Friday, June 26, 2015

Dear Me

Dear Me, STOP! Take a deep breath. You can't help someone who doesn't want to help themselves.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Her Letter Is Heartbreaking

I follow David Sheff on Facebook. Periodically he post letters he receives from readers. This one caught my eye. It seems like this mother and I have the same life. But sadly her son passed away and mine is barley hanging on. Sadly this is the harsh realities of our addicts.

"There is no instruction manual for mothers of addicts," writes MaryBeth. Her letter is heartbreaking. I told her I'd post it here, so others can respond. - David Sheff

"We have all the information about what to expect when you are expecting and of course there is always the go to book by Dr. Spock. There are books written by parents living the nightmare that addiction brings along for the ride. As Matt's mom I tried to educate myself on addiction. An Addict in the family, Stay Close, Beautiful Boy all became my bibles. My go to reference books that made me feel like I wasn't crazy or a horrible mom. The only problem with those books is their addict survived. My son did not.

"Matt's addiction became my addiction. I was addicted to saving him. Yes, I know, I've heard it all. Only the addict can save himself. Unfortunately, I saved people for a living so I foolishly let my self think that I had the power to cure Matt's addiction. To me, he wasn't an addict. Matt just had a problem. He had scripts for the Percocet and Xanax from what I believed to be a pain management clinic that cared about Matt's well being. Denial helped me survive those years we battled his addiction together. There were times I felt like I was strapped to a roller coaster blindfolded. Never knowing or truly seeing what was coming next.

"I did't talk about Matt's addiction at work. Addiction is a dirty word. Parents are afraid it's catchy and if they allow themselves to think even for a minute this nightmare could invade their perfect family they run and shut you out. You are the mother of an addict, their dirt is now yours. I look back now and realize how blind I truly was. I wanted to believe the lies. I'm just tired. Yes, I went for the interview. No, mom I'm not abusing my drugs. Matt lived with me the last seven years of his too short life. We battled many days. Screaming at each other after me coming home from a 12 hour shift to find him slumped over on the couch with white residue on his nose, his list of chores undone. Still I denied he was that addict.

"Being a nurse I had contacts in the treatment world and believe me I exhausted them. There wasn't a rehab in Delaware that I haven't visited with Matt in tow. Getting him admitted and finally being able to breath even just for 28 days felt like the weight of the world left my heart. Knowing he was safe gave me the false security that my son would also be one of the survivors. Matt's coming home was always a mixed bag of emotions. Yes, I was happy to see him but at the same time I was scared to death.

"I had to keep a roof over our heads and that meant Matt was once again afforded the freedom to live in his world of euphoria. When I had exhausted the rehabs in Delaware, we went to Maryland then Pennsylvania. Through this entire 7 year journey I never thought he would overdose. Denial became my very dear friend. "Tough love didn't work for us either. I finally told him he had to go after he stole from me and then called the police on me for hiding his drugs. You see, I was tired of the rehab stuff and was going to detox him myself at home. He left and I cried and constantly worried. I let him come home to shower and eat, I felt like a piece of dirt. "Me living in a great house and Matt sleeping on whatever couch he could find for the night. Tough love just about did me in so Matt came home and the cycle started all over again. I became the mom police, checking his phone and emails. Searching through his room and things.

"My friends, tired of the same Matt stories started to avoid me. My life became a place I didn't want to be anymore and I would dream of selling everything and running away, but I had to save Matt. Our last Thanksgiving together was spent at Rockford, a mental health facility. We were given one hour. Knowing what I know now I would have signed him out and run like the wind. My son eating with strangers and me crying my heart out as I left him behind. The last time I saw Matt he was in Bowling Green, a rehab in Pennsylvania. He ended up there after another screaming match with me coming home and him stoned again. I told him it was rehab or the streets. I drove him there on a Monday night and held my breath in the waiting room as the staff did their assessment to decide if he would be admitted.

I praised God all the way home in joy that maybe this would be the magic time as all the books tell you, don't give up one time he will get it. I fooled myself into thinking we finally did it. Matt was saved. The last time I saw Matt was a beautiful day in May, so full of promise. Matt looked great, speech and eyes clear. He told me he was so happy to get the monkey off his back and was ready to start his new life at a sober living house in BocaRaton, Florida. The Boca House was recommended by Matt's counselor and was actually a place mentioned in one of the books I'd read. If only I had known what Matt was heading into I never would have bought that ticket.

He left for Florida on June the 2nd. We spoke twice a day. He told me he felt blessed to be so close to the beach. You see, we are beach people, me and Matt. I felt good knowing he was on board for his recovery and breathed a sigh of relief. We did it. I so foolishly believed that 28 days in rehab had prepared Matt to face the world again. A world where Mom wasn't there to pick up the pieces and get him to safety. I was flying to Boca on February 10th to spend the week with Matt. To celebrate his new life and meet his boss, as Matt finally found employment. How foolish I was. With a job came a paycheck. Drugs cost money and Matt had money and no mom on 24/7 watch. Matt overdosed on January 3rd and my life stopped. I live in a world of disbelief. How did this happen. Every time we spoke he sounded normal, my ears, trained to pick up the changes in speech failed me. We spoke at 6:23 p.m. on Friday night. He died 5 a.m on Saturday morning. My last words to him were I love you Matt, stay safe. I love you mom, I'll call you tomorrow. That call never came.

"Now I live in a state of profound grief. I question everything I did during his addiction. Guilt has become my constant friend. I replay the last 7 years and try to figure it out. What did I miss, what could I have done differently. When Matt's life ended a part of mine did too. I spent so much energy on saving him that I am lost. I walk around looking at his pictures, always smiling, no hint of the demons that controlled and finally took his life. I used to think I was a smart girl, a critical care nurse who saved other mother's children but could not save her own. : (

This was my response:

Reading your story was like reading my current situation. Everything you said is currently playing out in my life. My son is still alive and fighting. However I feel like I’m losing this battle. He just got out of detox and he is still haunted by the devil. I too am the mom police, investigating everything he does and says. I TOO am addicted to my son’s addiction. How do you turn it off? I can’t, I love him! I want so badly to save my son too… but the demon that has him won’t let him go. I find myself taking deep long breaths every time I think of him. My heart is broken and in disbelieve that this is our life. No one tells you about these things when you have a baby. No one tells you how this could happen without warning.

We are currently in our 7th year of chaos and the future looks bleak. I wish there was a magical cure, but there isn’t and society doesn’t care. Don’t beat yourself up! That’s what they all say, but we still do; don’t we? Why? Because they are our children. I don’t talk to many people anymore about my son because they all think they have the answers which is abandon him or they pretend to listen or they just slowly distance themselves from me. So I just exist, trying to get through each day. I’ve come to the realization that my son my not make it. He doesn’t want this life but he’s doesn’t know how to overcome his addiction. It’s too powerful to even try and comprehend.

My heart aches for you. There is nothing I can say to ease your pain. But just know you are not alone. There are so many mothers out there just like us, crying in silence. - Ana (Mom of Al)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I'm Scared

I am completely and utter stuck in my depression. I'm scared and I don't know what to do. Everything seems so hard. No wonder why people with addictions don't get help. It's so unfair! You have to have money LOTS of money to save your addict. I feel like the walls are closing in on me.I'm so frustrated!

Monday, June 15, 2015

5:03 PM

He called at 5:03 PM, I took him to Thunderbird to detox. I'm kind of speechless....

It was a pretty fast process, he walked in registered got called back for vitals then 5 minutes later he got called into the back where he got a bed until he got a room upstairs. I was feeling somber. He's on probation now, this was the push I had hoped for. He knows if he tests dirty he will lose his plea bargain and will go to jail for 6 months.

I'll take whatever motivation gets him through the door.

As I sat there while the doctor talked to him, I thought I was prepared to hear what ever came out of his mouth. But then he said something that continues to echo in my head. The doctor asked "what are you currently using?" Al said 1 gram of heroin a day. The doctor replied "Are you using anything else like meth?" Al said  "yes but not all the time, just a little here and there".

Heroin, Meth... my heart sunk. He's getting in deeper. How is he alive? How does your body survive that kind of abuse? As I sat there with him waiting, He kept holding my hand as if he was trying to comfort me. He was people watching and I could tell he was feeling anxious. He told the doctor he last used 6 hours ago. Withdrawals start somewhere in-between 8-12 hours.

As he held my hand I kept looking at his fingers. His hands still look like they did when he was a little boy. The same shape the same genteelness. I took his hand and laid it on top of my left hand, holding his hand out flat and patting his hand down with my right hand. All I could think of was.... how did we get here?? How is this going to end? I hugged him goodbye and told him "I'M SO PROUD OF YOU FOR COMING HERE! YOU CAN DO THIS SON. STAY STRONG, FIGHT THIS... I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!" He's squeezed me tight and assured me he was going to be OK.

I love him so much! Please GOD give him your healing touch. Take whatever strength I have left to give and give it to him. He needs it now more than ever.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I Hate It

I hate it when my phone rings and the caller ID says "MIA". Stupid caller ID! It's him... what does he need?

Al called today, just now. Our conversation goes like this.

AL: Mom, I'm so stupid, I locked the keys in Mia's car. The thing is I've been trying to call you too because I want to check myself in to a facility. I was wanting to go today after I dropped off Mia at work but now I'm stuck.


ME: OK well if THIS is what's holding you back then I'll come help you get the keys out of her car and take you. Where are you??

AL: I'm at xxxxxx and that would be great. But the thing is I need to check in by my self. I need to do this on my own.


ME: OK uncle is coming to help you. I hope you really go and check yourself in. I hope you do it this time. I don't think your body can take much more.

AL: I know mom, I don't think I can take much more of anything.


AL: Ok goodbye mom, I LOVE YOU TOO! I'll call you once I'm in there and in a room.

************************ Just thinking ****************************

Don't get your hopes us ANA... Don't fucking do it! LET HIM BE!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Am I coping?

How do you cope? I got asked that question recently. Ever since I got asked that question I’ve been struggling on how to answer it.

Am I coping?

I think I’m surviving, some would say that’s coping but is it really? My church is wanting to start a support group for families of addicts. A beautiful idea, what an amazing thing!! I’ve been asked to lead it I think because I’m so involved with their homeless ministry and they know my struggles with my son. When I first got asked I was excited at the thought of being surrounded by other just like me. The thought of passing on my knowledge to help another parent makes me feel useful. We’ve been pretty transparent in this very overwhelming struggle with people. When my son was in recovery he shared his story with the church and his dream was to help others like him. He was brilliant at speaking out and courageous and open when it came to talking to others about his addiction. He once told me it would make all the wrongs he done right if he could just help one person. I truly believe he wants that and would be amazing at connecting with others. If he where clean and sober I truly believe he could save others with his story. But obviously he is in no position to help anyone, at least not right now.

But am I? My heart is always with my son and always worried. I wait for “THE CALL” and every day that passes is one day closer to that reality. How I’ve gotten by this far is no short of a miracle. My family (some members, not all of them) has given me hope and some of my good friends. My church has given me hope… strength and the belief that God is in control. I no longer fear the “what’s to come” because I truly believe that’s out of my control. I may dread it but I don't fear it anymore! Although support has given me the will to move forward it hasn’t and will not take away my sadness, nothing will until he’s clean and sober. I don’t know how to move on from that. He’s still here, he’s still sick, he’s still so far away from me. I have no idea how to deal with that.  

I wonder if I am in the position to help others? My struggle is not over, it’s on going. There is no answers! Or is the answer in just being someone’s support? I do know that talking to other with strong beliefs helped me. HECK talking with ANYONE who showed compassion helped… anyone who would listen helped me. In fact it’s what’s saving me now.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sleep Is my Only Xscape

Al messaged me on Friday wanting to know if he could come by on Saturday to see me and talk to me.

ME: “of course, I miss you, I need to see you”.

AL:  “I miss you all more than you can believe”. 

My heart was in my throat as I texted back saying…

ME: “We can’t wait to see you!! If you can’t make it just call or text me ok. I love you son… I love you with all my heart”.

AL: OK mom will do, you already know I love you too more than anything.

I’m not sure if he came over just to see us or if he wanted to reassure us that he’s going to get help. (Sooner or later) I don’t know? His goal was to check into a place this week. I’m not getting my hopes up. I’m NOT getting my hopes up!! UGH… ! As I sit here thinking about it I can feel my heart race. I’m sitting at my desk at work thinking of it… I put my hands on my face touching my checks, they feel warm...I feel flushed. I take deep breaths, rubbing my forehead because I can feel a headache coming on. As I sit there with my elbows resting on my desk slumped over with face buried my hands feeling like I just need to go home and curl up in my bed and just sleep. Sleep is my only xscape.

I’m not going to lie, seeing him and hugging him puts my nerves at ease. When I hug him I hug him like it’s going to be my last time. I wrap my arms around him I close my eyes and take it in. I get lost in his arms. Hugs from my son are few and far between these days. But l can't help but think about what my husband said when he left. He said “Seeing him in this condition or him disappearing and not seeing him for weeks feels the same to me... It hurts! It gives me anxiety, my chest hurts because I can’t STAND to see him this way, and I just can’t deal with it. I rather not see him at all, it hurts to much to see him like this.”
I must admit I agree with him.