Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saying Goodbye to 2011 --- and what I learned, this year

To those of you who leave comments and write private emails to me-- thank you.  It seems that I only write an average of one post a month, but that doesn't mean I'm not reading comments.  I try to respond to you, if you have an email.  My son has been telling me that I should leave feedback, on the post.  I've thought about it, but I'm not sure if someone-- especially an "anonymous" checks back.

Do you?

My blog has taken on a whole new direction, and I feel as though it's a good fit for me.  The direction my blog appears to be headed is that I am speaking to the hearts of parents/loved ones who are very new to this world of addiction. 

Over the last few weeks, I've received private emails from parents just like me.  They have poured out their hearts, and shared stories that leave me feeling that I can relate to their sorrow and pain.  If they have an email, I write back.  Sometimes, they don't.

As for my son, he's still on suboxone, and I pretty much leave him alone to deal with it. He's got is own forums he goes to, and I don't read his posts. Overall, he says that he is feeling great.  But, there are some mornings, when I can tell that he isn't.  Sometimes he's lethargic. He admits that he gets cravings, every so often.  What I do see is that he has an appetite, and that's a good thing.  (We're trying to coordinate a time when he will sit down, so I can interview him.  During the holidays, he's working six days a week at the restaurant.  B wants to share his thoughts with my readers, so it will happen.)

I am very thankful that my son is no longer going to the methadone clinic.  This is $350.00 a month that his father doesn't have to pay-- since he can't afford it.  B is no longer a slave to having to wake up by a certain time, to get his daily dose.  My observation is that B looks better on suboxone than he did on methadone.  If B missed a dose of his methadone, I would see him fly into a full-blown panic.  He'd buy it on the street, or ... well, I really don't want to think of what he bought to get through.

2011 was a year where I learned to detach. That's why I don't blog as often as I once did.  For me, I found myself feeding off sharing my personal drama.  I admit, that I began to need the sympathy and support from my readers a little too much.  That's not to say that I didn't appreciate it. I just realized that I was rehearsing my anger, fear, pain, frustration and heartbreak.  I began to learn to give all of it to God, first.   As I began to detach from feeding into my son's drama, I began to allow more joy to come in to my heart.

Throughout my son's story of his addiction-- which isn't over-- I learned that life had to go on.  I could choose to drown in my own self-pity, or I could look ahead, and to trust that God would give me the strength and courage that I needed.

I had to disengage from letting my son's drama affect my own marriage  I had to learn to understand that my husband needed to be recognized for his value and contribution through all of this. 

Whenever I felt afraid or anger, towards B, I began to pray more fervently. 

I could feel the change within me.  I began to feel a sense of peace-- and I realized that I had finally crossed over into Acceptance.

I have finally accepted that my son is a drug addict. He always will be.    I have accepted that there is nothing I can do to control his addiction. I have accepted my son for who he is-- right now, at this moment, on this day. 

Most importantly, I know that I love him for who he is. Despite his struggles with honesty, I can see that he is really trying. I cannot truly know what it's like to be in his skin.  I can only feel empathy for that beast that is within him, that wants to take over his struggle for sobriety.

Life isn't easy.  Even for me, despite my feelings of being in a good place, I have my moments when life throws me a curve ball.  For addicts, it saddens me how they cannot find a way of coping with those curve balls, and that's when the need to use overtakes them.

Whenever I read an email, from a parent who is just beginning the journey of having an addict in the family-- I pray that you will find that ability to detach from the drama that addiction brings in to your life.  You do need a support system-- be in Nar-Anon, Al-Anon, Celebrate Recovery or the blogs on my side bar.  The support that you need is from parents who have gone through this.  Friends and family, who are not living this nightmare, cannot offer the kind of support that you need.  They cannot understand the three C's-- You didn't cause it. You can't control it. You cannot cure it.  They mean well, but they will most likely make you doubt your ability as a parent.  Unless you did drugs with your kids, you can't be blamed.

I pray that 2012 will be a fresh beginning for each of you.  I don't make New Year's Resolutions.  Instead, I look at the New Year as a time to start over-- to make new memories. 

Thank you for your support and friendship.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hope for the Holidays-- and Every Day, One Day At A Time

Our family celebrates the Christmas holiday on Christmas Eve.  It's only one week away, and I can't seem to get into the Spirit of the holiday.  Being a Christian, I'm celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ-- God's gift to the World.     It's also a time of the year for those who are of other faiths, be it Hannukah, Kwaanza. Then there is the Secular Christmas of  Christmas being a holiday of shopping, baking, parties and family gatherings, Santa and Frosty the Snowman.

No matter what this time of year is to you, it can be a very difficult time of year, too.  For me, it's the time of year when I miss my mother. My Mutti would make a big deal out of Christmas.  I still carry those traditions of German cooking and music, to this day. It is the time of year when I realize how much our family has whittled down to just my two brothers, one niece and my son.  I have a scattering of cousins, but we just don't seem to keep in touch anymore. Most of my older relatives are now gone, from this Earth.

So, yes, sometimes I feel a sense of melancholy at this time of year.  I also find that I don't like what Christmas has become.  Like I said, I'm a Christian, and I'm sad to see that the "Christ" in Christmas has become politically incorrect.  I cringe when I hear "Happy Holidays".  I still smile, when sometime says that.  But I always say, "Merry Christmas".

No, I don't mean to start a politics vs. religious rant.  It's not what my blog is about.  This blog is about my story.  It's about my nearly four-year experience as the mother of a drug addict.

I haven't read my blog, in it's entirety in a very long while.  It's a little strange, knowing that my son is reading it now.  B has been reading the comments that are left, and he's been urging me to respond to them.  So, now my son's my writing agent?  Yes, son. I will.

Sometimes it's hard to respond, because the comments are written anonymously.  Sometimes, people email me, and ask that I respect their privacy.  I always do that.

I digress.  My inspiration to write, today, is that this morning I just can't muster the child-like anticipation that I once had, as I counted the days until Christmas.  My son, being in the restaurant business, will not be with our small family gathering on Christmas Eve. He's also working, all day, on Christmas Eve.  Sigh.

However, I can count a very special blessing in all of this.  My son is home.  He's got a job, and it's one that he really likes.  Right now, my #1 thing I am grateful for-- my son is free from methadone. Amen.

Right now, there are parents who have no idea where their addict son or daughter is.  The family has been torn apart, by addiction.  Or, there are families whose addicts are living in their home, but it has become a place that isn't a sanctuary.  Parents have to lock up their valuables, lest their addict steals it. Christmas gifts can't be placed, under the tree, for fear those will be pawned somewhere.

So, when that melancholy hits me, I have to pause and thank God for where my son is today.  I can hand him my credit card, to run an errand for me.  I don't have to worry that he'll abuse that kind of trust. I don't have to hide my wallet.  My camera and laptops are safe.

Most importantly, I have my son back.  There was a time, when I used to toss and turn at night. Just writing these words, makes the tears well up again.  I can recall a time, while my son wasn't living with us, that I dreaded phone calls late at night.  I can recall the terror in my heart, picking up the phone, and praying it wouldn't be the County Jail or Coroner.

When B told me he read my blog, he said that he  had forgotten some of the things he put me through-- until he spent a few hours reading my posts. I don't want to forget those times. Neither does my son.  He said, to me, that reading my blog is a good reminder why he never wants to back to those dark times.

Today, what I want to say to anyone who is reading this post--  if your loved one is not with you at this time, please know that I am truly sorry.  I think the greatest pain that any parent can feel, is the loss of their child.  Death is the ultimate pain, because it's so final.  Yet, knowing that your addict child is out there-- somewhere-- and you cannot contact them, or they won't contact you...  it is a very deep pain.  I have been praying for you, especially this week.

Support is our best friend, at a time like this.  Support can be found at Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.  It can be found in your own home, via the internet.  B has recently discovered that.  When B read my blog, he started clicking on my blogroll-- which led him to "Suboxone Talk".  He's been participating in his own addict forums, and he's very excited about it  He's been posting and finding support from addicts who have years of experience with suboxone therapy.  I'm watching B, as he's making informed decisions on how to correctly take his medications.  I'm seeing a more positive son, who is gaining weight again and wanting to take better care of his health.  B is understand, more clearly, how my own blog has helped me get through some really dark times.

I cannot tell you how many times I've had non-believers attack my Christian faith.  Know what?  I don't take offense anymore.  My faith is deeply rooted, because I have taken time to build a relationship with Jesus Christ.  I love to read and hear messages about the Word of God.  I'm not disillusioned about my son's addiction, and I don't blame God for things that have gone wrong in my life.  If anything, I found strength and courage by prayer and faith.

My story is not over.  If anything, it's just taken a new chapter.  B wants me to keep on blogging.   He wants me to share my story, to help those of you who feel discouraged.

I will interview my son.  But, today, I have Christmas chores to do. I'm baking my gifts.  I just can't understand why Christmas has become a financial spending spree.  Instead, I'm giving money to help those in need.  I don't care about receiving gifts, either.  Just being with my family is truly what matters to me.

On Christmas Eve, I'm headed to church. I will sing Christian Christmas Carols and be thankful that I'm still alive and well.  I will think of my deceased mother and father.  Most importantly, I will give thanks to God that I am forgiven for my sinful ways.

May each of you find peace and joy in your hearts. May the Christmas Season be a time of hope for you.   With my son, I celebrate his sobriety, one day at a time.  May each day become one of encouragement for you. One Day At A Time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Well, the Cat's out of the Bag-- My son has read my blog

Dear Readers & Friends:

The moment has finally come.  In April 2008, I started this blog out of desperation and fear.  I had just dropped my son off at a Rehab Center, in Northern California.  I was spinning around, feeling a mixture of fear, confusion, anger, hurt -- and I could not believe that my son was a heroin addict.

I think the catalyst to start my blog, was when I read the book "My Beautiful Boy".  It's a poignant story, and yet it gave me hope.  My own thought was that I wanted to journal my thoughts, and one day-- when my son was ready (and I prayed when he was sober), that he would be able to read it.  I wanted my son to try and understand a mom's point of view.

Well, that day has finally come.   When B asked me if he could read my blog, over a week ago, I have to admit it made me a little nervous and a bit self-conscious.  In a way, it felt as though I would be letting him read my personal diary.  But, I did tell my son that I had a blog and that, when he was ready, he could read it.  Being the kind of person who tries to keep true to her word, I told him "yes".

I explained to my son that I hoped he would understand that some of my posts were very raw-- these were feelings that I wrote when I was feeling anger or fear.

I'm feeling tremendous relief, to be honest.  First, that my son hasn't been to the methadone clinic in five weeks. B has found, what he says, is a LOT of very useful information from Dr. Junig's blog, Suboxone Talk Zone.  B was reading his blog, and emailed Dr. Junig.  B was both relieved and surprised that Dr. Junig took the time to answer him.  B says that he has a much better understanding about suboxone. He also says that, until he read his blog, he realized he was taking suboxone incorrectly.  In fact, he's talking 75% less of a daily dose, and I can hear a different tone in my son's way of talking. I think that tone is "hope".

As his mom, I can only pray with both gratitude and supplication that the God I believe in will continue to pour his Grace upon B.   Considering the stories I've read on other blogs, I know that I am very fortunate that my son is where he is today-- he is working, he is a good roommate, and he is a good person.  Sure, he's done some things that weren't honest-- at the time he was using.  But, that's in the past.  I have forgiven him, and I believe that this has helped me to not become bitter and angry towards him.

B told me that he read my blog, last night-- for several hours. He was very nice about it, which is a relief.  In fact, my son said he went blog hopping from my blog roll.  He found Ron's blog "An Addict in Our Son's Bedroom", and liked it.  While I've never met Ron, I feel as though we are friends.  B also went to his son, Alex's, blog.  B's comment was that he could tell that Alex was in a really dark place.  He also said he completely understood where Alex was coming from.

B says he most enjoyed reading the comments.  He said that he really wanted to help that young girl who wrote to me and asked if she was an addict.  I get that, and I can only hope that she has gotten the help that she needs.

B also says that reading back to my accounting of events that happened-- from my point of view-- makes him realize that he doesn't want to go back to that lifestyle (when he was using).  

My son and I both know that his addiction will be with him for the rest of his life. He is very honest and tells me that there are days when he feels as though he wants to use-- but he doesn't.  Lately, he's been going to Dr. Junig's blog and is beginning to find that the internet is full of places where he can read and find support.

Yes, my son-- my fellow bloggers, and commentators, helped me through some really hard times.  Even Fractal Mom didn't mince words with me. While, at times, it stung-- I appreciate her candor.  I did have issues discerning the difference between enabling and helping and co-dependence. When I do go way back to ready my posts, I can see how my journey has become less arduous and that I've come a long way.  So has my son.  I do believe that he has an excellent chance of turning his life around.  I've seen him let go of the friends who needed to be out of his life.

My faith in God got me through the pain, and continues to be a very important to me.

I am always humbled and appreciative of the anonymous emails/comments I get, from people who tell me how much my blog has helped them.   You are welcome. It is why I continue to post, whenever I can.  I have no intention of abandoning this blog.

I hope that my son will take his own experience and use it to help those who are just starting, where he was five years ago.  I asked B if he would let me interview him.  Without hesitation, he said yes.

The next post, I hope, will be my son's own words to all of you.  As parents and loved ones of addicts, it is hard to understand the addict's side of the story.  Especially, if we aren't addicts ourselves-- which I am not.  I never grew up with alcoholic parents. Other than smoking weed, in high school, I wasn't into drugs.

If there is anything that you would like to ask my son-- please leave a comment.  My son is now reading my blog.  I'll get used to it.  I won't hold back, myself.  I will write from the heart, as I always have.