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……….