Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Month: September 2015

Truth and Lies

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Matt, I lay on the couch all night willing my mind to be quiet.  To stop replaying the scenes over and over again.  Its always the same.  You using, me finding and fixing.  I just didn’t get how you could keep slipping back into the grip of the demons.  I remembered the week of detox.  Sitting on this very couch trying to calm your tremors, blankets off and on as your body rebelled against not getting what it now required to live.  The vomiting until there was nothing left, screaming and ripping the skin off your arms as you fought the imaginary bugs crawling over your body.  My wound, now healed but leaving a scar as a reminder of your anger.   I could not imagine wanting to go through that again.  I did not want to watch you go through it again but had the sinking feeling I would.  I felt so defeated.  I didn’t even have the energy to move.  My eyes still swollen from my night of crying greeted me in the mirror.  You look just great I thought.  The toll of your addiction showing on my face.  My body stiff from staying curled up, like I was trying to return to that fetal position where nothing could hurt me.  God Matt, how this hurt me.  Knowing that all this time you were just letting me believe you were clean.  I was so blinded by my own need for us to be normal that I felt this betrayal like a hard slap in the face.

The dogs raise their heads, listening.  I pray it is not you.  I am in no mood for you.  I make coffee, God, how I needed  that.  I grab the leashes and head to the sea.  I disguise myself in your hoodie. I’m in shut down mode and want no conversation with anyone except God.

Ok God,  It’s me again.  Yeah, you know Matt’s mom.  I just gonna put it out there.  What the hell is going on. Why do you keep letting this happen to us.  Why can’t you just answer my prayers and fix Matt.  You teach us that you can do anything so why not this.  Just put your hand on Matt and heal him from this horror that has become our life.  You who created the sea I love, please help now.  I’m so beat, so broken.  I need help.  I’m so lost in my thoughts I don’t see the dogs as they take off after a figure I know too well.  Even from the  distance I can identify your walk.  I tell God, ok you need to hold my tongue cause I’m ready to shoot some ugly out of my mouth.

The dogs reach me first as if to say take it easy on him Mom, he’s sorry.  Yeah, he’s always sorry.  He’s only sorry cause he got caught.  Ok Matt, I suggest that if you can’t tell the truth you keep your mouth shut.  I’m this close to punching you square in the face, and you know what I might like it and not be able to stop!  You look at me with that dam grin, you know the grin that always melts my heart.  You start to laugh.  Mom, I’d bet you’d do it too. I start to laugh as the image of 125lbs of me beating up on 230lbs of you forms in my brain.  Somehow we both end up hysterical at the very thought.  I guess the laughter was a release for me as I felt the anger I carried to the beach wash away with the tide.  Matt, you always got to me.  You my beautiful man with such a horrible, insidious disease.

We sit.  Ok Matt, it’s truth or dare time.  I will only accept the truth.  I really don’t care how ugly or hurtful I need you to tell me the truth.  I can’t stand a liar and after everything we have been through together you owe me the truth.  Geez Matt, I’ve seen you naked vomiting your guts out, you’ve puked on and punched at me so really how bad can telling the truth be.   You look away as if concocting a story.  I grab your arm to bring you back.  Matt, the truth.

I sit and will both my face and my tongue to not reveal or say what I’m thinking as you finally pour out your guts.  I watch the waves hit the shore and take little bits of sand back to the sea.  I feel like this is my life.  Your addiction keeps pounding at my heart and soul breaking little pieces off and washing me away.  Oh God, I asked for the truth now I’m sitting here listening and trying to make a plan to fix it again.  I will never learn.

So once again, I have my fix it plan.  I drag you to Charlie’s.  We talk.  He will not take you back but will let you collect unemployment until you can find work.  Thank you God,  He tells me how many chances he gave and how many times despite his warnings you showed up unable to function.  I thank him for caring enough.  He hugs us both as we leave and wishes us both luck.  Ok Matt.  Now you will not take advantage, you will find work. Right Matt, sure Mom.  Oh God,  why did I just get a very sick feeling in my gut.  Stop, stop I tell myself.  It will be ok.  He will get work and find a meeting for help and support.  Right Matt.  Right Mom.  You will pay your bills.  Right Matt. Right Mom.  You will stay straight. Right Matt.  Right Mom.

We walk back to the house.  We sit and open the neglected pile of bills.  I set up a payment schedule.  I balance your checkbook  Holy Shit, I take your debit card and cut it up.  Now you are getting ticked.  I shoot you my look and you calm down.  Ok Matt.  Here’s the deal.  I help with the mortgage.  Thank God, the lender still thinks you’re sick.  Yes, I know but I have to play that card until the mortgage is caught up.  Yes, I feel guilty but what else can I do.  I write everything down.  I’m thinking really, you are a grown man and I’m treating you like a teenager and you are letting me.  I try to keep the enabler thought out of my mind.  Helping or guiding fits what I’m doing better.  Yup, not enabling.  Guiding you in bill paying and helping you get on your feet so I can stay on mine.  Ok Matt.  Everything is set up.  You understand how important it is.  I can’t lose this place.  I love this place.  You understand, right Matt.  Right Mom.

Driving home I couldn’t shake the feeling of doom.  I kept remembering how you looked.  Your beautiful lying eyes.  Right mom, slipping out of your mouth like honey from a pot.  Honey in all it’s sweetness,  just what I needed to hear.  Right Matt. Right Mom……

A Calm Before the Storm

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Matt, I must say I was pleasantly surprised.  You really kept your promise.  No drama, no chaos at least none that reached me.  Life was good as Ray and I got into the rhythm of married life.  I was finally back at work busy every day saving those babies.  My life found a rhythm again, a calm that I hadn’t felt in a long time started to settle in my brain.  So this is normal I would think out loud as a smile would find my face  and a lightness found my step.  Everyone noticed.  I felt so blessed.  Finally I was able to just concentrate on my life without the constant stress and worry about you.  I would remind myself that you were a grown man living your life and this was how it should have been all along.

Being back at work and having the ability to pick up extra shifts allowed me to get the mortgage caught up on our house by the sea. I felt so accomplished and once again felt that I was in control of how life was supposed to be.  God, I just didn’t learn that lesson.  So foolishly I continued down the road of denial believing that your addiction had left the building and we were home free.  I no longer worried about our dirty little secret and started to act like we had returned from a very bad place but were safe now.

Weeks turned into months.  We spoke nearly everyday.  You and Lisa seemed to be finding your own rhythm as you spoke of a more permanent future together.  Even though I still felt she was not your match I kept my opinion to myself as my only concern was for you to be happy and stay clean.  Whoever you loved I loved thats just the way it was.

Ray  had to travel for work so I took those days off and planned a trip to see for myself just how things really were in your life.  I had to admit I missed you.  I wasn’t used to you not needing me like you did in the past and was feeling kinda left out of your life.  I kept reminding myself that this is how a normal relationship was between a mother and her adult son, but you and I never had normal so I was having a difficult time adjusting.  Driving down I tried to keep my spirits up.  Tried to keep that anxiety at bay.  After all, you said you were fine and you sounded fine, so why in the heck was my body starting to react like the old days.  The throat tightening, the worry about what I would find, all the normal feeling I had in the past came rushing to my brain.  Oh God, what if I’m wrong and he’s lying, what if, what if.  Stop, for God sake stop, shouted my brain.  WTH is wrong with you.  Do you always have to think the worst.  Maybe, just maybe he is telling the truth and you will have the happily ever after you have been praying for.  For God sake take a break.  So once again it was me, myself, and I all battling back and forth reliving every horrible moment of your addiction.  I just could not get my brain to shut up.  So here I am, once again talking to myself in my car on the way to the beach just like the old days.  Groundhog day, yup just like Groundhog day.  Really Matt, I think my whole being knew that this was just a break in the storm and my body and mind were getting ready for battle.

I arrive.  The house is quiet, the dogs are gone.  I use my key and let myself in.  I long ago lost the feeling of guilt about coming in unannounced.  I was paying most of the mortgage and felt like I had every right to just let myself in.  It was getting dark so I walked around turning on lights.  I figured the neighbors would see my car and know everything was ok.  It was obvious you didn’t spend much time home.  I could have written you a note in the dust.  Matt, you weren’t raised to be a slob but this was crazy.  At least the sink wasn’t full of dirty dishes.  I opened the fridge and was greeted by the greenest food I’d seen since my college days.  Ok, so this was proof that you were spending most of your time at Lisa’s.  So that’s a good thing right, my brain is thinking.  After I grab a trash bag and clean your fridge, the old mom police starts to resurface.  I Try to tell myself not to do this, but I knew my brain would not relax until I did.  So just like the old days I went snooping.  All the time telling myself I was doing it for your own good.  I lifted your mattress. Looked in all your favorite nooks and crannies.  I kept listening for the sound of your arrival.  Dam, I wish the dogs were here.  They would give me ample time to run to the couch and grab a book, smiling my innocent smile if you came home during my search.  I really didn’t know what I would do if I found  anything.  Probably have a break down but that still didn’t stop me from snooping.  Nothing, absolutely nothing.  Do I really believe that this horror story has come to an end or have you just gotten smarter.

So now I see a big pile of mail.  Stay away, don’t look my mind is spinning like a top.  He’s a grown man.  He’s handling it.  I can feel the guilt running off me like syrup as I grab the pile and scan the addresses.  Electric bill, water bill, credit card bills all thrown casually in a pile like they were junk mail.  Slowly I open one figuring you wouldn’t notice a torn envelope in this mess.  Now my heart starts to sink.  Overdue, not by a month but months.  That familiar feeling of suffocating has found me.  I leave the pile and walk outside. I need to feel the sea air.  I need to breathe.  Calm down, there has to be a reason.  I start to walk and before I know it I’m a Lisa’s door.  I hear music and laughter.  Too much music and laughter for someone who needs to be at work in the early morning.  The door is unlocked.  I walk in.  You look like hell.  Cigarette hanging from your hand, a joint hanging from her’s.  You see me and look like you’ve been shot.  She jumps up, WTF.  Yup exactly, WTF.  I feel like I’ve been kicked in the chest, I’m trying not to scream, to act like an adult.  I just can’t believe I bought your crap.  Here I am working extra shifts paying not only your mortgage but sending extra payments to get your cards paid off.  Working myself crazy to keep you from stressing over life.  Doing whatever I could to make your life as simple as possible.  I am the best enabler you could have ever asked for.  Someone please tattoo it on my forehead so whenever I look in the mirror I will see just how stupid this addicts mom really is.

I leave out the back door, the dogs wake with the racket of the slam.  They come running as if to say please get us out of here.  You follow, I can’t even look at you.  I am sick, so sick of your selfishness, so sick of being taken for granted.  I’m running as fast as I can with the dogs in tow.  You catch up, we are both breathless, I’m sobbing.  Matt, what are you doing.  You are with another addict.  Why are you doing this again.  How many times will it take before you get it.  Mom, I lost my job.  I felt my heart crack, just a little.  You what.  You heard me I lost my job.  You were so happy I didn’t want to burst your bubble.  I’ll figure it out.  I took a pill and came to work.  Charlie let me go.  Oh God Matt.  One pill or many pills.  You’re a mechanic for God sakes.  You can’t work on cars when you’re stoned.  WTH is wrong with you.  What were you thinking.  Now everything is screwed.  I can’t keep paying your bills and your mortgage. How can I explain this to Ray.   Oh God, I should have know this was too good to be true.  Addiction never leaves the building just hides in the shadows waiting and watching until it latches on again sinking it’s hooks into your soul.  Matt, I can’t do this now.  I’m sick of this life, this lie we live.  All I ever wanted was normal.  I leave you in the dark.  The dogs follow me and we don’t look back.  My heart once so happy now starting to break.  I know the path this will lead to.  I’ve walked it too many times.  The demons will not let go.  Our dirty little secret will surface.  This lie will continue to haunt us, to shatter us into a million pieces.  I curl up in the dark, the dogs lie at my feet.  I stay like this for hours.  I keep telling myself that you have a disease, that you are sick, that I can get you through it again, that I can fix it just once more.  I try to tell myself it will be ok.  But all I want to do is scream………

 

At Last I Do

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Matt,  I left Ray behind at the hospital.  He really needed some family time and I really needed to get the hell out of there.  All I wanted to do was get home, let the dogs out and have the privacy I needed to continue our conversation.  I was still shaking and feeling sick when I got home.  I just couldn’t believe you would dare go back on your promise.  How stupid I was.  I really needed to believe everything you said.  I wanted to believe you could control the craving for the drugs, that you could stop the way they took over your world leaving you caring for no one else but yourself.

The dogs greeted me with wags and kisses.  I let them calm my spirit as I watched them chase each other playing like they had no care in the world.  Their Mom was home and they were happy.   I sat and watched and wished we could be like dogs.  Happy and carefree showing love like it was the most natural emotion in the world.  Why did life have to be so complicated.  Why did your addiction always find a way into my life.  All I ever wanted was normal.  How hard could it be.  Just normal.

I grab my phone and punch in your number.  I can already feel that  familiar throat tightening.  My body  automatically responding to my fear of how you will answer.  What words you choose will either make me or break me.  God, how horrible to have such fear of a phone call.    Hi Mom,  you answer.  Really, did you expect me to call.  Are you playing with me.  You sound normal.  Holy crap,  yeah,  my throat easing up, I want to jump for joy.  Matt,  what happened this afternoon.  You sounded stoned.  You pissed me off, you threw me into a tail spin.  WTH were you doing.   Mom, you need to relax, you worry way too much.  Yeah Matt, you give me so much to worry about.  Matt, you must understand I need you to keep your promise.  You must control the meds.  Mom, stop.  I got this.  I will be ok.  Please give me a break.  Trust me.  Oh God Matt, how I want to trust you…The wedding is in 4 weeks please Matt let me have a little normal.

We hang up making promises.  You will stay clean, I will stay off your back.  Now that Ray’s Mom is on the mend, I need to get back to planning our wedding.  I keep telling myself to just relax, everything will be ok. Matt won’t let you down.  Please God, just once I need to trust that life will be ok.

Finally the big day arrives.  I wake to the most beautiful, crisp Autumn morning.  The sun is shining, big puffy clouds fill the bright blue sky.  The dogs are my only companions as I step outside and pray that this beautiful day is a sign.  Soon my friends and family start piling in.  Mimosas are poured and happy toasts are made.  Normal and happy, thank you God.  I’m upstairs when you and Lisa arrive.  The house is in full swing.  My Bridesmaid and flower girls all sharing bathrooms getting ready for the big day.  My heart is so full of joy I almost forget all the hell we have survived.

You are there as I walk down the steps.  You are so handsome.  Thinner than I remember, I push the bad thoughts from my mind.  You wrap your arms around me and I relax in your hug.  You are here, your eyes clear, your perfect.  You are the best wedding gift.  Thank you God, we have normal.

I quietly watch you and Lisa.  No one would know the problems you’ve had by observing you today.  I am flying.  Maybe just maybe life will be as it should.  Pictures are taken. The house is full of joy.  We are lining up the cars for the drive to the church when we hear a loud crash.  I hear Heather scream.  I jump out of the back seat and run dragging my gown.  Holy shit, a tree fell and crushed my fence.  Thank God no one was hurt.  Oh God, everyone is shaken.  We are scrambling.  I look for you and Lisa.  Your car is gone.  My driver is yelling to get back in the car.  Everyone accounted for except you.  Now I’m shaking.  My mind over thinking what just happened.  The tree fell with no wind, no storm.  Oh God are you trying to tell me something.  We line up and pull away from the house.  Don’t look back my mind is saying, put on that happy face and pretend it’s all normal.  As we get closer to the church the sky is growing darker.  The phone is ringing.  It’s Ray, where are we he asked.  We are late.  Everyone is waiting in the church.  Is Matt there.  No. Oh God.  Now the sky opens up.  The drivers are forced to slow down.  The flower girls are singing rain, rain go away and I’m numb.  Smiling my famous practiced smile, trying to laugh as my bridesmaid is reminding me that rain is good luck on a wedding day.  Oh God, she has no idea.  She is a friend but has no idea that I live with a dirty little secret.

Where is Matt.  I call your phone.  Voice mail.  WTH, Matt, my mind is screaming.  Please don’t.  Oh Dear God.  What do you want me to do.  The day that started out so beautiful and so full of promise has turned dark and uncertain.  I know I haven’t been honest about Matt.  I’m trying to handle it myself.  I can’t take the chance today. I can’t let his addiction wreck my chance at a beautiful life with Ray.  Oh God, I promise when the time is right I will tell the story, just not today.

We finally arrive.  You are not there.  People are flocking to the cars with umbrellas.  Our friends have set up a white tent in front of the church giving us a place to stand and not get drenched.  I wait in the car as everyone lines up.  My bridesmaid and flower girls and my precious ringbearer all waiting for me.  I sit as the tears fall.  Oh Matt, I can’t walk down that aisle without you.  How could you do this again.  My heart is breaking when I see headlights coming toward me.  Oh God, it’s you.

Sorry Mom, you grab my hand.  We took a wrong turn.  You are clear. You are here.  I look around at all our friends standing here in this little church.  We look at each other.  It’s good Mom, you deserve this.  I love you so much.  We will get through this together.  I put my arm through yours and we walk in.  Ray’s face looks so relieved.  His Dad joked, I thought you changed your mind.  People laugh.  You walk me to the man of my dreams,  my mind is spinning.  It will be ok.  It will be ok.  Oh God, thank you.  Both the men I love are here together on this very special, very wet day.  The only thing missing was your brother.  Still away and unaware that he is fighting a war against the very drug you love.  Secrets have become my way of life.  Secrets from those I love.  Secrets shared between a mother and the son she loves.  Secrets too evil to think about today.  The I do’s are said.  Ray and I walk out, now Man and Wife.  A ray of sun breaks through the clouds.  I look up and say a silent prayer.  Please God, please Matt, give me just a bit of normal.

Hating The Waiting

IMG_0572Matt,  the O.R. waiting room is packed.  I look around and see the faces of family members, their eyes telling the story of fear.  The anxiety is palpable in this room.  I find a seat by the door so I can make a quick exit when my own anxiety hits and I need my space to breathe.  Ray’s family files in and we claim our corner in this place where no one wants to be.  We are given name tags to be identified as family of the patient.  Ray’s sister hands me one that says Cichocki.  Put it on she says, you’re already a member we just need you to make it official.   I stick it on my shirt and start to think about the wedding.

Everything is set except the date.  We need to get through this day before we can even think of a time frame.  I have been blessed with a very flexible group of people willing to work with us to pull off this crazy wedding. For now Ray’s mom is the priority.  I sit and watch Ray.  He’s nervous.  Stress is taking the light out of his beautiful eyes.  His face is lined with worry.  It breaks my heart to see him this way.  Then it hits.  There is no relationship more precious than a mother and her son.  Oh God.  I look at this man, now a scared little boy.  I continue to watch, unobserved by Ray who is lost in his own world.  Is he thinking about his childhood.  Memories of his mom, the love they share.  The stories he’s told about his childhood always revolved around his mom.  Now I observe the man and know that the little boy lives inside that grown mans body and he wants his mom.

My thoughts drift to us.  All the great times we shared before the demons found you.  The joy and laughter.  The peace and love that filled our lives.  We shared the love of the sea, the love of dogs, the love of family and friends.  Now we share your addiction and our dirty little secret.  How did we become who we are.  You, my precious boy.  My friend.  I watched you grow from a happy go lucky young boy to a somewhat troubled adolescent to a very trouble man.  A man who found his answer in a bottle of pills.  Pills that changed who you were and turned me into a mom I never wanted to be.  Pills that made you do and say things we would have never imagined.  Pills that have allowed you to rip my heart out while I watched you start to self destruct.  Still my love for you remains unchanged.  You are my son and I am your mother.  I know you love me as much as I love you.  I know it’s the demons that make you ugly and hateful.  I know as long as there is a breath in my body I will fight the fight to keep you free from the hell and chaos your demons bring.  This bond is like no other.  The cord is never cut.  Mothers stay in connection with their sons.  The love never stops.  Hate the addiction Love the addict.

I drift back to reality.  This is crazy.  I hate hospitals, yes I know I work here.  I hate being on this side.  The waiting side, the no control side.  You know I’m always in control.  Ok, I think God is teaching me patients.  I tell Ray I need to get some air.  I need to call you.  I need to hear your voice and tell you I love you.  I need to hear that you’re ok.  No chaos today.  I couldn’t take it today.  You answer quickly.  Hey Mom, whats up.  I listen closely now not liking the greeting.  Matt, where are you, are you ok.  Fine Mom, just fine.  Oh God, not now.  Not when I need to be here, not when I’ve asked you to stay clean.  Not after the promise. Matt, what the hell.  I’m in the hospital waiting to hear about Ray’s mom.  I can’t handle this now.  I’m trying to keep my voice down as the panic is rising in my chest.  How could you do this to me now.  I’m trying to reason with you as I feel a hand on my arm.  I turn to see Ray’s face.  His eyes full of concern.  Matt stop this now.  I hang up. Breathless.  Ray looking at me waiting for an explanation.  Oh God, I can’t do this today.  Can’t dump this on him now.  Need more time to sort this out.  Maybe Matt was just tired.  Maybe just stressed.  I was going to maybe myself right out of this one.  No way was I going down this ugly road today.  Forgive me God, but I’m going to lie.  Nothing big.  Matt just being Matt.

Rays sister appears.  A smile on her face.  Mom is fine. Surgery over.  We can see her soon.  Thank you God.  Some great news.  I see Ray relax.  The worry slipping from his face.  Our conversation forgotten.  We return to our corner.  A calmness now settles around us.  I put my I’m just great mask on.  Oh God, what now.  I’m smiling and talking but my mind is spinning.  Trying to be part of this happy family, sharing the joy of a mother saved.  One day so many emotions.  I’m beat.  My heart heavy with the burden of the unknown.  My dirty little secret buried for now…..No laughter just deafening silence.

 

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