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.
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.