Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Saturday Night #2

11:00 p.m., Saturday night. 

Once again, my son began the argument that he should be allowed to stay up late in the office playing Starcraft.

The answer was no, of course.   We weren’t about to start relaxing the rules for him.  But, no matter how many times he asked why, and no matter how many times we gave him an answer, as long as he wasn’t getting the answer that he wanted, he continued to badger us.  As far as he was concerned, he wasn’t going to quit until he got what he wanted.

Some people might wonder why we just didn’t give in and avoid another conflict like the one we had the week before.  In hindsight, I often think about what might have happened if we had.  I just know that it is his pattern to push and push and push until we get so tired of the argument that we let him have his way.  But, that doesn’t happen very often and when it does, it is on a small thing like buying an energy drink at the gas station, not having a privilege returned that he hadn’t even expended any energy to earn back.  We weren't going to let him push us to do something that we didn't feel good about.  

Once again, my answer was:  “No, you cannot stay up after we go to bed.  Just a few weeks ago, you smoked pot in the basement when you were supposedly in the office playing Starcraft.  You aren't allowed to be downstairs after we have gone to bed anymore.  I gave you this exact same answer last week and nothing has changed since then.”

He ardently argued that he had been “good” all week and that he should be rewarded for that.  It was true that we hadn’t had any real problems with him, but the reason for that was mostly because he wasn’t speaking to us and we had been walking in circles around him just trying to avoid having to talk to him. 

The hospital case worker and DCFS therapist each told him to work on the list of expectations in order to start earning trust back.  But, when we pointed out that not one single attempt was made to clean his room, help around the house, or apologize for the awful things that he had said and done, he said that he didn’t have to do any of that stuff and that none of it was his idea.  

We asked him to tell us what his ideas were.  He wouldn't do it. Instead, he insisted that WE make a completely different list and then he would let us know if he approved of anything on it. 

To get him to be quiet for a few minutes, we actually left him in his room and went downstairs to brainstorm some new ideas.  We hoped that things would settle down and that maybe this would put an end to this episode.  But, it was hard to come up with anything that we knew he would do.  I think he wanted a list of easy things like: take a shower, comb your hair, eat food, and breathe. 

And so, when we read him our newest rendition--which included all previous items and more new ones, he said all of it was B.S. and told us to get out of his room and f*** off.   He announced that he was going to get out of our house as soon as he could and we could plan on him being an a** hole until he did.

We took him up on the getting out of his room and thought maybe we had gotten off easy this time.  We were more than happy to leave him alone, even if we didn’t like the way he had requested it.  One of the reasons he was in the position he was in was for telling me to F*** off and here he was, doing it again.  It wasn't like his acting like an a** hole was going to be such a new and different experience for us, since he had been acting like that most of the time lately, anyway.

We enjoyed some quiet time for about 10 minutes.  Then, all of a sudden, our son came out of his room and told us that he was going to go live somewhere else and insisted that we were NOT to call the police when he left.  He said, "You told me to leave, if I didn’t like it here, so you can't call the police if I do what you told me to do."  My husband reminded him that we also said we would have to know where he was going and that we would have to talk to the parents to verify that he had permission to stay there.  If he just left and if we had no idea where he was, then we would have to report him as a runaway.  Our son freaked out about that and said that we were liars who said he could leave one minute and in the next we were telling him that he couldn't. 

Now he was so angry that the escalation of this blow-up was imminent.    

This time it was worse than it was the last week.

He was screaming, calling us names, and losing control.  It was a little frightening and my husband and I decided that we should go into our room so that we could lock the door and get away from him before things got too heated.  But, our son kept stepping in front of my husband to block his way.  Finally, my husband went to push him out of the way and our son used one of the moves he had learned in Tae Kwon Do and got my husband in a headlock.  Well, even though the TKD maneuver worked, my husband was a lot bigger and stronger than my son at that time and he just twisted out of it, shoved our son into his room, came into ours, and locked the door.

The next thing we knew, our son was punching his way into our room, THROUGH the door!  He had put a shirt over his hand and was in the process of beating a hole in my bedroom door!

He was yelling that he wasn’t finished talking to us and we needed to stop being pussies and come out and face him.  He said that if we weren’t going to let him move out, then he would rather be dead because that would be better than living here, bored out of his mind for one more day of his life.

Since we didn’t want him to do any more damage to our house than he was already doing and we didn’t feel good about that last comment at all, my husband opened the door to stop our son from hurting himself or the rest of the house, and grabbed him and took him down to the floor and held him there.

Our son was so entrenched in the battle that it seemed more about the battle than anything else at this point.  He swore and yelled and threatened and fought.  He wouldn't settle down.  We felt that we had no choice but to call for reinforcements.  Once again, the police were summoned to our house. 

It seemed like an eternity until they arrived.  They ended the struggle between my son and my husband.  One officer took my husband into our bedroom and the other one took my son into his bedroom where they each answered questions about the night’s events. 

As they talked with us about whether we wanted him taken to Youth Services or the hospital again, he yelled down the stairs that he just wanted ME to drive him to Youth Services.  I said that I was not willing to drive him anywhere by myself.  My son just kept yelling and begging me to do it and finally the officer told him to shut up and go sit on his bed.

My son told him NO and said that he was going to just stand in the hall.  Then, the officer grabbed him, swore at him, handcuffed him, and put him on his bed.  I could not believe that he had the nerve to defy a police officer.

The officer apologized to me for swearing and I said, “No problem.  You just got to see what we go through every single day.”  He said he was sorry for us.

It was finally decided that one of the officers would drive him to the hospital for us since we probably wouldn’t get the help that we needed from Youth Services.  We hoped that the E.R. would take him as a follow-up patient from the time we were there a week ago. 

While we waited for the doctor, the case worker, the blood tests, and everything else that you wait and wait for in the E.R., my son’s emotions and actions were all over the place.  He went from not talking at all, to crying and being apologetic, to being so mad that he kicked us out of his room, to saying how he loved me and didn’t hate his Dad, to saying that he was never coming home again and he never wanted to see us again, to wanting us to tell his nephew not to forget about him. 

His blood test showed a positive result for Benzodiazapenes.  He claimed to not know how he could have them in his system and was sure that the blood test was wrong.  I thought he might have gotten something from someone that night while we were gone.  It certainly made sense that he was on something, given the way he became as agitated as he was when he was punching a hole through a door.    

Fortunately, the same case worker was on call this week in the E.R.  I think it helped that he was already familiar with our situation.  With the positive drug test results and the diagnosis of Explosive Personality Disorder along with Major Depression, and the fact that he had said he would rather be dead than have to live with us in our house, it seemed obvious that there was no choice this time, but to have him admitted to a short term psychiatric unit.  

During the long hours that it took to make the arrangements, our son finally settled down and became resigned to the fact that he was going back to the same facility that he had been at for rehab.  He summoned me into his room and tried to make a deal with me.  He seriously wanted me to agree that when he got released, if, for one week, he did the list of things that we had made, would I guarantee that he would be able to get the X-Box privileges back? 

Holy Cow.   NOW, he wanted to do the things on the list?  Good timing.  He couldn’t have decided that this was a good idea before he said that he would rather be dead, got into an altercation with his Dad, and ruined my bedroom door?  I told him that I wasn’t going to guarantee anything and when I wouldn’t tell him what he wanted to hear, he just got more and more frustrated with me and wasn't as broken-hearted as we was a few minutes before.  I was the b****y mom again.

I was so tired of the drama that it was a relief to have the ambulance crew arrive to take him to the facility.  It had been a long night.  

Now, we could only hope that the professionals at the psych unit would be able to figure out what to do with him and how to help him because we just couldn’t keep going through this week after week.   

I am so tired of this trial.  I know I am supposed to understand that addiction and all of the behaviors that go along with it are a life-long battle.  I know I am supposed to understand that my son’s issues with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD, no motivation, attachment disorder, trauma from the womb, etc. contribute to his behavior and that I am supposed to love him through it.

But, right now, all that I know is that I am very exhausted.

And very sad.

I cried all the way home.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

One Week in the Life...

This is what the week after our Police/Emergency Room night was like:

Monday:  I have notes on several pages with phone numbers and places that I had been calling for weeks to try to find a way to get my son into some kind of affordable substance abuse treatment program.  I wasn’t going to just sit back and say, “Okay, he smoked pot and I stopped him.  He won’t do it again.”  I wanted him to get some intensive treatment to see if we could get him back to the point that he seemed to be at a year and a half before. 

One of the places that I found that might have a place for him was at Youth Services.  But, the soonest that I could get an appointment for an evaluation was FIVE weeks after I called them!   No problem, right?  You find out your kid is using drugs again and you happily wait five weeks to see if you can get him some help.  I don’t understand what parents are expected to do in the meantime. 

Now that we had a DCFS therapist who had connections, we were able to get an evaluation a little bit sooner.  Miraculously, this appointment just happened to be the day after we came home from that crazy mid-night at the E.R.   I was so hopeful that this could be a turning point where our son and our family would get help, and that somehow we could move toward a better future.

We met with a social worker who interviewed my son and I together, then separately.  My session was last.  She listened to me tell her everything that has been going on, how awful it was at home, that he relapsed on pot, that I don’t want his drug use to spiral out of control like it did before, and that I wanted him to get into a program as soon as possible.  And then she informed me that since HE only admitted to smoking pot three times, he did not qualify for their Substance Abuse Day Treatment Program.  I just wanted to scream, but I said, “Even though you and I both know that he is lying and that he was probably using for a month or more?”

She said, “Yes, but we will do a drug urine test just in case.  If he has used in the last two weeks, we will know and that could change my decision.”  She said that she knew it was obvious that he needed help but was sorry that he didn’t qualify for their program.


I had spent the last several weeks playing “warden mom”, doing everything in my power to keep him at home, to keep him safe from doing drugs, and what did I get for that diligence? 

Unqualified.  Nobody told me that while we waited for the evaluation appointment, I should let him self-destruct and smoke all the pot he wanted.  Heaven forbid that I should try to protect my child.  In trying to protect him, I ruined his chances for acceptance into a program that might have helped him.

His urine test came back clean.  

No kidding. 

Tuesday:  I called the Addiction Recovery Center for Healing.  I had been referred to this establishment by our Church Bishop.  I turned to him as a possible source to find a place for my son to go when things got so bad at our house a few weeks before.  It took him this long to get back to me, but finally, he gave me the connection to this facility and told me that he had talked to them and they were willing to take my son on a weekly therapy basis.  Of course, when I called, I just was sent straight to voice mail and I had to leave a message and then wait for someone to call me back.   

That day, I tried to contact one of my senior citizen ladies to see how she was doing and found out that her telephone was disconnected.  This frustrated me because it meant she hadn’t paid her bill.  When I get a lot going on in my life and I don’t have time to spend at least one day a week with her, she tends to shut down and doesn’t do anything but sit and sleep.  I felt really bad that I hadn’t been able to spend as much time with her as I needed to, but it was very hard to always have to be home with my son and also be able to take care of her, too.  

I felt like I was going to have a nervous-breakdown.  When my husband came home from work, I began to cry and was sobbing to him about everything—that nobody would help us, people wouldn’t return phone calls, senior citizens couldn’t function without me, etc.  I looked up at the sky and said, “I feel like telling God that if You want me to take care of my two senior citizen ladies, then You’ve got to get me some help for my son because I just can’t do it all.”

And just as I said that, my phone rang.  It was my return phone call from A.R.C.H.  I thought the Twilight Zone theme song should have started playing right then, but was also thankful that heaven was sending a little bit of help.  The director who returned my call listened to me talk about the struggles that we have been having with our son.  I told him that in addition to the addiction issues, he needed intensive help with depression, mood, anger, defiance, and hating his parents.  He was understanding and scheduled an appointment for us in two days for an evaluation.

Wednesday:  My son, our DCFS therapist, and I met with the principal and psychologist at the alternative high school that he had been attending since August.  He was not enrolled at that time because he had been dropped for having failing grades right after midterms. 

Our DCFS therapist informed my son that we had to come up with some kind of educational plan.  I was glad that it was someone else acting as the enforcer when it came to the topic of school.  We spent two hours there and came up with this—my son adamantly refused to re-enroll at that particular high school for the next quarter.  I guess smaller classes, four hours of school a day, only four days a week, and three less credits required to graduate were not incentive enough to give it another try.

He didn't want to go to school at all, but said that if he had to, he would go back to the boundary high school.  This is the high school that he stopped going to after half of his sophomore year.   They  had referred him to court for truancy and told me that I had to put him in the alternative high school.  And now, I had to try to get them to take him back.  

While he was having a private conversation with the DCFS therapist, I called the high school to find out what I had to do to get him re-admitted.  When I told him that I had spoken to the vice-principal, he stated, “DON’T you sign me up for school without MY permission because I am NOT going to school unless I get the X-Box back.  I am not adding one more thing that is not fun in my life, until I get something back that IS fun.”

Without his permission?

It is so exasperating to have this child think that he is pulling all the strings and know that he expects US to only do WHAT HE ALLOWS US TO DO!

Of course, I explained that he would be re-enrolled as soon as possible whether he liked it or not, and then HE explained in a not-so-nice way that he would not go unless his conditions were met.

The DCFS therapist tried to get him to realize that if he would just make an effort to make amends and engage in basic family expectations, he would be able to have a better home life with us.  He showed me a list of three things that our son supposedly had agreed to do to start working toward getting privileges back.  

1.  Apologize to mom.
2. Help out around the house/do chores without being asked. 
3.  Be nice in speech and no swearing at us.

I could only hope that he would do those three things and I suggested that we add: 

4.  Be honest.  (I was tired of the lying and empty promises).
5.  Go to AA.  (Because he had stopped going to AA ever since he relapsed and I knew that it was so very important that he get back to those meetings soon).

This is what he had to say about the first one:  “You have no room to talk about being honest.  You and Dad told me the ultimate lie when you put me in rehab and you will never be able to make up for that.”

He always tries to go for the jugular and defer the topic away from himself.  My husband has always said that he didn’t care if our son hated us for the rest of his life for putting him in rehab—he did it to save his life and he would do it again.

But, it sure is hard to be hated and to know that he will probably never thank us for what we did for him.  Instead, he will continue to convince himself that he can never forgive us for it.

Thursday:  We were on our way to ARCH to see what kind of therapy they could provide for him and he said, “I will not go to a new place that I have never been to if there are locks on the doors.  You have to be able to go in and out without someone unlocking the door for you, or I won’t go in.”  I told him that it wasn’t residential treatment and he said, “Yeah, like I can believe you.”

When we arrived, I think he was genuinely surprised that it really wasn’t a residential treatment facility.  We met with a therapist and once again we told our sides of the story to her.  She was very young and I was worried that if she were his addiction counselor, he would walk all over her and not let her help him.  But, I was assured that she was really good at dealing with defiant kids.  She talked to him about a process called Neuro-feedback where his brain would be mapped and then targeted in the areas that needed re-focusing and strengthening.  This would help with impulse control, addiction, ADHD, sleep, and any other area that he was struggling in.

And just as I expected, he told me how stupid the whole place was and how therapy and Neuro-feedback were going to be a big waste of time and money.

I don’t know how much therapy helps him.  I am sure that he sits there and says what he thinks the therapists want to hear, refuses to open himself up to them, and resists any of their suggestions or ideas.  But, I am just not willing to stop trying the therapy route.  I know how bad everything is now.  I don’t know how much worse it could be if we stopped it and I am afraid to find out.

Friday:  I spoke with the director at ARCH.  He explained more to me about the addiction counseling that my son would receive.  He gave more details about the process of Neuro-Feedback, and said that we would also be able to have family counseling, too.  He thought they could help my son and he set up a week’s worth of therapy and Neuro-feedback sessions to get us started. 

Other than that, it was a slow day with no appointments, evaluations, or events.  It was nice to have one day that didn't revolve around my son.  

I had no idea that it was the calm before the storm.  

I should have known. 

Once again—I thought we had seen the worst and that we couldn’t hit any more rock bottom than we already had. 

And I was wrong.

Saturday:  We spent the evening babysitting one of our grandson’s.  Being with sweet, innocent babies always makes the world seem a little bit better for a while.  I don’t know what I would have done during the last few years without the joy that the grandsons have brought into this crazy life I live.

And then, two hours after we got home, our world began to spin out of control.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Over and over again, we heard that our son did not want to live with us anymore and that we needed to find him a place to live--or kick him out.  We were going crazy because we didn't know what to do.  
I still wanted to get him into some kind of treatment program, but just kept running into brick walls with every telephone call that I made.   Apparently, the same insurance that we had 2 years ago that allowed residential and day treatment, doesn’t cover either one, now.  Other state or county programs had 6 to 8 weeks waiting lists just to be able to be evaluated,  

What are people--who don’t have the finances to put their child in residential treatment--supposed to do while they wait 8 weeks to see if they can get their child into one of these programs?  Put their son under house arrest?  Let him run amuck and do whatever he wanted to do in the meantime?  Every private program that I checked into ran from $160.00 a day to $6,500.00 a month.  Who can afford that?

A few months ago, we learned that friends of ours had a daughter with a cocaine addiction.  Their insurance allowed them to put her in a rehab facility for two weeks.  Two weeks?  The first two weeks are the weeks that the child is angry and uncooperative.  After that, they slowly let down their barriers and begin to realize that everyone there, including their families, are trying to help them.  And even then, the progress is slow.  Two weeks isn’t long enough.  It made me want to find a way to start a foundation to provide scholarships for young people to be able to have the addiction recovery treatment that they so desperately need.  I had no idea that I would soon need that kind of assistance myself. 

At that time, I felt so bad for our friends, felt that I knew what they were going through, and wished I could help them.  I was happy that we didn't have to go through that and felt good about my son doing so well with his sobriety.  I had no idea what was coming.  You never know what is going to be the trigger that ends the sobriety and starts the relapse.  I guess the battle over school and the battle over privileges were his triggers this time. 

And now, things were not going very well in our home.  Sometimes it was so bad that I almost wanted to kick him out.  No matter how bad it got, I wouldn't do it and definitely didn’t want him to run away, go live with some unknown people, go live on the streets, or have anything bad happen to him, 

I didn’t know where else to turn and even though I didn’t really want to have DCFS (Division of Child and Family Services) involvement in our lives, I thought they might be able to help us figure out what to do with him.  After being transferred around and given different telephone numbers to call, I finally got through to a supervisor and she told me that a 45 day temporary placement might be an option while we got things figured out.  I knew that it would be heart-breaking to have him placed somewhere else, but what else could we do?  

After several weeks of waiting and calling and waiting, a Post-Adoption Family Preservation therapist made his first weekly visit. Our son was not excited that we were having a caseworker come to our house and told me that he was going to leave before the therapist got there, even if he had to go without shoes or coat again.  So, I asked the caseworker to come in the morning instead of the afternoon, just to catch my son off guard. 

He would either be just waking up or would still be sound asleep at that time of day.  He has always seemed to have problems sleeping, but now, just to be obstinate, he was staying up really, really late at night and then sleeping most of the day.  It made it hard for me to sleep because I felt like I had to stay awake too, so that I would know what he was doing. 

One night, I heard him in the kitchen at 2:00 a.m.  He was looking for some food and I told him that he just needed to go to bed and at least try to go to sleep.  He gave me a “make me” look and said that he was going to stay up as long as he wanted to because there was better stuff on TV at night than during the day.

I didn’t get into the argument with him that he seemed to be itching to have.  Sometimes I think his addictive nature feeds off confrontation just as much as it feeds off substance abuse.  I just had to walk away from that “make me” look, even though it frustrated me so much.  He loved throwing it in my face that he had the power to sleep or not and there was nothing I could do about it. 

He was very annoyed in the morning when the caseworker arrived just after he woke up.  The caseworker asked us a lot of questions as he tried to understand our family dynamic.  Our son was defensive and argumentative.  He even stormed out of the room at one point when he didn’t like hearing my husband’s opinion and feelings.  When the caseworker got to the drug history part and asked about our son’s desire to use drugs, he said, “I will probably smoke marijuana after I turn 18, but it isn’t worth the hassle right now.” 

It hurts so much to hear that.  “Why does he not get it?  Out of all of the things that have happened to him, that he has been taught, that he has seen, and that others in AA have shared, how can he still want to smoke pot, or use drugs of any kind?”  He has even said that he knows that he has damaged his brain and is not able to do certain things that he used to be able to do, mentally, because of all of his drug use—and yet he still wants to do it.

Someone who sponsors a lot of young men told me this:  “It doesn’t surprise me when someone relapses, it surprises me when they don’t.”  That is how often it happens.  He said that he went to rehab four times in three years before he finally realized that he wanted a life of sobriety and wanted to help others more than he wanted to self-destruct.

Every time I hear how long the relapse/recovery process can be and think about how bad it gets in our family with our son’s addictive and oppositional defiant behaviors, I wonder how we will ever get to the point where he has learned from his mistakes, is still alive, and ready to make a difference in the world. 

Our caseworker probably thought that we were a really messed up family.  Just to hear us try to communicate and to see how we interact with each other, surely makes us seem hopeless.

He asked my son if he would be willing to go to a day treatment program and he said that he would think about it.  As the interview went on, he changed his tune and began saying what he thought the caseworker wanted to hear.  He said he would check into programs and would see if he could get my son's name moved up on some of the waiting lists.

Being on waiting lists, though, meant that our son was in limbo.  He needed to be enrolled in school again, but I wanted it to be in day treatment, not at our boundary high school (which I call the Den of Iniquity because of his drug connections there).  Not going to school was just fine with him.  He thinks it is pointless because he is so far behind in credits toward graduation, anyway.  For me, having him around all day and night, never knowing what kind of mood he was going to be in or what was going to set him off kept me on edge all the time.  It would have been nice to have that 8 hour reprieve during the day.

When it was our turn to talk to the caseworker alone, we explained again that our son doesn’t want to live in our home and wants us to kick him out or find him a place to live, how he acts like he can’t stand us, how he wants everything in our house to run HIS way and if it doesn’t go the way he wants it to, he works himself into a rage.  

The caseworker said that his purpose was to keep our family together and that he would work as hard as he could to help us with that.  He wasn’t very encouraging on the topic of having our son temporarily placed somewhere.  He said the WE would have to pay $500.00 a month in child support to the state.  That was pretty unrealistic for our financial situation.   He was going to try to help us come up with other options and try to help us work through our problems.   

As the allotted time with the caseworker drew to a close, he warned my son to stay out of the “red zone” (which probably means blow-up mode), to stop screwing up, and to make sure that there weren’t any more incidents between then and when he went to court on the drug charges.  He said that if our son got into trouble again, the judge could give him consequences that he wouldn’t like. 

And then our son responded with, “I would love to go to Juvie.”  He just had to show what a "Bad A" he was and that he could care less if he got a harsh consequence.

The caseworker just ignored that and asked my son what he was going to do for the rest of the day.  I said, “I am thinking about taking him to the guitar store to see what is wrong with his guitar--if he promises to be nice to me.” 

He liked that idea, but had to show that some DCFS caseworker wasn’t going to change his mind about not wanting us to be his parents anymore and asked me this ‘dagger to the heart’ question:  “After we go to the guitar store, will you take me to the courthouse too?”  He was still certain that he could become emancipated.  The caseworker told him that the chances of emancipating were about 1 in 1000 and that he didn’t have anything going for him to show that he could be self-sufficient.  It didn't make any difference though.  He was still adament about going to there.  I really didn’t feel like taking him to the guitar store anymore.   

You just don’t know what it feels like to have your son constantly swear that he does not want you to be his parent.  I wanted this child so much.  I fought to keep him when he was a baby in the legal/risk foster care placement.  And now I was fighting to keep him as a teenager.  I love him so much and it is sad that living in our house, with us as parents is so terrible for him.  This isn’t what I thought his teenage years would be like.    

I tried not to show how much I was hurt by his request and I just said, “I will drive to the parking lot and I will sit in the truck.  You can go into the courthouse and do whatever you are going to do.”  He said that was fine with him.

After we left the guitar store, as I was driving toward the courthouse, he said, “You don’t have to go to there today.” 

I replied, “We might as well.  We are only two blocks away.  This is a good opportunity for you to get started on it.”  But, he just said no and that he was okay for now.

And we came home.

I guess he was going to give it another day.

I would be happy with one more day.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Saturday Night #1

Relapse was just part of the cycle that we found ourselves in.  

We were about to have two weekends in a row disrupted by big blow-ups.  


Saturday night number one:  We were getting ready to go to bed and told our son that it was time to stop playing Starcraft in the office so that we could lock up.  

Ever since I caught him in the basement smoking pot--when he was supposedly in the office playing Starcraft--we have instituted a rule that he has to go upstairs to his room at night when we do.  And, we lock the office, garage, and basement doors, as well as having the alarm chimes set on the outside doors so that he can't sneak around while we are asleep.  It is too bad that we have to do that, but the trust that we had built up over the last year was gone because of what he chose to do. 

This time, he informed us that he intended to stay up late playing the game since he didn't have very much time to play it that day.  At first, we said no, but when we saw that he was going to "lose it" over that decision, my husband said he would give him another half an hour while he stayed up to watch the local Saturday night outdoor television show.  

But, our son had already fixated on the “no” and went into battle mode, ready to fight to the death to get what he wanted.  He kept pushing the issue about how he should be allowed to stay up late and he shouldn't have to follow any stupid rules that we made just because we didn't trust him.  By the time he figured out that we weren’t going to change our minds, the half hour of game time that we were going to give him was over. 

I was amazed that he gave up his campaign and felt myself sigh with relief when he stormed up the stairs and slammed the door to his room.  

I thought we had dodged a bullet that night, but a few minutes later, he knocked on the bedroom door and said that he needed help with his guitar.  It was a little bit frustrating that the problems he had been having with his strings and tuners suddenly had to be fixed in the middle of the night.  But, we wanted to do our part to keep the peace and my husband tried everything that he could think of to help--even though he doesn't have any particular skills in that area--and nothing worked.  We told him that we would have to find a day during the coming week when we could take the guitar back to the guitar shop to find out what could be done to get it working again. 

However, since that didn’t solve his problem immediately, he acted as if it was another life or death situation.  He became more irrational and yelled that if he couldn’t fix his guitar right then, that night, he was just going to quit playing the guitar forever and then he would have NOTHING in his life anymore because we had already taken away everything else that he loves. 

Well, the only things we had "taken away" were the X-Box and marijuana.  

We found ourselves right in the middle of the big underlying issue.  He wanted his X-Box privileges back and since we had "unjustly" taken them away from him—we had taken away everything else that he loves.

We reminded him that he could have had the X-Box back by then, if he had only done the things he needed to do to earn it back.  He said wasn't going to do anything that we told him to do.  So, we asked him to tell us what HE would be willing to do to have the privilege back.  He answered that he couldn’t think of a single thing he should have to do to get something back that we had no right to take away in the first place. 

I said, “Oh, come on.  You know what we want you to do.  Why can’t you just say that you’ll be nice, stop swearing at us about everything, clean your room, go to school and pass your classes, go to AA, get a job, help out around here, and stay clean and sober?”

His response was, “Because I am not going to do any of those things.  I don’t want to live here anymore.  I can’t stand it here.  I would rather live behind a dumpster than live here for one more minute.  So, what I want YOU to do is tell me what I have to do to get you to kick me out!”

One minute we were being as helpful and supportive as we could be with his guitar needs and the next minute, he would rather live behind a dumpster than live with us.

We replied that we loved him and didn't have any desire to kick him out and that we just wanted him to stop fighting against everything, do what he was supposed to do, and get on with life in the best way possible.  But, he just said that we don’t love him, don’t do anything to make him happy, and needed to just tell him what to do to get thrown out of the house.

Even though it broke my heart to do this, I pointed to his shoes and coat and said, “Leave if you want to.” 

He proceeded to rage at me about how I would just call the police and tell them that he ran away and that I needed to kick him out so that it would be my fault if he was caught out on the streets.  He screamed, "If I burn this f***-n house down, will you kick me out?  Maybe that is what I should do.  If I do that, you’ll have to kick me out!”

We just calmly stated that if he did that, he wouldn’t have a house anymore, anyway, and that he would probably end up in jail.

He said, “If that is what it takes, then I will do it.  I want to go to Juvie.  That would be better than living here.  If I have to be here for the next 18 months, I am going to be a total a**hole and I won't do one thing that you want me to do.  So, kick me out or I am going to burn this house down.”

We did not feel safe at that point.  What would happen if we ever even tried to go to sleep that night? 

This situation was just spiraling out of control and I decided that I should call and ask my older son to come over in case we needed him to help us. 

Then, I called the Mobile Crisis Helpline to see if someone could be sent to our house to help us through this.    

I learned that the “mobile” part of their helpline doesn’t mean that they will come to your house, and the “help” part doesn't mean much either.  When I explained the situation, I was told that if he wasn’t already in a program there wasn’t anything that they could do.  I said, “If he was in a program, I wouldn’t be talking to you.  I have contacted so many agencies and programs trying to get him some help or get him into a program and all I get is put on waiting lists, or told that he doesn’t qualify, or that I can’t afford the costs because it is impossible to get a kid in a private program anymore unless you are a millionaire.  I need help and I don’t know what to do.  I was told by Youth Services that I should call you if we got into a crisis situation and that YOU would help me and now you are just like everyone else that tells me there is nothing you can do!”

I probably sounded like I was crazy, but I was tired of being told that there was nothing anyone could do to get my son the mental health help that he needed. 

The only advice she gave me was to call the police and have them come to take him to the hospital for a psych intake.

Well, thanks for that idea.  I never would have thought to call the police.  I was really trying to avoid having to call the police!  

And then I told my husband to call the police. 

When they came, our son was still belligerent and angry, but tried to act as if he didn't know why they were there.  He even had the nerve to say that he had been joking about burning the house down.  Just joking?  I swear I need to have an F-bomb activated recording device so that people can really see and hear what goes on and how it really does get as bad as we say it does around here. 

After speaking with us and trying to get our son to talk to them about what was going on, they determined that because he hadn’t made any threats to himself, they couldn’t take him to the hospital. 

Apparently, Freaking out and threatening to burn the house down did not meet the criteria for the police to help us either.  What a surprise.  As usual, we plea for help and there is nothing that anyone will do or can do to help us. 

The officers did suggest that WE take him to the hospital ourselves and volunteered to escort him into the back seat of our older son’s car, which has child-safe doors that can't be opened from the inside.  I was glad that he was able to come.

We felt that we had no other choice, but to take him to the hospital.  We didn’t know what was going on in his head and we didn’t know if he really was a threat to himself, or to us, or not.  We hoped that maybe we could get what we needed for him through the emergency room route. 

At the hospital, he had blood drawn, vitals taken, and a talk with a doctor, and a crisis worker.  After speaking with my husband and I, the crisis worker indicated that he was leaning toward recommending that our son be taken to one of two hospital psych units for evaluation and mood stabilization.

He spoke with our son at length.  At first he was very defiant and unwilling to talk about anything.  But, as soon as the crisis worker mentioned going to the psych unit, our son changed his tune.  He became apologetic and emotional.  He had tears streaming down his face and promised the moon and the stars that he would change and do whatever he had to just as long as he didn’t have to be hospitalized.

We all had to talk together about what would happen if our son came back home that night/morning.  The crisis worker pointed out the stark realities that might happen to our son if he continued on the path he was on (like prison, dying, etc.).  Our son half-heartedly admitted that he needed to change his ways and be a better person.  It sounded to me like he was just saying what he thought the crisis worker wanted to hear and whatever he had to say to be able to go home. 

And then the decision about what to do with our son changed.  He was getting another chance to straighten up and get his act together.  We did not feel good about this.  After all that had been happening over the course of the last few weeks, I didn’t believe that he was really going to commit to any serious long lasting willingness to change.  He was just playing a game and he was betting that he could win with this sorrowful change of heart act.  

The crisis worker sensed our ambivalence and reassured us that we could bring our son back to the hospital if he blew up again in the next few days and then he would be admitted to a psych unit.

But for now it was the same old story—"We are sorry that you are having struggles with your son, but we can’t help you. Good luck."

We were exhausted, discouraged, and apprehensive as we arrived home in that pre-dawn hour.

We crawled into our beds.  

And we slept.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

After Youth Services

We had to pick our son up from Youth Services the next night.  They were only willing to keep him for 24 hours.  No matter what we said, they would’t keep him any longer and we were very nervous about bringing him home.  As soon as he walked into the room, it was obvious that he was NOT even remotely happy to see us. 

A therapist was supposed to help us resolve our conflicts before we went home, but not one thing was accomplished during that hour.  Our son was just as defiant as ever and was unwilling to see that the path he was on was not going to get him anywhere in life.  As far as he was concerned, his problems were not his fault.  If we, as parents, would just give in and let him have every privilege he desired—whether he earned it or not--he wouldn't be bored.  If he weren’t bored, he would not have to get so upset, we would not have any problems with him, and he would not have to resort to arguing with us, or smoke pot.  Nothing was breaking through his walls and finally, the therapist gave up and just told our son that if he kept acting like he was, he was going to end up in prison someday.

We were on our own again and the first thing he said to us as we walked out of the building was:  “I want to do two things tonight—-go to Ian’s house to get my money, and then go buy myself a pizza.” 

We had never heard the name Ian before.  When we asked him who Ian was and why he had our son’s money, he said, “He is my friend and he has my money because I didn’t want YOU to take it away from me.” 

We offered to drive him to Ian’s house, but made sure that he knew one of us would have to go in the house with him.  He said, “No.  I am walking there because I don’t want you to know where he lives.”

He seriously thought we would have to let him go to a mysterious location to see some kid, who had his “money” and who is probably a drug dealer--because he said so.   Not surprisingly, no one went to Ian’s house that night and Ian still had our son’s “money”. 

We did buy pizza for dinner, and he thought he would play Starcraft on the computer while he ate it.  Unfortunately, for him, we had restored our computer to its original factory settings during one of his recent departures and his game was no longer installed.  He screamed at me and said that he was going to make me or the person who restored the computer pay him back for his game because HE certainly wasn’t going to pay to buy it again.  This made absolutely no sense because he still had the original installation discs.  

I said, “Look, you weren’t here when we had to fix the computer. If you had been here, you could have made sure that the game was backed up.  Nobody deleted it purposely.  If it is gone, it is gone.  Reinstall it, play it, and get over it.  It is not the end of the world, but it IS the end of this discussion.” 

He began screaming at us about everything from the computer to every single unfair thing that had happened to him in his horrible life, lately.  He obviously came home in the same unreasonable, irrational frame of mind that he left in the night before and he was cycling toward another blow-up.  The game was just the catalyst that he needed.  

It was like Déjà Vu of the night that we brought him home from rehab two years before.  He did everything in his power that night to show that he was resuming control and seemed to be doing the same thing this time, too.   That night, two years ago, we thought we had made a big mistake in bringing him home and now, we felt exactly the same way.  This time, he begged us to take him back to Youth Services because he just couldn’t stand being at our house with us. 

Well, I would have liked to take him back, too.  But knew that wasn’t an option unless things got really out of hand.  I told him that the best idea would be for him to just go to his room, be quiet, and let everything drop for the night.

Needing to have the last word, he demanded that I drive him to the courthouse Monday morning to get his emancipation started.  This made me want to laugh.  He wanted to emancipate, but he needed his mom to drive him to the courthouse.  Yes, he was definitely ready to live on his own.

The next day, I did not wake him up.  I felt that if he was mature enough to be emancipated, he should be able to get himself up in the morning.  And, there was no way I was going to drive him to the courthouse.  He slept until 3:30 in the afternoon.  We said about 20 words to each other, if that, until my husband got home from work.

Suddenly, my son needed his ear buds and I was supposed to know where they were.  He said they were in his backpack and that since we had taken his backpack from him, we needed to tell him what we had done with them.  Well, we had already given him back his I-Pod and everything that was in his backpack (minus his clothes, a Chapstick, and a multi-tool) and I seriously could not remember if there were ear buds attached to the I-Pod or not.  In his mind, I stole them from him because I always take away everything that he loves.  He informed me that now I owed him $30.00 for the lost ear buds!

He sure seemed to have a huge need for money.  First, the Ian money and then the Starcraft money.  Now, I magically owed him $30.00.  I always seemed to be blamed for everything that he couldn't find, lost, or caused to be gone from his life.  He said that if I didn’t give him the money, he would take something of mine and keep it or break it to make us equal on what I supposedly owed him.  I told him that he had no right to take or touch anything of mine just because HE misplaced something of his. 

At that point, he informed me that I also had to give him the $2.00 worth of change that the police took away from him when they took his marijuana, lighter, and pipe.  The police also stated at that time that he should obviously not be allowed to have money and I didn’t really think anything had changed since then to make him trustworthy with money.  But, he made me want to just throw 200 pennies at him and say, here is your money.  Good luck with it.  

Instead I diverted the discussion away from that money and reminded him that as a minor, living under his parent’s roof, he does not OWN anything.  I said, “Every single thing in this house, whether it was given to you or bought by you, does NOT BELONG to you.  It belongs to your Dad and I.  When you turn 18, if you move out, you can then take your stuff with you.  In the meantime, if you try to retaliate by touching anything of mine, I will call the police and they will tell you that you don’t have a leg to stand on in this situation.  You will not be allowed to steal or damage anything that I own without suffering the consequences.”

He finally seemed to feel that he had pushed the situation with me as far as he could and turned his anger toward my husband, who had been backing me up on everything.  My son said that he wished he could go lock himself in his room so that he wouldn’t have to look at his dad and want to punch him in the face as bad as he did right then.  He probably really wanted to hit me, but knew that there was no way he wouldn't get flattened by my husband if he did that.

Then, he got a little bit smart alecky and said, "Oh, yeah, but I can't lock myself in my room because I don't have a DOOR!   It did you a lot of good to take away my door.  It didn't stop me from smoking pot, did it?" 

I thought, "It also didn't stop you from getting charged with possession and drug paraphernalia either, Mr. Smart A."  

Finally, to show me what he thought about not owning anything, he threw everything out of his room that wasn’t important to him.  He kept his TV, X-Box, and guitars.  We gathered it all up and either threw it away, or put it in the basement.  I guess the next time he wants something that was in the hall, we will have to remind him that he threw it all away that night.

And then, around 10:30 that night, he came into the kitchen and asked me if we had any French fries.  As he cooked his food, he was animated and conversational as if he hadn’t just been raging at me a few hours before. 

His moods cycle so rapidly, that we almost never know what to expect. 

No matter how hard we try to make things better, though, it seems like we should always expect the worst.

I am tired of the worst.

Very tired.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


At the police officer’s recommendation, we took all of his clothes and shoes from him so that he couldn’t take off again.  It was quite a struggle to get it all away from him and I wish we had taken it while they were still here.  He did not think that only having the clothes on his back was optimal for any of his plans, so he got a little bit upset about it. 

I didn’t feel very good about the fact that the police just wrote him a ticket and then left him home alone with me all day.  Not only was I worried about how the rest of the day was going to go, I really wanted him to have a more immediate, serious consequence for the drug charges.  Maybe a first drug possession might not necessarily warrant a trip to detention, but I think it would have been a bigger wake-up call for him than a ticket. 

What was I supposed to do with him?  What other consequence could I come up with for the fact that he blatantly smoked pot right across the hall from my room!  How could I get this child to show some kind of respect for me, our home, and the expectations that come with being part of a family?     

The previous week, I had told him that he couldn’t live here and do drugs in our house or anywhere else.  Then, the police forced him to come back home.  So, was he thinking, “They tell me to leave.  They make me come back.  I still want to smoke pot, so I guess I will just do it here anyway.” 

What was he going to do without that choice now?    

I wasn't anxious to find out and I wanted to keep myself safe, so I locked myself in my room and hoped he would go to sleep and let the rest of the day go by quietly. 

I was crazy to hope for peace and quiet.  An hour later, he started screaming at me through the door.  He didn’t know where his I-Pod was and he absolutely needed it immediately.  “You cleaned my room without my permission, so tell me what you did with it!” 

Of course he would blame me that the I-Pod’s location was unknown.  Nothing is ever my son’s fault.  But, I tried to stay calm and I stated, “During the time that YOU chose to live somewhere else, I did three things in your room.  I picked up and threw away a lot of garbage.  I took armfuls of dirty dishes to the kitchen, and I took all of your dirty clothes and towels to the laundry room.  I DID NOT see your I-Pod, I DID NOT touch your I-Pod, and I DID NOT do anything with your I-Pod.  If YOU can’t find your I-Pod, then maybe YOU should figure out what YOU did with it.  But, I will say that you might want to look in your top dresser drawer or on top of the TV stand in the family room.” 

He just stomped away and then it was quiet.  So, I peeked out the door and I saw through his open doorway that he now had his I-Pod and was playing a game or something on it.  I was grateful that he found it and a potential conflict was averted.  The rest of the day was quiet and he even finally did take that nap.

That night, his friend dropped off a guitar and some of the other possessions that were left at his house.  He told me that my son had texted him during the day and tried to get a cell phone number from him (the number of someone who could have hooked my son up with some more marijuana).  But, he ignored the message.  That was interesting information and now I knew what my son’s real agenda was for getting that I-Pod.  He needed it to send that text message.

He just kept adding more and more reasons for us not to trust him anymore.  Every ounce of trust that had been gained over the last year or so was gone.

I didn’t trust him enough to leave him home alone.  As soon as he was unsupervised, he could leave and make contact with someone to replenish his stash.  Or he would just leave and not come back. 

So, he was basically under house arrest and that meant that I was, too.  He wouldn’t go anywhere with me and it was going to make it very hard to do the things that I normally do on a daily basis.  I was just as confined as he was.      

Even though I didn’t like having to ask for help, I had no choice the next day because I had an obligation that made it necessary for me to leave the house. My parents kindly came to babysit him.  I was worried about how he would act around them and had to hope that he would just sleep all day.  I had to instruct them to not let him leave, call anyone, or have any visitors.  I told them that if they smelled marijuana, or if he got belligerent with them about not being able to do anything, they should call the police.  They said they didn’t know what marijuana smelled like and I told them that it was just an awful smell and they would know if they smelled it.   I assured them that I would hurry as fast as I could and hoped that nothing would happen while I was gone. 

When I returned, he was still asleep and had not given my parents any trouble.  That was a relief. 

I went to check on him to make sure that he was still breathing and he woke up.  Even though, it was late in the afternoon and he needed to be awake, I regretted even bothering to check on him.  

Within an hour, he came downstairs and began raging at me that enough time had gone by since he was grounded from X-Box Live and that he needed to have it back.  

In what reality, would we restore his privileges the day after he was charged with possession of a controlled substance?

He said that if he didn’t get it back, he was going to die from boredom, or was going to make sure that he died because he didn’t want to live like this anymore. 

I said, “We have already gone over this with you.  You had a list of certain things that you were expected to do.  And yet, I have not heard you apologize to me for telling me to f*** off when I was trying to get you to go to school.  You did not do ANYTHING to bring your grades up to at least passing and now you have been kicked out of school.  You haven’t cleaned your room.  You did not clean the bathroom or do any other chores.  And then you ADDED one really BAD thing—smoking pot!  Yes, a lot of time HAS gone by, but you haven’t made any effort to earn your privileges back.”

He shouted at me, “I DID do something to get it back.  I went to someone else’s house and I played the X-Box and had a good time.  Here, I just sit around doing nothing but being bored out of my mind and I would rather die than keep doing this!”

That statement didn’t exactly do anything for his cause.  I almost wanted to laugh at it, but I didn’t. 

He was already well into his irrational behavior and there was not much chance of stopping it.  He was fighting for control and he was going to continue the battle until he achieved his goal.  That is Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  This type of behavior can really wear the parents down until they give in and let the child have what he wants, just to end the war.  I have wanted to give in many times.  

I didn’t want to have a war this time, but there was no way I was going to reward him for ongoing defiance and relapse.

Just as my husband walked in the door after work, the telephone rang.  He answered it and told me that I had a call from Job Corps.  I had been waiting for this call and as I took the telephone from him, my son started yelling at me to hang up because there was no way in hell that he was going to go to Job Corps.  I had to go upstairs and lock myself in my room just to be able to have a conversation. 

My husband found himself in the middle of a something and he had no idea what it was.  He did perceive by my son’s reaction that he was “on one.” 

My husband asked him, “Why wouldn’t you want to go to Job Corps?  You don’t want to live with us.  You need to graduate from high school.  So, go there.  Live there.  Get an education and a job skill.  You get everything you want and some benefits for your life, too.”

When I came back downstairs, my son declared that he could not stand living here anymore, and that he was finished with having us as parents.  He demanded that I drive him to the courthouse immediately, so that he could get emancipated from us.    

He became even angrier when I told him the courthouse was closed, that emancipation doesn’t just happen in one day, and he doesn’t even meet any of the criteria for emancipation.  He began packing another backpack with whatever meager possessions he could still find in his room and planned to leave as soon as he could whether he had shoes, a coat, or a place to go. 

It was snowing like crazy and we didn’t want him to go out in that kind of weather.  We told him that if it was so bad living with us, we would talk to the Division of Child and Family Services and ask them if they could find him another place for him to live and he should just stay in his room that night and settle down. 

That just made him angrier because he didn’t want the State or anyone else to tell him where to live and for some reason, he now demanded that we get his guitar out of the basement for him.  I was surprised that he wanted to take it out into a snowstorm, but my husband went to get it for him anyway.  While he was  downstairs, our son tried to work on my emotions one more time to see if he could get what he wanted.  He stood in the living room and regretfully stated that he would rather die out in the cold than live at our house where he couldn’t play the X-Box. 

It took a lot of effort to just not sit down and start crying.  I didn’t want him to leave.  I didn’t want him to be unsafe.  I didn’t want him to be unhappy, or die.  I didn't want him to use drugs, or hate my guts, or not want to live with us anymore.  The situation with him was just getting harder and harder and it was breaking my heart. 

But, I didn’t cave in and say “Fine, go ahead and do whatever you want, have whatever you want--just don’t leave.”  He didn't hear what he wanted to hear, so, he followed me into the kitchen and resumed yelling and swearing at me.  He even grabbed a can of soda and threw it across the room causing it to explode.  Soda was spraying everywhere and my husband took him by the arm and told him to get out of the kitchen and away from me.     

My son’s reaction to that was to push my husband up against the counter and tell him that he wanted to kill him and punch him in the face every time he looked at him.  He grabbed my husband’s face and screamed at him while threatening to choke him with his hands around his neck.     

The whole situation was just escalating too much.  I went into our office, locked the door, and called the police dispatch number.  When I told the dispatcher what was going on, she agreed to send an officer to our house.  She could hear my son yelling at me through the door, repeatedly demanding to know who I was talking to and told me to stay on the phone with her.  When I didn’t answer him, he grabbed his backpack and walked out the door into the snowstorm, without shoes or coat.

The police came and asked my husband what direction our son had gone when he left and where he might have gone.  They found him a short time later at his friend’s house—the house he had been kicked out of a few days before.  He actually thought he could hide from the police there.  And when the police rang the doorbell, he begged them to not answer the door.  The officer that was with us at our house asked about pressing charges.  Since we aren’t trying to get him into trouble and we really only want him to be safe and to stop acting the way he is acting, we just asked them to take him to Youth Services for the night.  

A few minutes later, he was brought back to our house in handcuffs so that he could get his shoes.  Then they escorted him out the door to the car.    

And we watched our son being driven away in the back of a police vehicle. 

Another first experience.

We spent the rest of the night wondering what we were going to do.

And came up with no answers.