Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: deception

The Final Goodbye

 

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Matt,  It’s been four days since you died and my world spun off its axis.  I’m unbalanced now.  Walking around in a fog.  Disbelief and reality take turns playing games with my heart.  Trying to bring you home has been a challenge.  I was told it would be easier to cremate you in Florida.  Quicker and cheaper.  This mother needs to see you again.  A part of me remains in denial.  This is a horrific mix up.  You are alive and this is the son of another mother.

They tell me your flight finally arrived in Philly late last night.  The last time you were in Philly it was to fly into a new life.  You were so full of hope and dreams.  I never expected you to return home in a box.   Flights have been off schedule due to back to back snowstorms.  Was that you Matt?  You always loved the snow.

I’m told I can see you today just for a bit as we now have a schedule to keep.  I need to see your handsome face.  A face that is now frozen in time.  There will be no wrinkles or gray hair for you my beautiful boy.  We will never dance together as you wed the love of your life.  I will never hold your child in my arms.  My dreams about your future torn to shreds, blowing away in the January wind.

I feel like an actress in a role I never wanted to play.  What does a mother wear to go view the body of her son.  My mind is foggy and my body feels like I’m walking through quick sand.  Eyes swollen beyond help.  Face puffy and red.  I can’t even look at my reflection.  I don’t care anymore.  I don’t talk to Jesus.  There is nothing to talk about.  He didn’t protect you and neither did I.  I’ve read that Jesus only gives you what you can handle.  He doesn’t know me like I thought he did.  I always told him I could never survive losing you.  You are gone.

I was able to spend two hours with you.  It was the shortest two hours my life.  I needed to see you alone before anyone else.  I needed it to be just you and me.  Like it used to be.  A mother and her son hanging out sharing life except now your life was gone and I was left behind.  Ray dropped me off and went to park his car.  I walked inside and tried to catch my breath.  I asked you to give me strength to see you today.  To walk into a funeral home and say goodbye to my beautiful son.

The rooms eerily quiet.  I walked through my fog and felt that familiar throat tightening, heart racing envelope my body.  I closed my eyes and prayed it would not be your face my eyes would see.  I would shout for joy, it’s not Matt, it’s not Matt.   My fantasy was short lived.  You looked like you were sleeping.  Quiet but so cold.  I could see the bluish color under the layer of makeup applied to your face.  I grabbed your hand and ran my fingers through your hair.  I lay my head on your chest praying to hear the beat of your heart.  Oh God this can not be.  My brain is silently screaming.  Slowly Ray and Mike approach.  I will not move from holding you.  My body frozen with yours.  They ask why you were wet.  I didn’t realize that my flood of tears was falling onto you face.  I wondered if you were looking down on your broken family.  Your brother once so strong crying like a baby.  Our time is up.  I want to stay forever.  I want to sit with you until I am no more.  In my fog there are voices.  Mom, we need to go.  Mom, please let go.  I’m surrounded by what’s left of us.  Mike and Ray giving me their strength to walk away.  The slap of reality hits my face.  A blast of icy wind on this most brutal of days.

I spend the next days planning your memorial.  Denial is a wonderful thing.  In all the years we battled your addiction I never thought I would be planning your funeral.   I felt betrayed.   In all the books I read written by parents like me the addict lived.  Everyone had a happy ending.  Beautiful Boy,  An Addict In The Family, and Stay Close all gave me the misconception that no matter how sick the addict was they lived.  Those books would be burned with the next fire.  Where were the books to shatter my illusion?  Where were the books to let parents know that addicts die?  Addiction is no fairy tale.  There is no happy ending.

Writing your obituary was brutal.  I remember pacing around the kitchen while Ray sat at the computer.  I was sobbing and shaking as I tried to find the words to honor your life.  A life cut too short by your demons.  We kept the service private.  Family and close friends would be the only one’s sharing my grief.  I feared your drug buddies would come and I couldn’t risk the reaction of your brother.  I lost one son, I could not lose another.

The day I foolishly thought would never be part of our journey is here.  I always thought it would be you and Mike saying a final goodbye to me.  Never the other way around.   It’s snowing.  I run outside and look at the sky.  Is that you, Matt?  I want to grab each falling flake and hold it to my heart.  Matt, Matt, how will I survive this day?   I stand outside closing my eyes and remember coming home one night crying after losing a baby in the NICU.  “Mom, I don’t know how you do that”.   You gave me a hug and said,”It must be so hard when a baby dies”.   Now it’s my baby who died.  My soul is broken and I want to stay here watching the flakes fall from the sky not go to say goodbye.

The day was cloudy and dark.  The weather mimicking my soul.  The snow continued to fall.  I stood in my bedroom staring at the borrowed black dress.  My brain not able to allow my heart to feel.  I am numb.  My body in survival mode.  I will need the strength of an army of angels to get through this day.  There is nothing that can be done to ease my pain.  I am weighted down by grief.  My limbs have turned to lead.  My movements slow.  I remember once again feeling like an actress.  Getting ready to play a role she didn’t want to win.  My face shows years of stress and days of profound grief.  My eyes have no shine.  Shark eyes.  No life.  I am the walking dead.  I don’t waste time with makeup.  My tears continue to fall.  I remember being in Ray’s car.  He is driving to our church.  The same church we attended together will be the place we will say our last goodbye.

I walk in alone.  I need to prepare myself for this moment.  Picture boards are placed next to your urn.  I can not look.  I walk to your urn and give you a hug.  Sobs are racking my body.  This is what’s left of you my precious child.  Once again it’s just you and me.  My brain screaming, this can’t be.  My heart breaking as the reality of our life washes over me like the waves we used to run through.  I close my eyes and we are laughing and running.  So full of joy and life.  I’m so lost in my fantasy that I don’t realize that friends have lined up to pay their respects.

I am hugged over and over.  Boys you grew up with, now men telling me how much you were loved.  Their parents shocked faces afraid to look me in the eye.  How does a mother bury her child.  The line seemed to go on forever.  Muffled voices mixed with tears all coming to show support.  I feel like a robot.  Shaking hands and allowing people to hug me.  The only hug I want to feel is from you.  I have put on my mask.  Pretending to listen to words when all I hear is the roar of the ocean.  I’ve been offered pills to help me get through this.  I am angry.  I felt the pain of giving you life.  I need to feel this pain of saying goodbye.  Finally the line is over.  The service is starting.  I hear the songs I chose fill the church with beautiful music.  Songs you started to listen to by Casting Crowns and Mercy Me.  The words gave you hope and increased your faith in Jesus.  I sit between Mike and Ray.  Holding on for dear life as Mike, our minister tearfully talks about your life.  He became your friend and tried so hard to help during your dark days.  He is overcome with emotion.  Your brother is shaking as tears spill down his face.  Oh God, my boys were supposed to grow old together. To hang onto each other when I was gone.  Your brother struggling so hard to be strong has become a sobbing little boy.  His only brother, his partner in crime now gone forever.

I don’t know how I did it.  I’d written another letter to you and wanted it read at your service.  It was my final tribute to my son, my hero.  You struggled for so long to get clean.  Your struggle now over, mine was just beginning.

I took a deep breath and stood up.  I walked to the podium where minutes before our Pastor was speaking.  My vision blurry and my voice cracking with emotion.  I held on for dear life as I started to share our story with those who loved you the most.

Dear Matt,

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You said this day would never come.  You told me you loved me too much and could never hurt me this bad.  Yet here we are gathered today to honor your life.  A life cut too short by your demons.

Now I stand here sharing my last words about you with the people who loved you so much.

My son was an addict.  I am not ashamed.  I will shout it from the rooftops, my son was an addict.

Oh Matt, we were both so foolish to think you had the power to keep that promise.  The demons were stronger than both of us.  Now you are gone and I am forever broken.  These last seven years have been a horrific struggle.  Ray, Mike and I watched you slowly destroy yourself day by day.  There were endless night of worry and torment, not knowing where you were or if you were alive or dead.  Nights when I would call out for help and your brother would drop everything and come.  Together Mike, Ray and I would devise our next plan and get you to safety.

I thought bringing you home would save you.  There I could watch you and protect you from your demons.  I am your mother and that’s what mothers do.  Oh Matt, we tried so hard to get you to see that drugs were not the answer.  So many rehabs, programs and counselors.  We thought we were on the right track.  Now I stand here and look at your brothers face and realize how foolish we were to think we could outwit the demons.

There were so many times we had hope.  Spring came and the old Matt was coming back.  You told me you wanted that monkey off your back.  A new rehab, the start of a new life.  Mike, Ray and I could only see you on Sunday for one hour due to the rules.  I remember us sitting together looking out over the water thinking we finally did it, we beat your demons.

You looked so good.  Your face and eyes so clear.  You said you were done with drugs and looked so forward to a new life.  Now where to go as the demons lived in Delaware.

Your new life in Florida was supposed to be a fresh start from the demons that followed you most of your life. You and I are beach people.  We shared a feeling of peace with God by the sea.  We talked everyday.  You told me you loved it near the ocean.  You felt so blessed at the chance for a new life.  Finally there was joy, hope, peace and sleep for Mike, Ray and I.  I deceived myself into thinking our nightmare was finally over.   Little did I know it was just getting ready to destroy us.

The last time we spoke was Friday night, January 2nd at 6:23 p.m.  You sounded normal.  My trained ears hearing nothing to prepare me for what was to come.  We ended our call as we always did.  I love you, Matt.  I love you, Mom.  I’ll talk to you soon.   That next call never came.

For reasons I will never understand.  Reasons that will haunt my heart for the rest of my life you used and overdosed, being left in a motel room by the man I trusted with your life.  You died at 4:50 a.m. Saturday morning.  I remember waking at that exact moment feeling like something was horribly wrong.  A cool breath surrounded my body at the same time your spirit was leaving yours.  Was that you Matt giving me one last hug?

I am so proud of the man you were.  You were loving and giving.  You who had nothing would give it away to someone in need.  If you could only read what your friends are posting on your Facebook page.  How much you were loved.  How you were looked up to and how devastated everyone is by your death.  I wish you had loved yourself enough.

I’ve read that losing a child doesn’t just change you it destroys you.  Matt I am destroyed.  Pieces of my shattered heart still beat in my chest. I have become the walking dead.  Feeling nothing but the  profound sadness that has taken up residence in my soul.  I would gladly ride the rollercoaster of chaos with you again.  I would gladly exchange my life for yours.  I will never understand.

Your nightmare is over while mine has just begun.    I am going through a withdraw from your addiction.  You see, Matt you were not the only addict in our family.  I was addicted to saving you.  Now I must find a way to make it through the rest of my life.  I’m told I must go on.  My toughest struggles are ahead of me as I navigate this life.  Knowing that I will never hear your voice or look into your beautiful eyes again is just too much to bear.  There will be no more birthdays, no wedding, no children.  Everything is gone with you.

There is a saying that ‘Life’s a Beach’.   I pray heaven is your beach and you are free.  Playing in the ocean like you did as a boy.  When I can breathe again I will free you and your beloved Kahlua into the sea you both loved so much. Until then you are coming home with me.  Even though you were a man you will always be my tow-headed beautiful boy.  I will love you forever.  I pray you will meet me when I take my last breath.   Wait for me by the sea we both love.  I want to open my eyes and see your handsome face.  I want to look into your eyes and know that I am home.  I want to grab your hand and run laughing into the surf that we both so love.

Godspeed my precious son.  My wingman. Until we meet again.

Love Mom

 

 

The Revolving Door Of Rehab

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                                                        The Revolving Door of Rehab

Matt,  to my surprise you are being discharged.  I’m still sitting by your side when the nurse appears with your paperwork.   She goes over your instructions looking you straight in the eye.  She doesn’t sugar coat what you have done. She explains cardiac arrest due to the hit of Cocaine.  She tells you how lucky you are to have survived another brush with death.  She tells you your body will not survive another assault.  She tells you that your addiction is no joke and that you will die if you don’t stop.

I sit there listening to another nurse trying to save my son.  A nurse just like me who can see through the demons to the person you used to be.  I wonder if hearing this from a stranger would have any more impact on what you did next instead of hearing it again from your constantly nagging Mom.  You sign the papers and start to get dressed.  Your battle scars visible.  Brushing on your chest from untrained CPR.  A new site reddened from another IV.  I sat and watched and wondered how many more times your body and my heart could handle another close call.

You tell me you are riding with Mike.  You are going back to your house.  There is no smile or I’m sorry this time.  You thank the nurse and walk out.  My face must say it all.  The nurse puts her arm around me as the tears fall.  “It’s been such a long battle” I tell her.  “I don’t know where to go from here”.

Mike finds me to tell me he’s taking you to get your truck.  Left behind at the scene of your crime.  He will try to get through to you.  To try to get you to understand the seriousness of what you have done.  He needs to talk to his brother without me crying and ranting about your addiction.  I feel nothing.  Another time I would have fought to be with you.  To once again tell you how your addiction is killing our family.  To cry and plead for you to care enough about your life.  To tell you I would not survive if you died.  This time I get into Ray’s car and allow myself to be alone with my thoughts.  Still trying to believe that you used Cocaine.  Not quite understanding how you could have been home and appearing so clear one minute than almost dead the next.  How can a non-addict ever understand how the mind of an addict works.  Every book I read and conference I attended did not prepare my heart for the actual living experience of being the mother of a man who threw all caution to the wind to chase a high.

My once calculating mind was shut down.  There was no save Matt plan forming in my brain.  I kept touching my body testing my sense of feeling as my heart and brain had gone numb.  There was nothing I could say to Ray to defend you.  I always believed your excuse of back pain for your overuse of Percocet.  Your anxiety about life for Xanax, but there was no excuse that my brain could rationalize for using Cocaine.  I realized I found excuses for everything you did.  Always trying to make sense of your life.  Denying that you were that addict I prayed you would never be.  I remember feeling so defeated.  This was a battle and your addiction was winning.  I tried to think that maybe you would learn your lesson and try to get serious help.   How many more rehab admissions would it take before you had your ‘ah ha’ moment?  Knowing that your heart had stopped should have shocked you into running for help.  For you this time, not me.  I began to realize that every admission was because of me.  Me wanting to save you.  Me begging and pleading for your life.  Me forcing you to go “or else”.  Now I wonder just exactly what my “or else” really meant.  I knew in my heart that tough love wasn’t for me.  I tried to kick you out.  Leaving you to your own devices and pretending not to care.  I remember telling myself I could be just like those tough Moms who’s books I read.  Kicking their addicted kids out of the house.  No food, no phone, no money, no contact.  Dear God, tough love was tougher on me than you.  Somehow addicts find and take care of each other.  I would drive to all your haunts hoping for a glimpse of you.  Reassuring myself this was the right and only way to save you.  I would lie awake at night and pray that you were safe.  That you wouldn’t be that addict I would read about in the paper.  The one who died in a park or fast food bathroom.  I tortured myself all the while hanging onto those books that had become my lifeline.  The books that made me believe I wasn’t a hateful, horrible mother.  I was a mother trying to play the game of saving her addicted son.  The games where there are no stead fast rules.  The game where what works for one might not work for another.  This game had two endings.  Survival or tragedy.   I couldn’t survive the tragedy of losing you forever.  So I would let you come home with the chaos packed in your bag.  The cycle would start again.  Promises made only to be broken.  Hope turned into hopelessness.  The ugliness of your addiction flowed through our home like a dirty mudslide.  Leaving nothing untouched.  Tainting everything it flowed over.  Smothering everything that stood in it’s path.

I foolishly allowed myself to believe we were making progress.  Me paying rent for you to live in what I thought was a safe place.  Living with a buddy from N.A. gave me a false sense of security that maybe you would follow the influence of another who walked your walk.  I’ve read that the best person to help an addict was another addict.  Once again your behavior shattered my illusion.

So now I am back to spy Mom.  If you won’t come to me, I”ll spy on you.  We haven’t spoken since you left the hospital.  I’m praying you have finally embarrassed yourself enough and just can’t face your broken mother.  I want to talk to you.  I need to see you.  I start a new pattern of drive by’s.   Crouched down like a spy in the front seat of my car.  My ball cap hiding my curly mop.  It’s almost funny.  Once again, I feel so proud of myself.  I’m that cool mom again.  I can do this.  I look for your truck.  I am flooded with  relief when I see it in the driveway.  This has become my new high.  At least I know where you are.  Day and night I drive by.  It’s become my addiction.  Ray looks at me like I’ve lost my mind when I grab my keys at midnight and walk out the door.  I read his thoughts.  Yup, I’m the crazy mom checking up on her adult addict son.  Oh, by the way, I lost my mind years ago.  I fight the urge to knock on your door and tell you I still love you.  I need to see you, to touch you, to hear your voice.  I fight my internal battle.  The loving mother fighting the tough love mother.

This craziness goes on for weeks.  Every morning and every night I become spy mom.  Oh how I’m loving this.  Sneaking around your place.  I’ve become bold enough to look through windows.  What I didn’t realize was you were watching me watch you.

I’m turning into your neighborhood when my phone rings.  I hit my ear piece and say hello.  “Hey Mom”.   The sound of your voice causes my heart to race.  “Hey Matt” I say trying to sound like I’m relaxing at home not getting ready for my drive by.  “You’re late tonight,” you say as you start to laugh.  “Late for what?”  I respond trying to act like I have no idea what you’re talking about.  “You usually do your house check before now”.  “I’ve been waiting”.  “What?  Matt I have no idea what you are talking about”.  Before I get my car in reverse, you are there.  Smiling that smile and pointing your finger at my face.   Ok spy Mom now what?

I get out of my car and walk to where you are standing.  “Mom, you know you’re as crazy as they come”.   You give me a much needed hug.  Your laughter is contagious and soon we are both howling in the street.  “Yup Matt, crazy I am”.  I try not to start my lecture.  I want to just be.  To just talk like we used to before the ugliness found us again.  I must admit you looked ok.  Your eyes and speech passing my scrutiny.  We sat on your steps and for a minute it felt like normal.  A mother hanging out with her son.  Just sitting and talking together.  Normal.  A word that felt foreign in our lives.  “Matt”.  “Yeah Mom”.  “Do you understand how close you came this time?”  I close my eyes and remember Ray screaming.  “Do you understand how hard this has been on all of us?”  I’m trying not to lecture.  I don’t want to start a battle.  I just want to get you to understand you crossed the line.  “Matt you need help you really do”.  “I have to stop denying how sick you are, you could have died”.  Tears start to fall as I talk.  You put your arm around me.  “Mom, I could never hurt you like that, I love you too much”.   We end the conversation with a promise.  You will work on yourself and I will stop acting crazy.  I tell you to come home any time you want.  I miss the Matt I know you can be.

We slip into a new rhythm.  Dinner twice a week.  Little by little I’m allowing a little bit of hope into my heart.  I’m sure you are still using but it doesn’t appear that you are abusing.  Mike and Ray tell you how great you look.  How nice it is to have Matt back.  We are all starting to let our guard down and allow the idea of returning to a world without chaos or demons.  I feel like I have my family back.  We have been through hell but we have somehow survived.  We laugh about how ugly we fought and try to find some humor in the roller coaster from hell that we now referred to your addiction.  Oh God, how great this was.  I continued to watch for the signs I knew too well.  I must admit you really pulled it off.  Convinced all of us you were on the road to recovery.

My phone rings and I see it’s Mike.  Ray and I were relaxing at home for once not thinking about what you were up to.  “Mom, is Ray there?”   “Yeah Mike he’s here, why?”  “Give him the phone”.  Ok now my heart is starting to race.  I don’t like the tone in your voice.  I see Rays face and know.

Matt you left Mikes and just couldn’t wait until you got home.  You were high at the scene.  Mike got there first and watched your truck get towed away.   You told him you witnessed an accident.  You had no idea you caused it.  Fell asleep at the wheel.  The only reason you were alive is because you were so relaxed.    You are taken to the police station.  Blood is drawn.  Mike brings you home.

Once again your addiction shattered my heart.  Like the bumper on your car its smashed beyond recognition.   Mike, Ray and I try to remain calm.  Ray looks defeated.  Mikes pacing and ready to pounce.  My emotions are constantly changing.  One second I want to slap some sense into you.  Lecture you once again about how close you came to dying.  The next second I want to tell it will be ok.  For now you will remain home and I once again start formulating a plan to save you.

I lay in bed that night and thank God you are still here.  I feel comforted knowing that you are downstairs and are trapped for the time being.  Now the police are involved.  Your blood work will tell the story of your addiction and I pray you will be mandated into rehab.  I ask myself what kind of mother wants her son arrested?  What kind of mother would want her addicted son to serve time and hopefully get the help he so desperately needs?   Oh God, what kind of mother have I become?

There is no getting out of it this time my sweet boy.  You have landed in a place that even supermom can’t fix for you.  “Mom, I’m sorry”.   “Matt, save it”.  “This time you will face your consequences and my hands are tied”.   “There is nothing more I can do except love you and hope this opens your eyes”. I’m surprised at my sense of relief.  For the first time I don’t feel like I have to formulate a plan to fix this.  I feel like the weight of your addiction is finally off my shoulders.  I allow myself the fantasy that finally the stars have aligned and you will get what you need.  The Mom police have been replaced by the real ones and this Mom is more than relieved.

I am preparing my speech for your court date.   I will beg and plead for treatment.  I will spill my guts, get down on my knees and beg for your life and mine.  I picture myself visiting on weekends and watch you transform back into the Matt we lost so long ago.  I’m sitting at my computer when your phone rings.   I pretend not to overhear.  I hear you yelling and jumping for joy.  Now I’m on my feet and by your side.  “What are you talking about?”  I grab your phone and interrupt your joy.  “This is Matt”s Mom, what is happening?’  “What, you what?”  Now I’m the one yelling not out of joy but disbelief.  “You lost his blood?”  “Tell me this is a sick joke?”  “How incompetent are you people?”  At this moment in time I don’t care who is on the receiving end of my rant I am pissed.   I continue my questions watching your smile spread from ear to ear.  You look like you just won the lottery and I want to crawl through the phone and strangle the messenger.

Matt, you just can’t believe that I’m not sharing in your joy.  You look at me like What the Hell mom and proceed to dance your way downstairs.  There are no words.  My brain is screaming.  Plans to keep you safe shattered at my feet.  I am surprised at my disappointment.  I really wanted you to finally be held accountable by someone other than me.  By someone who wouldn’t be twisted by your beautiful eyes and smile.  Someone who didn’t see that tow-headed boy change into this man you have become.  Someone with the power to finally fix you.

I return to my computer.  Hold my finger on the delete button and watch my pleas for your life disappear.  I feel my familiar friend hopelessness wrap her arms around me.  I want those ruby red slippers.  Three clicks of my magic heels and I’m gone.  Why does this keep happening.  Every plan, every hope, every dream of getting you back shattered like glass at my feet.

As if by magic a pop-up appears.   The question, Are you in need of a rehab in your area?    Seriously,  I click the link and just like magic pictures and numbers dance across my screen.   Ok God, are you telling me something?   So now it’s me who’s smiling as I write down names and number and formulate my plan B.

“Mike, I need your help”.  I tell Mike the latest and prepare my ears for the onslaught of his opinion on our justice system.   “I know I couldn’t believe it either”.  “It’s like he has a Fairy Godmother of Addiction on his shoulder.   Comes out smelling like a rose every time, a very stoned rose, but a rose non the less.   I’ve called rehabs.  There are beds available.  We need to convince him to go.  I have a plan……

Mike takes you back to his house to get you out of my house under the premise of you helping with his truck.  You are still a great mechanic when you are straight and this time brother bonding was all part of my plan.   You see my sweet boy, you’ve been wanting a Harley for sometime.  I’ve got control of your money.  You want a Harley.  I want rehab.  Let’s make a deal….

Waiting for the phone call was like waiting for the stick to turn positive after years of trying.  Nothing I did would take my mind off of what was happening between my boys.  I knew Mike could be very persuasive when he needed to be, but I also had years of dealing with the I’ve got this attitude of Matts.   Finally I hear the ringing of the call that would either make or break me.   “Mom”.  I could hear it in Mike’s voice.  Yes, yes, yes.  My brain is doing the happy dance.  Matt will go.  Those three little words that meant the world to this exhausted, beaten up addicts mother.  I felt like I just won the lottery.  My heart once again feeling little pangs of hope.  I hung up and immediately started to dial the numbers that made promises to provide the best of the best and so on and so on.

I fly downstairs and pack your things.  The list in my head.  I moving like the house is on fire.  Ray walks in and looks at me like I’ve lost my mind.  “Matt’s going to rehab”.  Now Ray is flying around with me double checking my checklist.    Bags are packed and waiting in the hallway.  Now I wait for the usual suspect to make his appearance.  Finally Mike delivers my prey.  I know from everything I’ve read that you can waste no time once your addict says yes.  You walk in and I give you a hug.  “Matt, it’s really the best thing”.   “I am so proud of you for agreeing”.   You look at me with those eyes and laugh.

Ray joins us on the ride to Bowling Green.  I keep telling you how you are doing the right thing.  How you need to get clean and stay clean.  I’m silently praying that this time you will get it.  I’m so tired of the revolving door of recovery that I just want to jump off.  I continue to act light and fluffy the entire journey.  I’m so sickening sweet I make myself sick.  We pull up and I see the fear spread over your face.  Oh God, please don’t let him change his mind.  You grab a smoke and start puffing.  I start begging for your life.

Finally we enter the building.  You look around like a kid on the first day of school.   My heart is in my mouth.  My fear of you bolting is overwhelming.   Then I see a group of you.  Men and women sporting tattoos, smoking cigarettes and smiling in your direction.  They are you and you are them.  All beautiful people fighting the same battle you fight.  All looking happy and healthy.  I remember the saying I read somewhere,  The best person to help an addict is an addict.  Well my beautiful Matt you were surrounded by addicts.

Ray and I were led to the waiting room while you were taken back for the admission assessment.   I had to keep telling myself to breathe.  I remember tasting blood not realizing that I started to chew the inside of my lip.  Oh Dear God.  I prayed nothing would stop you from being here.  I wanted you to be safe.  I wanted you to get healthy.  I wanted you back.

I’m so lost in my thoughts I don’t see you enter the room.  Our eyes meet.  “It’s all good Mom I’ll stay”.    I jump out of my chair and into your arms.  “Matt, please do what you need to do this time, let’s get off the rollercoaster and back to a normal life”.  The three of us are hugging and laughing so relieved that you are on board this time.   Ray goes to get your things from the car and I sit and hold your hand.  “Matt, this is the right thing to do”.  “Please work the program”.  “Get your life back”.   “Stay as long as it takes”.   Once again I’m begging for your life.   Ray and I are given guidelines for visiting as we take time for one more hug.   I look into your beautiful eyes and silently beg you to get it right.

I praised God all the way home.  Finally letting myself have the fantasy that this would be it.  This would be your Ah ha moment just like all my books lead you to believe.  Never give up they tell you one time it will click.  Recovery will happen.  Oh how badly I needed this to be that time.

The drive home was peaceful.  I could finally take that deep breath knowing you were safe.  I felt like the weight of the world was off my weary shoulders and I allowed joy to re enter my life.   There was no communication with you until visiting on Sunday.  I allowed myself that time to remember who I was and to start working on me.  I had become so addicted to your addiction that I forgot about all the things that made me happy.  I could now spend my evenings at home with Ray enjoying a glass of wine and normal conversation that didn’t revolve around you.  I almost forgot there were other things to talk about besides my son’s addiction.  I felt so much lighter that week.  Everyone noticed.  saving babies became my focus again.  No longer worried about missing your call I could now concentrate on my tiny patients and their overwhelmed moms.

Sunday arrived and it was Mike who wanted to come with me to see you.  The rules only allowed two family members on visiting day.  Mike wanted to see for himself that you weren’t playing games but were really invested in saving yourself.  We meet in the parking lot.  Both of us feeling the same anxiety over who you would be.   Would you be that pissed off Matt, ugly and angry that you were trapped in rehab or would you finally understand that this was where you needed to be.  We must sign in and sit through a lecture by one of the counselors before we can see you.  I look around and see carbon copies of me.  Parents in all shapes and sizes.  All showing the same signs of stress, brokenness and a glimmer of hope.  We smile at each other knowing we have fought the same battle to save our kids and now we sit together as comrades, as wounded warriors.  The aftermath of our child”s addiction.

Matt, that was the longest hour of my life.  All I wanted to do was look into your eyes and see that you were back.  Finally the talk has ended.  We are lead to a large courtyard overlooking a pond.  Mike and I are like two rubber bands pulled to our snapping point.  We don’t speak but can read each others thoughts.  Then I see you.  I grab Mike’s arm and point.  There you are.  My handsome, sober son.   You look amazing.  Your gait is strong and steady.  You approach with caution.  “Hi Mom, Mike”.  Your eyes are clear.  Sparkling like pools of green sea water.   Tears start to fall as I recognize my beautiful boy is back.  You wrap Mike and I in a group hug.  Now we are relaxed and laughing.  Hugging and hugging as relief floods are bodies that you are working to save your life.  The hour flies by.  We sit on a log near the water.  My boys together like it used to be.  No screaming, no ugliness just two brothers hanging out  catching up on life.  I watch you and Mike and feel my heart fill with joy.  Oh God, thank you, thank you.   My prayers have been answered.

You are there for two more weeks.  I now live for the weekend visits.  You tell us how you hated the person you became.  You never wanted to become addicted and lose everything you worked so hard for.  You expressed such remorse my heart broke for everything you had endured.

Our last visit is forever burned in my memory.  You sitting on our log.  So handsome.  Happy and full of plans.  Staring into my eyes with so much love.  A silent thank you for never giving up.   You told me you were being discharged that week.  I remember feeling that chill run up my spine.  I managed to keep my face from showing the fear that flashed through my mind.  Questions spinning in my brain.  Had you been here long enough?  Did you have the skills needed to fight if the cravings returned?  I wanted you to stay here forever.  In this safe, protected place.  I wasn’t ready for you to face the world again.  You told me you were ready to move on.  I knew I couldn’t hold you back.  “Mom, I’m so glad I got the monkey off my back”.  I remember those words and should have known that monkey was still hanging around..

You tell me of a place your counselor has recommended.  Your eyes lit up when you mentioned Florida.  “The Boca House”.  “Mom its supposed to be  great place”.  My mind fighting to keep my face in control.  Oh God, so far away.  Keeping my thoughts quiet I force a smile.  “Mom, I’ll be near the beach again”.  “You know how I love the beach”.   You were animated like a child anticipating a visit from Santa.  How could I stop something you wanted so badly.  I read about The Boca House in one of my addiction bibles.  The authors son lived there and survived.  Why would it be any different for you?  I gave you a hug and held on tighter and longer than usual.  A thousand miles away.  Oh God,  you’ve never been that far from me.  I remember struggling with you being so far away and asking about other places close to home.  Someplace I could visit and watch for the signs I knew too well.  You had already made up your mind.  For you it was Florida or bust.   I thought about how many times I’ve heard that people in recovery do much better with different people, places and things.  Well Florida would be full of that.  Little did I know that Florida was also full of hiding demons.   If I had only known what I know now I would have held you forever.

Tough Love: Take two

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Matt.   I sit and allow myself the luxury of the dream.    You are that tow-headed boy again.   You are laughing and jumping in the waves.  Your laugh is so precious, like music to my ears.   The innocence of life.   The simple joy of jumping the waves.  Running into the surf, crashing into the waves, now such a treasured memory.   I look back trying to understand what happened.   How did that innocent boy change into the angry man you are today?

I sit watching that boy and his dog and allow the happy memories to wash over me with the surf.   I feel the sun on my battered body.  Feel the healing power of the warmth and light bathing my soul with a peace long forgotten.   Memories of happy times.   Summers by the sea.  Birthday parties and family barbecues.   Bike riding, football games and high school graduation.   Where did it all start to change?   Years of happiness now overshadowed by years of ugliness and pain.   I watch as the surf slams into a sandcastle and wash it away like it never existed.   That sandcastle is our life before your addiction.   So little of it resembles what it used to be.

I sit until the sun goes down and a chill fills the air.   In the past I would have walked back to our precious home.   The dogs would greet me and together we would wait until you joined us.  You would grab a bite and we would grab the leashes.  Soon we would be surrounded by yapping and jumping.  Once again headed to our favorite spot.  The dogs would run free and we would sit and share your day.  A mother and her son sitting by the sea enjoying each other.   The best of friends.  Today the harsh reality of your addiction follows me as I drive by what was once our home.   So filled with happiness, now a casualty of your demons.   I can’t help myself.  I stop my car.  I close my eyes and see you washing your boat.   I see that smile and watch as you climb down to greet me.  I can almost imagine feeling your arms wrapping around me and the whisper of your kiss on my cheek.   I break out of my fantasy and realize what I’m feeling are  tears running down my face.

I drive home leaving a piece of myself behind.   The sea is our connection, our happy place.  The changing current mimics our changing lives.   The riptide constantly pulling us farther and farther from safety.  Your addiction slowly drowning both of us.   I keep throwing the life line and you keep losing your grip.

Returning home is bittersweet.   Reality awaits me and right now I hate reality.   The last time I saw you I was cussing and shaking and spitting mad.   The words spewing out of your mouth were vicious and vulgar.   You and I reached the lowest point of our lives.  A mother and her son being torn apart by your demons.  That day I felt trapped in a hell I never want to visit again.   I’m still embarrassed at how your behavior brought out the ugliness in my soul.  Your demons stealing both my soul and my son.

I knew your call would come.   What I didn’t know was the guttural response it would produce.  The sound of your voice, once so welcome, now caused my heart to race and my throat to close like I’m being slowly strangled.  I am breathless.  Punched in my gut.   I hear the words, “I’m ready to leave, I want to come home”.   “I need a ride”.   I’m torn.   I want to be that Mom.  The one who always runs to your rescue.  Who always picks up the pieces of what you left behind and tries to put them back into a neat little package.   I’m just not that Mom.   You broke me.

“Matt, find a ride yourself, I can’t do it this time”.   “I’m not ready for you to come home”.    Your silence is deafening.   I can feel your disbelief coming through the phone.   “WTF am I supposed to do?”   “You know how far it is from home, you brought me here”.    “Yup, I did.  You cussed me out and snorted drugs off my dashboard”.   “You locked me out of my car as I made an ass out of myself in front of a police officer”.   “Oh yeah, I remember”.    “Call your friends”.

I hang up the phone and immediately feel like a piece of shit.   Addict’s Mom guilt.   It gets me every time.   Here’s my precious boy asking to come home.  I keep seeing that tow-head running toward me with arms extended.   I need to see the man, the addict.   I must find a way to stay strong and save what’s left of me.

I’m on edge.  Pacing.  Once again beating myself up.  How could I be so cold.   I keep reminding myself that you have a disease.   You are battling for your life and here’s you mom acting like some cold bitch.   Oh God, I grab my phone and dial your number.   I’m in tears as it just rings and goes to voicemail.   I leave you a pleading message.  Once again I am a mess.   My job is to save you, it’s what I do.   I’m still on the phone as the dogs start jumping at the door.   I turn to see your face.  Clean shaven.  Bright, clear beautiful eyes pierce my soul.   I am gone.   You drop your bag and I feel your arms circle me.  “God Mom,  I’m so sorry”.   “I can’t believe I treated you like I did, forgive me”.

So it begins again.   This life of chaos and helplessness that briefly turns to hope.   The rollercoaster that briefly allows you to think you have the power to get off.   I feel it again as I’m pulled back into your addiction by a mothers love.   Strapped in tightly holding my breath as we are climbing to new heights.   I allow myself to think maybe just maybe this was the “magic time”.   The one referred to in the books I’ve been reading.   Beautiful Boy and Addict in the Family have become my bibles.  My go to reference books that make me feel like I’m not a crazy, horrible mom.   This time I have a twist in the ride.

“Matt, you can stay here until you find another place”.   The words are out before I even know they are said.   You look at me like my head is spinning.  Your smile gone, your eyes dark.  I see the cloud coming in.   You are not getting your way.  I have to start to save myself.   “It’s too hard on me to watch how you live”.   “I can’t see you day after day doing nothing to better yourself”.    “You need to find a job and a place to live”.   “I will always be here for you just not under the same roof”.

You walk away and I crumble inside.   Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and no one could put him back together again.   I’ve been Humpty.   My heart broken and shattered.   Now I am responsible for putting my pieces together.   For me to heal you must go.   I’m trying to be that parent.   The tough one who does the right thing.   That tough love, let them hit rock bottom thing that every parent in my books has been able to do.   So now in front of you I am tough.  Behind closed doors I am Humpty.

I watch as you pack.   A friend you met at NA has offered to share a house with you.   I keep telling you how great it will be for you to become independent.  You look at me like I have lost my mind.  “You are welcome here any time”.   I’m trying to stay light and positive.  Pleading for both our lives.   I know I can not continue to be slowly destroyed by your addiction.   I must save myself to continue to save you.   We need a break from the ugly, daily chaos that has slowly wrapped us up.  You are no longer you and I am broken to my core.   Inside I want to wrap my arms around you and protect you from yourself.   I am fighting my internal battle.   Enabling is what I do.  Making life comfortable for you has become second nature for me.  I am a fixer and I have spent years trying to fix you.   I am slowly realizing that the fixing can only be done by you.   At least that’s what I’ve been told.  I tell you Kahlua will be fine with me.  She has become my dog through your addiction.   She is old and needs care I know you will not provide.  She looks at me with pleading eyes.   No worries old girl, you are safe with me.

A few months pass.  Life is starting to find a routine again.   You visit and we are starting to enjoy being together.   I feel like the rollercoaster is on the up swing.   I’m allowing my heart to feel that we have finally found a way out of the grip of your demons.   The fantasy that you are becoming the Matt I so desperately need you to be and I am returning to  the sane version of me plays over and over in my head.   I need this so badly.  I continue to watch closely for signs.   I listen for those words.  I look at your beautiful eyes.   I follow after you leave to assure myself you are safe.   I am so wrapped up in my fantasy I don’t hear the demons beating on your door.

The day is sunny and warm.  No warning of the storm that is about to slam into our lives once again.   You were home.  You were happy and clear.   You walked Kahlua.   It felt like a normal Saturday afternoon in a normal family.  You hugged me as you were leaving.  “Mom, you were right to do this, I need to be a man”.   Oh how my heart soared.   Yes, yes, yes.   My brain is shouting.  I am high-fiving me, myself and I.   We did it.  We did it.   The celebration in my brain is so loud I don’t hear Ray screaming.   “Get in the car”.  “Get in the car”.   He is running to grab the keys, his phone to his ear.   What, what.   My once celebrating brain now confused and frightened.  “It’s Matt, he had a seizure”.

No, no, no!  My mind is screaming.  Disbelief flooding my body as we race to the Emergency Room.   I’m screaming at Ray for details.  He knows nothing more.   Where, when and how are questions whirling in my head.   Never once did your addiction enter my mind.  My heart is in my throat choking the life out of me.  I am shaking so uncontrollably  that Ray puts his arm out as if I’m a child trying to stop me from flying through the windshield.   I remember that sandcastle being slammed over and over again until only pieces remain.  I am that sandcastle.

I jump out of the car and run past the ambulance.   I can feel you there.  The triage nurse looks up and immediately knows I’m your mother.   She calls back.  Before she hangs up the phone a doctor is by my side.   Oh God, Oh God, Oh God.   Flashbacks of another E.D,  Of my colleague, Terry telling me I had to do this.  “Mare, you can do this”.  With me crumbling in her arms.   I can’t breath.  I follow like a lamb being led to a slaughter.  I have no idea what I will find beyond those doors.   The doctor can say very little.  You are an adult and protected by HIPAA.  I overhear seizure than cardiac arrest as I approach your room.   I feel my knees start to buckle as my breath is vaporized out of my lungs.

You are conscious.  Breathing on your own.   My Mom brain leaves as my Nurse brain takes over.   You vital signs are in normal range.  Your cardiac rhythm is slow but steady, no irregular beats for you.  Your color is pale.  You are smiling and looking at me as if this is all just a joke.  The Doctor and Nurse are at your bedside.

I grab your hand.   “Tell me what you did”.   You look away.  Ray and Mike have walked into your room together and stand beside me.   I grab your face in my hands and start to sob.  “Do you think this is a game?”   “Do you see what you are doing to me?”   “How many more times do you need to almost die before you kill me?’  You are getting red.   The embarrassment of my behavior making you uncomfortable.   “Tell them to tell me or I will walk out and never look back”

Cocaine.   I’ve just been shot in the head.   I close my eyes and see it explode into a million pieces.   Blood is everywhere.   I can’t speak or breathe.  I see myself slap your face and walk out of your room.  I leave you with Ray and Mike.   I am drowning in your addiction.  I hang onto the wall as I walk out.  My sobs are like that of a wounded animal.   The nurses look at me as I sit outside holding the pieces of my heart in my hand.   All at once it hit me.   You have crossed that line.   Being a nurse and seeing your battered body, knowing you had rods and screws holding your spine in place gave me the excuse to believe you weren’t that addict.  You were just abusing pills to combat your pain.  How naive I have become.  My love for you placed blinders over my eyes.   Denial has been my survival until this moment.   My theory now shattered at my feet along with my dream of ever returning to who we used to be.

I sit alone as the sun goes down on another day robbed of joy by your addiction.  I wonder how much more my heart can take before it stops wanting to beat.  I hear the rumble of the wheels as the roller coaster pulls up along side my bench.  I feel the pull of a force begging me to ride again.   The harness secures my place as the engine slowly starts to move.   I close my eyes.   We are on the beach.   You are laughing and jumping into the surf.   “Mommy, mommy please stay with me”.   “Don’t let me go”.   A mothers love has no boundaries.  My heart will not give up.  I say a silent prayer to Jesus for sparing your life.  I grab the bars and am whipped away once again.

The Witch and the Warlock Head to Warwick

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Matt.   As pissed as I am that you have been released,  I am amazed at how great you look.   The old Matt is back.   Clear eyes and speech.   Your handsome face showing no signs of the horror that unfolded in my driveway so few nights ago.    Still I’m pissed.  I want my life back.  I want my son back.  I’m so sick of what your addiction has done to our family.   I’m so sick of the so called professionals thinking they know what you need.   My letter fell on deaf ears.  Told your addiction story and no one cared.   You are not safe.   I can feel it.  I know you better than you know yourself.   I have lived this nightmare way too long to think that a few nights in a mental hospital is just what the doctor ordered to fix you.   I’m so tired, so  disappointed and so pissed at this stupid broken system.

So now we begin again.   I choose my words carefully.   Your anger is seeping from your pores.   I hold my breath as I ask you about your plans.   I know you are not strong enough to fight the constant cravings for the poison that rules your life.   I know you need to get into rehab and I can’t believe you were released to the streets.   WTH is wrong with this picture.   How many times do we do this same dance.   Round and round we go.   Let’s not speak the word.. REHAB.  Let’s not say the word ADDICT.   I try to keep my cool.   Try to be the mother I want to be but cannot.  You know, the one who wears the rose colored glasses and lives in denial.   Or maybe the one who is strong enough to play the tough love game.   Dropping you off, driving away and never looking back.  But we both know I am neither.  As much as I hate this world that has become ours, I’m in it as deep as you are.   This chaos has become my way of life.   Your addiction has become mine.

I ask if your hungry.   You are.  So it’s off to lunch.   It’s a beautiful day and we pick a seat outside.   Your favorite burger joint.   I’m hoping this will help lighten the funk surrounding us.   I look at you as you scour the menu.   You are so handsome.   Your eyes are bright and clear.   Your face with no signs of puffiness.   No head bobbing today,  no dosing off while we eat.   My heart is afraid to love this Matt.   I fear he will be gone soon and my heart will break again.   I decide to enjoy this moment.   This gift of normal.   Just a mother and her son enjoying a beautiful afternoon.   You start to lighten up.   You tell me how great it is to be aware.   To taste, to smell, to be here and feel everything.   Oh God, I bust out in tears.   Holy shit, my dam has broken and the tears are running down my face.   You grab my hand.   “I’m so sorry Mom”,    I’m sobbing into my napkin making a fool of myself.   The waitress comes quickly.   Oh God, I’m so embarrassed.    No, no, the food is great.  Everything is great.   My son is here.  Today, this very moment Matt is here.   My heart is gone.  Forget trying to save it,  I have prayed for this for so long.   My brain knows we are on that slippery slope.  We are still in the woods.   We are no where near being finished with this disease, but my heart is soaring with the clouds.   Just today  Dear God,  just today, Matt is here.

I decide to bring you home.   I will once again be the mom police.   I will save you from yourself.   Watch you like a hawk.   I’m off and I will follow you like a dog.   No car, no leaving the house without me as your wing man.   Once again,  I allow myself to enter my disillusional world.   I will put on my supermom suit and save the day.   I will be The Queen of Hearts and slay your demons.   No one will get close enough to drag you back into your darkness.   How hopeful and  foolish.   I allow myself the fantasy of normal.

My plan is working.   Everyday you are clean.  You are far from being happy, but you are clean.   Everywhere you go I go.   Wawa for smokes, ok let’s go.   If looks could kill I’d be dead, but the longer you are clean the more hopeful I become.   Fantasy land is beautiful.   I’m Alice and we are living in Wonderland.      My anxiety of returning to work after my week of supermom duty was through the roof.   Heavy heart, tight chest, closing throat all my familiar reactions to the impending storm rolling into my fantasy.   Addicts mother’s intuition.

I could feel it from the distance.   The return of the demons.   “Please Matt,  stay home,  stay clean”.   “Remember how great it feels to smell and taste and be here in the moment”.   I’m begging you for your life and you are pushing me out the door.   Your truck is in the driveway just like we left it or so you thought.   My chalk mark confirms my angst.   You left the house.   I put on my happy face and pretend.   You are asleep, slumped over on your couch.   Pill residue on your nose.   I scream silently and hear my heart crash into land.   I quietly search and find a tissue in your bathroom holding the pills I’ve come to know so well.   Noooooooooo.   I’m holding the evidence but my mind still screaming doesn’t understand.   Why? why? why?   How could you do this again?  How could you do this to me?   I quietly watch your breathing.   Tears running down my face.   Ok Supermom,  whats the plan now?

You come upstairs.   You know I know.  “Mom, where are they?”   “They?,  you mean the bastard pills that keep finding their way back into our lives”.   “Don’t know Matt, I just don’t know”.   You turn on me like a snake.   I look at you with a feeling over overwhelming sadness.  “WTF Mom”.   “I’m not playing this game, give me my f…… pills”.    I walk away as you punch the wall.   I am broken, numb.   I tell you the only way to get your pills is to get into my car.   There is a bed waiting for you at Warwick.   I have packed a suitcase and have it by the door.   You walk out and drive away.

I sit alone and wait.   There are no  tears.  I am numb.   I’m dead inside.   My heart still beats but I feel nothing.   Hours pass and I wonder where you are.   I wonder if you have more pills.  I wonder if I will ever see you again.   This time it’s me sleeping when you come back.   You are agitated, sweaty and pissed.   It’s early morning and you are desperate.    “Mom please”.    I throw on clothes and come downstairs.   “Mom please”.    “Get in my car”.    “WTF mom, WTF”.   “Get in my car and you get the pills”.    “Bitch”.    Yes Matt,  Supermom is now Super bitch.

The drive to Warwick was like being trapped in a burning building.   Like slowly having the air replaced with soot that burned your lungs and turned everything it touched into black slime.   You were withdrawing from whatever and I was driving like a mother on a mission.   The words coming out of your mouth stung my ears and I tried to block you  out.   LALALALA,  I tried to remember this voice was not yours but the demons who now controlled your mind.   Your filthy mouth, your ugly words,  “You F…….Bitch, who do you think you are,  give me my f…. pills”.    “Who the F…. do you think you are bitch, you don’t own me”.    The louder you got the higher I turned up the radio.   Trying to stay calm and not become as ugly as you.   You push my buttons.   You light up in my car and blow the smoke in my face.    I snap.

The dirt road is empty except for my car.   I pull over in a cloud of dust and hit my brakes hard.   I tell you to get the hell out.   I jump out my door and run to open my hatch.   I am cussing and shaking and spitting mad.    I grab your luggage and throw it to the ground.   My adrenalin  is pumping.   I am throwing your bags as far as I can into the dirt and stomping the shit out of them.   I have officially lost my mind.   I walk to your door and hear the click.   Your smiling face greets me through your window.   I am beating on your window screaming at you to open the Fu….. door.   I watch in horror as you pull pills from your shoes,  grab a pen from my console and dismantle it.   I know what’s coming as I’m pulling on the door handle and screaming Noooooooo.   I throwing my body into the door beating the glass with my fists.   You crush the pills on my dashboard and bend your head toward the dirty powder.   I’m kicking in the door as my hands are numb and bleeding from beating the car.   I’m screaming and completely unaware that we are no longer alone.

I feel his hands on my shoulders before I see the uniform.    He tells me to back away from the car.   My mind is still screaming.   “Are you Fu….. kidding me officer.   Get the F…..  away from me”.   “I’m trying to break into my car,  yes, you heard me,  my car,  my son snorting drugs”.   My sobs are making it difficult to speak.    He tells me to stand back as he approaches your window.   I follow standing right behind him.    I want to get my hands around your throat and squeeze the shit out of you.   Let me at him, my mind screams, let me at him!   You are so polite as you roll down your window and smile at the officer.   My dashboard wiped clean and the dismantled pen no where in site.   I hear your words,  “Yes officer, I’m ok”.    “My mother has the problem”.    You lying shit.   I have the problem.    The officer looks at me like I’m the crazy one.   “Sir why don’t you step out of the car and help me load your bags.   “Officer, are you F….. kidding me”.    “Are you stupid?”   “Don’t you see past this BS?”    He just snorted whatever and he’s happy as a clam soon to be in La La land.   The officer helps reload the bags and walks to the driver side where I’ve buckled myself in for the rest of the ride from hell.   “Where you headed?”   “I’m headed to Warwick, you know the drug rehab to drop off my precious cargo”.    I try to stay calm but in my mind I’m going to kill you as soon as I see his tail lights in the distance.   I’m going to throw you and your f….. shit out of my car, out of my life and drive off never looking back.   As if reading my mind,  “You’re almost there, I’ll escort you the rest of the way”.    He walks to his car and I grab your smiling face.   You are gone,  your eyes glazed over and drooping.   I drop your face and listen to your breathing.   I’m shaking and sobbing.   My hands throbbing as I grab the wheel and follow the yellow brick road.

There are no more words as you sleep the rest of the way.   I’m so ready to get rid of you.   I’m shocked at my behavior, ashamed at who I’ve become.   Your demons take control of my soul.   Your addiction makes me ugly.

Warwick is beautiful.   The perfect setting.   Situated on the Chesapeake Bay, I felt like I’d pulled into our vacation spot.   I hit the brakes hard and startle you awake.   Ok shit head, get out.   Once again I’m throwing your bags out the door into the dirt.   You get out and I get in.   “See ya,  Matt, I’m out of here”.    A man walks to my car.   “You can’t just leave”.    “WHAT,  you are expecting him, I called and he already has a bed”.    “Sorry, you have to wait until he is evaluated by a counselor”.    Ok, now I’m gonna start punching people in their smug little faces.   “No one shared that little bit of information with me on the phone, I’ve got news for you buddy, he’s staying”.   “No Ma’am,  he’s not.  Not unless you obey the rules and let us talk to him first”.    You are taking this all in,  my sly fox sitting on the porch like I’m the big bad wolf and you are the innocent.   “How long?”   “I’ve spent two and a half hours in my car.  I have had nothing to eat or drink and I’m ready to scream”.    “Don’t know,  these things take time”.   Just as I’m ready to scream I see a man approach you, shake hands and take you to another building.   Thank God.   I start to walk toward the water.   Just what I need, to sit in those beautiful chairs and stare into the water.  Ok, I’m thinking.   I can do this.   I start to walk toward the beautiful blue of the bay. “Ma’am,  you have to wait in your car.  The grounds are for patients only”.    I turn on him like a cobra ready to strike.   “Listen to me A.H.   I’ve been stuck in that car with my withdrawing, ugly addict son.   I’ve been cussed at,  called MFer and other lovely words that are music to my ears.   If I don’t get to sit by that water you’re going have to call my patrol car buddy and have me taken away”.   “You got that, buddy”.

I don’t even give him a chance to respond.   I break out into a run toward the water.   F.U, F.U,  my mind is going crazy,  I’m breathless as I make it to the chairs.   My tears flow, mixed with hysterical laughter.   Well Matt,  I’ve made a complete ass out of myself today.   All in the name of saving you.  How in the hell did this happen.   If anyone saw me today.   Oh God, what am I turning into.   I’m so lost in my thoughts that I don’t hear the approaching footsteps.   It’s the man who took you away.   He tells me you are permitted to stay.   I jump out of my chair and practically run to my car.   You are there sitting on the same porch surrounded by your bags.   I approach with caution.   “Matt, do what you need to do”.   “You better get it right this time, I don’t know how much more I can take”.    You take a drag of your smoke and look at me with those beautiful eyes.   Those eyes I fell in love with when I first held you.   Those eyes that always told me you loved me.   Those eyes that melt my heart no matter how ugly we become.   Today I must not let you get to my heart.   Today I must protect myself.   Today I almost lost my mind.   Your demons hiding behind those beautiful eyes.   I turn as my tears come.

The ride home is peaceful.   I keep my window down.   I need to feel air and hear nature.   No music just the sounds of life.   I stop to get gas and a drink.   Buckling up I feel something sharp.   I wrap my fingers around the tube and pull it out from my seat.   The dismantled pen.   Your demons hitching a ride home.   I want to scream.  To throw them to the ground and stomp the life out of them.   I feel the ugliness that has taken over my being surfacing.   I can not let them steal my soul, they already have my son.   I throw the tube out my window as far as I can.     F.U, I shout. F.U.   My soul belongs to me.  My son belongs to me.  I’m no longer the Mad Hatter, just the mad mother of a man suffering from the ugly disease of addiction…

 

 

 

 

 

Really Rockford, Really!!!!!

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Matt,   Once again your addiction has turned our world upside down.   Mike should be home in bed, not fighting to get you admitted to a mental hospital.  I should be sound asleep not pacing like a wild animal in my darkened home.   I dial the intake number listed on their website.  No answer.  WTH.  How can a mental hospital not answer the phone in the middle of the night.  So the wait begins.  Ray has given up and gone back to bed.  Someone in this household needs to be able to function like a normal human being and right now it’s not looking too good for me.

So I wait and sit and pace until the sun starts to appear.  What the hell was going on?   How long does it take to admit someone who has attempted to end it all.   My mind is out of control.  I fight the urge to get into my car and see what the hell is happening for myself.  If this takes much longer I will have a breakdown and need one of their precious beds for myself.   Do you think we can share a room?  Do they have family suites like hotels do?   Ladies and gentlemen, this is the addicts wing.   This is where we put the addicts and their poor mothers who have now lost their minds.  I really don’t know how much more I can take.   I’m mentally and physically exhausted.   I can’t eat, barely sleep.   My face shows signs of constant stress.  I have forgotten how to smile.   Maybe I’m the one who should be admitted.  If anyone saw me beating the crap out of your dealer on my from lawn they would certainly vouch for my craziness.  I know most of my friends would.  “You’re crazy for putting up with his crap”.   “You’re crazy for letting him live with you”.   Yup just call me crazy.   Give me permission to lose my mind.   Let me find that rabbit hole and just keep sliding far, far away from here.

Headlights break into my thought.  ” Mike, what?”  I don’t even get the words out of my mouth.  “Mom, they finally admitted him”.   “Three hours, holy shit I never thought they would take him back”.    “They had me clean out his pockets”.    Pills spill out of Mike’s jacket and onto my table.   My brain screams as I see the shapes and colors all dancing across my table.   Matt, where in the hell did you get these? Enough to do the job you intended to do.   I relive beating your dealer.  My mind goes to a dark place.   If I could find him at this very moment I would force these pills down his throat and watch him die.   Yes, your honor.   I’m guilty.   I’m just the mother of an addict trying to save her son from the pusher trying to kill him.   Crazy,  yup that’s me..

So now I must wait to see you again.   There are rules to follow.   No visitors until the weekend.  No phone calls, no nothing.   I want to scream.   I’m no visitor,  my mind screams,   I’m his mother.   I try to play dumb as I once again dial the number I now have memorized in my brain.   I plead my case to deaf ears.  Please I just need to know he’s ok.  I need to know what he needs.   He is there with the clothes on his back.  I want him to be comfortable.   I need him to know I love him and I will not abandon him.   Please…..Nothing.   No information.  Thank you Federal Government for HIPPA..

My heart is in my throat as I sit in the parking lot waiting for Mike.  Never in a million years did I ever think your addiction would lead to me sitting in my car in the parking lot of a mental hospital.   In my fantasy world, you were just going to kick this, just like that.  What the hell was I thinking.   I was so lost in my thoughts that I never heard Mike until he hit the hood of my car.   “Mom, where are you.  I’ve been calling you for a few minutes, are you Ok?”   “No Mike,  I’m dreaming of a life that doesn’t exist”.   “A life free of the demons that are slowly making me crazy and killing our family.”   My tears start as Mike grabs my arm and leads me to the front door.

We have to sign in and show ID.  We sit and wait for our turn.   I stare at the enormous fish tank thinking how nice it would be to be a fish.   I hear a buzz then our name is called.   We are greeted by an attendant who leads us through a maze of doors.  He locks and unlocks doors as we follow him like rats.   I can feel that familiar throat tightening.  My heart starting to skip beats.  I feel like I’m being lead to an execution.  Last man walking.   We are left alone in a small room.  There is no air.   I can feel my guts starting to shake.   “Mike, please no confrontation,  I can’t take it.”   The door opens.   My heart drops.   You are there.  I want to run and wrap you in my arms, to tell you that I love you and it will be ok.   Your stare stops me.  Your anger is palpable.   You wear a shirt I don’t recognize.   You shoes have no laces, your pants no belt.   My mind is screaming.   Suicide precautions,   Dear God,  my son is on suicide precautions!  I felt like I’d been hit by a bat.  I feel the room spinning.  Oh no.  No you don’t.  My mind is screaming.  No passing out for you Mama.  Your demons are in the room.   Laughing.  That’s right Mama.  We almost got him this time.   We win, you lose.

Your counselor is young and naive.   You once again have used your charms to pull the wool over the eyes of those who are supposed to know.   Mike looks at me reading my mind.   He is polite but firm.   He tells the story of the last two years of the endless chaos, the nights of wondering if you were alive or dead.  The total mess our lives have become due to your using and lies.  The betrayal of everyone trying to save you.   My heart is silently breaking as I watch your brother pleading our case.   Trying to keep you in a place where you will be safe.    I watch your face.   My sweet, sweet fox.   The innocent lamb with the big bad wolf as your brother.  You once again have mastered the art of deception.   You are the victim.   I’m screaming inside my head.   I’m kicking and screaming grabbing this young, dumb so called professional and shaking the shit out of her.   Don’t you see!  Don’t you see!   He’s lying!   We are the victims.  Please, Please, don’t let him out.   You are supposed to be the expert.  Trained in the art of treating and recognizing the lying, manipulative behaviors of those in active addiction.   The hollow sound of her binder closing brings me back to the reality of the bullshit that just went down in this airless room.   I am numb.   Nothing we have said means anything.   You, my fox are an adult.   You are the one in charge.

We are escorted out through the rat maze.   I crumble into a mess when I feel the air on my face.   Mike is pissed.   “WTF, Mom, WTF”.    I sit in my car and watch Mike pull away.   Mike’s too proud to let me see his tears.   I sit in my car.   I am numb.   Did this really happen?   My mind replaying the scene over and over.   I feel the sobs racking my body.  The familiar waves of helplessness washing over and pulling me down into the abyss.   I lost track of time.   I’m now sitting in darkness, the parking lot mostly empty.   My eyes are closed as I try to formulate a plan to fix this.   A loud thumb startles me as I look into the face of a security guard.   I roll my window down knowing my eyes are swollen and red.   ‘Lady, you ok?”   I smile and shake my head.   My mind screaming.   Do I look ok you stupid, stupid man.   I’m sitting alone sobbing in my car in the empty parking lot of a mental hospital where my son is a patient.   What the hell do you think?

Driving home I’m once again accompanied by me, myself and I.   We are having a conversation about what to do.   Funny, I thought my days of talking to myself were over, but here I was once again asking questions and answering them.   I don’t even look over at the car next to me.  Yup,  whatever you’re thinking about the crazy blonde driving the car is true.   Yup, she’s lost her mind…

The letter I write details our life through your addiction.   I leave nothing out.  No more dirty little secrets, nothing but the God’s honest truth.   Ladies and gentlemen this is the true story of Matt’s life.   This is not fiction, this is the reality of the disease of addiction and how it is slowly killing my family.   I could not make this shit up.   The letter is two pages long.   I send it to the psychiatrist that you’ve met once.   Another copy to your counselor and another to the social worker.   I say a silent prayer as I hit send.   My heart is afraid.

So here it is Thanksgiving.   I sent my letter two days ago and still no response.   My heart is in my throat as I pull into this dreaded parking lot.   Once again I’m led through the maze, but this time there are parents who look just like me.   Sorrow spilling from their pores as we follow like mechanical robots all waiting to see our children.    We are taken to the gym.   A big room filled with small tables.   I see you sitting  staring at me as I approach.   I kiss the top of your head before I sit.   We are told we have one hour.   My mind is pissed.   WTH is this prison.   It’s Thanksgiving and I am generously being given an hour to see my son.   “So you wrote a letter and sent it to everybody”.   Shit, shit, shit.   Those bastards ratted me out.   I try to stay calm, putting on that mask I’ve come to hide behind when I know the shit is getting ready to fly.   “Yes, I did”.   “They need to know the truth, I’m trying to get you the help you need since you have pulled the wool right over their eyes”.    You look at me and laugh.   “Don’t matter Mom, don’t matter”.    I try to make small talk while struggling to hold back the flood of tears threatening to fly out of my eyes.   You ask if I brought smokes.   Against my better judgement I hand you a pack.   You are restless and quiet.   Oh Matt, my heart is breaking.   It’s Thanksgiving.   We should be home.   I should be making stuffing as the smell of Turkey floats through the house.   You should be watching football and hanging out with Mike.   But we are here trying to act normal in the most un- normal place.    I’ve never felt so alone in my life.   It’s as if you can’t wait to get away from me and all I want to do is hang on to you.   My fantasy is to grab you and run like the wind.   To find the rabbit hole and fall and fall holding onto each other.   Laughing and hugging and flying away from the ugly reality that is our life.   I want to run into the Queen and grab her Axe and chop off the heads of your demons,  freeing us both from the grip they have on our lives.   I want to live in Wonderland and be happily ever after.   A guard appears and calls time.   I look around and see the sad faces of parents like me.   I look at you and smile through my tears.   They have begun to fall, I have lost control.   You give me a hug and walk away.

So once again, I’m lined up and led through the maze.   One door opens while another slams shut.   I make it outside before the sobs hit like a wave I can’t pull out of.   I’m drowning in my grief.   Thanksgiving,  my son eating with strangers while I sob all the way home.    Thanksgiving, sorry Lord, there’s nothing to give thanks for.

It’s Saturday morning.   I’m finally recovering from our visit.   Trying to hope my letter made a difference.   My phone rings and your picture pops up.   I grab it on the second ring.   “Hey Mom,  I’m getting out today”.   You sound like it’s just another Saturday, not like you’re calling me from a psych hospital.   I want to vomit.   I try to mask the horror in my voice.   “What, they think you are ready to leave, seriously”.    “Thanks Mom,  glad you’re so happy to hear from me”.   “You picking me up or not”.    “Matt, who said you’re ready?”   “I want to talk to your counselor”.     “Forget it Mom,  I’m discharged.   You coming or not?”

I pull up.   You are standing in the parking lot a smoke hanging from your lips.   Your shoes are tied and your pants are belted.    Well I guess the geniuses think it’s safe. Your possessions are in a brown bag.    My heart breaks when I remember the man you were.   The owner of a beach house.   The owner of a thriving garage.   Living with a beautiful girl.   Living the life by the sea.   Now you are left with the clothes on your back and whatever you hold in that bag.   God how I hate what this disease has done to you and me.   You open the door, take a last drag and throw the butt to the ground.   I put on the mask.   The mask I hide behind.   I hear the sound of the rollercoaster pulling up.   The sound of the breaks as it stops outside my car.   I feel the bar come down to lock me in place.   I feel my stomach start flipping as the coaster pulls out of the station.    I close my eyes and hold on as we climb and climb.   I feel each level.   Higher and higher.   I look over and see your smiling face.   The face I love so dearly.   A face that has become a master at deception.   I grip the wheel and pray……….

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