Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Mother's Compassion

I'm home, nursing a winter cold.  In a rare moment, I have the quiet of the house to sit down and write...and pray...and to ground myself.  I ended my last post so abruptly, because my son walked into the room.  In the last few months, I have learned to turn off my laptop when my husband or son is in the mood to have "dialogue" with me. It's so easy to become immersed into being on the web, where I visit my cooking sites and chat on Facebook with friends.   I had every intention of picking up where I signed off, but I didn't.  So, here I am.

I do continue to read some of the addiction blogs that I subscribe to.  I don't mean to ignore the plight of the person's writings by not leaving a comment. It's just that I used to do that a lot.  What did I do a lot, you are wondering?  I used to log on and write every single thing that happened. I'd vent. I'd cry. I'd express my fears.  At the time, the many comments of encouragement (and some were critical) helped me.  I was a mom whose heart was so broken by my son's addiction.  I was giving so much of my time and energy into my son's addiction, that I wasn't paying attention to much of anything else.

Today, I continue to say that I am the mother of a drug addict.  I have to get used to it, and I need to accept that.  I've been able to move past the fear of judgment from parents who have "good kids".   I know that I was-- and still am-- a good mother.  Today, I focus on today. I'm living in the moment.  That sounds carefree and footloose, but it's healthier for me.  The turning point for me was when I realized that I had a model in my head of how I wanted my son to find sobriety.  I wanted my son to get clean. Then, I wanted him to go to college and get a good job.  As a bonus, I've been praying that a good woman would come into his life.  Sounds good, right?

Then it hit me-- these are my expectations.  B and I have had many frank talks about his drug addiction.  He's helped me to understand that, for now, he can only focus on not wanting to use.  B can't go to college, because he's not ready to focus on studying.  It would be a waste of money.  Again, my problem solving says that he needs to leave the area. He needs to get away from those who he used with, in the past. He needs to find a sponsor.  But, unless my son has that own vision for himself, I am only setting myself up for frustration that he isn't meeting my expectations.

Does that make sense?

My son turned 22 in November. He has lived with us since March. He has paid us rent, and he has a small nest egg that I've set aside for the day he moves out.  Still, he doesn't earn enough money to make it on his own. Being in the restaurant business (as a busser) is a minimum wage job.   His last two months earnings have been eager, as this is the time of year when business is really slow.  We've adjusted his rent during lean times, but that's about to end. He's been applying for jobs, though I don't think as hard as he could. Whoops, see? There I go, with my own expectations!

He is still chained to his methadone clinic.  I have come to the conclusion that my son is only buying a temporary fix from using heroin, with his use of methadone.  I'm also not impressed with the methadone clinic, as I once was.   All that counseling I was told was available....yeah, right.  The counselors come and go.  I've stopped paying for his methadone many months ago. For a while, we paid a portion of it.  Two months ago, we cut that help off. B says he'll be off by March.  I can only hope so.  In the meantime, he must drive to the clinic every single morning for his dose. If he misses one, he goes into withdrawals.

It's a sad life. 

Sadder still, what I see in my son is a lack of self-esteem.  I see him not taking care of his health, eating properly and he has no perseverance.  I've had to let go of that.  As a roommate, there aren't any problems.  He keeps the house tidy, nothing has gone missing and he is respectful to us.  I am watching my son as he begins to ask my husband questions. I am seeing in my son that he recognizes that my husband is a good person. 

What makes me very sad is that my son doesn't have any friends-- that is, friend who don't want to use with him.  Every so often, he mentions seeing someone from his past.... and that makes me uncomfortable. B knows they are not welcome in our home.  That's when I kick up my prayers that God would sever those relationships.   His friends have been in and out of rehab. 

My prayer continues that someone will come into his life who is clean and sober. Someone who can be a good role model and mentor to him.  

In the meantime, the time is drawing near when my son has to leave our nest.  When he does, I will miss his presence in our home.  I enjoy the talks that we have, though we work different schedules.  When he moves out, I think I've detached myself enough that I won't fret and worry at night.  That's the peace I've found, and I give the glory to my faith in God.  I hang on to God's promise that he will always be there for us.   When I find myself worrying, I find a quiet place to pray and to thank God for his grace and mercy on my son.

God has looked after my son, and it's a miracle that my son has been spared a criminal record or worse. 

My son's story isn't over, of course.   I have learned to have compassion for my son, yet I have become less prone to trying to fix everything for him.  How I long for my son to find peace in his life.  He must feel lonely and overwhelmed in life.  If only he'd find his way back in his own walk with God.


Annette said...

Growing up and finding sobriety all at the same time is a long process. It sounds like he is taking steps in the right direction, which is wonderful. Sounds like you are doing your fair share of detaching with love too. Progress not perfection is the goal for all of us. Thanks for sharing....

BMelonsLemonade said...

This is a powerful post. When you talk about being a good mother, your words reiterated one of my posts tonight. I posted an article from my local paper about a police chief here who lost his daughter to an overdose in a very suspicious situation. He quoted some hate mail, calling him a bad parent. My post was a response to that, reiterating exactly what you said...that he was a good father, addiction does not take note of that.

I was on methadone when I first started trying to get clean. I have been completely clean for almost five years now. But, eight or ten years ago, I could not have done it without methadone. Then, it seemed like the only viable option. But, I must say that my real recovery did not begin until I was off all opiates. The thing is, I had to break that cycle...that daily cycle of waking up in need. When I finally broke that, I began to be free. Methadone, however, was the bridge that eventually got me here. The walk was long and arduous.

I also want to comment on your son not having any friends...I remember that feeling. And at first, that was hard. Over time, I came back to myself, finding so many things I lost in the fire. And now, I find solace in being alone. I am a single mother, who lives alone with my son. When he goes to sleep, I relish in the solitude. I never realized I was such a loner because in my addiction, I was always surrounded by people and friends...I was the life of the party. I am surprised how much this has changed...and now, I love it.

Finally, school is better left alone for a while, I believe. I am back in school now, finishing my degree after a long hiatus. (I went back this summer.) I graduate in May, and all these opportunites have presented themselves to me in school.I wrote a book, and many people have been impressed with it. I have made connections with several screenwriters, and several journalists. I have an interview with a magazine editor tomorrow. I am pretty sure I will be able to get a job when I graduate...and I may even publish a book! I would not have been able to take full advantage of these opportunies if I had been on methadone. I just would not have been in the right place to do it correctly, or whole heartedly. I think waiting for school is a good idea.

Recovery is not an easy journey. And it is not a short trip. But through all its ups and downs and ins and outs, it really is worth it in the long run. Five years later, I am just starting to realize this. I hope your son will agree with me one day.

BMelonsLemonade said...

P.S., Also, I am almost 36 years old...

Anonymous said...

Wow. I felt like I was reading about my life except my son has no job right now and is trying to kick his addiction to morphine on his own. Again. And he's drinking and doing other things to try to do it and I'm so afraid it won't work again this time. I too have learned to detach because if I hadn't I would have lost my mind long ago. He'll be 21 next month and this has been in the works since he was 15. It is very heartbreaking when I see him not taking care of his health, his hygiene, it breaks my heart. My heart goes out to you and all the families going through what we are going through. God help us.

Erin said...

It is a long process, and reading BMelonsLemonade has really given me a better understanding of that. Debbie, my son has been on suboxone since the end of May 2010. It has really helped him. He started at three 8 mg pills a day and he has now tapered down to 1/2 a pill twice a day. He has been working full time and is doing well. I also want him to finish college and get his degree, he was an honor student in high school. He needs to finish one more semester to get his two year in computer science and then switch to another college for his bachelors. At this point, I am just waiting till he is ready, he does talk about it but I know when he is ready he will take the steps he needs to. It really sounds like your son is moving in the right direction as well. I just take it one day at a time now and thank God for every day he is clean. My son also battles with low self esteem. I also pray daily that someone will come into my son's life and be a good mentor for him and also pray that he would find God once again. I hear your heart Debbie, it isn't an easy road but I too have learned to detach and I found that once I really did he started to take care of himself.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across this blog randomly, although I am sober now 23months on the 9th.
I will say a prayer for you as his mother. Reading your words helped me to see my alcoholism thru my mom's eyes. Which is going to lead to call later. Much peace and love "mom". I hope he never stops being a 'seeker' of answers to his disease. Encourage his actions, that is what I had to have to get free.

Kay said...

Thanks so much for this post! My two sons are addicts - they turn 19 and 21 next month. It's been almost 2 year since they started using Oxy and heroin. Right now, they are both in recover (as far as I can tell). We're more sure about the older one - he had five months in jail to get fully clean and then rehab - he's doing great. The younger, his dad thinks he's using, I think he's not ... we're just not sure. Neither are back in school. We realize this is a very long road.

I appreciate what you said about being a good parent. I have such a tough time now hearing people in conversations saying things like, "So-and-so's son is such a great young man - never getting in trouble, etc. etc. They have done such a good job with him!" Well, I have done a great job with my boys, but sometimes it doesn't feel that way. The interchange among the blogs has been a gift for me.

God bless you. And thanks for being here!

RR said...

I really like your blog. I'm a 24 year old recovering addict and I can only imagine the pain you've been through. It's interesting to read your blog because often times I don't even think about what my own mother has gone through. She suggested I write a blog because I'm not working right now so I've been writing everyday. I hope everything works out for you and your family. Just don't give up.

DM said...

As another reader said, growing up and finding sobriety it the same time is a long process, not to mention tedious.

I see you are eager for your son to 'get off' methadone as soon as possible... My insight regarding that, If your son is anything like the many other opioid addicts in the world, that will not change - on a long enough timeline, the success rate of abstience from opioids drops to a VERY slim number. I don't believe anyone fully recovers - meaning, "Once an addict, always an addict". I hate to use cliche but it's true esecially with opioids. The question I think you should ask yourself is "How 'clean' is 'clean enough'". Remember; this is a life threatening condition. With opiate addiction, the first priority should be trying to keep the addict alive through their twenties, because many won't/don't make it.
As much as methadone may just be a 'band-aid', perhaps the help of that band-aid can mean the difference between staying clean and livng to see thirty. Some things just don't have a simple 'fix', and some decisions affect the rest of our lives in major ways. Methadone and Buprenorphine (Suboxone) is often the only thing keeping many 'bad cses' from self destruction and death. And I think the idea of an addict simply 'getting off everything' is an idealistic fantasy in many cases - this fantastic 'goal' has led to relapse and destruction/death/prison.

Methadone may be a tmp. fix, but so is insulin for diabetics; they're just going to need more insulin..

Good Luck, Thoughts/Prayers.
DM (

Gledwood said...

I think most drug addicts lose respect for themselves perhaps in slightly different ways and to different degrees.

Those who appear to have a swaggering don't care attitude, who are violent and probably snatch women's bags and mug people even these are disrespecting themselves because they are ending up in jail and nobody with true self respect is going to want to be locked up with a bunch of scumbags.

The other stuff is as you said: a lack of self care etc etc. Some of this comes down to giving the heroin or whatever priority but the no self esteem starts to eat into you...

I had pretty severe depression while I was using. It's only that I had to have a psych evaluation a few weeks ago that I realized what had happened, I'd gone right down into depression that was pretty grave.

Then I lost just about every shred of self-esteem I had left. The heroin medicated the depression better than a lot of psychiatric drugs might. I'm not for one second suggesting anybody use heroin as a medication what I am saying is that it caused such confusion with diagnosis I didn't get help when I desperately needed it and I was truly desperate and suicidal every day for months on end.

Now I'm off that shit and having mood swings that are more intense than ever before so I'm on antipsychotics or at least was until I got side effects worse than psychosis. So now I'm feeling high as a kite, not on any drugs bar methadone, which only ever fixed my body, not my moods... and having help forced on me. Which kind of makes a change, but I admit I'm a complete mess now and no illicit drug I ever took ever helped me.

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! What a story, I can relate so much of my story to yours, I have searching for web sites to help me and my family to deal with my son's addiction and by far this web site has all the rest beat hands down. Like you I had know idea my son had such an awful addiction and for so long, but his addiction wasn't just to oxycontin even though he says that was his drug of choice, Our story began this summer, my son somehow just came to us, my husband and I and broke down and told us he had a serious problem, at that time he had been using speed for months he said, he was doing it to get ahead, and the have energy to work 2 or 3 jobs at a time. He asked for our help, it took everything I had not to break down but for his sake I didn't, my husband and I started calling some resources and doing some research to get him the help he needed and some of the information we got from one of the treatment centres we have in our province told us if we couldn't get him there for help to detox him at home and they told us what to do,they told us we could not force him into treatment or a detox centre because it wouldn't work if we did that, and because he was 22 at the time, it had to be his decision to get help, the treatment centre is an hour and a half away from where we live, he did not want to go so we did detox him at home it must have been the longest and hardest week of my life. My son assured my husband and I he could kick his drug habit, with no problems, how stupid were we to even begin to believe that?? Well We have been slowly finding out not to believe an addict. January 2nd my son signed himself into the detox centre in our city, my husband and I were puzzled as to why??? we asked him and he told us he was just afraid he was going to relapse again, so without thinking twice about it we were just proud that he knew he needed help and was reaching out for it. My husband drove our son there asked him if he wanted him to come in for some moral support and our son refused and said I got it Dad. My son came home a week later and after a few days our whole world fell from under us!! He told us everything, he told us how, what, where and when. Our son also told us that all the years that we and all the doctors thought he had some form of mental illness, that it was all drug related. Our son told us every drug he had ever done, then I asked him what haven't you done and he told us injecting heroine,and he hadn't done crack, he also told us that his drug of choice was oxy's. Well, as much as I was grateful that he had told us everything, at the same time I was more scared than ever before, and still am.I aked him if he had been doing all these drugs for so long why didn't he come to us sooner cause we have always had an open communication relationship with both of our children, but he told us that he thought he had it under control and that he was ashamed of himself. Now since he has been home from the detox centre he tried to do it on his own, which we knew wouldn't work, he told us his urges to use again were getting stronger day by day so we knew we needed to get him some help, some serious help this time and he wanted the help as of last week he has been on the methadone program. This is not the route we wanted to take including my son, but we spoke to many doctors and have done alot of research on all our options, and by far for now at least methadone is our best option. I don't like my son having to take this drug, but overall so far with a few exceptions it seems to be helping in more ways than one. I'm so glad that I read your story it has helped me, more than you will ever know!!! I hope I have helped you even a little?? I have so much more to say but I will leave it for another day, Thanks again....

Naomi C. said...

i have just found your blog and have read it back a few months so far. i am 23, and have just been off street heroin since november. now i am sober i realise how much i hurt my family and especially my mum. times the guilt gets so much and i hate myself and an addicts typical response is to want to go back to the thing that caused the problems in the first place. however, reading first hand parents blogs like yours makes me realise my mum doesnt want to or make me want to dwell on the past and things ive done... she wants me clean and to recover.

i hope your son can beat this

Anonymous said...

Hi. You seem very compassionate, understanding, and intelligent... I wonder if you might have some advice you could bestow on my spouse and I. I am 26, and my spouse is 24. He was addicted to oxycontin and used for a year and a half. He has been clean as far as I know for 3 months. He became violent during the times that he was using, and for a period of time during wihdrawals. For the last few months, things have been improving. Until recently. He tried going back to work for the first time two weeks ago. On his first day back he became violent. He stayed home the remainder of the week. this week he tried again. On his second day this week, he started to exhibit irrational behaviours, and today he slapped me in the face. He had 5 drinks 5 days ago, and 5 drinks the week before that.

I wonder so many things... like could he be back on the oxys, could it be a PAWS, could it be related to the liquor (he was never violent before he used oxys for the first time), or is it just too soon to go back to work.

I know you don't have all the answers, but any thoughts you can share with me are appreciated. I respect you based on your writings, and thus I think your advice would be very valuable to us as a young couple struggling with such an addiction.