessness that they can actually take their own life.
“A”s death, is a very real and painful reminder to me that addiction—left untreated—can ultimately lead to death.
B’s car is finally fixed, from his car accident. It’s been quite a while. My son should be home today, to pick it up.
I’m praying for my son—that his car will not lead him (literally) into trouble.
It seems daunting, to me, the trials and tribulations that my son has endured. Beyond that, I've had my share of failed marriages, financial struggles and dealing with my father's physical abuse. All I can think is that God, sometimes, allows us to suffer our own consequences. Sometimes, God needs to bring us down to our knees…to humble us… and to realize that we need Him. I know that, personally. God brought me down to my knees, and humbled me, the day that B’s father walked out on our 17 year marriage. I was broke and had a young child to raise…I lost my house. God gave me the strength to keep moving forward...to not give up...He gave me hope and he restored my life. But, that’s another story…
Enough for today. My heart goes out to “A”s family he has left behind. Yes, I will go with my son to his memorial service, on December 20th.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I was looking at a photo that was taken of my son, last week. I know that this sounds "cheesy", but he's so darned good looking! He looks like a clean-cut "jock" kid, with short hair and a dazzling smile... but, I'm getting off-topic again.
It's time that I share some emails that have been sent to me. They mean a great deal to me. Those of you who post comments, or who email me privately... thank you.
I understand how hard the "tough love" route must be for the parents of the addict. I cannot even fathom the idea of turning my son away, no matter what insanity may have brought him to me for help in the first place.......
A long time ago, I was sitting with a very good friend of mine, someone I met in AA and her mother. We were discussing how her Mom had been in Alanon long before her daughter finally found the rooms of AA. "Marcy" is a heroin addict. She comes from a very wealthy family, one of prestige and success. Her parents each own their own business, and they have homes in several states. Her dad is also a private pilot and they own their own plane. "Marcy" was always a little behind when it came to the success part of her life. Her grades were always so-so and she never felt as tho she ever quite "fit in" anywhere.
When her Mom began to describe the feelings she experienced when first finding out about "Marcy", she wore each of those feelings on her face as though she was once again experiencing all that shock, pain, pity, betrayal, anger, and eventual peace with her daughters addiction.
She went on to tell us about how she kept failing the "tough love" lessons of her program. Her and her husband constantly helped Marcy, together, and eventually behind one another's back. So afraid of where her daughter may end up if they turned their back on her, they felt that helping was much easier than living with the guilt if for some reason, God forbid, God decided to call Marcy home to be with him...... They struggled with their parental responsiblities and their guilt.
She told us that finally, after much prayer and tears, they decided that together, they would turn her away the next time she came to them. No matter what the excuse, story, lie or truth Marcy told them about what was going on, no matter how small and insignificant it might be, they would not help.
Little did they know that their daughter would show up that very same evening, broke, crying, and very scared. Marcy had drug-induced asthma, and she was clearly not doing well. Her parents asked her to wait outside, closed the door, and looked at one another as if to say "Now what?". They proceeded into the garage, got out a laundry basket, and in it they placed a blanket, her inhaler, and a telephone number for a recovery house about 3 hours away. They opened the door, explained they were not only doing what was best for her, but also were doing it for themselves. They explained that by giving her anymore help, they were only prolonging her life of addiction, no matter how small that help may be.
Four days later, the recovery house called to let them know that Marcy had arrived, a little thin, and in complete withdrawal. Since the recovery house was the only place to turn to, she only faced two options. Recovery or life on the streets. She chose the recovery house and has been clean since 1997.
The place she where she finally surrendered to her disease was no country club setting. She was in detox for one week and was immediately placed in their halfway house where she was taught the basics of how to survive, on her own, without drugs.
She had to get a job, *Burger King* I think it was. Certainly a humble beginning for a girl who had so many options of employment at one time not so long ago. They monitored her money, her checking account, and she paid for her rent, food, etc. She had to account for ever dollar she spent, and had to log where she needed to staple every receipt for every penny she used.
She was eventually given a puppy to care for, and she finally found a way to save up enough money to purchase a car, along with mandatory insurance. Again, the recovery house monitored her every move. They allowed her to make her own decisions, and they watched her make some wrong ones. They allowed her to learn, to grow, and to achieve the things she never thought she could.
She came out of that recovery house after over 2 years of learning how to be an adult. She was 23 years old, so young, yet old in so many ways.
Today, she is a wife, and mother of 3 children. She continues to make mistakes, but the kind of mistakes her Mother tells us she can live with.
Just wanted to share some success with you!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Right now, my son is on his train, headed back to the place he's been staying at for the last month. So much is happening-- and it feels good. Dr. Jeffrey Junig played a huge part in this-- and it all started from a comment that he left on this blog. But, I'm getting ahead of my most recent tale...
My son has snapped out of his "funk" since last Friday. B says that when he lost his temper with me, that he walked to the top of the hill where my house is. It has a panoramic view of our valley. He said that he asked God to give him one day of not feeling so sick. He also said that, looking down at our subdivison, he realized how much he missed home. He said that he didn't realize how much he missed the smells of my kitchen, and how much he wanted to come home.
My son says that he feels like the veil of darkness has lifted and he feels hope and joy. He says that "God gave me one day of not feeling sick."
B spent these last few days with his father, his sponsor and reading a book at our home. I could see a sparkle in his eyes. His affection feels sincere, without manipulation. We've had some really good chats. I am still debating if we will let him come home. There are some things that B needs to do to give us hope that he is sincere in accepting professional help, and working a treatment program. He says he has accepted that he is powerless over his addiction.
As a mom, I felt that I had my son back, these last few days. I was able to bake and cook for him, and to feel like "mom" again. At night, it felt nice to peek into his room and see him sleeping so peacefully. He's been very loving and helpful around the house. He just called to say goodbye and thanks... I miss him, already.
I wanted to share some of Dr. Junig's emails he's sent to me. I have read some of his articles, but I still have more info to read that he's shared with me. I let my son read one of his earliest emails. My son said that he felt so "connected" to the honest thoughts that Dr. Junig shared.
When B was having his emotional meltdown, he said that he could "hear voices". He thought he was going crazy.
I remember shortly before finally getting help on my first time around with addiction, back in 1993, how I was so depressed that I would swear when I heard birds singing. That was one of the things that motivated me to get help—I remembered that I used to like the sound, and recognized that there was no pleasure at all—and I knew I was really messed up.
The hardest thing about getting treatment isn’t the money—I have seen many people just ‘do time’ through an expensive treatment program. The most important, and most difficult thing in order to get clean is desperation—true desperation. Addicts are great at appearing desperate and asking for help, but almost always there is a hidden part that is NOT desperate. The addict usually doesn’t even recognize this part of themselves, and will cry out for help, claiming desperation, promising all kinds of things for the next day… but when a whiff of dope appears, or even just the hope of scoring something, the non-desperate part grows 20-fold and takes over.
The reason I said that money isn’t that important is because any 12-step program will have everything the addict needs to get clean—provided the desperation is there. A meeting costs one buck—and that is a donation, so it really costs nothing. The standard aa or na treatment plan is to attend 90 meetings in 90 days. Every addict will find 20 reasons to hate aa or na at every meeting—again, this is where the desperation comes in. A desperate person looks for the things to take away, and ignores the rest. A non-desperate person only sees reasons to stay away.
A 12-step program will provide everything for a desperate addict. AA and NA saved my life twice. What you can do is try to see desperation as the goal, and then to use the desperation to spur action. At some point you might even need to force the issue—room and board in exchange for 5 meetings per week, for example. One or two meetings per week is not enough—one per day, on average, is very doable, and can make a difference.
Last, but not least, Dr. Junig has given B hope...when my son read the comment from Dr. Junig, B said that he felt "connected"..."understood".
I pray that this "Messenger" is an answer to my son's plea for help-- and many prayers that have been sent on B's behalf.
Please tell your son that there is a better life. All of us opiate addicts think we are hopelessly unique, and that nobody would understand us (one of my sites is terminaluniqueness.com ) . Tell him that in reality, we are all the same. That is the most amazing thing for me as I treat addiction—the feelings inside are so similar, even as people feel so unique. Tell him I can PROMISE him that he can feel better than he has felt his entire life—but since the feelings are so different, t doesn’t come easily. But it does come—if he truly wants it. As they say in AA-- if he seeks recovery like a drowning man seeks a life preserver… he will find it.