Saturday, May 29, 2010

Keeping it Real with my Son

 No, this is not my home! But, I wish it was!
Carmel, California

Memorial Weekend... I hope that everyone, including myself, will be flying the American flag on Monday.  My father, who has passed, served in WWII and in the Korean War for our country. He was a veteran, and not a casualty of war.  I am thinking of our fallen men and women in Afghanistan and Iran.  They deserve a moment of silence and appreciation.

After weeks of unusually cold weather and late rains, it's a beautiful day and I am off for the next three days.  I feel so blessed to have a community pool where I can swim early in the morning, and then relax in a jacuzzi.  Trust me, there is never a time that goes by that I don't stop and thank God for where I live.  Just twelve years ago, I was a divorced mom of a ten year old boy-- deep in debt, scraping by to make ends meet.  Today, I'm happily remarried to a wonderful man.  My son is almost 22 years old. He's also an addict. He will be, until the day he takes his last breath.

While I have been scarce on this blog, it's only because my son's dramas have (thankfully) come to a dull roar. Amen and thank you, God.  He is still living with us and has kept his job, at the golf course, for nine months. Considering that he was using for the first three months, that's a miracle. B is also working at the restaurant, and he likes it a lot.  Still, he doesn't make enough money to live on his own.  I've been on this blog long enough, that I'm going to reveal the general area of where I live.  I live on the Central Coast of California-- close to Big Sur, Carmel and Pebble Beach. Ever been there?  It's a very expensive to live.  My home is inland, where the real estate prices are substantially less from the million dollar-- and even multi-million dollars homes where I commute to work each workday.  To live here, one must make at least $20.00 an hour.  My son, who doesn't have a college education-- or even a trade-- makes half that.  He works six days a week...sometimes seven but still doesn't make more than $800.00 a month, after gas expenses.  I hope that he can live with us long enough to save some money.  He's been paying us "rent savings" but he's eeking by.

B's methadone is tapering down, and he's beginning to feel "off".  I'm not going to buy into the scare tactics. With all due respect to my regular blog visitor, Angelo, I'm not going to buy into the panic.  I've had people tell me that they've taken three times my son's dose and they don't understand why my son is only at 23mg per day.  I can't answer that, because I'm not a methadone expert.  I can only tell you that California has very strict guidelines...far stricter than most states.  I was told that because of my son's youth, that they don't want him to be on methadone for more than six months. 

So, while I'm feeling thankful that my son has alienated himself from the friends he once used with-- and that his work keeps him busy and distracted-- I am not feeling a sense that my son's chances of not relapsing are 100%.  I ever heard my son say that if he feels "sick" from not using methadone, that he's going back on it. He said, just today, that he doesn't want to use. 

What I see in my son is a lack of motivation.  I see him lacking any kind of organization skills. His procrastination in taking care of things is enough to frustrate me.  I don't say much. Sure, I mention things or I write things down on our family calendar. Still, he doesn't feel any sense of urgency to take care of things-- like taking care of his health or dental work he needs.  He doesn't manage his diabetes very well.  Sometimes I think he just doesn't value himself.  I take into consideration his immaturity and youth, sure. 

Just when I find myself wanting to have "the talk" with him (about my frustrations) he greets me with a warm smile and I find him to be that son that I so love and adore. 

I'm trying to keep it all real, with my son.  For the record, I do believe that addiction is a disease.  I don't think it's a choice. What I do believe is that there is a battle between Dark and Light. The darkness knows my son's weakness and wants to tempt him back into full-blow addiction. The Light-- which is God-- is my son's best and only defense against the spiritual attacks on him.  I think my son is walking in the middle-- like a tightrope.
I pray for him every single day.  I also think of my Blogger Friends, and I pray for so many of you who are going through even worse than I have. I do thank God for the reprieve we've been given. I can only pray that my son will embrace sobriety, so matter what temptations and spiritual attacks that come at him.

Thanks to Barbara, she led me to visit "Mother of a Beautiful Boy".   I understand her cry to find other Christian parents of addicts.  I've been unabashed in sharing my faith, eventhough there must be people who are non-believers who have stumbled onto my blog. No matter what, we all share the same grief. If you haven't already, please pay her a visit. She's beginning a journey that many of us know all too well...


Saturday, May 22, 2010

May Blessings and an update

My husband and I took a nice drive 120 miles south of where we live to see the purple lupines and other wildflowers in full bloom.  That was in early April, but I can remember the sense of peace I felt-- knowing that my son was at work and that he would be moving back to our house in just a few days.  B has been living with us for a little over a month now.  It's been an interesting May, to say the least.  After eleven years of renting my home from a distant cousin, then remarrying to C... we finally bought the house!  It's been a huge decision to make, given that the economy hasn't been officially pronounced to be recession free.  We took advantage of the big tax credits, and we also thanked the Lord that we didn't buy the house during that crazy real estate frenzy.  The sale price of the house was HALF of what it was at the time people were pushing us to buy it.   We feel very blessed, though cash poor for a while-- and we'll certainly have to live frugally, until next tax year.  Thank you God!

The day after we closed escrow, I lost my job.  (Do I hear an "awwwwwww").  It's interesting how I took it all in.  The story is that I got "bumped".  It's a union term where someone with seniority can take someone's job if they are laid off or get their hours cut.  This person got cut from 40 to 36 hours, and thought they are 66 years old, they decided my job would be "fun".  I was devastated, mainly because I've grown so attached to the high school kids.  That night, I prayed that God would help me see the blessing in all of this. I cried, but C said we would move forward with the house.  The next day, I decided to take that person's job. Ultimately, I'm cut down to 36 hours per week.  The bummer is that I have to work a split shift-- 9am - 1pm, then 5pm till 9pm.

It took a few days to move from resentment to acceptance and then I found peace with it all.  My co-workers tell me that the person will last a month, at best. I'm saying it will last a year, and then they will retire.  Hopefully, I can come back.  'Nuff about me.

My son...  the last time I wrote was on Mother's Day, just two days before my job change happened.  B said something that was one of the biggest compliments he could have given me.  He said that he was so proud of me on how I handled what happened.  He said that he could see how much faith I have in God, and that I handled it so well.  That means a lot to me.  I'm so glad that he sees that.

Because of some connections I have, my son will be starting a second job tomorrow. He will return to the restaurant industry as a "busser".  Given that's in a part of town that is very affluent, with a lot of tourists, he should make really good money.  He is still working at the golf course, and he hopes to keep both jobs.

Is he using?  No, I don't think so. He is in the fifth month of methadone, but his blind taper has begun.  The plan is that by the end of June, he will no longer be using methadone.  FYI to those of you who are familiar with methadone treatment (I don't know all the "lingo"), he has always been on a very low dose, to begin with. I was told about 25mg a day. That's low, right?

B will have maintenance care for a month, which involves seeing the doctor and some blood work.

For the first time in two years, I really do believe that B has a very good chance of staying sober.  He has cut off ties with the friends he uses with.  He is home every night. His cellphone rarely rings.  Most importantly, the drama has ceased!  He's eating again and this is the best part-- he has become a loving son, and we are getting along.

He's still disorganized and procrastinates.  He's forgetful.  He can't manage money well, and I'm trying to teach him skills.  He's paying us rent, of which 75% goes into a rent savings for when he moves.  He still smokes, though he's cut back.

Oh, and I finally helped him get rid of that stupid car that kept breaking down.  I found a great deal on a almost brand new Hybrid vehicle, since I will have a longer commute. I traded in my son's car and gave him my old one.  Everybody won!

B and I both know that when the MMR treatment ends-- at the end of June-- that my son is now treading in dangerous waters.  Somehow, I have a feeling that he's a little wiser about staying away from those who will want to lead him down the path of temptation. I also believe that B doesn't want to pay the price of getting high.  He's so afraid of withdrawals that I think he's wants to steer clear of opiates.

Hopefully, B will quit the golf course and do well at the restaurant, which is 20 miles from where we live.  Then, he can rent a room in that area and really break free of this city where he knows too many people. Besides, I have no respect for his current boss. He's broken so many labor laws, not to mention that he's just highly unethical.
Please know, that I remember all of you so well in my thoughts and prayers.  I received a lovely email from A Mom's Serious Blunder thanking me "for my introduction to these kind people that offer support here in blog land. I will never forget that."  What a very kind thing to say!  I feel that way about many of you, who were always there to encourage me when I was feeling so afraid or angry about my son's relapsed.

I am thankful for all the support that I received on this blog and the friendships I've made.  I hope you know that my long stretches of not blogging is a good thing.  It means that the storms of life have receded for now. Another one will come, and I pray that I will make it through because of my deep faith in God.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thinking of all Mom's on Mother's Day

Hello to my friends, followers, family and Anonymous Readers--

My posts are becoming fewer and far between, only because so much has been going on-- unrelated to my son.  But today, I was not going to skip the making of time to acknowledge the women who are Mother's of Drug Addicts. I was laying in bed, in the early hours of the morning, feeling so thankful that my son is sleeping in his bed in our own home.  The church that I attend has a 25 minute television show that comes on 1/2 hour before we leave to attend it.  I had the show turned on, while I was getting dressed and ready for church. Our Pastor (who wears Dockers and Hawaiian shirts) was sharing the message of Jesus and his Mother Mary.  I began to think about how painful that must have been for Mary to see her own son, being crucified on the cross.  Then all kinds of thoughts began on my own journey as the Mother of a Drug Addict:

Two years ago, at this time, my son was living in a Sober Living Environment in Oakland, California. He was about 125 miles away from home.  B had been out of his first detox/rehab for a little over a week. Today, my son is reaching five months of not using illegal street drugs.  I hesitate to say that he is "clean and sober".  That my son no longer wants to use drugs, because of the Methadone Clinic he goes to is highly controversial. As far as I am concerned, my son isn't using.  I digress--

The foremost thought that was on my mind, before leaving to church, was to tell any mom of a drug addict--- "Do not blame yourself"!  The only exception to that rule, is if a mom is also a drug addict and is using with or in the presence of their own children-- otherwise, it is not your fault.

In the theme of Mother's Day, I want to lift up in prayer:
  • I pray for mothers whose drug addicts are nowhere to be found. May God give your heart strength and may He fill your pain with his loving presence and that you will hear from your child-- and that he/she is safe.
  • I pray for mothers whose child is incarcerated.  I know someone like that, and it breaks my heart just knowing the pain that has caused. 
  • I pray for moms whose child is in jail, and you are rejoicing because of it. I understand it. I pray that your child will find the desire and means to change their ways, because of it.
  • I pray for single moms, who are struggling to make ends meet. May God fill your hearts with encouragement, financial blessings and windfalls, courage and strength. I have walked that path, and it is a very difficult one.
  • I pray for step moms, who have/are raising drug addicts.  I believe that a child doesn't have to come from your own womb. to be worthy of a mother's love. I pray that you will be a positive influence on the children who come into your life, through marriage.
  • I pray for mothers, whose hearts are broken. God sees your pain, and he grieves with you.  I pray that you will find comfort, strength, and friendships and support groups that will help you to find the strength and hope to deal with the sad and tragic stories of addicts who are out of control.
  • I pray for moms whose drug addicts have found sobriety. I pray that you will turn your own story into one that will encourage moms who are just beginning this journey.
  • I pray for moms, who have lost their own children, because they are drug addicts themselves. I pray that your life is changing into a life of sobriety, and that you will find reconciliation with your children.
  • I pray for children, who have been alienated by their own mother because of their choices. If you are one of them, and are reading this-- I pray that God will fill your heart with the strength and courage to call her...right now, today...and to say "I'm sorry" and to ask for her forgiveness. 

I thank God, for giving me the gift of Motherhood. No matter what choices my son has made... no matter what lies he has told me... no matter how many tears I've cried and no matter how much anger and frustration he has put me through-- he is my precious son.  I have never regretted that B was my chosen gift from God.  I would give my life for him, I know it. All the sacrifices I've made for him came naturally-- out of a deep love for him.

With the help of God, I have learned to accept my son, just as he is. I am the Mother of a Drug Addict, yes. But he is still that 9 pound, 12 ounce boy who came into the world 21 1/2 years ago.  He might be 6'3 tall, but he will always be MY child.  I am not ashamed of him.  I am very open to people if the situation comes up about my son's drug addiction.  I want God to turn my pain into my testimony.

There is a front page story, in today's local newspaper, about a father of two children.  This  man became addicted to Oxycontin when he suffered from a degenerative disease of his hips. He's had two surgery, and was said to be in excruciating pain.  This men robbed several local pharmacies for Oxycontin. He was finally caught and was sentenced to four years in prison. He had no prior criminal history. He was so desperate for the drug, The article quoted, ""Sixty milligrams, every eight hours, month after month, year after year," is what he took. 

I thought of my own son-- it is truly a miracle of God's grace on my own son, that my son is not in a jail cell or prison.  I believe that with all of my heart--  for whatever reason, God protected my son from all the dangers of the people who hung out with, places he went to score drugs, and from a period selling drugs to feed his addiction. 

My story about my son's drug addiction hasn't ended.  For now, I can rejoice that he has lived with us for four weeks. He has paid his rent. He has few friends, as has severed most of his ties with those he used with.  He goes to work, six days a week. But, he is the boy that I once knew. I see his loneliness, and I pray that my son will meet someone that God will send into his life. For now, my son says I am his best friend. That's a touching thought, but I am his Mother first and foremost.

I  remain, guardedly optimistic.  B is supposed to wean off the methadone in one more month.    

While my son has failed (again) to buy a Mother's Day Card for me-- I have let go of my pity party over that. What I realized today, in church, is this:

I am absolutely positive that my son loves me. I have no doubt that he sees all that I've done to help him, and he is grateful-- though me might take some things for granted.

I am also thinking of my own mother, who has been gone for 8 years. While our relationship was never the loving friendship that I hope I have with my own son-- she taught me important life skills. I thank her for teaching me all the business skills I have. I thank her for teaching me how to cook, bake and take care of my house. I thank her for raising me with good morals (thought I took a 20 year detour from them) and to be an independent woman.  She was a good mom, thought not perfect, and I'm glad I finally told her that I loved her-- and that I apologized for my disrespectful attitude as a teenager.  I have peace in that.

Through all the pain and anger B's  drug use has brought into our lives, I believe that he regrets it. He tells me all the time.  My prayer for B is that he will find ways to deal with the storms of life. I pray that he will become a man of integrity and honor.  Whether he embraces the love of Jesus in his life is his choice. Ultimately, I pray that my son will come to know the love of God that our Heavenly Father has for him.  God has been so good to us.

I pray that for those who don't know it, yet.

With all of my heart-- Happy Mother's Day.  I pray for miracles in your life. 


Deuteronomy 6

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.