Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2 Steps Forward, 14 Steps Back

For most of 1he summer, we had been going to the arcade at the bowling alley following my son’s After Care meeting at the rehab center.  They had two for one games on Tuesdays.  We were earning points on our ticket card to redeem for a prize at the prize counter.  We joked about how many times we would have to go to the arcade and how many points we would have to earn each time to be able to use them for the laptop computer that was in the display case.  He seriously wanted to be able to get it with points, but finally became resolved to the fact that it would take us years to accomplish that feat.  We always had fun playing skee ball, air hockey, basketball, and even Wheel of Fortune.

After our road trip to Bryce Canyon, he got more serious about getting a laptop.  He had legitimate reasons for feeling that he needed to get a laptop as soon as possible.  He wanted to be able to work on a blog to exhibit his photography and start the plans for his foundation.  He had been earning money at his part time job with the family business, but he wasn’t earning enough—fast enough to suit him.  When my son wants something—he wants it NOW.  He doesn’t want to work for it.  He doesn’t want to have to wait.  For him, it has to happen now—or life is over. 

So, he came up with a plan to work in our garage to earn money faster in order to get the laptop sooner.  I did not want him to work in the garage because I didn’t know if our garage had any hidden stashes of stuff that I might not want him to come across.  I knew that the thing that opened up our world to this whole adventure—the lightbulb pipe—had come out of that garage.

For the last several months, his access to the garage had been very limited.  But, my husband couldn’t pass up my son’s willingness to work in there, which would help put a dent in the huge accumulation of electrical materials, tools, and supplies that always seem to pile up in an unorganized fashion. And, there was no talking my son out of the idea, once he had it. 

The first day or two went all right, even though he didn’t like it and he complained about how much unnecessary junk we have.  He wanted to throw everything away, rather than organize it.  Other than listening to him rant about that every time he came into the house, it seemed like working in the garage was not going to be too bad.

But it was.

As the days went by and he wasn’t earning money as quickly as he wanted to, he became irritable and hard to communicate with.  Sometimes he would work for several hours for my older son or husband on a job and then come home and work 6 hours more in the garage.  He is a kid who is not used to working and would rather have the stomach flu than work and I hoped that this experience would teach him some things about sticking to something.  I would have been really proud of him for that--if he hadn’t gone off the deep end. 

He was trying to sort things into categories—keep, questionable, and trash.  Some tools and equipment that probably should have gone in the questionable bin were put in the trash can.   Then, he swept the floor and dumped the dirt all over it.  He thought he was doing a pretty good job.

He wanted to show us that the garage was looking better and that I would even be able to walk on the floor instead of on top of piles when I had to get something out of the freezer.  So when my husband went out to check on him and see what progress he had made, my son was expecting some praise. 

Instead my husband asked him why there were tools in the garbage can with dirt poured all over them.  That was the wrong thing to ask.  Emotions exploded all over the garage.   My husband was trying very hard to remain calm, but my son totally overreacted to everything that was said to him and started swearing, calling my husband a not-so-nice name, quitting his job for the company, and saying that everything was just a bunch of crap.  He was on a roll.   He just kept getting angrier and angrier.  We did not have a good night after that.  Nobody was talking to anybody and none of us could sleep.

The argument affected my husband more than I thought it would.  He decided to take off and spend the next day, Sunday, by himself.  I wasn’t really happy about that, but there wasn’t much point in getting in an argument with him, too.  So, I went to church by myself for an hour.  My son refused to wake up to get ready to go with me.    

He slept almost all day and I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt about sleeping for so long on.  He had been working so hard, the previous day’s argument was very emotional, and he had stayed up quite late the night before.  But, I began to wonder what the real cause of his exhaustion might be. 

During one of his short periods of consciousness, I asked him if his behavior from the day before had anything to do with taking any kind of drugs from a stash that he may have found in the garage.  He swore that he hadn’t and said that he was still sober and volunteered to take a drug test. 

But, he made sure to remind me that if he took a drug test, it would show positive for amphetamines because his daily Adderol medication is an amphetamine.

That raised my suspicions.  Did he really take something that he thought would be masked by a positive amphetamine reading on the drug test?   Even then, I didn’t drug test him.  I was afraid that if I did it when my husband wasn’t home, I might have to deal with unwanted results all by myself.

So, I talked to him about how overreacting and freaking out makes me suspicious and, it makes me feel like I have to drug test him all the time since he tends to freak out whenever anyone says anything to him that he doesn't like.

He said that he had been thinking a lot about going back to school in a few weeks and that he was scared.  He said he hadn’t been out in the real world for so long that he was really nervous about it.  

I appreciated him sharing his feelings with me and told him that he needed to come up with a plan of what he would do at school if someone came up to him and wanted him to do something he shouldn't.  He said that is where a cell phone would come in handy because then he could go to the bathroom and call his sponsor or me and he could talk to us about it.  That made sense. 

But, I think he was trying to make me feel that his overreaction the day before was related to all of those nervous feelings.  And I knew it wasn’t.  I think he was trying to send my train of thought in another direction so that I wouldn’t be suspicious that he had relapsed.

Something was going on and I was sure that it was related to working in the garage and/or drugs.   

I did not have a good feeling about it at all.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Road Trip

Toward the end of summer, I wanted to go somewhere so badly.  It had been such a busy summer that I really wanted and needed to get away.
My son's birthday is at the end of July and I decided that I would to take him to Jackson, Wyoming for a birthday trip.  I love it there.  I love the Tetons, the wildlife, and the town.  I asked my husband if he could get off work on a Friday for a trip and he said he was just too busy and couldn’t.  So, I said, “Well, then, our son and I are going on a road trip without you." 
But, then I couldn’t find a place to stay anywhere in Jackson.  I was sad because I had gotten my hopes up and now we weren’t going to be able to take this trip.  My husband had a great idea.  He asked me, “Why don’t you go to Bryce Canyon?"
I do love Bryce Canyon.  I have been there many times and spent a lot of summer trips there as a kid.  I began checking for places to stay down there and found a little motel in Tropic, Utah that was cheap and within 7 miles of the National Monument.
On Thursday evening, the day before my son’s 15th birthday we set off on our adventure.  He was actually very excited about this trip and at the prospect of hiking around and taking a lot of pictures.  We had been going hiking on weekends throughout the summer and were surprised to find that he really enjoyed hiking and climbing.  Who knew?
The drive to Tropic was unbelievable.  The radio in my truck was having issues.  It would just randomly stop working and the only way to get it to play again was to "Fonzie" the dashboard by hitting it just right.  That was going to be my son’s job while we were driving.  But, the first time that it stopped working, he said he wasn’t going to turn it back on.
Then, we talked the entire time we were driving.  Seriously, the entire time!  He did not sleep.  He did not listen to his I-Pod.  He did not ask how much longer the drive was, or complain about how long this was taking.  He came up with random topics and then we just talked and laughed together--for 5 hours!  I was amazed that we were having this experience.  It was another one of those that I will always cherish.
We didn’t get to our motel until about 11:00 p.m.  We slept in the next morning and then went to one of the few restaurants in town for breakfast.  But, we got there at around 11:00 and they had just stopped serving breakfast—with no exceptions.  Neither one of us felt like eating lunch yet, so my son had cake and ice cream and I had pie and ice cream.  Of course, having cake and ice cream for breakfast on your birthday is perfectly acceptable!
We had a great day in Bryce Canyon, taking a lot of pictures and going on some hikes that made me wonder if I was going to die from exertion, heat stroke, or a heart attack.  He loved the hiking!  I kept trying to go on the shortest trails and he kept trying to get me to go on the longest ones, partly because he was having fun and partly because he enjoyed torturing me!
We had dinner at Ruby’s Inn, right outside of Bryce Canyon, so that he could have steak for his birthday dinner.  As hungry as I was, I think I was more tired, so it sure felt nice to get back to the motel and relax. 
But, then when it was time to go to sleep, he wouldn’t.  He wanted to talk.  He wouldn’t stop trying to get me to talk no matter how hard I tried to convince him that I was exhausted.  So, I gave up and we talked until at least 2:00 in the morning.  It was a really good talk, though. 
We talked about him staying clean and sober.  We talked about how he could sell his photography, then, set aside some of the profits to start a foundation that would help other kids stay off drugs and help kids who have become clean to stay clean.  He thought he would help others learn how seeing the world through photography was a lot better than seeing the world high on drugs.  We talked about him going to the DARE officer at the elementary school and asking him if he could talk to the kids in the DARE program about what he has gone through and what he has learned to try to help them understand what they are really being taught in DARE. 
We talked about how he would like to travel around the world taking photos and how he would like me to go with him on all of these trips since we were having such a good time on this one.  We talked about him setting up a website to sell his photography and to promote his foundation.  We brainstormed about ways he could make money from his photography for his foundation.  It was so wonderful to make positive plans for the future with him.  It was inspiring to hear him talk about wanting to help other kids.  It made me feel so good to know that he wanted to stay clean and sober.  I was glad that we had come on this trip and felt that the long drive, money spent, sore muscles, and exhaustion, were all worth it. 
The next day, even though we didn’t get that much sleep the previous night, we did a lot more hiking and sight-seeing.  We went to Kodachrome Basin and the Petrified Forest.  If I had to do it again, I would skip the Petrified Forest and I know my son would, too.  But, I had it in my mind that I really wanted to see this forest of petrified trees.  I pictured a scenic drive, but the reality was that we had to hike really steep trails just to see huge colorful rocks on the ground. 
But, Kodachrome Basin was fun.  We hiked around on some trails and my son found that since it was a state park, not a National Monument, he could get off the trails and climb up and down rock formations.  That was a lot more exciting to him.   He scared me to death many times when he climbed a lot higher that I wanted him to.  Of course, he really enjoyed my increasing fear for his life and safety.    
He had just as much fun hiking as he did taking pictures.  The enjoyment he seemed to be finding by seeing the world through the lens of the camera or climbing to new heights was amazing to me.  It was a great day, finished off with pizza and thankfully, more sleep than the night before!
The plan for the last day was to go to back to Bryce Canyon to take some pictures with the new tri-pod that he just had to have from Ruby’s Inn General Store, then to go to Red Canyon, hike around, and  drive back home whenever we got around to it. 
We didn’t have as much time as we thought we would in Red Canyon.  We had just started hiking and my son had just started climbing around in dangerous places, doing dangerous things, when it started to rain.  Maybe it was a good thing.  Right before the rain started, he climbed up a steep, slick, shale covered hill while I waited at the bottom.  He just needed to see what was on the other side!  He had been up there for a long time, when I heard the sound of something or someone falling.  Then, I didn't hear anything else.  I called and called to him, but he did not answer.  So, then I had to climb up that hill to find out if he was okay. I was calling his name the whole time I was climbing and still didn’t get any answer.  I had this horrible feeling of terror about what I was going to see when I got up there.  Just as I got to the top, I called his name again.  Right at that second, he jumped from one hoo-doo to another and I startled him so much that he almost fell.  So much for my rescue mission.  I almost caused the thing that I feared had happened.  He had not heard me shouting his name—because of course, he chose this one time on the trip to listen to his I-Pod! 
And, he really had fallen while I was at the bottom of the hill!  His arm was scraped and bloody.  To him, it was not a big deal that he had fallen and he laughed at me for climbing up a hill that I definitely did not want to climb just to make sure that he was all right.
And then it rained.
We got back in the truck.  He went to sleep.  I drove in silence in the pouring rain. 
Vacation over.
But, it was good while it lasted.
I wish it could have lasted longer.
I really wish that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Just When I Thought Everything Was Going OK

I knew there would be some down times.  But, I HOPED there wouldn’t be any.  I really hoped.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever feel like it is safe to trust again.

My husband bought a foosball table at a yard sale.  He thought my son would enjoy having his own table.  He got pretty good at foosball in rehab.  My husband was just trying to find a way to reach out to our son.  He was more excited about the flip side of the foosball table that was a mini pool table.  I think that even though he played a lot of foosball and was good at it, foosball reminded him of the fact that we put him in rehab.

It seemed like a room that we have in the basement that used to be my older son’s room, was a good place to set up the foosball table.  As my husband was moving boxes and things around to make room for the table, he found an Axe deodorant container.  After he looked inside it, he brought it to me and said, “Look at this.”  When I took the lid off, there was no deodorant in it, but underneath the plastic part that the deodorant used to be on, I could see a whole bunch of red dots.  So, I pulled the plastic part out of it (yay for the Axe smell on my hands) and saw that the whole bottom of the container was full of matches. 

A deodorant container used to store matches and probably something else that would be conveniently camouflaged in a deodorant container.  We knew from research that kids use deodorant containers to hide their drugs.  And here was proof in our hands 8 months after we put him in rehab.

My stomach just dropped. 

Now I wondered when he hid it in that basement room.  And what else was still hidden down in the basement and elsewhere in the house.  I told my husband a long time ago that we would never know what was stashed in our house until we searched every square inch of it.  That night was proof of that.

But, Other than finding that Axe drug storage container, the summer had been going fairly well.  I thought my son and I were getting along great and I thought we were even getting to be pretty good friends. 

Then, I made a mistake and let him buy a game for the X-Box that I shouldn’t have.  It was a car racing game and my son had liked playing car racing games in the past, so, I took the salesman’s word that it was a good game and I didn’t even read the back of the box.  Which, I should have.  I trusted that my son and I were at a point where he wouldn’t try to be sneaky or pull the wool over my eyes.

We came home from the game store and my husband was so mad at me for letting my son get that game because it wasn’t just a car racing game.  It was filled with drugs and sex and gangs and all kinds of stuff that you just don’t want your recovering addict child to be exposed to. 

He said that there was no way that my son could play that game.

Then, all of a sudden having that game became VERY IMPORTANT to my son.

And everything went to heck from there.

We had a big battle.

It set us back about 100 miles. 

I feel like X-Box games will always come between us.  For some reason, the game was more important to him than the good feelings we have had in our house, the friendship that we had been building, and the good summer that we were having. 

My husband took him back to the game store and he got a basketball game instead.

That kept him happy for about a week. 

And then he had to have another game.

He wanted to download it onto the X-Box.  We said that we had to look at the info about the game online and also find out if we could buy the game for less money at the game store, because usually the downloads cost more than the actual disc does.

He started to get very upset.  Upset because there was a possibility we would find out that it was another game that he shouldn’t have?  Upset because he couldn’t download it when he wanted to and might have to wait for us to take him to the game store, when we had time?  Who knows?

But as soon as my husband finished reading the info about it and told my son that he MIGHT be able to get it, my son immediately started the download.  Without my knowing.  He charged it to the credit card that is on file on the X-Box for renewing the Gold Membership that is required to play games online.  A membership that I just willingly have for him out of the kindness of my heart. 

I was pretty mad when I found out that he had bought the game without my permission.  I didn’t really want to charge a game on my credit card.  Even when you pay back the credit card, it always seems like every charge just makes the balance go a little higher and a little higher and it never goes down to the point it was at before you charged something.  I told him that he is not allowed to use my credit card on the X-Box without asking me first—no matter what he “thinks” I meant. 

He said that when we said that he might be able to “get it”, he thought that meant that he could download it.  He was so worried about what he wanted that he just heard what he wanted to hear just so that he could get what he wanted to get.

I fully believe that everything that anybody has ever said about video games being bad for kids is right, because one out of every 2 arguments that we have seems to be about the x-Box.  These two weren’t the only two that we would have in the next few months.  They were just two of many. 

Have I said that I hate the X-Box?

I hate the battles about it.

I hate that I had been doing everything that I could to try to help him have a good summer and then he chose to fight and yell and treat me badly because of the stupid X-Box. 

The only feelings that matter are his feelings. 

It didn’t matter to him that I had already been having a bad day before any of this X-Box game buying stuff even happened.

I would have hoped that he could realize that maybe he should be nice to someone who was having a bad day.

But, of course not.  Because he is selfish and if he is not getting what he wants, then he doesn’t care about anything that is going on with anyone else.  It is all about him. 

He doesn’t care if we are just worried about him.  He doesn’t care that we don’t want bad influences around him. 

He is not glad that we care. 

He is not glad that we want the best for him.

It is hard to care so much.

When the caring isn’t returned.

But, I’m a parent.  I love unconditionally. 

Yup.  I do.