Thursday, July 16, 2015


About one week after we had last seen or heard from our son, while at a birthday party for my husband’s 90+ year old grandmother, my cell phone rang.   When I saw who it was, I immediately took the phone to my husband because I was in the middle of organizing the party food and didn’t know what I would be getting into if I answered it.

My husband took the call outside and was gone for a long time.   I had no idea what was going on and didn't find out until later that our son was in one of his end-of-the-world states of mind.  He complained that his life was terrible, that he was tired of living in a park, tired of being hungry, tired of not having anyone who cared about him, and tired of everything going wrong for him because of us.  My husband told him that we loved and cared about him and wished things could be different so that he could live at home, but, he didn’t know what else he could do or say to help.  

Then our son dropped the bomb that he was just calling because he wanted us to know that he was going to buy a bag of dope and kill himself. 

My husband tried to reason with him, talk sense into him, give him some hope, and did everything he could think of to reassure him that we would always love him.  He re-affirmed that we would gladly welcome him home as long as he would promise to be nice, stop smoking pot, and take responsibility for himself.

Apparently, he wasn't hearing what he wanted to hear, so he hung up.

My husband didn’t know what else to do or say.  Could this have been a real suicide threat, or was it just another form of manipulation?  And, if it was manipulation, what did our son really expect to gain from it?  

The party was winding down when my phone rang again.  I answered it this time and my son said, “This might be the last time you talk to me and I just thought you should know that in case you wanted to change your mind.”

I asked, “Change my mind about what?”

He said, “I guess you need to speak with your husband and he will tell you why you are never going to hear from me again.”

I asked my husband what that meant and he whispered to me that our son was threatening to kill himself because he was tired of having nowhere to live but a park.  I asked what I was supposed to change my mind about and my husband said that he had no idea what our son wanted from us because everything he had put out there so far had been rejected.

We spent the rest of the time we were at the party wondering what we were supposed to do now.  He hadn’t really threatened suicide like this before, but we also knew that most of the time people who are going to commit suicide don’t keep calling their parents threatening to do it.  However, if anyone was not going to follow the rules of statistics, it would be our son.  

Neither one of us felt that we should give in and change OUR rules and expectations.  If we were to let him come home to lessen the chances of suicide, we had the feeling that it wouldn't take long for him to get angry and freak out when everything didn’t go his way, especially when we didn’t do exactly what HE wanted US to do.  It was a cycle we were quite familiar with and didn't really want to jump back into. 

As I cleaned up after the party, I found that there was an entire pepperoni pizza left over and thought I would see if he wanted us to bring it to him.  At least it could help to alleviate the hunger factor for the night.  We hoped that it might help his attitude in some way. 

We weren’t sure if that was the right thing to do or not.  This was a new situation for us and we got the feeling that our son was expecting us to say, “Oh, please don’t kill yourself.  Come home and eat and sleep and have your way and do whatever you want to do.”

Instead, we took him a pizza.

We are awesome parents.

He grabbed the pizza from us and told us that it was stupid that we would bring him something to eat but didn’t care enough about him to even let him sleep in our backyard and couldn’t accept him for who he was.  He walked away with the parting shot that he was not going to sleep in the park for one more f-ing night and was going to f-ing end it all and we wouldn’t ever see him again. 

We were pretty worried, but drove home and wondered what was going to happen next.

Of course, within about ten minutes, the phone rang again.

He informed us that he was coming to our house with someone so that he could get his TV and anything else that he could trade for the bag of dope that he needed to kill himself that night.  He said that we HAD to let him come in and get his things and that if we didn’t, we would be sorry. He stated that he would break into our house if he had to because he was going to do whatever it took, including beating the crap out of my husband, to get the money he needed to buy some dope.

He did not come to our house and we didn’t hear anything else from him.   

The silence was just as worrisome as the constant calling.

It might seem like we didn’t handle this situation correctly.  But, honestly, no one can understand what it felt like that night.  We didn’t know what to do.  We didn’t know what to say.  We plead, we expressed our love, we attempted to reach an understanding, and we tried to reason with him.  Nothing made a difference.

This could have been a bi-polar episode, or it could just have been a grander scale of his usual disconnected thinking.  But, what if he was serious and what would we do if he carried out his suicide threat and all we did to stop him was take him a pizza?

It seemed like there was only one thing left to try.  We hoped that we were doing something that would help our son get the the help that he obviously needed.  We called the police dispatcher’s number and told them that our son was threatening suicide and explained that he hadn’t been living at home because he didn’t like living under our rules.  We didn’t know what this phone call would accomplish, but hoped something would come out of it that would save our son that night.

After the officer found him, we received a call back from the dispatcher telling us that we needed to go to the park.   When we got there, the officer said that WE had to take our son the emergency room for a psych evaluation based on the suicide threats.  We had anticipated a trip to the hospital, but we didn’t think we would have to drive him there ourselves.  We were positive that was not a good idea, but the officer said that he didn’t have permission to leave his jurisdiction.

However, upon being informed that he was being taken to the hospital, my son became very agitated and started yelling at and f-bombing everyone-- including the police officer.   His outburst quickly landed him in handcuffs and earned him a ride to the hospital in the officer’s K-9 truck.

The officer found a marijuana pipe in our son's pocket when he searched him.  That gave him one more thing to blame us for—being given a ticket for possessing drug paraphernalia in a park.

In my opinion, the positive aspect about being cited for drug paraphernalia again was that he would soon have to appear before a judge and would be ordered to stop using marijuana.  The bad thing was that he might get a stronger sentence since it was his second drug paraphernalia offense.

I thought it would be a relief to have him at the hospital in the care of professionals.  I hoped that someone would realize that our son needed mental health help. 

But, once he arrived at the hospital, our son began to “play the game.”  He b.s.’d his way through all of the questioning, evaluating, and examining.  He claimed that he wasn’t suicidal and that he had just been joking.  

The nurse, doctor, and social worker talked to us, heard our version of what had taken place all afternoon and evening and then concluded that our son was not a danger to himself or anyone else and informed us that they intended to release him. 

We weren’t even at the hospital for very long.  It seemed that no one was interested in doing anything for us or our son.  We even begged them to hold him for 24 hours (which in some states is mandatory when someone threatens suicide) and re-evaluate him after that to determine whether he would benefit from psychiatric intervention. But we were told that there was no basis for it. 

Not only that, but the social worker actually came out to the waiting room and told us that because our son was still 17 years old, according to DCFS, we were required to take him home and if we didn’t, we could be charged with child endangerment.   We explained the situation and what led up to our son losing the privilege of staying in our home and he said, “I suggest that you ride it out for four months until he turns 18, but I guess it is your choice.” 

And that was it.  Once again, it seemed as if mental health help was completely unavailable and we were on our own.  

We didn’t want to take him home, but it sure felt as if we weren’t being given a choice in the matter.  We were quite upset and a little afraid.     

Our son and daughter-in-law met us at our house to provide some support.   They talked to their brother, tried to instill in him some feelings of love and hope and asked him to try to become the person that they knew he could be:  for himself and for his family—especially the nephews who loved and admired him without reservation.  They all cried and hugged and it was comforting to see.

I wished they could have stayed longer because as soon as they left he turned off the humble, broken-hearted act and immediately informed us that he didn’t want to be in our home and was only there because we had called the cops on him AGAIN.  He told us that he was going to do whatever he wanted to do and that we couldn’t do anything about it because he knew that we had been told that we were required to let him stay until he turned 18. 

We reiterated the house rules, specifically that he couldn’t smoke pot, couldn’t have pot on our property, and couldn’t come home smelling like pot or cigarettes and that if he didn’t want to live by those rules, we would kick him out and take our chances with DCFS and the police.

He said, “Don’t worry about it.  All I am going to do is eat and sleep here and YOU don’t ever have to talk to me again.”

We gave up even trying to make a point and just said, “You can sleep on the couch and get yourself something to eat, if you want.”  We locked all of the doors that prevent him from going into the office, the basement, and the garage, then went upstairs and locked ourselves in our bedroom.

The next morning, I must have looked at him in the wrong way because he started right in on me and told me that I was a lying sack of sh**, that he hated me for calling the police on him, and that he wished he could have killed himself last night because he would rather be dead than live here. 

I wanted to say, “Good morning to you, too,” but I didn’t.   

Luckily, after his morning rant, he walked out the door without saying anything else.  He didn’t take any of his belongings with him and I had no idea where he went or if he was coming back.

Later in the afternoon, he sent me a picture of himself with his hair in a pony tail and said, “Look what I can do now!” (which I guessed meant that he was able to put his hair in a pony tail by himself).  Then he texted me and asked me what time his curfew was!

I thought, "If this isn’t a good example of one of his rapid-cycling bi-polar episodes, then I don’t know what is."  All of a sudden he was super happy and acting like life and everything between us was just peachy.  

I did not respond to his message since just a few hours prior to that, I had been told to never talk to him again and called several not-so-nice things.

When he got home that night, he was exuberant and jabbered on and on about how he had gone to Sonic to talk to the manager about getting a job there, and asked if I liked the picture that he sent to me, and wanted to know how my day was, etc.   My husband had never really witnessed one of his manic moods and he was amazed at the 180 degree change from the previous day.

The problem with this manic frame of mind, where our son acts like nothing is wrong, acts like nothing ever happened, and acts like life is just happy, happy, happy, is that it doesn’t last long and is usually followed by a crash.

Then the whole “life sucks, you suck, I hate you and everything about you” cycle begins again.

It began on day number two of “riding it out for four more months.”

He wanted me to give him $5.00 to buy a pizza.

I did not give it to him.

I was yelled at, sworn at, and berated because I didn’t “trust” him enough to give him money.  He claimed that it was my fault that he didn’t get to eat his pizza on Sunday night because I called the f-ing cops on him.  Now, all he wanted was five bucks for an f-ing pizza and I was being a b**** for not giving it to him. 

He said that as soon as he had his court date, he was going to move out again because it sure wasn’t worth it to live here, trying to do what he was supposed to do when his own mother wouldn’t f-ing trust him not to buy drugs with five stupid dollars.

I knew the happy act wouldn't last.  

It had been two days and life was already starting to feel like a living hell. 


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Moving to Colorado

One night at 2:30 a.m., my son called and asked if he could sleep on our couch because the place he was going to stay that night did not work out. 

Part of me wanted to tell him, “good luck,” but, another part didn’t want anything to happen to him out on the streets in the middle of the night.  I was afraid that no matter what I did, I was going to make the wrong choice.

I reluctantly went to go get him but let him know that he had to leave the house by 11:00 a.m. 

The next morning, I woke him up at 10:00 a.m. and suggested that he go take a shower and get some breakfast so that he would be ready to leave by 11:00.  He would not get up. 

I was so exasperated.  After getting up at 2:30 in the morning to go pick him up and bring him back to our house, he paid me back by refusing to wake up.   I didn’t know what I was going to do.   The more I tried to get him up, the more stubborn he became. Eventually, he got up, but it was already 11:20, so I left the house 30 minutes later than I had planned.    

I told him that now he would have to walk wherever he was going because I did not have time to drop him off anywhere.  He got so angry at me and said, “You mean you can’t f-ing drive two more minutes out of your way?”

Not, “Okay, mom.  I really appreciate your picking me up in the middle of the night and letting me stay here.  I know I should have gotten up sooner and that now you are late for your appointment.  Don’t worry about it, I can walk.”

Instead, I got yelled at as a thank-you for my mid-night generosity.  

I had no idea what I had set my husband and I up for when I let him spend the night, but that morning was certainly an indication of what was coming.  
The next night, he called at 9:00 p.m. and asked if he could just spend one more night here because Spence had gone out of town and he couldn’t stay at his house without him.

We said we would call him back after we had a chance to discuss it.  It seemed probable that there was more to the story than he was telling us and we didn't know if we should let him stay without knowing the truth about what was going on.   

When we didn’t immediately agree, he let us know that if it weren't for our attitudes, he wouldn't have had to move out in the first place and wouldn't be in the position he was in now.  My husband pointed out that we didn’t make him give up his home two months ago, he made that choice all on his own.  Of course that made him mad and he swore and hung up on us.

Unfortunately, he is unrelenting when he wants or needs something, so he called back a few minutes later and tried another manipulation tactic.  He said that he was going to move to Colorado with a friend since he had nowhere to live anymore. At this point, I think he fully expected us to give in and beg him to come home, on his terms, rather than move out of state.  

I recommended that he not move to Colorado on the spur of the moment at 9:30 at night, but wished him luck if that was what he wanted to do.  He sarcastically shot back with, “Well, we aren’t going tonight, I still want you to let me crash on your couch, again.”  I told him that we hadn’t had a chance to decide yet and would call him back in five minutes.  He said that we had 2 ½ minutes.

He sure wasn’t making us want to roll out the red carpet.

But, we were just gluttons for punishment and stupidly thought that at least if we let him stay, we would know he was safe for the night, and that maybe this time he would appreciate it, and it would influence him to reconsider the idea of moving to Colorado.  

We called him back and said that he could spend one night on the couch under the conditions that he had to take a shower before he could even sit on the couch, that he had to wash and dry his smelly--dirty clothes, and that he had to make sure that he spent the next day finding another place to stay.

He rudely shot back with, “Well, I will be in Colorado by tomorrow night, so you will be rid of me just like you have always wanted.” 

I should have added the condition of being nice to us, because he certainly was making sure that we were going to have to walk on eggshells all night in order not to set him off.      

He was at our mercy while we drove him home though, so at the risk of having him jump down our throats, we asked him why he had nowhere to stay anymore and wondered if he got kicked out of Spence’s house.  He said that it wasn’t any of our business.  We said, "We think we have the right to know, since we are bringing you back home."  He finally admitted that everyone got kicked out because Spence was going to have to go to D.T.

My husband suggested that if he couldn’t stay at Spence's anymore, then he should spend some time that night thinking a lot about his future and what he was going to do because the last two months hadn't really gotten him anywhere.  Of course, his reaction to that was to swear at us, tell us that we didn’t need to worry about him anymore because he could take care of himself, and that we should just shut the hell up because we didn’t know what we were talking about. 

We were driving him to our HOME, were going to let him eat our food, wash his clothes, take a shower, and sleep on our couch and this was the attitude that he gave us.  I honestly wanted to just pull over and make him get out.

But, of course, we didn’t--because of the whole glutton for punishment parental thing that we had going on that night.   

I was so tired the next morning.  I had woken up almost every hour during the night, feeling nervous and wondering why I was awake, only to remember that my son was sleeping on my couch downstairs.  Then, I would try to fall back asleep while thinking, “What are we going to do?” 

He didn’t seem to be in a very big hurry to leave the next morning and was acting as if being at home was as normal as ever.   He was just hanging out, finishing his laundry, and even being fairly nice.  

The calm atmosphere led us to dare to approach him with a proposition that might make his life a little easier.  We said, “Look, you don’t have anywhere to live right now and just in case you don't really want to move to Colorado, we thought that if you can agree to follow the rules of the house, you could stay here for awhile.”

We gave him detailed list of rules so that there could be no misunderstanding about what we expected.  
No using marijuana or anything like it (spice, etc). No using any drugs of any kind. No drinking.
No smoking cigarettes or anything like it (e-cigs). All of the above paragraph means that you can't do it at our house or anywhere in the world.
Random drug testing, more often than ever, will take place. Positive tests, or even you smelling like pot means that YOU JUST CHOSE to move out.
Curfew is 10:00 and 11:30 on weekends. If you don't come home by that time, the door will be locked. You don't get to have a house key.
You will get a job. You will start paying for your own things like clothes and extracurricular activities.
You will clean up after yourself. The room you reside in will NOT be messy-according to my standards of messiness. You will not eat food in the room you reside in. You will take care of yourself, teeth, and eyes.
You will treat us with respect and you will not swear at us. You will tell us the truth.
If you choose not to follow the rules EXACTLY, you will be choosing to move out.

He started reading them and before he got very far, he tossed them aside and said, “F-you!”  

Even though that was the reaction we should have expected, it was not exactly the reaction we hoped for.    

I handed the sheet of paper back to him and told him to keep reading because he might really want to consider that given his lack of options at this point, this might be the best opportunity for him.  He told me to just stop talking and began to cram the clean clothes back into his bags, all the while calling me a “c***” and a bitch and everything else he could come up with.

That was the last straw.  He obviously wasn’t going to see past his un-founded anger and animosity and there was no way I was going to let him keep slowly packing his things back into his bags while verbally abusing me just because I dared to care about him and wanted to help him, so I facilitated a quicker departure by throwing everything out the door and onto the lawn.  

He got angry and came very close to hitting me, but then said that if I touched one more thing, he was going to hit his dad, instead.  He grabbed a backpack and stormed outside to pick up his belongings.  I threw out everything else and told my husband I hoped he wouldn't get hit.  My husband was so angry about what my son had been saying about us and the names he had called me that he was struggling to keep his cool (but was doing a better job of it than I was).  My son didn't follow through with his threat and simply let loose more of his demeaning profanity.  He parted with saying that he was glad to be moving to Colorado because he was never going to have to see us again.

We locked the door and thought that was the last we were going to see of him for awhile.  

He called the next day.  His initial reason for calling was to get me to do him a favor, but he obviously wasn’t finished with attempting to make his problems, our problems, and seemed to be getting some kind of satisfaction out of letting us know what terrible parents we were.   It was crazy because WE didn't put him in the position that he was in, but he sure was taking out all of his anger, uncertainty, and fear on us.  

His friend supposedly wasn't ready to leave for Colorado yet and he wanted me to pick up some of the things he had taken with him and bring them back to our house because he had too much to carry around.  I said, “I don’t know how to decide what my responsibility to you is.  You threw the chance to come back home in our faces.  And before you left, you were extremely mean and said way too many awful things to me.  None of that makes me want to do anything for you, right now."

His answer to that was, “I told YOU to shut up when I was packing and you wouldn’t.  You should have expected what you got.”

Oh right.  Because in MY OWN house, I should expect to be called every name in the book when I try to talk to my child, give him advice, and bend over backwards offering him a solution to his problems.  I told him that it was not his place to tell me whether I can voice my opinion, or not, and that he definitely didn’t have the right to treat me the way he did whether he liked or disliked what I said.   

But then, for some insane reason, I said, “Just so you know, in spite of your terrible attitude and behavior, I still would be willing to give you a place to stay--if you will do the things that you need to do to get your life back on track.”

He said, “What am I supposed to do to get my life back on track?”

I answered that he had to live by our house rules, get a job, and get prepared for moving out so that he could afford to pay rent.

He replied, “There are no jobs.  I have been applying for months and I can’t get one.  Now, magically, because you said it, I am supposed to be able to find a job.  You are f-ing stupid if you think that I can get a job or that I am going to live there again.  I am going to move to Colorado and maybe I will see you in about 17 years." He followed that with the usual hang-up.

But, he was still in town later that night when he called my husband and asked if he could at least sleep in our backyard.  My husband told him that wasn't a good idea right now and that we were tired of getting yelled at, sworn at, and told how awful we were.  Then in typical fashion, our son began to rage that if we loved him we would allow him to live at home and that the whole reason he was homeless was because we had been brainwashed to think there was something wrong with smoking pot and that he could prove we were wrong about it.   

I know he really must have been feeling desperate about having nowhere to stay, but his arguments weren’t going to change our minds.  We had taken all that we could take in the last two days and his irrational logic was not going to help him achieve his goal this time.  It was very hard, as his parents to say, “Sorry, but we just can’t have you here right now,” especially when our emotions were running the gamut from not wanting anything to do with him to not wanting to lose him.  

We said it, though.

And that was it. 

The drama was over for awhile.

The sadness that we felt was not.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Whether our son lived with us or not, it seemed like the turmoil was going to be on-going. 

He didn’t want to live under our roof because he wasn't willing to live up to any rules and expectations, but, he pushed our buttons and played on our concerns for him, anyway. 

He called and asked for rides to work.  If we couldn’t or wouldn’t take him, then he would twist everything around so that it would be our fault if he lost his job. 

He would tell us how he was hungry because he didn’t have enough money to buy his own food and that he couldn't work, if he was starving to death.  Thus, if he lost his job he would blame us for not caring about him enough to get him some food.  

We felt as if we were in between a rock and a hard place.  We didn’t want him to lose his job, but we also knew that we shouldn't give in to him every time he demanded our help either.  This game went on right up until the day he finally lost his job.  

One day, right after dropping him off at work, he called me and wanted me to come back to pick him up because he just got fired.  I didn’t know what had happened, but I told him that the only way I would pick him up was if we immediately went to get applications filled out and turned in at as many places as we could so that he wouldn’t be without a job for very long. 

He said that was okay, but that he wanted to go to our house to take a shower first (he really did need one).  As we drove toward home, I asked him why he lost his job and he said that it was a bunch of b.s. and that it was not his fault.  As I pressed him a little bit more, he finally admitted that he missed a mandatory meeting the previous day.  He claimed that he went to the meeting, but because he was five minutes late, they wouldn’t let him in.  This was frustrating to me because I had offered to drive him to the meeting to make sure that he went to it, but he assured me that he already had a ride. 

While he was showering, I looked online and found three nearby places that were hiring, so that we would have a starting point.  But, when he was dressed and ready, he stated that he was going back to Arctic Circle to meet his friends.  I said, “You promised to go get applications, if I picked you up and you need to take advantage of my help when it is being offered.”  He said he did not agree to that and just wanted a blankety- blank ride and that  it shouldn’t be that hard for me to give him one. 

Once again, the conversation went around and around as I tried to get him to understand how important it was for him to have a job now that he wasn’t living at home, but he just got mad and told me to quit repeating myself and that this kind of constant interference in his life was the reason he didn’t live at home anymore.

I knew that he wasn’t going to change his mind, at this point, so rather than continue to argue with him, I told him that I had somewhere that I needed to go and that he had to leave.  He just continued yelling at me and refused to leave if I would not drive him back to the restaurant.  In order to keep things from getting out of control, I finally agreed to give him a ride.

My attempt to avoid any more conflict wasn’t as easy as it should have been.   At the restaurant, he told me to go through the drive-through and buy him some corn dogs for lunch. 

I could have just done it, but I seriously thought it was a pretty ridiculous expectation at this point and I said no. 

My refusal just fueled his fire though.  He accused me of being embarrassed to be seen with him and wanted to know why I wouldn’t go out to lunch with him anymore. 

As if smoking marijuana, moving out, making everything that happened to him my  fault and my problem, and just being a jerk would make me want to have lunch with him or even buy him lunch. 

And, quite honestly, I WAS embarrassed to be seen with him at the place he had just gotten fired from.  

I said, “Just so you know, I came here after you turned in your application and asked a friend of mine, who is a manager here,  to please get you an interview.  So, yes, it would be embarrassing to be seen with you HERE since I will probably see my friend.  You need to get out of the truck now, or you are going to be walking from the shopping center because that is where I am going RIGHT NOW!”  I put the truck in reverse and began to leave.

Somehow, he came to the conclusion that he wasn’t going to get what he wanted.  He swore at me as he got out of the truck – telling me how he felt about me at the moment--and slammed the door as hard as he could. 

I felt so bad.  Being subjected to his tirades  and told in all kinds of colorful ways, what a horrible person I am, is always so hard on my heart. 

When I got back home, I felt that I should say something to him and sent this text message:  “You are my son and I love you.  I am sad that it isn’t like it was two months ago when we would go get lunch together every week.  But, you changed everything when you chose marijuana over your home and family and I am not happy with what you are doing.  It makes me sad to not do things for you, but I can’t enable you either.  I am sorry it is like this.”

He did not reply.

He was angry about getting fired and angry that he didn’t get everything that he wanted out of me.  I don't even think he got the big fight he was looking for.  If we would have had a big blow-up, he could have somehow shifted the blame for getting fired on to me.

Denying him was the right thing to do, I guess.  Everyone kept telling me that the “tough love” that you hear about all the time was going to have to become part of my daily life. 

Tough love is very hard to put into practice.    

As a parent, your instinct is to do everything you can to protect and care for your child no matter what.  Every time I tried to step back and let him deal with the struggle, it just about broke my heart.  He let me know that it proved that I didn’t give a darn about him.   I love this kid with every fiber of my being and the "love" portion was hard to reconcile with the "tough" portion.   I didn’t want him to believe that I didn’t love him or care for his well being.  

I was advised that I had to wait for him to hit rock bottom because no matter how hard my husband and I tried to help him, or how many different ways we tried to get him to see the reality of his situation, or how much we wanted him to change his course, it was ultimately his choice to change or not to change. 

Since he had never been able to learn through consequences, it was probably going to take him living through some very hard times to get to that point.

And every hard thing he brought upon himself—was equally hard for us, too.

When your child is an addict who does not know how to accept responsibility for his actions, rock bottom doesn’t really seem to exist.

There is always seems to be another rock just below it.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Feels Like the Beginning of the End Part 2

 Well, he saved us from having to kick him out.

Within a day of that revealing night, I received a text message that said, “Hey, I am going to move in with Spence for awhile.   Just wanted to let you know.”

I felt like he was choosing to smoke marijuana over his home and family and it broke my heart.

I replied to him that this wasn’t a conversation to have over text messaging; that he needed to think twice about that decision; and to come back home to talk to us.  He did not answer me back.

I did hear from his sponsor.  He called to relate some of my son’s concerns to me.  He was afraid that we would call the police on him and/or that we were going to put him in rehab again, so he moved out in an attempt to avoid those consequences.  Apparently, my son admitted to him that he had been smoking marijuana about twice a week for over a month.  That lead me to believe that he had been smoking a lot more than that, since lying comes second nature to him when he is using. 
I asked his sponsor to tell him that we wouldn’t call the police as long there was no marijuana or drugs brought into the house and as long as he did not smoke pot IN the house (like he had been the year before), and, now that he had moved out, he also had to honestly be clean and sober in order to be able to come back home.

You know, when we put him in rehab at the age of 14, we thought he had a really good chance to change.  And we really didn’t have much choice, but to put him in rehab.  We had to do something to try to help him quit using, because we would not have even thought of kicking him out of the house at that age.  We hoped and prayed that the things he learned about addiction and the life skills that he learned would have a lasting impact on him.  At one of the parent meetings, we were told that one third of the kids would go on to live a productive, successful, drug-free life.  But, the odds were also that one third of them would die from their addiction, and one third would just go on living life as an addict—in and out of jail, rehab, and relationships.  We only wanted to picture our son in the successful scenario. 

But now he was 17 years old and couldn’t see the road that he was heading down again.  He actually left home, rather than take the chance of going back into rehab.  We really felt that if it wasn’t his decision, he wouldn’t be receptive to anything that they tried to teach or re-teach him this time.  After all of the programs that he has been through in counseling and rehab, he had never changed his opinion about using marijuana.  He didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.  The fact that it was a gateway drug for him which led to his becoming a drug addict who used any and every drug that he could get his hands on, did not seem to matter to him.

The previous year while he was in the Psych unit, as the therapists and psychiatrists were trying to figure out what to do with him, they all agreed that even though they had tested him and he still showed all of the signs of being an addict, they thought that rehab would be a waste of time and money until he wanted it for himself because he knew the game and knew how to play it, thus not taking it seriously.

But, even though he hadn’t had a long inpatient stay, I did think that the previous year’s stay in the Psych unit had helped him in some ways.  He seemed to have been able to control his rages more than he used to, even though he still had more of them than I liked.  There hadn’t been any incidents that required the police to intervene!  I felt like we got along better at least some of the time.  He even changed how he talked about moving out and used the word, “if” more frequently than he used the word, “when”.   I was feeling hopeful about the future.

And then I was stupidly blindsided. 

I GET that he is an addict.  I have had years of education on this subject.  I knew that multiple relapses were likely. 

But, I am his mom.  I love him more than he will ever know and my heart doesn’t understand his turning his back on me because of marijuana.  

I was at such a loss and had no idea what to do.

We asked our good friend whose life's work is to help transition addicts from rehab back into society what we should do.  He said, “Stick with the ultimatum of no drug or alcohol use while living in your house.  Part of me feels you should just kill him with the kindness of telling him—good luck.  He believes he can make it on his own.  What will really happen is that he will get a small, but useful taste of what it takes to me a man.   He will lose his job, thereby losing any money from that job.  He won’t be able to eat and will definitely grind on the nerves of those he is surrounded by.  Pot smokers will only smoke out their friends for so long.  He will then come back to you with his proverbial tail between his legs and maybe learn that you guys are through with the bullcrap, which at the end of the day is the key to a person beginning the journey of recovery.  He has very few options, but the scary thing is he doesn’t have a clue about that.  I believe that he will sooner, rather than later, find that out.  I tell parents all the time that it is them who have all the power, but it is somehow the genius of all addicts that make parents believe they have none.  Such is not the case.  You are all that your son has.  Don’t forget that.”

What he said about addicts making their parents feel like they have no power made sense.

We definitely were feeling powerless.

Even though we knew our son would move out someday, we didn’t want it to happen like this and there didn’t seem to be anything that we could do to change the circumstances. 

We were so sad. 

And so very disappointed.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Feels Like the Beginning of the End

The first month of the year was mostly uneventful—meaning that we had very few blow-ups.  My son even got a job at a fast food restaurant near our house and at first, was excited about it.  It doesn't take very long for someone who is oppositional defiant to start disliking anyone who has authority over them so he soon began to complain about the managers.    

Since we had been getting along fairly well so far that month, I wasn't surprised when one day he asked me if I wanted to go to a movie with him.  I told him that I didn’t think there was anything that I wanted to see and he asked me to check.  I was right.   At that point, he said, “Well, can I just use the money that you would have spent to go to a movie with me, to go to a movie with Hailee?”  He is such a con artist.  I do not appreciate being conned and I did not give him the money.

I should have suspected that the good times were coming to an end a few weeks later when we had a battle about his filthy room.  He would take meals and snacks up there, then leave the dishes and partially eaten food in piles all over the place.  No matter how many times I reminded him that he was breaking all the rules about food in his room and told him to take it all down to the kitchen, he wouldn’t do it.  He said that he should have been able to keep HIS room any way that he wanted to and that if we called it HIS room, we didn’t have the right to tell him to keep it clean.  So, for the 150th time, I told him that the term HIS room referred to the room that he was allowed to reside in, but that in no way gave him possession of it and that the privilege of having a room came with the requirement to keep it clean.  He responded, “I never agreed to that.”

Where his reasoning came from was a mystery to me.

But, the battle got heated and when his behavior started getting out of hand I told him that if he didn’t want to follow the rules here, he could leave.  He said, “If I leave, you will call the police and I am not moving out until the day I turn 18!”  I told him that I would not call the police and that he could just go ahead and go because he was close enough to age 18 that the police wouldn’t care whether he left home or not.   I guess he thought I was serious because eventually he cooled down and stopped playing the “I’m going to move out as soon as I turn 18” card as if he knew that it wasn’t working to play it on my emotions anymore. 

Then, one night, at the beginning of February, he came home from Hailee's house reeking of POT!  I guess he thought I wouldn't notice it over the cigarette smell that always followed him home.  But, I noticed and I was very angry!  It made me so furious that he had been smoking pot with her, but he said that he left her house and went somewhere else before he came home. He stated that I didn’t need to know where he went, or who he smoked it with, and that I might as well stop asking him about it. 

I had a sinking feeling that it had to have been going on for awhile and I was just barely finding out about it.  I had been deceived, once again.

I said, “Things have been going fairly okay around here and then you go and start doing this again!  What were you thinking?  Everything is messed up now!  You can’t smoke pot!  It’s not allowed if you live here and you know it!  Why did you start smoking pot again?” 

He finally gave the excuse that he had been feeling bored and anxious and that I was crazy to think that things had been going great around here because they weren’t and he couldn’t stand it anymore.

Well, I guess it was my own wishful thinking.  I obviously wanted to believe that we were getting along better than in the past.   

I had been watching for the bored-ness factor that shows up in the winter months because I knew that it was a trigger for him.  I provided money to go out to dinner and bowling quite frequently with his friends.  He also had his new job to keep him busy, so I really didn’t see any indications that he was becoming bored or overly anxious.  He hadn’t even shown any more signs of drinking in the previous few weeks. 

Now what?  He wasn’t 14 anymore.   We had hardly any control over him as it was at age 17.  Nothing we had done, or facilitated, or forced in the last few years made any difference at all.  He just refused to get it.  How could we convince him to “get it” now?

I told him that I was not funding any more activities with his friends because the trust level was back in the negative zone.  He insisted that he never used my money for marijuana.  Even if that were true, it seemed pretty hard to believe at the time. I also informed him that transportation to work would be provided, when I was available, but that rides to friend’s houses would not be given anymore because I wasn’t going to enable him.

In the back of my mind, I suspected that he might be headed this direction after his New Year’s Eve drinking episode, but I just wasn’t ready for it.  

The next day when I heard the song “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns and Roses on the radio, I got very emotional.  It used to be one of my son’s favorite songs and I have associated it with him for a long time.  As I listened to it, I pictured that sweet one-year-old child in his little white tuxedo, standing outside the temple where he was sealed to us for time and all eternity, a few days after the adoption was finalized.  I wondered how he had grown into the big, long-haired defiant person that he was now.  16 years before, I never would have thought that this is where we were headed.

I just wanted to cry.

We hadn’t given him the “quit or move out” ultimatum yet, but I was fairly sure that nothing that we said or did would make any difference.  He was going to do whatever he wanted to do. 

If he wasn’t willing to quit using marijuana, we were going to have to get the courage to kick our son out of the house. 

How does a parent do that? 

Monday, February 2, 2015

New Year's Eve

On New Year’s Eve, my husband, son, and I went to see Thor, got some dinner at our favorite Mexican food chain, then came home and began a movie marathon.

As the first movie was ending, my son got the New Year’s Eve phone call that I had been dreading--to go hang out with friends.  I wished that he could have just stayed at home with us where I knew he was safe and not likely to be tempted to do anything stupid.    

But, they were some of his childhood friends, so I hoped it would be okay and he promised to keep me posted on his status throughout the evening.  As the night went on, I received the updates:  they went to get junk food, they went to Dillon’s girlfriend’s house, and then went to I-Hop at midnight.   After that, they planned to spend the rest of the night Dillon’s house.

I believed every single update -- until the next morning. 

He came home at 9:00 a.m., as he had promised, to get ready for a job interview at Little Caesar’s Pizza.  When he came into the house, he was chewing gum like crazy and it seemed to be clashing with the smell of alcohol emanating from him.   He went straight to the shower—probably to try to wake himself up and wash away the evidence.  But, after the shower, when he went to his room, instead of getting ready to go to interview, he crashed onto his bed.

Well, the shower obviously didn’t work to keep him awake and it didn't seem to do much to wash away the smell of alcohol.  I don’t have any experience with people who drink, but when I walked into his room, it seemed to me, that he still reeked of alcohol as if it was coming out of his pores or something.  I tried to get him up and moving, but he was out cold.  I spoke loudly and sharply, practically yelling at him until I saw his eyes open a little bit and got a grunt of acceptance out of him.  At that point, getting up and getting ready was all on him.

I couldn’t believe it when he actually started to get ready, but was frustrated at how slowly he was doing it.  He finally made it to the interview, but was five minutes late.  We were afraid that it wasn’t going to go well.  It made me angry that he partied all night long— all the while leading me to believe that I could trust him and what he said he was doing—and then was unprepared and hungover for this interview. 

He came home and went right back to bed.  I wanted him to take a drug test, but he said he wouldn’t until he woke back up.  I didn’t have any alcohol tests and wasn't sure if they would have worked by then anyway.  Alcohol had never been his substance of choice, so this was a new area for us to have to deal with.

The drug test came back clean and when we asked him why he had been drinking, he said, “I don’t drink because I don’t handle alcohol very well.”

Was that a denial, or a way of getting around answering the question?

He didn’t get the job.

And there we were.

Beginning the new year with a potential new problem.

Happy New Year?

Saturday, January 17, 2015


The day that my son started his seasonal job at a party store, I just wanted to tip my head back, spread my arms wide, turn around in circles and breathe.  He was scheduled to work for six hours—the best six hours, ever!

And then, at the end of that first day of work, he said he was going to quit.  His task for the day was standing on the corner, wearing a pirate costume, and waving a sign to attract people’s attention to the party store.  For some reason, he did not think that was what he signed up for.  

I don’t know what inspired him to go back the next day, but luckily he did and since it rained, he was able to work inside the store and didn’t say anything else about quitting for a few days. 

He spent a lot of time out on that corner and hated every minute of it.  One day, while he was working, I got a text from my friend that said, “We just passed a pirate standing on the corner.  He looked like he wanted to shoot himself.”    

I drove by many times, hoping to see him in the pirate costume, but I never did.  I did see him looking like a very unhappy clown a couple of times and took his picture. 

One day after work, he said, “I don’t think I will be hired on a permanent basis after Halloween.”

I asked why?

He replied, “Because I can’t tie balloons.” 

I laughed out loud and then promised to buy him some balloons to practice on.   He said he did not want me to do that.  Why would he make the effort to practice something that might help him keep the position after Halloween was over?

About two weeks later, he was interviewed and then hired at a wholesale shipping warehouse.  He worked there for two days and said it was very, very hard work.

On the third day, he called in sick.  We could not believe he did that.  We were sure that he had just lost this new job.  Of course, he thought we had no idea what we were talking about and that he couldn’t be fired for being sick.

After that, every time he checked to see what his schedule was, he was told that they didn’t need him the next day.

He never worked there again.

He continued to work at the party store, but didn’t like it, threatened to quit all the time, and started to refuse to go if he had to walk or ride his bike.  If I couldn’t take him, he would say that he was going to call in sick. 

Apparently, he hadn’t learned anything from calling in sick at the warehouse.

HIS future was on the line, and he was behaving as if this job was my responsibility, not his. 

It was so frustrating.  

But as usual, I did everything that I could to help him because I always felt like I had no choice.  He would threaten  that if I didn’t drive him to work, he wouldn’t go.  I knew that somehow, if he got fired, he would turn it all around and blame me for it.  I just couldn’t handle that and did all that I could to help him keep this job for as long as they would schedule him to work.

At least when he went to court, he still had one job.   I wondered if that would be enough to keep him out of detention.

He told the judge that he had a job at the party store (without mentioning that it was temporary) and had worked for two days so far at a wholesale shipping warehouse (neglecting to mention the text message that he had just gotten the day before that said, “We won’t be able to use you anymore.”)

The probation officer knew that the first job was temporary and that my son was likely not going to be working at the warehouse anymore, but didn’t make any effort to clarify those points with the judge.  Neither one of them seemed to care that my son was not "fully employed" as had been mandated at the previous hearing.

I felt as if their goal that day was to close the case and wash their hands of my son.  There was nothing I could do about it.  

As we  left the building that day, his probation officer said that he literally never wanted to see him again—meaning that he wanted him to stay out of trouble, but I was pretty sure that it also meant that he was ready to be rid of our family’s  drama.

My new worry was that without the court's jurisdiction, my son would immediately feel that he was free to start smoking marijuana and doing whatever he wanted to do again.  I hoped and prayed that he would stay sober, but, every single time he has been sober, I have always secretly wondered how long it would last. 

He was not asked to stay on at the party store after Halloween.  This was disappointing, but not unexpected.  

As soon as he was not working anymore, he started spending a lot of time hanging out with his new friends from work. He always came back smelling like he had been sitting in a room full of smokers.  He claimed that the mother at the house was a chain smoker and that he didn't like it at all.  When I picked him up, I had to drive home with the windows rolled down (even though it was cold outside) because I couldn’t stand the smell and eventually stopped giving him rides and made him walk home.  He swore that he wasn't smoking and that he didn't like the pervasive odor, either. I did not know whether I believed him or not.   

I really wanted him to get a new job as soon as possible, so that he would have less time to hang out with these people.

But, he was having  fun, doing nothing, and wasting time. 

He was still demanding and mean.  As he began to run out of money, the name calling and berating about my unwillingness to "treat him like other parents treat their kids" increased.  I was supposed to give him everything that he wanted and rides everywhere he wanted to go.  

He wasn’t in any hurry to get a new job, especially because that is what I wanted him to do.    

He would rather do the exact opposite of anything that I expected.  

He was really good at that.