Friday, January 18, 2013

It Gets Worse

He wanted to pack a bag and leave the night that he smoked pot in our basement and started the relapse roller-coaster ride.  It was 10 degrees outside and I couldn't stand to have him out there looking for a place to stay in the middle of the night.

I eventually got him to agree to at least go up to his room and wait until the next day to leave--if he really still wanted to make that choice, then.  After he finally went upstairs to his room, we searched everywhere, but didn’t find the marijuana. He told me that he had just used the last of it.  We did find some “bowls” (or homemade pipes) sitting in the downstairs window—smashed soda cans that had been used to smoke the pot.  I was so glad to get back upstairs and out of that room.  The smell made my stomach feel sick, my head feel weird, and gave me a nice, gigantic migraine.

I was disappointed when he got up the next day,  packed a bag, came down the stairs, said he would call me sometime, and headed out the door.  As he was leaving, I said, “I love you and I want you to stay, but you do have to go back to being clean and sober.”

He looked at me like I was his worst enemy and replied, “You see me walking out the door, don’t you?” and then left. 

He just keeps breaking my heart and throwing my love right back in my face.

We were worried about where he really went because we didn’t know if he would go to the friend’s house that he always goes to, or if he would go to some drug house from his pre-sobriety days.  Later that first night, his only good friend came by to retrieve some guitar picks for him, and we were relieved to know where he was currently staying. 

The next day, his mom and I talked and she said she would let him stay there, but only if she could search his backpack and pockets because she didn’t want him smoking pot in her house either.  She has always had a good relationship with my son, so said she would try to get through to him and talk some sense into him. 

He was there through the weekend, but then Monday evening, she called me with bad news.  Her son had come home from school that afternoon and found my son sitting on the sofa in their living room smoking pot!

(My son is not in school at this time because he was dropped from his alternative high school right after the midterm for failing most of his classes.  He had been given numerous chances to improve his grades, but had not taken advantage of any of them).  

My son’s friend was so angry and upset.  He felt very used and he told my son that he had to either get rid of all of his stuff and stop using drugs or he would have to leave their house.  He said, “We have been friends for a long time and we will always be friends, but I can’t hang around you if you are going to be like this.” 

And then, my son did the worst thing.  He trashed the only good friendship that he has, packed his bag again, and walked out the door.  How sad.

I was proud of my son’s friend for sticking up for his values and wanted so badly to be proud of my kid like that. 

I did not know where he was going to go and I was so afraid for him.  I called my husband and told him that our son was somewhere out on the streets.  Luckily, at that moment, about one mile from our house, he saw our son walking down the road.  He stopped and talked to him, but even after reiterating how much we care about him, that we don’t want him to hurt himself by using drugs, and that we don’t want him to be wandering around with no place to go, our son drove another dagger into our broken hearts and said, “It is better to be out here, freezing and hungry than it is to be living in your house with you.”

The addict mentality--not thinking or caring that he was hurting anyone else.  As long as he was doing what he wanted to do and wasn’t under our control, he was happy--or had convinced himself  that he was.

We decided that since he wouldn’t come home, we would report him as a runaway.  My husband tried to keep track of him until the police arrived.  They were able to locate him and talked to him for quite a long time, then insisted that he come home with my husband. 

A very belligerent, angry young man walked in the door.  It was a relief to see him, but I was extremely apprehensive about what was going to happen next.  My husband searched him and his back-pack but only found some make-shift pipes (made out of empty lip balm containers), and two lighters.  We still did not find any marijuana.  He sure has a knack for making it impossible to find.  It seemed likely that he probably still had some, but we weren’t sure where. 

We tried to be hopeful that he would take to heart some of the things that the police or his friend had said to him.  We wanted to believe that he would make the changes to move past this and start a new path of recovery. 

So much for hope.

We didn't have more than one day before he pushed against the rules and restrictions again. 

My husband left for work, but I was still trying to get some sleep.  I had been sleeping with my senses on high alert for the last two nights, just in case he tried to get away with something again.  We had taken his door off of his room and made sure that we now had key locks on all of the doors of areas of the house that he wasn’t trusted in anymore.  But, I had a hard time feeling like I got very much rest.    

Suddenly, I thought I heard someone knock on the front door.  I got up, put on my robe, and ran down the stairs to see who it was.  There was no one there.  As I climbed back up the stairs and approached my son’s room, I realized that what I really had heard was my son opening or closing his window—because--guess what I smelled when I stopped at his doorway?


He actually had the nerve to smoke pot in his door-less room, right across the hall from my room! 

He claimed that something had to help him get some sleep and not be bored out of his mind.  He didn’t even seem to care one way or the other that I caught him again.  I told him to give me the marijuana that he had in his pocket and he just looked at me with a look of contempt as if he were saying, “Go ahead and try to get this from me.” 

I got out my cell phone to call my husband and he said, “If the police are coming, I really need some time to get showered, dressed, and packed so that I can leave before they get here.”    

As if I would really say, “Oh, yeah.  No problem.  Take all the time you need.  Go take a shower and dispose of the marijuana that is in your jacket pocket before anyone can confiscate it from you.”   

My husband did call the police and as soon as my son realized that the police were most likely on their way, he threw on some shorts, began packing his back-pack, and tried to be gone before they got here.  His efforts were frustrated when he couldn’t find his shoes.  He was still looking for them when the police arrived.    

They searched him and found marijuana in an Altoids mints container, a lighter, a pipe, and an ineffective scent-hiding filter that looked like part of a toilet paper roll stuffed with toilet paper.  Nothing is safe around here — chapstick, toilet paper rolls, soda cans.  Everything has a potential drug use.

Three different officers tried to find out what was going on in his head and tried to talk to him about how he was screwing up his life.  He was defiant, smart-alecky, and rude to all of them.  The first officer finally said that he was finished talking to this kid and expected to see him end up in prison someday.  He gave him a ticket charging him with possession and having drug paraphernalia and then they all left. 

His first drug charge.

Not exactly a “first” to brag about.

Not the kind of first that I ever wanted for him. 

No parent would.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


He should be able to say that he is two years sober now. 

Another entire year has gone by since we celebrated the big one year milestone.  These last 12 months have been full of conflicts, blow-ups, and crazy anger issues.  The problems happened so often, that I didn’t quite know how to write about them.  He started doing poorly in school and then just quit going all together, argued with us about everything, was charged with assault (by me) and criminal mischief (for breaking things), had to appear before a probation officer, wasn’t doing very well at living life, started a new school, but still failed all of his classes, and couldn’t stop blowing up about anything and everything.  It was not the greatest year in our family. 

At least, though, it was another year of staying clean and sober and we had to be hopeful about that. 

Until one night last week when an odor woke me up and five minutes later, I found myself in a nightmare that turned the world upside down.

At first, I thought it was our dog (who was sleeping in our bedroom), emitting one of her really offensive dog smells.  I quickly ruled that out and thought maybe it was burned popcorn.  But, it wasn’t quite the burned popcorn smell either, so I got up to investigate. 

I descended the stairs into the basement level of our house, and my heart dropped into my stomach with every step I took. 

I knew what that odor was.


Really?  Marijuana?  He relapsed?  When?  Why? How long ago?   

He had been fairly nice that day.  He thanked my husband for making him some French toast.  Instead of just staying up late without permission, he asked if he could stay up until midnight or so to play StarCraft on the computer and we said he could.  He always told us that we didn’t trust him and we kept trying to show him that we were trying to.  Allowing him to stay down on the main level of the house in the office was one of our acts of trust.

But, he wasn’t in the office playing a game.

Even though this last year was fraught with turmoil, I did not expect this.  We were warned repeatedly, that it was likely.  Most of the kids that we knew from rehab relapsed within weeks or months of commencing from treatment.  But, since so much time had gone by I really believed my son when he told me that he was through with that part of his life and never wanted to use drugs again. 

Apparently, all this time--talking the talk and going to his weekly AA meetings—he was just being compliant with our expectations of sobriety without being committed to sobriety for himself. 

I walked into that basement room, gagged on the awful smell and said, “What the heck are you doing?” 

He looked at me and blatantly lied, “I am working on my amp.”

I said, “You were just smoking pot!” 

He denied it.  As I stood there in that disgusting smelling room, with my head spinning and feeling like I was going to vomit--he denied it.

“Your eyes are bloodshot, this room reeks of marijuana, the smell was coming up through the furnace into my room, and it is obvious by the temperature in here that you have had the window open!  I am not stupid!”

He just looked at me with a smug look of mis-guided power and said, “So what if I was smoking a bowl?  I can smoke pot if I want to and there isn’t anything you can take away from me or ground me from that will make me stop.” 

No! Not again!  This could not be happening again.

At the New Year most people resolve to make the coming year better than the last one.

My 16 year-old nephew’s New Year’s Resolutions were something like this:

No more junk food or soda.
Get at least a B in all of my classes.
Work out more.
Get a job.
Go to church on Sundays.
Better myself in all aspects.

And yet my 16 year-old son seemed to have come up with this one--

Smoke pot whenever I want to
because there isn't
anything wrong with it and
 there is nothing
that my parents can do
to stop me.

We heard that exact thing from him 2 ½ years ago.

And now it was like experiencing Déjà vu.

Why, oh why, oh why?