For quite some time I have been a firm proponent of drawing firm lines in the concrete with our addicts. That enabling is one of the most deadly of behaviors as parents we can hold onto. It takes time to move from doing all we can to try to fix our loved one to even understanding what enabling is. Never mind what real help might look like. This is truly a process and when we think we have that line firmly placed and the destination is secured we realize there is no real destination, just a long, sometime laborious journey.
Over the last 2 plus years of my journey with my addicted son I have vowed to him that he could always count on me for two things; a ride to a Detox/Rehab/Program, and a meal. Those two things were sure. And count on me he has. In the past year he has been in and out of nearly 50 (+/-) Detoxes/Rehabs/Programs. And there have been just as many times I have feed him or brought him a bag of groceries. My word is my word and he knows that.
Two weeks ago I posted that he had entered a 15 month program and that I was thrilled he had made it to day 5 . But what you don’t know is that on the afternoon of day 5, just 2 hours after that post he called to tell me he had left that 15 month program. When the call came; my heart sunk a bit, I was so very disappointed, as I had hoped that this would be the time. I had to choose my words carefully, I’m not an addict and I cannot for the life of me understand the mind of one. He told me he was coming home because…. And the reason (excuse) doesn’t really matter in my mind any excuse would be a good one to him and a crazy one to me. He told me he was on his way ‘home’.
My response was: I hope by home you don’t mean our house, because you’re not coming there. He seemed baffled that I told him this. He has been told countless times that he isn’t living in our home. I’m sure his thought process went a bit like this…
If I call and tell them I’m leaving the program, they will just try to talk me into staying. If I wait and call while part way back they’ll at least come to the bus station to get me, and will feel badly for me and maybe even let me stay at the house. (His excuse for leaving might make some mom’s heart strings tug, but my heart strings have been played out, no tug left).
5 days later the call came; will you take me to the hospital? Along with that came the request to shower and have a real meal. This would be where I would have to Up the Ante. They cycle of in and out of Programs was becoming a pretty “viscous” cycle that was going nowhere. It was reminding me of gerbil on a wheel, always spinning, stepping off occasionally for food, water and to relieve themselves. But always going right back to the spinning. I was starting to feel like a second gerbil on the wheel, that when my son stepped off, I would always be there to keep the wheel slowly moving so he could hop right back on.
This Momma gerbil will NOT get back on the wheel with or for him. I can no longer participate in the viscous cycle of in and out of programs. On the ride back to my home where he would indeed have a meal, a shower and a ride to the hospital he was told…
“I am upping the Ante; if you walk out of another program you cannot count on me for a ride, or a meal. You will be on your own to find them; it will be a three month wait for help from me”.
This is a drastic line I am drawing and a few well-seasoned parents of addicts have commented as so. But as drastic as it may sound it is my hope that before my son leaves the program he is in right now he will think long and hard about the consequences.