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…