Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Reflections

Hello Old Friend (I am speaking of this Blog)--

I'm going to be very frank.  In some ways, I've forgotten about this blog.  This blog has reminds me of a childhood friendship.  That young girl, who lived a couple of blocks away.  We were inseparable.  We told each other secrets. We did everything together. We got in trouble together.  We thought we'd always be there for one another.  Then, time changed everything. We grew up. One of us moved away.  I will always remember her, and often reflect on how much we depended on one another.  But, the memory of what she looked like, then, has faded.  I have no idea what she looks like now.

I bumped into an old friend, last week.  We hadn't spoken to one another in several years.  When she asked me "how's B"?   Well, I hesitated.  What do I say?

I started off with telling her that B is doing great.  That's truthful.  He's still working (as a busser) at the same restaurant, for the last 14 months.

Then, on impulse, I told her "B has been through a lot. He got addicted to oxycontin.

There it was.  Her face sank.  Then it came-- that "I'm so sorry".

She has a son who is 18.  She began to share with me that she suspects her son smokes weed.  I, unabashedly, told her that if you suspect so-- it's probably true.

My friend listened, as I carefully gave her my Reader's Digest Condensed version about B's struggle for sobriety.  Somehow, I couldn't add the chapter in my son's life about his progression from oxycontin to smoking heroin.  The word "heroin" sends shivers down anyone's spine.  It's such an evil word. Almost as bad as murder, incest, rape.  Other than methamphetamine, I can't think of a worse drug. It's like the end-of-the-road tale.  It's such a hopeless drug, when you talk about it.

Then, I told my friend about my blog. I didn't give her the name of it.  My son used to babysit her two boys, so I didn't want her to read the horror of what my son's addiction put him-- and the rest of his family-- through.  But, as I spoke to her about my blog, I could feel tears coming. I could hear my voice begin to quaver.

Damn.  The pain is still lurking.  I suppose I will always have a fear of my son returning back to three-plus years ago. I realized that it's time for me to revisit my blog and write an update:

B is still living at home with us.  He is twenty-two years old, now.  In November, he will turn 23.  I thank God, every single day, that in the early hours of the morning (as I'd heading out to work), I can see his sleeping body in his room.  B works hard, as a busser.  He's eeking by, because the restaurant business hasn't fully recovered from economic hard times. Tourism is down.  Sometimes, he works double shifts.  He works five to six days a week.  His commute is 50 miles round trip, which is hard to afford while driving a V-8 engine that has 240,000 miles on it.  He gives us money for rent, his car insurance and a loan to buy new tires.  Living here (California) is very expensive.  B makes barely enough money to make ends meet.  I find it miraculous that my son has kept this job for 14 months-- and he loves it, and management likes him.  For a drug addict, that is huge!

He's a very quiet roommate.  He gets up every morning to get his dose of methadone.  His dose has been tapering down for the last few months.  He desperately wants to get off methadone. The cost is $350.00 per month.  We aren't paying for it. As it is, we paid for my son's medical insurance (thank you, President Obama), his diabetes meds and a dental bill for an emergency root canal. Between his dad, and himself, the cost is handled.  I call methadone his "liquid leash", as he cannot move closer to his job.  There are only two methadone clinics on the entire Peninsula of where we live.  For now, B has to stay living with us.   There are days when B feels the withdrawals, though. He says he gets really cold. His nose runs. He feels sick.  Synthetic heroin, I tell you.  It breaks my heart.  On the weekends, he gets to "take home" his methadone. He has earned that by having clean UA's.  Thank God!

My husband has been a Saint about this whole thing.  He hasn't complained. Fortunately B isn't a problem or burden.  He eats most of his meals at work. When he's home, he's got an X-Box headset on and is playing games online. B says that keeps his mind busy, so he doesn't think about using.  He says that he actually doesn't want to use, anymore. 

All of B's friends, that once used with, are out of his life. Some are in rehab. Some are in jail. Some have written B out of their lives.  I pray for them, too.  One particular "friend" caused so much trouble in my son's life. He's the former roommate who screwed my son out of rent, was involved with setting up a robbery at B's friend's home... someone who had a home invasion setup at their apartment... he got his girlfriend pregnant and has been in and out of rehab.  "M"'s life is a mess.  My son finally cut off ties with him. Amen. I feel for "M"s dysfunctional life, that unborn baby and for his parents.

The rent that my son pays-- 3/4's of it is in an interest bearing account. When B moves out, HALF of his rent will be paid from it.  I don't want B to think that he'll have several months of rent prepaid.  My logic is that he still needs to come up with half of his rent-- he needs "ownership" of what it costs to live. Once that savings is gone, then he's completely on his own.  He's fine with that. My husband is fine with that.

So, there's an update.

I don't want to abandon this blog.  It is my deepest hope that I won't need to start blogging again, because my son has relapsed.  Instead, I hope to be that blog that parents/wives/loved ones will stumble across-- and find hope.

I don't know why my son has been spared from jail.  I count my blessings that I don't have horror stories to share-- like some of the blogs that I subscribe to. I read their posts, and it breaks my heart. One blog, in particular, is a mom who is married to an alcoholic and her son is constantly relapsing. I read her posts, venting anger and outrage when her son is arrested...again...or steals from her...again.  So much drama... so much much pain.  I can't leave her a comment. I want to, but I don't.  Why? Because I feel as though she's being driven by the drama.  I feel as though her posts are a cry out for people to jump to her aid-- to offer her sympathy and comfort.   I couldn't leave a comment, because I noticed that if someone called her on her drama...or enabling, she'd go ballistic!  Don't get me wrong.  I'm a very compassionate woman. I used to do the same thing.  I knew that if I wrote a blog post, that sounded desperate and heart-broken, that I would get a lot of comments.  It helped me to get through the pain and agony.  For me, it finally dawned on me that I was relying on the drama of my son's situation, to get readership.   I realized I had begun to become "oh, woe is me".  But, my prayers for her is that she would see she is simply complaining about the same thing over and over again.   She is in serious denial, and she's enabling her son and her husband's alcoholism.  So very sad...

I think the hardest thing about being the parent of a child who is a drug addict, is that we are being asked (by the rehab experts) to do the hardest thing we've ever been asked to do.  It is a mother's instinct to protect our children. We women are wired to be the emotional comfort for our children. We want to shield them from pain.  When our child becomes addicted to drugs/alcohol, we are told we must not enable it. We must recognize the signs of codependency. We are told we must say "no".

This is the most difficult thing I've ever been asked to do.  Tough Love rips a mother's heart out.  I've enabled my son. I've been codependent in many ways.  I've come a long, long way.  But, the experts are right.

What has been a very good thing, about my son's struggle to find sobriety has been our own relationship.  My son's addiction has taught me to understand an addict's world.  It has given me a heart for "At Risk" teenagers and young adults.  My son and I have restored our relationship, and I feel it is a very strong bond.

Of course, I wish B would be more motivated, and would start taking some college classes. I'd love to see him purse a trade or career, that is better than bussing tables.  I've encouraged him to learn about wine, so he can work his way up to being a waiter (my son doesn't have an alcohol addiction...he rarely drinks).  For now, he simply eeks by on his meager earnings and plays video games.  Does that disappoint me? Sure, it does. At times.

When I start to feel that way, though, I remind myself-- my son is struggling to be free of his addiction to heroin.  His is fighting a battle, where the odds are not in his favor.   His true sobriety has been less than a year-- as he has admitted to "chipping" even though he was on methadone.   So, while some parents can boast that their child has graduated from college, or has high paying job at some corporation... well, I can rejoice in the fact that my son has a job, and isn't buying heroin.

It's not quite what a parent wants to rejoice in, but you know what?  I do.  I love my son with all of my heart.  He is a young man, who has so much ahead of him.  I can only pray that he will slowly, but surely, be free of methadone and that no matter what he does in his future-- he will never go back to that dark life that he once lived in.

As for me-- I continue to live each day as a believer in Jesus Christ.  I thank God for his grace and mercy on my son, and on me.  For now, the storms of life have subsided.  I feel a sense of calm, and trust the Lord that He has a plan for my son.