Saturday, July 18, 2009

Making Compromises and taking a break

I love my blog! I don't say this as me tooting my own horn. I say this because I'm so deeply touched by many of the comments that are left for me. So many of you have become people who speak from the side of being an addict, or who are also living with a drug addict.

I received a comment, over a week ago, that came at a time when I was feeling fed up with my son's addiction. Many of you know that feeling. I'm going to post this, so that I can share it with some of you who might have missed it:

Recovery isn't perfect, when we expect too much, we always get too little.
Just look at what he's accomplished...and concentrate on that, rather than his slips. It is a very rare addict that stops their first time out and never relapses. Relapse is not the end of the's also not the end of recovery. Recovery doesn't start, stop and start all over with each is a continuum.

But relapses don't have to be the end of the world...he's jumping right back in after he slips, right? Instead of wallowing and continuing to use?

PROGRESS, not perfection. You have your son back in your life, he's not risking life, limb and freedom every day to get high. HUGE progress!

Try to focus on improving his quality of life, rather than focusing on ending his drug use completely....this really isn't about the drugs. The fact that he's still using tells me not that he's not ready to be well or that he's not trying hard enough--but that his symptoms aren't being supressed enough. It show huge commitment that he keeps trying.

If you shift your focus to ending his suffering, rather than ending his drug use, things will become clearer and his relapses will be much less devasting TO BOTH OF YOU.

Think about this: when he has a slip is he suffering because of the effects of the drugs themselves, or because of the shame and guilt he has from not being able to fight his cravings, live up to the "ideal" recovery and make everyone else happy?

He's doing everything he can to get and stay well and live a good life....would we expect anymore from someone suffering from any other disease? Would you blame HIM if he were suffering from some other mental illness and had a relapse?

For instance: if he had OCD and had, because of medication, so far been able to fight the urge to wash his hands more than nessecary MOST of the time.....would you think he wasn't "ready" to be well if he slipped and had a day where he just couldn't fight the urge and went on a hand washing spree? Or would you consider one day out of many a huge huge improvement considering how many days used to be wasted on this activity?

It's the same idea: a voluntary behavior (using drugs) that is used to cope with the symptoms of a physical illness/mental illness(addiction).

This isn't a war your son fights with himself, it's a war he fights with his illness....and from what I can tell he seems to be winning.

You posted that he gave you a warm smile on his way out the door to work recently......your sons personality, ability to love and care about his life are coming back. Isn't that what you really wanted>?

Considering how many mothers are not so lucky and how many have lost their children forever to addiction (either because they are beyond reach or have died) you truly need to be grateful for how lucky you have been, rather than focus on how much better you want it.

"Armme", thank you for a reality check that came at the perfect time.

I have been silent, on this blog, for many days. That's because I'm on vacation and I want to take a break from things that can cause stress in my life. My husband and I refer to B's battle to find sobriety as "it". We are trying to live our lives without constantly worrying about "it". Since my vacation began on July 1st, my husband and I have reconnected as a couple. We have taken day trips, holding hands and enjoying leisurely meals in new restaurants in various parts of California. We have not spoke of "it". Instead we talk about our dreams for the future, laughing with each other and appreciating how much we love one another. Still, I know that we both care about our son's future, and we still worry about him. We just try not to over think about "it".

An update on my son:

I have put any guesses on hold regarding his sobriety. My son is a functioning drug addict, so I cannot tell if he's using or not. Actually, when my son was full-blown using, I could tell by his erratic behavior. If B is using, he's "chipping". I have not drug-tested him in two weeks. I've decided to put all of that on hold.

I've put a lot of things on hold.

The comment that I've posted, today, made me ask myself-- if B is being respectful in my home and I am not finding heroin paraphernalia, then is that enough-- for now?

If my son is doing a good job at work, paying his rent, and talking to me very openly-- is that enough?

I have a tendency to be judgmental. I don't like it, but I learned that from my mother. It's a trait that I don't like in me at all. Who am I to judge ANYONE when I have my own weaknesses and faults?

With that said, I'm working on being aware that I cannot impose my own expectations on my son. It took me DECADES to learn financial responsibility. Some people never learn that.

For now, I am focusing on rebuilding my relationship with my son. I have to bury my lack of trust in what he says, and I have a heightened sense of awareness that I cannot set my son up for failure. In essence, I have lowered my expectations on my son. He's forgetful and sometimes he acts irresponsibly. But his sobriety is what I care most about. The rest, I pray, will come with maturity in age.

B has had a rough week, so say the least. Once again, his car isn't running. He cannot afford the car repair. So, I'm driving him to work. Right now, I don't mind, because I'm on vacation for one more week. It gets me up early, so that I don't lounge in bed till late. It gives us time to chat. For the first time in years, I don't feel like I'm talking to a stranger! When B was full-blown using, I felt like I didn't know the young man who resembled my son.

I have also softened my heart in helping my son with his basic needs. I bought him a new pair of good work shoes, and some new clothes. I don't think that's enabling my son. He doesn't earn enough money to do this. He was so appreciative of it! It made me happy. As long as he's doing a good job at work, I will help him to keep the job-- with transportation and basic needs. The job gives him structure in his life, and he's paying weekly rent to us. He has almost $600.00 saved as a portion of rent he pays us--which is earmarked for rent on the day he finally moves out of here. For a drug addict, that is huge. I also think it makes him feel that his hard, physical, work is not in vain.

He still owes me money, but he's making payments. It's not a huge amount, but he doesn't complain. He says he has no more debts and isn't borrowing money. I hope that's true.

I have a renewed heart of compassion for my son. He is battling daunting odds that heroin is stronger than him. I can see that my son has not found a strength, from within, to deal with stress. When his car broke down, he sucked on cigarettes and I could feel his strength and depression. This is the perfect set-up to want to use. I just swallow hard and pray that he won't. But, I say nothing.

His sponsor is out of jail. I don't ask why he was arrested (his sponsor), because I know my son doesn't want to tell me. I have learned to stop asking my son specific questions, which seems to make him open up more to be. I'm getting better at listening. I think that B is realizing that his sponsor has too much drama in his own life. B says he might have a new sponsor. I hope so!

I cannot say, honestly, what my next move will be. I gave my son until the end of July to test through a laboratory. But then again-- if he is chipping, what would I really do?

I don't know. I honestly don't. For now, I keep praying for my son and for me to be a Godly mom.

I'm struggling, spiritually. My faith isn't weak. I'm not spending daily time with God. It's as though I've numbing myself from all of "this". "It" has drained me emotionally, and I just need to take a break from it all.

Last, I want to share a link to a story that was sent to me today from TWO different people-- just minutes apart.

It's called "A Mother's Story of Her Son's Addiction". I feel it is very worthy to be shared with other folks, just like me.

I continue to thank each of you who reads my blog. I value your comments, and I really do think about them.




Prayer Girl said...

So glad you are taking care of yourself right now and connecting with your husband in pleasant surroundings and activities.

I thank God that I found Al-Anon.


Madison said...

I like the idea of calling the disease 'it' and talking about your own future with your husband. Loved the link. 'It' seems to be the same for every family in one way or another. Have a blessed weekend.

Isle Dance said...

A softened heart is a beautiful thing. As is someone working to be responsible. Very good combo, people learn.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

I love this post and will come back and comment on it later. Makes me smile that you are having a romantic vacation with your man :)

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Hi Debby,

I know what you mean when you say you love your blog, I love mine for the same reason.

This post was so good, I sent it to my sister and said we should apply what Arrme said to you.

I think you are doing all the right things, buying his those clothes, making him pay you back, not asking too many questions, listening more. It all a good example of how to be a supportive parent to an addict.

Enjoy the rest of your vacation!!

Anonymous said...

Or family has been dealing with our son's addiction the past year. I decided to google "mothers of addicts" and came across your blog. You hit on everything I have been concerned about. Our son's lead parallel lives. I am looking foward to future blogs.
Thank you