Enough is enough

I’ve been away for a week on a work related trip.  My husband and daughter joined me which was great – a chance for the three of us to get away from the chaos of our life at home.  I tried really hard all week to focus on my daughter, my work and my relationship with my husband.  Prior to our leaving he and I got into it over our son’s behavior.  It wasn’t easy for me to be with him and I found I was unforgiving, bitchy and noncommittal  when it came to being with him.

I was so angry with him for allowing our son back into our home without firm rules and guidelines.  I felt that as I pushed for these rules to be implemented I was becoming the bad guy, the one who wasn’t understanding or maybe even caring.  I began to look at my husband with indifference because of his single-mindedness.  I had to listen to his new approach with our son, “listening to him and really understanding where he is coming from”.  Okkkayy… Our son is a thief, a liar, a manipulator, and a drug addict.  I’m pretty sure I understand him really well without having to listen to damn word he says.  His actions say everything.  He doesn’t have integrity, which in my mind is the only thing we have to give others that means anything.

We are back home and guess what!?!  Our son stole our car.  Finally, I hear the words I’ve been waiting for from my husband, “I am done”.  I should have relief, right.  And in some part of me I do.  However, I also have fear and an immense amount of sadness.  For all the anger I had for my husband I also realized that we balanced each other out – he had the desperate want to do anything to help our son, while I had the want to create structure.  With him now on my side of the spectrum my son will be on his own.

This life is crazy.  I’ve dug my heels in over the last couple of weeks.  I’ve fought and clawed to get my voice heard.  Last night was a victory for me in that my husband saw my side of things.  I should feel better about this but I really don’t.  I understand that having rules and structure is the ONLY way to go in order for us to have a good home for our daughter and ourselves – so I’m not changing my stance.  I’m just a bit taken aback by the emotions I’m having with the change in my husband’s feelings.

I feel grief and loss.

I call BULLSHIT on myself

I’m thinking my last post was bullshit.  I call bullshit on myself.  I have fucking bottom lines.  I have a lot of them.  They are directly challenged by my son and husband who refuses to see how disruptive our home has become. 

My son can freely speak his mind no matter the content, expects to get instant respect because he is an ‘adult’, receives a weekly allowance, walks in my room when ever he feels like it….plus more bullshit than I can write down here.

Meanwhile, I can’t express my opinion on any of this directly to my son because he explodes and then makes my husband uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable because our son ‘isn’t able to manage his emotions’ right now. Actually husband, he’s managing them fine…he just screams, yells, curses and slams doors.  A lot more than I can fucking do!

I am furious right now.  My hands are tied.  How the fuck am I the bad guy here.  We are allowing a drug addict, a dealer, a possibly mentally ill person run our lives.  But I’m the unreasonable one.

Really, what I really want to do is tell him to be the adult he says he is.  Live on your own, figure it out because all the shit we’ve given you got you no where.

And stop acting like your three month stint in college gave you all the fucking answers.  YOU are not original in your thoughts or how you see the world.  Guess what!?  Half of america believes the government is corrupted in one way or another.  You thinking it and then verbalizing it isn’t a revelation! Jesus God, man!

Oh, and you are NOT nor were you ever a drug lord. Lol.  Fuck off.

I love my son but I hate what drugs have done to him.  I will not let this person he has become ruin me or my home.  My husband on the other hand has some decisions to make and they will be HIS decisions.  He will own them and have to live with them.

Living with an addict: tolerate without moving your bottom line

A big challenge for me this week is finding the balance between tolerating my son’s behavior and keeping true to my bottom line.  My bottom lines are comforting to me, they allow me to make my stance clear and for me to be allowed the right to not waiver to pressure or influence of others.  I only set a bottom line if I feel my own moral values are being threatened.  An example of a pretty big bottom line I hold with my son is there is to be no drugs in my house or on the property…period.  If that happens, he will not be living with us.  Under no circumstances would I deviate from this bottom line because having it helps me to keep a ‘clean’ house for my daughter.

It seems pretty simple, cut and dry.  However, I have found many instances where I feel in normal circumstances I would not tolerate certain behaviors.  However, my son is ill and his drug usage has without a doubt created some serious damage to his way of thinking and functioning.  So, I am left to weigh each interaction, argument, and story; is this something I can tolerate without moving my bottom line.  It is exhausting, to be constantly thinking and reflecting on whether or not I can accept these behaviors while he is in this condition.  Is making concessions while he goes to therapy, takes the bi-polar medication and ONLY smokes pot going against what my bottom line would be if he were ‘normal’?  The answer is yes, it goes against all that I feel is right for my life.  This is the struggle I difficulty over.

I’ve spent about 48 hours in serious reflection on my situation.  I do believe this is MY situation and not my son’s situation.  I am the one with a rational mind, with the ability to think clearly and independently.  So, I am the one who has to decide what is tolerable and what isn’t with the understanding that I am dealing with a person who could not care for himself if he did not have me or my husband.

I made a list of the behaviors I struggle with:

Lies and exaggeration of his past, excessive talking, instant anger, combativeness, drug use, not following directions/requests

Then I crossed out the behaviors  I could tolerate – I may still be annoyed but in the grand scheme of things these behaviors didn’t affect my values:

Lies and exaggeration of his past, excessive talking, instant anger, combativeness, drug use, not following directions/requests

Then I thought about the instances where I could have contributed to his behavior with my own stubbornness or harsh reactions.  The truth is that I’m impatient and quick to judge.  When it comes to my son and his behavior I am as big of a hot head as he is.  Recognizing this helped me to be a little more patient in situations where I may not agree with his approach.  The list now looked like this:

Lies and exaggeration of his pastexcessive talking, instant anger, combativeness, drug use, not following directions/requests

When I saw the last two things on the list I felt much better about my future with my son.  One of the items I had a clear bottom line that would not waiver.  The other item I could work with, through either a reward system or some other way that he would be interested in.  I have to remember that he isn’t the kid from three months ago – clean, helpful, thoughtful and motivated.  For the foreseeable future he is someone whose mind has been changed by drug use.  I am not dealing with normal circumstances.  So my own tolerance and beliefs need to be reviewed often so that I can help my son but keep my own self feeling safe and taken care of.

The lighter side of things – hiding your wallet from your addict

Having an addict for a son is depressing, chaotic, scary and a complete disruption to your life.  Today is exactly all those things and I’ve gone through all the feelings of despair that I’m assuming all mothers of addicts go through.  BUT, today I’m going to share how I am coping with it this morning.

Some might find it offensive, after all my son is ill.  Don’t judge, if you don’t have daily interaction with an addict you really can not understand the mental games they play with those who love them.  He is ill and I have compassion and love for him regardless of the complete upheaval that is our life.

So, it is in mornings such as this one that I have to find refuge in my own mind.  The way I deal with my son is multifaceted.  I typically get super annoyed with his antics, then I worry about how far gone his  mind is, finally I realize I cannot do anything about it but take care of myself.  Humor always seems to help.  Today, it was all about the hiding of my wallet.

I’ve found the perfect place for my wallet and keys!  NO ONE, including me some days, can find them.  This is a victory for those who live with addicts…really, it is.  Anyway, being so happy I have found such a great hiding place the game this morning was retrieving my hidden items when my son isn’t around me.  Today was especially difficult because it seemed he followed me everywhere, literally everywhere.  Into the bathroom, into the office, into the kitchen…always at my side.  As he joins himself at my hip he talks nonstop.  This morning he has covered so many topics I could not begin to unravel his many, many thoughts.  My game today is to distract him into leaving my side so I can covertly retrieve my wallet and keys.

First distraction: “Did you save your journal on the computer?  Hurry and do that so it saves in case the computer crashes”   It’s a Mac, it won’t crash.

Second Distraction: “Weren’t you going outside to smoke a cigarette?”  Seems like he smokes enough that it wouldn’t be alarming that his mother is reminding him to smoke.

As I’m writing it all down, it doesn’t sound very fun but the feeling of being successful completely outweighs how really sad this all is!  The fact that finding a hiding spot for my wallet is on the forefront of my mind and if I can find a spot that lasts more than a couple of days I basically feel as though I’ve won the lottery is a sad, sad thing.  But the point of this entire post is that I have to survive this slice of my life so the rest of it isn’t too affected.  Note, my entire life is affected by this but I can choose to let it just ruin me and my family or I can do what I’m doing and find little things to hold on to that make me smile or feel that there is something I can control in this life.

Keeping your sanity – When your addict is back home

My addict son recently moved in with us and he is nothing short of a massive pain in the ass.  I’m not ashamed or feel guilty for saying it.  The easiest moments with him in the house are when he is asleep, which unfortunately is not very often.

It is not uncommon for me to feel pity, sadness, suspicion, anger, annoyed, disgust, guilty, sympathy, and love all within a 12 hour period.  It is absolutely exhausting.

Normally, I can go through a stressful moment and use tools to come out the other side fairly unscathed.  But, when several stressful moments happen in rapid succession of each other I become so incredibly overwhelmed that there is nothing, in that particular moment, that will help me get through it easily.

Last night was a pivotal time for me.

One moment he says he is going to bed, then the next I hear the door to the backyard open and close about five times in 2o minutes.  Then heavy footsteps up the stairs, open of our door and a request of the car keys….”I think there are cigarettes in the car”, he says.  Hmmm, doubt it but the keys are hesitantly given to him.  He returns the keys about 10 minutes later and a key is missing from the ring.  I feel ANNOYED.

When asked for the key, my husband and I are greeted with disbelief and anger by our son.  Of course, it all gets turned around on us.  I feel ANGRY.

Conveniently, 20 minutes later, the key miraculously is found by my son.  He literally said, “I’m so glad I found it.  It must have fallen off the ring.”  I feel DISGUSTED

I can’t sleep.  I feel overwhelmingly out of control that  I lose my mind and yell at my husband, “I’m am losing my mind.  I’m a hostage in my own house.  I can’t sleep, I can’t have peace and THIS IS MY F*ing HOUSE”.  I feel GUILTY

I stomp downstairs to find my son with two of his friends eating a ton of food in the kitchen…really?  I close myself in the office and plunge into a weeks worth of tasks that have been left undone because I haven’t been  able to think clearly while he’s been back.  Before I know it it is 2am.  Hoping my husband isn’t awake I go upstairs and climb into bed.  Thankfully he is asleep.

I turn on my phone and read  the “Good News” section of the Huffington Post.  I watch video after video of all the good news and I cry myself to sleep.

I’d lost sight of all the good things in my life.  I let all the bad creep into and then stay in my mind never looking at the fact that we are in a bad situation but my life doesn’t have to be bad.  This morning I realized that being an addict has robbed my son of a good life.  Last night I allowed it to rob me of mine.  Right now, the  difference between my son and I is that I have the ability to reflect and change my mindset.

So, with that thought in mind and also being very thankful that I do have the ability to reason I found my sanity again.  My son WILL do ridiculous things, he WILL lie, he WILL steal and he WILL continue to be ill – all of these things are not going to change in the immediate future.  I don’t have to let these actions take over my ability to be who I am.  I’m convinced I can do this, I can be strong and I can persevere though this.

Note:  its obviously not as easy as just forcing yourself to be okay with everything your addict does.  That’s not what I am saying here.  I’m simply talking about my choice of how I behave and live my life – my own mental health.  His behavior is not okay and clearly steps will need to be taken to ensure there is some order in our home.  That is an entirely different post 🙂

Which is it? Addiction or mental illness

It’s clear that my son is not well.  In the short time he has been back home he has shown signs of what I’d consider mental illness.  Random thoughts and stories of such grandeur that I can only look at him with fear and pity.  At first I thought he was just being malicious and trying to “pull one over me”. The reality is he is ill.  I honestly do not think he can control these thoughts and stories.

It’s gotten to a point where he is now questioning his own stories, which is really, really good.  He made an appointment (he is now an adult) for a psychiatric evaluation.  He also spoke with a therapist from a rehab be attended and their assessment is a drug induced psychosis….really?

Massive amounts of cocaine, molly, pot and who knows what else in a short time frame of about three weeks has basically fried my son’s brain. The big question is, what came first?  Addiction or mental illness?  Is he bi-polar and using drugs to self medicate or did he cause this by his overuse of drugs?

All of this is so unknown and intimidating.  There are so many sources online, so many theories and too much fear (for my child) going through my head.  The assessment is a big piece and I am so thankful he is willing to make that step.

Looking forward to answers.

Considering the alternative

When my children were born I had hopes, dreams and expectations.  Through the years those feelings haven’t waived for them, until now.  My hopes, dreams and expectations for my son have become desperate, fearful and full of worry.  When you have a child who is addicted to drugs your entire perspective on what is most important for your child changes.

I no longer hope for the best – that he gets through college easily, that he gets the job he wanted, or that he drive safely on his way home.  With my heart exploding with love and pain, I now hope he survives the night without getting hurt.  I pray that he comes home today like he promised, that on Monday he still agrees to go to see a psychiatrist, and that he finds that being home is better than being one step away from being homeless.

This is the reality we are living.  It is nothing like the reality we thought we’d be living 18 years ago.

Sometimes it is overwhelming to think that our only hope for our son is that he lives.

Creating balance in your life

Having a child addicted to drugs will take your life out of your control.  Sleepless nights, inability to focus on daily life, obsessive behavior over your addict’s every move….it goes on and on.  All or some of these things will happen to you. Maybe it will last a day, a week, or possibly months.  I don’t believe parents with children who are addicts ever get complete control over their lives, but I do feel we can create a balanced life.   I’m convinced that on a daily basis I will be affected by my son’s addiction.  However, I do believe there are times of reprieve.  And it is a hard fought necessity because my mind wants to focus on all the bad, all the suffering, and all the sorrow.  It has only been recently, maybe six or so months, that I’ve found five tactics to gain balance back into my life.  Some are easier than others but are worth the try.

Sit with it for a moment. Sometimes when I feel crazed by my son’s addiction I sit in a quiet room and just be silent. I attempt to quiet my thoughts, close my eyes, breath deeply and relax my shoulders.  As I’m typing this I realize this is meditation.  Never thought about that until this very moment.  Anyway, doing this brings me to the present and helps me to recognize all the obsessing isn’t doing any good.  In fact, it has taken precious time away from myself, my daughter and husband, and away from other responsibilities.  I can usually move on and not think or worry about my son for a couple of hours.

Let go.  Letting go can happen after recognizing you don’t have control over your child, his/her addiction or any outcome from his/her decisions.  If you are a religious person, letting go happens when you hand your troubles and burden to God.  The latter is another subject all together but I have found that the combination of these two types of letting go are my number one key to getting my life back.  When you give up control or recognize you aren’t in control an amazing feeling comes over you.  Relief from having to plot and plan, from organizing, from tracking, monitoring and managing your world around that of your addict’s is unbelievable.  It gives you back some of your time.  It is also the most difficult thing to do for yourself.

Focus on your other family members.  If you have other children or a spouse like myself focusing on them is really important.  There is life outside of your addict!  People move on with their lives and will move on without you if you are always about your addict.  Take time to fully focus on your family.  I have found watching a mutually loved tv show in my bed with my daughter and husband is a way to connect as a family.  Keeping commitments with your family is also really important.  If you say you are going to take your daughter shopping on Saturday, TAKE YOUR DAUGHTER SHOPPING!  Do not fail her because you cannot find the balance in your life.  This was a big lesson for me.  My integrity was lacking when it came to my daughter.  I would make promises and then not keep them because of my inability to separate myself from my son’s addiction.  The changes I’ve made have improved my relationships, making me available and a more thoughtful person.

Do something for someone else.  After a particularly crappy day I took my daughter to Panda Express.  Our order took over 15 minutes to make via the drive through.  The car behind us had to wait and I could tell they were very annoyed.  I decided to pay for their meal for causing so much trouble.  I have no idea if that make up for making them wait but it made me feel better.  It turned my thoughts about my bad day around.  It also made my daughter think about how we can actively decide to be different.  I also recently started volunteering.  Nothing huge but little things here and there.  I find it gives me something to look forward to and takes me out of my own world, helping me to appreciate the good things in my life.

Talk to someone outside the situation. For me this is an important step in gaining some control of my life.  I talk with a trusted therapist twice a month.  He may carry the burden with me when we talk but he isn’t a part of my daily life. Which I think is important.  Having the separation allows me to walk way from this person with a completed conversation.  I think having someone outside the situation takes the burden of close family members, like my husband. If he was the only one that I talked with I could be causing him a lot of stress.  My husband is definitely my confidant and best friend but he should not be the sole bearer of my thoughts, fears and emotional needs.

There is a sixth component I just thought about. Get out of your house and do something.  Go to the movies, dinner with friend, do something that gets you away from home.  Although my home is definitely my sanctuary I find that it also “houses” a lot of our pain.  Getting out once in a while is really helpful to clearing my head.

As I said earlier, I don’t think full control of my life will every happen but having these six outlets has changed my life for the better.   Life will go on with or without me and I’d really like to choose to be a part of it!

Where do we go from here?

For the past six weeks my son has been all but missing in action.  He doesn’t answer texts, calls or emails.  In the few times we have had the opportunity to talk or text we get only half truths and flat out lies.  Nothing that has come out of his mouth is trustworthy.  He has zero integrity and it seems doesn’t have an interest in having any in the near future.  This is a life of an addict, right?

I turned off his phone, something we’ve been paying for, and reactivated an extra phone I had using his phone number. This was the only way for us to find out what was going on.  Although the information received on the phone gave us more questions we at least know he owes people money and that he is dealing at least pot.

So, where do we go from here?  He is an adult.  Other than the phone, which is no longer in his possession, he has our car.  That is the last financial tie he has to us – which will soon be remedied.  There is absolutely nothing that ties us to him expect the fact that he is our son and that we are so incredibly worried for him.  There are so many things wrong with this situation, but that is one of the more heartbreaking aspects of having an adult addict for a child.

There isn’t a law that helps us to get him into rehab or come home for that matter.  His decisions are truly his own and we have zero say in the matter.  We can no longer set rules, curfews or demand that he come home.  The phone and the car are the last of the ties and he doesn’t even care about those.

So again, where do we go from here?  We put our efforts in making our house strong and resilient.  We try as hard as we can to be on the same page should he call us for help.  We support each other by accepting that we each handle stress and cope with loss differently.  We make sure that we are building a better family for our daughter who is a minor.  We pray and hope that one day our son will want to get out of this crazy world he is addicted to and ask for help.  Meanwhile, we will prepare ourselves for that day and live our daily lives for ourselves and our daughter….as best as we can.