Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: denial in order to survive loss

A Can Of Beefaroni and So Much More

Never in a million years did I ever think I would find myself falling apart in the pasta aisle of my local grocery store after seeing a can of Beefaroni. The gut wrenching, hit my heart hard, kind of pain left me holding onto my cart telling myself to breathe. Tears running down my face like a hose stuck in the on position with no hope of being turned off. Oh God, I think, how am I ever going to survive the rest of my life if can’t even make it through the grocery store without a major meltdown. Seeing that can and feeling those feelings has become a part of my new life. The life I never saw coming or signed up for.

Beefaroni was my youngest son, Matt’s favorite food. I would stock up at the ten for $10 sale and hurry home to stuff his weekly care package with all his favorite foods. Sending them off with a piece of my heart to the half way house he lived in a thousand miles away from home. A can of Beefaroni, a connection to my son who is no more.

Then there is the scent of Phoenix. This was his smell. I can still hear his voice, “Hey Mom, can you pick me up my deodorant, I’m running low”. I’ve found myself in this same store walking to the deodorant aisle and finding that familiar blue can. I remove the lid and spray a tiny bit. Closing my eyes taking a deep breath I let my mind drift back to happier times. This is what my life has become. Finding pieces of my son in everyday places trying to keep our connection alive.

I once felt that being the mother of a son suffering from addiction was the worst thing that ever happened to my life. That constant feeling of helplessness and anxiety ruled my mind. I compared his addiction to being trapped on a very fast, very high roller coaster with many twists and turns. Never knowing what each day would bring, what was coming or how some days would end.

Mothers of addicts learn to live with the crazy unpredictability that goes hand in hand with the disease of addiction. We learn to expect the unexpected and we relish the thought of a possible period of recovery. Matts addiction became mine as I held onto the roller coaster for dear life. Praying for things to somehow calm down and allow us both a little piece of normal. I’ve since learned that being the mother of an addict who suffered an accidental overdose is waking up and finding the nightmare you feared the most has now become your reality.

Be careful what you pray for they say. I prayed for peace, I prayed for quiet, I prayed for his addiction to go away. My prayers have been answered but never in the way I imagined. I now struggle to survive in this all too quiet, empty new world. I long for the days of chaos. Riding the uncertainty on the roller coaster known as addiction now feels like a walk in the park compared to being the one left behind.

Learning to navigate through my grief is a daily process. I’m now the lone rider on a different coaster. This one mimics the other but now the ups and downs belong solely to me. There are days I wake up, shed my tears, pray for strength and somehow get through. There are days the darkness overrides my heart and I crawl through my brokenness as if it is surrounded by shards of glass. Each piercing my heart with knifelike accuracy.

For now I take it one day at a time. I pray that someday that can of Beefaroni or the scent of Phoenix will warm my heart not break it. Reminding me of the connection between a mother and her son that neither time nor space can break. For now I pray for understanding and strength as I continue to put one foot in front of the other attempting to navigate my new unchartered life without my son.

I know I will never return to the person I once was.   Going back to that person is not an option.    She vanished when my son died. Gone with his last breath.   My grief path is my own.    It’s rocky and full of broken pieces of a life that used to be.   I tread lightly on days I can.   I crawl through the glass on days when the pain kills and I question my survival.    My grief has no finish line.   It’s one day, one breath, one scream at a time.    My grief is the best I can do.   Navigating this path is the most painful thing I’ve ever had to do.    One thing I know for sure is I’m not ok.   I will never be ok.   And for me that just has to be ok…….

Denial Is My New Best Friend

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Matt.   Denial is defined as a refusal to accept a past or present reality.   It’s a self defense mechanism  that comes from the subconscious mind in an attempt to protect both the psychological and emotional wellbeing of the person struggling to accept the harshness of the thing we call reality.

Denial is used to protect our minds from a painful reality repressing the truth to guard our mental health.   In other words, denial keeps me from losing my mind.

I think my denial started very early in your addiction.   Like most parents I just never thought that dirty word would ever come crashing into our perfect family.   How could it?   I was a nurse.   We lived in great neighborhoods and you went to a private school.   You went on to trade school.   You started a business, lived at the beach.   You were living my dream life.    How in the hell did addiction creep into our fairy tale and shatter it to pieces?

I remember the call.   You hurt your back.   You needed help.   The injury required surgery.   You stayed with me for weeks to recover.   I drove to the pharmacy and got your script filled.   Those poison Percocet would one day lead us down the road through hell.   As a nurse, I knew post-op pain was tough.   As a nurse I should have known the dangers of giving you those pills.   As a mom, I wanted you to feel better and go back to living your life.   Little did I know how much your brain was changing right before my denying eyes.

Denial kept me in my safe place for years.   Visiting you at the beach, my denial kept me from clearly seeing the subtle changes in you.   The unkept house, the unpaid bills.   My denial allowed me to believe everything that came out of your mouth.   You worked late.   You forgot about deadlines.  Of course Mom I’m fine.

Denial is how I survived those horrific seven years as we rode the rollercoaster of your addiction.   Never once did my denial let me believe you would not survive.    I denied the ugliness as it swirled around our beings.    The words spoken, the lies told, the yelling and screaming weren’t real.   We were both just stressed and so damn tired of how your disease wrapped it’s chains around us and refused to let go.

I denied that I was an enabler.   No way, not me.   I’m a mother trying to help her son.   I denied that those pills would kill you.   After all they were just pills and they were prescribed over and over again by a doctor! A doctor would never overprescribe and watch his patient self destruct.   No way…..

My denial kept me so protected from our reality.   I was wrapped so tightly in my shell nothing could penetrate unless it hit me like a rock splitting a can wide open.   You calling the police after I hid your pills was that first split.

Denial fit perfectly.   I could poke my head out for a bit.   Deal with what I could and slip easily back into my cocoon.   The reality of our lives was harsh.   Denial was easy, denial was soft.

Denial was my first reaction upon hearing those words I denied would ever come.   “It’s Matt”.  “He’s dead”.   No way.   The first reaction was NO.   Matt promised me he was ok.   He promised me he would never hurt me like this.   He Promised.  I refused to believe you were gone.   Those bastard pills, those f…….. doctors.   No it had to be a mistake.   Someone stole your wallet.   It’s another mother who should be called, not me.

I denied it was you until my cocoon shattered as I saw you laying so still.   You, my Matt were gone.   My denial slowly slipped away as I ran my fingers through your hair still soft in death and laid my head on your chest to hear nothing but the echoes of my sobs.

There are days I allow myself to slip back into my safe world.   Days I walk by your urn and tell myself to breathe.  Days I deny reality and allow myself the luxury of denial.    You are living in Florida.   Spending your days by the sea we both love.   You are in recovery and very much alive.

Denial is how I get through those days when I feel my mind starting to break.   It’s how I keep myself from falling into a million pieces and blowing away in the harsh winds of my reality.   Denial is a friend I call upon to survive when survival is nothing I want.    Denial is that warm blanket holding my broken pieces together as I learn to live life without you.

 

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