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?