Operating in Truth






It’s been quite a bit since I’ve posted.  Quite frankly I’ve been afraid to post my thoughts.  Just when I think things are going well and I post about some accomplishment or the victory of my son taking a few more baby steps forward… in a matter of days it would all come crashing down around me.  The victory would be short lived, what was accomplished needed to be accomplished yet again as it didn’t stick the first time.  Making me just not want to post…

2012 is past.  With it my son was able to put together some decent clean time.  But I sense a struggle coming.  We parents can usually feel it in our gut.  He is battling with some of the behaviors that addiction brings.  Clean time is great, and I rejoice over what time he has put together… but there is still a fierce battle that needs to be waged.  One that will take an inner strength and resolve both my son and I will need to muster.  Some of these behaviors are quite destructive, and they keep rearing their ugly head.

He has admitted that he needs someone to talk to, he knows he has a pit he has to climb out of and he can’t do it alone.  I know there is something’s I can do to help along the way, guidance I can offer, always being willing to point to the direction he needs to head.  But just like I can’t make him stop doing drugs… I also CAN NOT make him change his behaviors.  He needs to have the desire within himself to change.

My own Recovery from enabling is at risk… I need to operate in truth.  And the Truth is I have not stood as firmly as I should have the last few months in regards to his behavior.  I need to be open about this battle, for when I am open about it, I gain the strength I need to stand firm.

Chiseling out a line in concrete is hard work, and I can’t do it alone.  Just as my son cannot overcome his battle alone, neither can I.

As a family we vowed to do things different, it was a family meeting that will become the bedrock of 2013.  That bedrock is firmly based on… “If nothing Changes… Nothing Changes” the first of those changes is our pledge to Operate in Truth.  For truly TRUTH is the best of foundations to stand on.

“Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of peace.” ~ J. C. Ryle

Belts and Spoons…

I can clearly remember the day I found the syringes under my son’s mattress now some 29 months ago.  I remember falling to my knees and sobbing harder than I have sobbed in years.   The realization of his addiction to drugs and that it had manifested to the point of IV drug use seemed more then I could bare back then.  For days I walked around in a haze trying to process all that was in front of me.

For those of you new to this hellish place, hold on; the ride is ugly in the beginning, I will be the first to admit that.  It’s one of the worst rollercoasters one can take emotionally.  Eventually you find strength, you begin processing, you start researching, and looking for help to somehow end the nightmare.

I’ve grown a lot since that awful day; I’ve still cried now and again, have been angry and hurt. Yet there came a point along the way where I started to realize the best way to help my son was to work on me.  My friend over at Addiction Journal wrote an amazing post called The Mirror, I strongly suggest you take a moment and read it, there are some hard questions there that we will face in the battle our children fight when addicted.  Questions we will struggle with, yet I challenge you to settle them in your heart.  By doing so you will find that next level of strength.

This past weekend, as I cleaned out my down stairs bathroom linen closet and vanity I came across some bent spoons and belts.  Both tools in my son’s addiction.  I found three of each; all put there since that fateful day 29 months ago.  (I know that because I tore my house apart back then looking for whatever I could find and got rid of it).  Instead of falling on my knees and sobbing, I was able to work through it on a completely different level as I’m further along on my own journey.

I used it as a reminder that along the way I enabled and coddled and these belts and spoons were there because I hadn’t settled those hard questions in my mind.  It took time and it took my son overdosing in his room a year and half ago to get serious about doing all I could to end my enabling and to see it for what it was… I was enabling him to death.

Today he is clean, in a program and about to embark on the next leg of that journey.  My house is once again clean and free of drug paraphernalia and I am praying his life will follow suit.

Upping the Ante

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. 

No News is Good News

Or in other words… absence of information to the contrary justifies continued optimism.

However you decided to word it; I have yet to hear anything from my son who now resides in a 15 month voluntary Drug Rehab program.  He left Monday afternoon on a Greyhound Bus out of Boston headed for Vermont.  The first 30 days of the program require no communication with family and friends.  For the record he tried this program back in April of last year, not the one in Vermont but one here in MA, under the same umbrella organization.  On day 4 he called me and said he was leaving the program.

Today is day 5… I have yet to hear any news.

Just like before he seemed to be out of options.  He has cycled in and out of Detoxes, Rehabs, sober living, friend’s sofas, and home.  As of late nothing was sticking, he has yet to retain more than 5 months of sober time.  Just last week he learned that his insurance had been Red Flagged, there wasn’t a local Rehab that would be taking him anytime soon.  And staying at home indefinitely wasn’t an option.

We had a rather serious conversation last Thursday and I brought up the 15 month program, he didn’t shrug it completely off, I saw a ray of hope that he just might commit to it.  Armed with the testimony of someone who completed the program in Vermont, in the heart of snow-boarding country (yes I threw that in there) his interest took flight.  Calls were made; a placement was secured as was a bus ticket.

I made a call to the program on Tuesday morning to be sure he made it all the way there, I was assured he did and that they would take good care of him.  So as day 5 begins, (whew) I am thankful that today is a good day, and will continue to be thankful for everyday that…

No News is Good News.

If Only I’d Known…

I had the occasion to sit with a parent last night who made that above statement ~ “If only I’d known I’d be battling addiction with my child, I could have parented differently.”  That statement has stuck with me and I have turned it over and over in my head trying to find some validity to it as it applies to being the parent of an addict.

I know this woman well and she is a biological parent as well as parenting children by adopting them, Young Children that are adopted can come with a difficult history, as did the youngsters she has, and this has caused her to intentionally parent them in such a way as to help guide them past the set of baggage these sweet ones came with.  So on that level I can understand her statement of “If only I’d known”.

But that brings me to wrestling with it on another level.  Can I apply that logic to being the parent of an addict?   There are many out there that blame the parent for the child’s addictions and will offer such statements as

if you had just had dinner with them every night

if you had gotten them more involved in sports

if you had just told them to SAY NO to drugs

And there are many more.

It’s my hope that all parents, parent intentionally.  That we (all parents) do our best to raise up our children to be good adults, instilling values and morals along the way.  I know I’d be foolish if I thought that was 100% truth all the time.  There are parents who haven’t, and they are in the news time and time again.

It’s also my hope that out of all the insanity of this current addiction crisis that is sweeping our country, that parents will start to understand that we are NOT promised perfect kids.  That even the best intentioned parents can end up with a son or daughter who becomes addicted to drugs.   I think we as parents, should parent assuming the WORST can happen.  Being conscience of the times and demons that long to devour our children and act like parents.

So the day doesn’t come when we say… If Only I’d known …

For Heath ~ and Whitney

While the world mourns the death of Whitney Houston who apparently died a drug related death, a mother by the name of Linda mourns her son Heath who just like Whitney died in his hotel room all alone from drugs on Saturday.

How ironic that both the famous and the non-famous died the same way, the same day.  Whitney’s name is all over the headlines, in the news, memorialized at the Grammy’s.  But Heath’s name appears no-where.  There were no reporters with camera crews who gathered at his hotel room to get the news out that he had passed from this life after battling with addiction for over a decade.  No one interviewed his mother Linda and asked her about his last days or last words.

Heath, just like Whitney (Michael Jackson, and Amy Winehouse of late) each battled a demon that had ensnared their life.  One that is ravaging many in today’s culture.  So many of our children; sister’s, brother’s, husbands, and wives are caught up in addiction.  Just as the world watches and waits for the outcome of the famous; such as Whitney Houston, Lindsay Lohan and Demi Moore, we the parents of addicts wait.  Not with cameras and reporters amassed around our every move, but we wait none the less.

Heath, just two weeks ago, after being estranged from his family for nearly a decade trapped in a world of addiction, sought out his mother in desperation,finally reaching out to her for help.   I don’t know all the details of how the last two weeks of his life went.  I do know Linda reached out to a friend of mine for help, this friend who’s life had never been affected by the ravages of addiction in turn came to me to ask if he could give my name and number to Linda as she was in need of help and support.  I waited for the call, but it never came.  Sunday morning I received an email instead letting me know that Heath’s battle had ended.

For all the Heaths out there, whose names will not appear in the headlines, this blog post is for you.  You were loved dearly; our hopes have always been that you would beat this demon.  That you would somehow find the road marked Recovery and embrace it.  That your life would find New meaning, that living in the day no longer meant hunting out your next fix, but it would mean enjoying once again the life you have been given by an Almighty God who loves you.  That you could be embraced by your family as they encourage and support you on that road marked Recovery.

I pray that the world will sit up and take notice of the Headlines, not just for Whitney’s sake… but for the sake of all the Heaths out there, and for all the sons and daughters like my son, who is still fighting the battle,  that we will take serious what is happening out there and come together to fight and maybe one day find a way to put an end to the demon.