Tuesday, May 22, 2012


My son loves to claim that he has no freedom.  He says we treat him like he is two years old and that we don’t trust him to do anything.  He tells this to anyone who asks him what he likes to do for fun.  He wants others to believe that we keep him prisoner and don’t let him out of our sight.  Any chance that he has to make us look bad, he will take it.

What he says is not true, but he will never believe that.

As an oppositional defiant child, he thinks freedom is attained through defiance which "should" enable him to have all power and control over his life.  One of his control tactics is to wear us down until we are so tired of fighting with him that we slack off on the rules and expectations just to avoid a blow-up.    

But, we have been trying to stay strong with the rules and expectations, while encouraging him to find friends and new hobbies or activities.

We want to trust him.  We know that he needs to get out of his comfort zone and have experiences outside of our house—out in the real world that will help him know how to handle life as a recovering addict.  But, he rarely wants to go anywhere or do anything. 

Sometimes, I seriously wish he WOULD want to go somewhere!  Other than the time that he spends at school, he is at home with me almost ALL THE TIME! 

I admit that when he does go somewhere, my heart seems to drop into my stomach as I worry about him the whole time that he is gone.  Most of me is 99% sure that he is going to be just fine.  But there is that 1% that thinks, given certain circumstances, a screw-up could happen.  I don’t tell him that, though. I always act happy that he is going to go do something and I just ask him to check in with me, occasionally. 

Sometimes he gives me a hard time about my wanting him to check in with me.  Or, he scares me to death when he doesn’t check in and doesn’t come back when I think he is going to.  He hardly ever takes his cell phone with him so that I can call him and has even accused me of GPS tracking him with it.  (I don’t do that!)

Maybe my panic is more apparent, than I think it is, causing him to feel like I don’t trust him.  When I let my fears ramp up, it usually has more to do with terror than trust!  Any parent would worry about their child when they didn’t check in or come home when they were supposed to.  I just imagine that I have more to worry about than most parents do.

Anytime that I express any concern he twists it into the trust issue.  I can’t even be a normal concerned parent. 

One night, I was trying to sleep after we had a huge blow-up about us not trusting him.  My mind was racing and for some reason, I came up with another “poem”.  I generally am not a poet and have only just recently become a writer of sorts as I write about this whole teenage-son-drug-addict experience. 

But here is the second poem that I have written for my son.  This one could teach him how to have freedom, if he would be willing to take responsibility for it.

F—inding the strength and
R—ealizing that you can
E—njoy the things of life
E—very 24 hours
D—oing the best you can by
O—wning your feelings and
M—aking your own happiness.

He does not appear to be as impressed by my poems as I am, but I hope that even if he doesn’t get anything out of them, someone will--sometime, somewhere. 

I hope that someday, he will stop blaming us for his unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the way his life is going. 

He has to be the one who makes his own happiness and finds joy his life. 

But, don’t we all? 


My son goes to therapy every other week or so.  I don’t know what he is getting out of it or if it is even helping.

One of his biggest issues is his anger.  He over-reacts to everything and when someone says something to him that he doesn’t like, or if they try to get him to do something that he doesn’t want to do, he freaks out.  He has to learn that he can’t just fly off the handle yelling, swearing, and wanting to fight.

It seems like he is a time bomb and I never know what is going to set him off.

Some people say this is normal teenage behavior.  Yeah, for normal teens.  But, once your teen is an addict, no behavior is normal anymore.  You don’t know which mood, behavior, or event is going to trigger the desire to use drugs again.  And for him, we don’t know what is going to trigger his raging anger. 

Uncertainty is the name of the game and it is hard to live with. 

We hope for some good times that we can enjoy with him, but we always seem to be walking on eggshells around him--wary of the land mine being tripped and everything around it blowing up.

I purposely avoid talking to him just so that he won’t have anything to get upset about.  I don’t ask him any questions about his day or how he is feeling just so that he won’t bite my head off for asking.  Even if he does seem to want to talk, before we know it, he gets really negative, won’t listen to suggestions, or anything else that we have to say.  He thinks that I always expect the worst of him, but I don’t.  Part of the problem is that I expect the best from him and it is disappointing when he doesn’t even try to be the best that he can be. 

Therapy usually either starts a big blow-up right after we leave, or things stay calm for a day, or week.  But, there is always that one day every couple of weeks that turns into a big deal,  no matter how hard we try to avoid it.  Every time we feel like we are moving forward, we seem to get slammed back and we don’t catch up to where we started. 

It is so frustrating that we can’t find any way to get him and this family on a good path. 

I don’t know what else to try besides therapy.  I have to hope that something gets through to him and that his therapist will eventually figure out how to help him.  He does not like her though, and thinks that everything she does is stupid.  He usually won’t do any of the assignments that she gives him. 

She gave him an assignment to think about what other parts there are to him besides the addict and the recovering addict because she thinks that is mostly what he sees himself as.

He never did the assignment, but I did.

This is what I wrote:

I see him as a young man looking at the world in a new way, discovering new things.
I see him as a wonderful son.
I see him as an uncle who loves his nephew.
I see him as a talented photographer.
I see him as someone who can do anything he sets his mind to.
I see him as someone who is so smart he can teach himself new things.
I see him as someone who wants to be accepted and loved.
I see him as a scared young man.
I am so proud of him.
And so nervous for him.

I don’t know for sure how he sees himself.  I think the statements that I made about him would be like this if he had written them:

“I don’t know how I fit into this world.  I don’t feel like I fit in with people at school, church, or even my family.               
I think I am the person that everyone expects the worst of and that no one will ever trust.
I am the kind of person that no one really would want to have love them or would want to be loved by.  I think my nephew is cool, but I would not want him to be like me.
I think being a photographer would be cool, but it probably will never happen for me.  I will never have enough money or good enough cameras to become one.
I know what I want and I will do whatever I have to do to get it even if I have to get in an argument with my parents.  Eventually, I will get my way. 
I am smarter than everyone around me and I can’t believe how stupid everyone else is.  I can’t stand it when people try to tell me things that they think I should know.  I already know everything that they are trying to teach me and even if I don’t, I will never admit it.
I wish people would just accept me like I am and stop trying to get me to change.  I am what I am. 
The future scares me, but I will never admit that.  I want everyone to think that I am tough and that I know exactly where I am going and how I am going to get there. 
No one is proud of me.  No one thinks that I will ever be able to do anything good again.  I will never be able to be good enough.”

It makes me sad to think that he would see himself that way.  It is too bad that the positive outlook that he seemed to have this summer did not stick with him.

Rehab made an impact on him and he seems committed, most of the time, to stay off drugs.  But, somehow, something was missed in helping him to see that he can be whole and happy and that he doesn’t have to be angry at life.

One recovery program has this philosophy:  We understand that abstinence is not recovery.  Once clean and sober, the addict must be given the opportunity to recreate their life.  Our job is to allow those in recovery to ACT their way into right thinking, rather than THINK their way into right thinking.  This brings about the psychic change necessary to recover from alcoholism and drug addiction.  

I think my son did not have a chance to get all that.  He got the abstinence part.  Over the summer, it seemed like he might have started to recreate his life.  But, once school began in the fall, he seemed to fall out of the re-creating his life step.  He started having to live his life according to the rules of attending school and acting like a good student.  It made him seem to lose track of the person he had started to like being. 

And now, I don’t know how to get him back on the track of recreating his life.

I am afraid that if someone doesn’t figure out how to help him, one of these days it will be too late.   

I don’t want it to be too late.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Moon and the Stars

Sometimes I just don’t know what happens.

The moon and the stars get out of alignment or something.

October.  One of my favorite months of the year.  I love Autumn’s weather and changing leaves.  My husband loves it because it is hunting season.  And this was a hunting day.  My son would not go with him so he went alone and was going to come back late that night. 

That afternoon, my son asked me what I wanted to do and I said that I wanted to go to a movie, but we couldn’t agree on one.  I didn’t have any other ideas because the weather was cold and rainy.  He couldn't come up with a plan either, so, he played the X-Box and I just did random things that needed to be done.

Later on in the evening, I got ready to go the grocery store to buy the two staples of life—milk and cereal.  I told him that I would buy him a pizza while I was gone and he was cool with that. 

Just as I was leaving, he said that he wanted me to take him to the video game store since I was going out anyway.  That made me a little bit frustrated because I had just taken him to the game store two days before.  He had wanted to buy a game that cost $35.00.  He only had $10.00.   And, he did his usual pestering act until I lent him $25.00 to pay for the rest of the game.

So, there didn’t seem to be much point in taking him to the game store that night since he was already in debt to me and I wasn’t going to let him go into debt to me anymore. 

But, he had a pile of games that he had put together to take to trade in.  I told him that the value of those trade-ins had to be more than enough to pay for the game that he wanted to get because I was not putting in one more dime.

That was a mistake.  He always has to get what he wants, when he wants it and if I have to put in money to make that happen, then that is what he expects me to do.  If things don't go his way, then there will be repercussions. 

My logic and his logic just don’t jive.  My logic says that if he owes me money, then I am not going to loan him any more until he pays me back.  His logic is that he will pay me back when he pays me back and I can keep loaning him money as long as he wants me to. 

So he got upset and started swearing at me.

When I didn’t change my mind, he came up with a new plan.  He decided that I should take him to the bank so that he could cash a paycheck.  When I told him that I couldn’t do that on a Saturday night, he accused me of not ever giving him his own money and of not letting him use his money for the things that he wants to use it for.  The fact that his bank isn't open at 7:00 p.m. on a Saturday night didn’t mean anything to him.  It was all my fault that he couldn’t have his money from his paycheck.

It didn’t matter that I could write him a check on Monday and that he could cash it on Monday and spend it on Monday.  He had to be able to buy a game—that night!

Everything started to spin out of control because he wasn’t getting his way and wasn’t getting what he wanted.  To me, he just kept getting more and more unreasonable and absurd.  He hates it when I say that he is being unreasonable, so his yelling and swearing escalated.  He told me that I am a bad mom, that I never do anything for him, and that I act like everything he says or does is stupid.  Then he said, “So, thanks, Mom.”

I was done with this and I started to go up the stairs to my room and I replied, “THANK YOU, too!”

In his emotional state, he decided that I must have said something else that starts with an F and ends with a U.  And charged after me and screamed, “What the F*** did you just say to me?”

I answered, “I said, THANK YOU!”

He was so out of control that he wasn't even listening.  Again, he said, “What the f*** did you just say to me?”

Twice more I had to reiterate that I had said thank you right back to him after he said the same thing in the same way to me.  I am not a bad mom, I spend my whole life doing things for him, and he had no right to say what he said to me, but I would never say to him what he thought I did. 

Not that he wouldn’t blink twice to say it to me.  He thinks it is perfectly fine to say stuff like that to me.  But, apparently, I better not say things like that to him.

I spent the rest of the night in my room.  I did not go to the store and I did not even have any dinner.

I cannot stand these blow-ups.

I don’t know how many F-bombs I can have thrown at me before they finally take me down.


I was thrilled after we went to my son’s first High School Parent Teacher Conference.  I hadn’t been thrilled by any of his Parent Teacher Conferences since 3rd grade.  But, at this one, all of his teachers said that he was doing very well, that he had a good attitude, that he tried really hard, and that he was going to have a great sophomore year.

I couldn’t believe it, but I was so happy!  He seemed to be happy, too. He was used to bad Parent Teacher Conferences that always led to lectures and unhappy nights at home.  Not this time!  It was awesome.

Halfway through the first quarter and everything was going pretty well.

I was so proud of him for how he had committed to handle school work, assignments, and all things school-related by himself. He was motivated at the beginning of the year and confident that he could do it.

It was very hard for me to step back and let him.

But, I did.

And then he got sick. 


I was hoping we could avoid that problem for awhile.  Getting sick and not doing the make-up work has always started setbacks in the past. 

When that morning rolled around that he was coughing, had a headache, sore throat, and stomach ache, I got that feeling of dread.

I gave him vitamins and Ibuprofen and tried to get him to go to school, but he wouldn't and missed a few days.  Days that I knew he probably could have gone, sick or not, but he wouldn't.   I reminded him about how missing days would make him get behind and that it would be hard to catch back up, but he still wouldn't go.  This was a pattern that I did not want him to get used to.

I thought I would check the school’s website for him to let him know what classes he might need to stay after school for when he went back.  I tried to tell him about three classes that he could concentrate on.  After I told him about the first class, he said, “It is taken care of.”  Then, when I started telling him what the next class was, he got very grouchy with me and told me that he had just said that it was taken care of.  I never did get to the third class because he acted as if he definitely did not want to hear any more about it from me.

So, I had to drop it and not get on his case about his grades.  It made me angry that I couldn't even have a conversation with him about school, though.  I should have been able to make an observation without him cutting me off and telling me to stay out of it.

I had to step back again, just like I was supposed to, and let him be in charge of school.

Sometimes people would ask me how his grades were and how he was doing in school and I would tell them that as far as I knew, he was doing fine.  They would act shocked that I wasn’t staying on top of it and that I didn’t really know for sure.  They always gave me the impression that I was very wrong to do that.  But, one thing we learned in family therapy was that school was his responsibility.  Not his parent’s responsiblity.  He had to take ownership of his education.  I thought it would be nice for him to be able to succeed at school without me nagging him.  I had to let him have that opportunity.  I hoped that it might help us get along better.   

Because, school has always been one of the biggest downfalls in our relationship. 

It was starting to feel like old times at this point.

I did not like that feeling at all.

Then, he went to AA with his sponsor.  They must have talked about school because he walked in the door at 10:30 p.m., and immediately wanted to do his homework.  He didn't go to bed until 11:30 p.m. and wanted me help him with his assignments.  Two days before that I was supposed to stay out of it and all of a sudden he was asking me for help.

What happened to make him actually do homework?

His awesome sponsor, of course.

He offered some great incentives to do well in school.  A first quarter 4.0 would get rewarded with $200.00.  And if he graduated with a 4.0?  He would get rewarded with $1,500.00 and a car.  His sponsor will do anything to help my son and the other guys that he sponsors.  I may have gone on and on about him in the past, and I probably will in the future, too because I appreciate how much he does and how he is a great example of the kind of  person that my son could be.

I should have made a big poster of “the reward” to hang in his room to remind him to stay motivated. 

Because I had no idea how long he would keep it going.

Something kept telling me it was going to be a long school year.