Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: secrets and lies (page 1 of 4)

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.

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“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.

Surviving The Slippery Slope: Hanging On By A Thread

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Matt.   The wait felt endless.  The four of us sitting together.  The silence is deafening.  I am praying that you will survive.  I hate being a nurse.  My knowledge is killing me.   We wait for hours.  I watch the sun go down from the window and pray this will not be your last day on earth.  I relive every moment.  I hate myself for telling you to leave.  I hate the fighting, the chaos, the destruction your addiction has thrust on our lives.  I want you to be that little towhead boy again.  The one who holds my hand and gives me hugs and kisses.  I want to close my eyes and go back in time.  Where are my ruby red slippers when I need them.

So once again I wait.  I tell everyone to go.  I will stay and call if anything changes.  Ray, Mike and Heather need to get some rest.  Everyone having to work in the morning but me.   Terri brings a pillow and blanket.  I camp out in the ICU waiting room.  My body shaking uncontrollably as I try to settle in for the night.   I curl up in a chair and let the tears come.  How many times will we go through this until you realize your demons are killing you.  Little by little, piece by piece, your body and mind are leaving me.    I try to calm my mind.  I jump with every noise.  Fearing the worst.  I give up on sleep and pace the room.  I talk to God.

The girls in the NICU have heard.  The hospital grapevine.  They come bringing coffee and soup.  They sit and let me sob covering me in their hugs.  They are mother’s and can’t believe this has happened again.   Your surgeon finds me.  You are being moved to the ICU.  No surgery for now.  Heavily drugged, your battered body covered in warm blankets.  I watch you being wheeled behind those doors.  The doors where I know you will get the best of care.  The doors that will separate us for now.  I’m told your nurse will come after you are settled.   Time is standing still.  I need to see you.  To tell you I am here.  To tell you I love you.  To let you know that no matter what I will never give up this fight.  You have taken my world and spun it out of control.  Shattering my peaceful life into a million pieces.   People tell me to walk away to save myself.  You are not worth the pain you put me through.  I remember you before the demons.  My beautiful boy.  My go to guy.  My baby.  I find a strength in my soul I never felt before.  I know that I will stand by you until I can stand no more.

Matt, your recovery is slow and steady.  I become a fixture in the waiting room.  Visiting you for 15 minutes every hour.  I obey the rules, not wanting to cause conflict with your nurses’ or the other anxious waiting parents.  I sit in scrubs or street clothes depending on my purpose for that day.  Back to saving Matt or saving babies.  I spend every free minute waiting to see your face.  To watch your reaction to your pain.  I wonder if you realize how close you came to death.   I wonder if this will be your so called rock bottom or if the pull from your demons will drag you back to the hell that landed you in this ICU.

Mike and Ray are in and out.  Both offering food and coffee.  Both knowing I can barely eat and am going nowhere until you are out of the woods.  When I visit you are quiet.  An IV hanging, giving you monitored doses of your favorite cocktail.  Your breathing is comfortable.  Your body looks like a giant eggplant with a human head sitting on top.  I sit on your bed and hold your hand.  Tears run down my face.  I can’t allow myself to think of what could have happened.  The nightmare that haunts my daily thoughts.  Losing you.  You open your eyes and smile.  I squeeze your hand and kiss your cheek.  “I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck” you say and give me a little laugh.   I allow myself a laugh, a deep breath.  You are back.

The next days are one of laughing, crying and biting my tongue.  You are moved to a step down unit and are expected to get up and move.  Yup, my spoiled boy, this party is over.   Your drugs are being weaned and you are being pushed.  I hear you before I find your room.   Your flirty eyes and sweet smile are getting you nowhere as the nurses are onto you.   I hear their whispers, drug seeker, addict.  I cringe inside when I remember being one of them.  Making judgements about people and their pain without knowing their story.  I remember and feel shame.  I continue our charade of nurse/mother to a man who survived a horrible accident.   I visit with my painted smile as you cuss and threaten when your demons are not delivered at your request.  I remain calm when inside I am dying.  You behave like an addict.  A stranger.  You scream at me and tell me I don’t understand your pain.  I don’t live in your body.  I try to reason with your abuse.   The nurse’s look at me with pity in their eyes.  They feel my pain.

Discharge day arrives.  I brace myself.  Your surgeon is taking over your pain control.  You see Matt, I have another dirty little secret.  Your surgeon and I go way back.  He has my back.  Joined my team to save Matt.  So now the fun begins.   I pick you up at the front door.  You are wheeled out by one of your nurses.  She hugs me and whispers good luck.  You see Matt, nurses have an unspoken bond.  They had my back too.  I was the one calling the shots during your recovery.  I spilled my guts the night I thought you were leaving me.  Your surgeon held me as I cried and together we formed a plan.   Detox during recovery.  I know if you ever find out I am done.    I will once again be the bitch.  The mother fu**** that gets into your business.  The enemy trying to save your life so she can save hers.  I hear your grunt as I hand you the bottle that you love more than life.  I brace myself for the reaction I have come to fear.  Your first words to me “What the F***”, when you see the dose prescribed.   Your eyes bore into my soul.  You turn your back as you say the words I pray you don’t mean.  Matt, how can you hate me when I am the one picking up your pieces.  The one who loves you more than her life.  The one slowly dying inside with you.  Your addiction no longer  belongs to you.  It has become who I am.  I’m disappearing with you.  Your demons are taking me along for the ride.  It’s not all about you.  It’s about a mother who will never give up.  A mother who will kick, scream and claw our way out of your addiction.  A mother who would rather die than see you continue to destroy her precious boy.

The house is silent.  I offer you food.  I try to let you know how blessed we are that you lived.  I wait for a response.  I get nothing.  You are in that world.  You have chosen sides.   The battle begins again.  I pray for strength.  I close my eyes and dream that I am Alice floating down the rabbit hole.  Leaving all this shit behind.   I am slowly losing myself.  Pieces of me are floating away.  I imagine myself disappearing.   Then I hear the laughter.  Your demons.  I become the Queen of Hearts.  My army chopping off their heads…….

A Matt With Nine Lives

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Matt.   So this tender love seemed to be working.  You would stop by to visit Kahlua.  You looked reasonably straight.  We were trying to work on getting back to you and me.  I couldn’t stay mad forever.  I was becoming cautiously optimistic that Ray and I did the right thing.  I was okay knowing you had a roof over your head and food that of course I’d send with you each visit.  You blew my mind during one visit when you thanked me for kicking you out.  I’ll never forget your smile as you said, “Mom,  I’m really glad you kicked me out”.  “It’s about time I figure out how to take care of myself”.  You gave me one of those bear hugs as you left.  I watched you walk to your car with a mixed feeling of joy and sadness.  This was never what I wanted.  I wanted you living at the beach.  I wanted you to be successful.  I wanted our life back.  I wanted you back and I wanted me back.

You shocked me when you came home one day and announced you found a job.  Working at the same auto parts store you did in high school.  You were so proud.   I was so sad.  I smiled and hugged you, all the time thinking how much your demons cost you.  Prior to the pills,  you owned a very successful business.  Living my dream life by the sea.  Now here you were working for minimum wage exactly where you started a million years ago.  I wondered if you actually passed the drug test or if you were able to sweet talk your way back in.   I guess I couldn’t be too picky.  Wanting you to be who you no longer were.  At least you had a place to be and responsibility.  I prayed this was a step in the right direction.  That if you started to feel useful and were surrounded by clean people maybe just maybe normal would find us again.

Matt, I remember the call like it was yesterday.  It was a beautiful summer day.  Ray and I were tag teaming the housework so we could head out to mountain bike.  Ray was happier knowing I was fine with you not living here as long as I controlled where you lived. We were finding a new rhythm, finally having the house to ourselves.  I never realized the enormous chaos you created until it was gone.   I was learning how to focus on something other than saving you.  A little piece of the way life could be.

Ray was vacuuming,  I was in the kitchen.  My cell rang.  Surprisingly, I heard it.  A number I didn’t recognize.  Any other time I would not have answered.  That little voice and a chill had me grabbing my phone.  “Hello”.  I hear a voice asking if I am MaryBeth.  Dear God, do I want to be?  Yes, I can feel my body starting to react.  My soul knew it was you.  “Yes, who is this?”   The next words brought me to my knees and had Ray at my side.  “Oh God,  is he alive,  please tell me the truth”.  You’re a nurse, so am I.  “Please stay with him, tell him I love him, please keep him alive for me”.  “Yes, Christiana, I work there, please tell them to get him to Christiana.”  I’m sobbing trying to talk to you as this nurse holds the phone to your ear.  She tells me you are still breathing but the accident was a head on and you are in very bad shape.  I stay on the phone until I hear the medics arrive.  She again reassures me you are still alive.  I hear the medics muffled words.  Calling ahead to alert the E.D a trauma is coming.  I don’t want to hang up.  I can’t lose our connection.  I want to keep telling you that I love you.  That I will be there.  Please don’t leave me.  Please fight, breathe, stay alive.

We fly to the E.D.  Ray has already called Mike.  Ray pulls up and slows down as I leap out.  I see the ambulance and know you were it’s patient.  A nurse/mother’s instinct.  I run in and am ignored by the unit clerk sitting in triage behind the plexiglass screen on her phone.  I am ready to punch the window to get her attention.  I look up and Terry, a nurse I worked with during my E.D days smiles.  Hey, what are you doing here.  My son is your trauma.  He was just brought in.  She asks for your name.  “Matt”.  Her smile disappears. She walks toward me and wraps an arm around me.  “You need to come with me”, she says.  Ray runs in the door and sees us.  Terry tells him to stay back and wait.  She continues to guide me toward those doors.  Oh God,  “Terry, I can’t do this.  I remember being the nurse and taking parents like you are taking me”.  ” I can’t do this”.  My body is racked with sobs.  I’m shaking so badly I can barely think or walk.   “Mare, you can do this, you must do this”.   She tightens her grip as we walk into the trauma room.  All eyes turn toward me.   “Hey, what are you doing here?”  I’m surrounded by a sea of familiar faces.  “That’s my Matt”.  I walk to the table.  You’re body is broken.  Purple bruising covers your chest.  The doc is scanning your abdomen.  I tell you I’m here and squeeze your hand.  You are alive.  I stifle a sob and try to calm my trembling body.  Terry remains by my side.  I don’t know why but my nurse mode turned on.  I’m looking at the scans asking about your liver and spleen pointing out things I don’t want to see.  I’m asking which Trauma Surgeon is coming.  I’m relieved when one of the best will be arriving shortly.  I’m asking about pain control and my mind is running down the trauma protocol when I hear this young nurse cop an attitude.  “Who does she think she is?”  I’m ready to scream, “I’ll tell you who I am smart ass, snot nosed, don’t know nothing little shit”.   Terry saves me from my tirade.  “Shut up, you have no idea who she is, she was our trauma coordinator,  She was here when you were being potty trained”.   We exchange a glance.  The trauma surgeon takes his place by my side.  He gives me a hug.  “Hey, we got this. You try to be the mom, we will do everything, you know we love you and he is one of our’s.  Go take a break.  I’ll see you soon”.

Terry walks me to that room.  The one we always deliver bad news in.  I tell her I can’t wait there.  Too many memories of families I’ve stayed with.  The mother’s and father’s I held as the news of loss was delivered.  I’m shaking again.  Ray opens the door.  He’s been waiting for me.  I collapse in his arms.  I tell him you are alive and to pray.  The door swings open.  Mike walks in with Heather.  His face says it all.  I tell him you are alive.  He needs to see you.  I call Terry.  Yes, Mike go.  Terry meets him and takes him to see your battered body.   I’m pacing as Mike returns with an officer.  He sits and tells me he was at the scene.  Witnesses say you crossed the center line.  He apologizes as he hands me your ticket.   He tells me how sorry he is.   They have drawn a drug screen.  The results are pending.  He leaves us in silence.  Each one of us lost in our thoughts.  I’m giving thanks that you are alive.  I’m praying you will recover.  The sadness surrounding your family  binds us.  Your addiction is killing us.

What started out as a day of happiness has turned into one of fear.  Once again not knowing where we were headed.  The normal I was starting to feel shattered.  The chaos of your demons never letting up.  I thought I had regained some control of my life.  How foolish to think after all we survived that normal would ever find us again.   Mike goes for coffee.  He needs to cry for his broken brother.  His only sibling.  Matt, your tough as nails brother is sobbing.  I wonder how much more we will survive.  How many more insults your body can take.  I wonder how to fix this.  The door opens again.  Our surgeon.  My heart stops.  He sits.  Your spleen is torn, several vertebra are fractured.  They are keeping you heavily sedated.  Watching closely for changes that will buy you a trip to the O.R.  He hands me a small bag, his eyes full of pity.  Matt our dirty little secret is out.  “He’s an addict”.  Those ugly words flying around the room.  Your demons laughing.  My heart breaking.  They will pump you full of drugs.  They have no choice.   I hear the roller coaster pulling up.  I see myself getting on.  The bar locking firmly in place.  I have no control.  I sob as if the world is ending.  My fantasy over.  The ride will start again………

 

 

Biting The Hand That Feeds You And So Much More….

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Matt.  I must say you did give us a short break after you got home.  Either that or you weren’t able to get your hands on any pills.  You did the all the things I asked.  Went to meetings, cleaned the house when I was working.  You passed all my spot checks.  No swaying walk or sloppy speech.  No stupid laugh or glassy eyes.  For a brief moment I let myself believe that maybe, just maybe you were on the right path.  Even Mike thought we might be heading in the right direction.    It was so nice to have a little touch of normal.   I still looked through your stuff when you weren’t around.  I still went through your text messages when you showered.  Old habits that become a way of life when your son is an addict.  The weather was breaking and I foolishly thought that the spring would be a new beginning for us.   That was until I came home early.

The NICU was slow that day and I was the first to get PTO.  I jumped at the chance.  Working only four hours when I was scheduled to work twelve.  What a gift.  It was Friday and the start of a week off.  I floated out the door and into the sunshine.  I was still under the illusion that you were on the road to recovery and that was definitely something to celebrate.  I stopped by the store to get your favorite Bubba Burgers and other junk you loved.  I envisioned all of us eating, talking, being normal.  I hadn’t felt such joy for so long, I  let it fill my battered mind.   Turning into our development, I see a car leaving.  A car and driver that I’d seen before but just couldn’t put my finger on where.  My senses now on alert.  My heart starting to speed up.  My breath coming from my tightening chest.  Palms sweaty.  WTH was going on.  My gut reaction, my fight or flight in full force.  I pull into the garage and forget about the groceries that minutes ago gave me such happiness picking out.   Something is not right…

I walk in quietly.  The dogs run to greet me.  No barking, tails down.  They lead me to you.  Slumped over on the couch.  Coffee spilled on the floor.  A bottle of opened pills scattered on your lap.  Shit…..Now I know.   Your buddy from the beach making a drop off.  I grab you and start slapping.  You open your glassy eyes.  Hey Mama.  I want to scream, to kill you with my bare hands.   Matt, Matt get up.  I grab the bottle and gather the fallen pills.  I pray the dogs have not eaten any of your poison.  I drag you by your shirt and throw you fully clothed into the cold shower.  Your cussing screams let me know that the cold water is hitting you like my fists want to.   I run upstairs clutching your pills.  Breathless and wet I hide them.  Your favorite demons, Percocet and Xanax have entered my fantasy world  once again blowing it to pieces.  I’m so angry I’m shaking.  Heart pounding.  I want to grab you and scream in your face.  I want to punch you until I can punch no more.  Instead I put on my “I don’t know what you’re talking about face” and head back downstairs.  You are out of the shower and pissed as hell.  WTF Mom.   What did you do that for.  Ok, my fox, you treat me like I’m dumb so I’m playing dumb.  Matt,  I just got so scared.  You were laying there just like the old days.  You know, the days I’d come home and find you stoned on the couch.  Coffee spilled on the floor.  You remember, right, I say through my smile.  I’m so sorry.  Guess I over reacted.   Mom, I just fell asleep, that’s all.

I remember the groceries and walk out to my car still trying to calm my pounding heart.  I return to find you bent over searching the floor.  “What ya looking for”, I ask.  Nothing, you answer.  “Hey, clean up that coffee stain while you’re down there”.  I go about my business trying not to think of the pills I’ve hidden.  I wonder how many you took and if you will start to withdraw.  I wonder how long this has been going on.  God, I wonder how I could have been so gullible.  I wonder lots of things but mostly I wonder if our lives will ever be normal.

Saturday morning is sunny and warm.  You are dark and nasty.  You are sneaking around looking.  Thinking I don’t know what you’re up to.  I continue to play dumb.  “Mom, did you find anything when you woke me up yesterday?”  “What would I find”, I ask.  Trying to contain my smile.  It’s almost sick, but I feel like I’m giving you a dose of your own medicine.  You lie to me, I lie to you.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Matt”.  I go through my day, cleaning, laundry and continuing to play our game.  You are getting restless.  Pacing, some sweating, a little itching all subtle signs I’m watching for.   Finally you get angry.  “Mom, you took my pills.  Stop your shit and give them back.  They are my pills. You have no right”.  “Matt, I love you.  I’ll be out in the garden”.

I open the shed and grab everything I need to play in the dirt.  Garden therapy I call it.  Pulling and planting.  I lose myself in the dirt and allow myself to relax.  I Pod playing thru my new ear buds taking me away from the chaos playing out in the house.   Ray breaks my peace.  “Hey, did you take Matt’s pills?”   “What if I did? ” I’m not saying one way or another.  “”Well, he’s in there raising hell.  He’s tearing his place up, cussing and threatening”.  Ok,  I’ll handle it.  I brush off the dirt and walk right into you as you are flying out onto the deck.   “Mom, I know you have them. Give them to me”.  “Matt, I love you and yes I have them”.  “No, I’m not giving them back”.  “You need help and I’m helping you”.  “I’m off all week.  If you go through withdraw I will help you.  But no pills”.  You turn ugly like a cobra ready to strike.  You punch the air and start cussing me out.  “I love you Matt”.  I put my ear buds back in place and walk back to the dirt.   Ray follows.  “You can’t do this.  He will go crazy”.  “Ray, I’ve done this before.  He won’t hurt me.  You need to leave.  This is between me and Matt”.  You look at me like I’ve got two heads.  “Are you out of your mind?  I’m not leaving you alone with him”.   “No really, I want you too.  I don’t want you to see the ugliness that will spew from him.  It’s not who he is”.  I start to cry as you bust through the door and start cussing to my face.  “Matt, I’m doing this because I love you”.  I walk inside to get away.  My phone rings,  “Mom, what is going on over there?”  “Matt called.  He’s accusing you of taking his pills”.  “Mike, I took his pills and I’m not giving them back”.  “Mom, is that Matt screaming at you?”  “Yes Mike,  It’s ok.  I’ve been through this before it’s nothing new.  I told Ray to leave, this is between me and Matt”.  I hang up and go back outside.  Every time you attack I tell you that I love you.  My tears are now mixing with the dirt.  My quiet place invaded by your demons.

Mike arrives.  I’m out in the garden.  “Mom, Matt called the police.  They are coming”.  ” What are you talking about?  He’s downstairs.  He settled down” .

Mom, he called the police.  Now I’m the one who’s pissed.  “Are you shitting me?  That b…..  Good, let them come.  Maybe we can get him real help”.   I walk into the house as the first police car pulls up.  Followed by two more.

Really.  Are you Fuc*** kidding me.  You appear with a cocky smile all over your face.  I want to smack the hell out of you.  I open the door and see my neighbors running and walking dogs all craning their necks to see.  I want to shout.  Mind your business.  This is not who I am.  I have done nothing wrong except try to save my son.  Jesus, I want to dig a hole and climb in never to return to this living hell my life has become.  So much for the neighborhood.  Yup, the property values just plummeted.  Sell now before this becomes a daily occurrence.

So here we are.  Mike, Ray and me standing in my driveway talking to two police officers while you are on the porch talking to another.  You have called in a domestic dispute.  These poor cops had no idea what they were walking into hence the backup.  “Hello officer,  I’m Marybeth, Matt’s mom.  He called you to come.  Exactly what was his complaint.  Pills, yes officer I took them.  I’m a nurse trying to save my addict’s life.  No, no one else knows where they are”.  I look at you, now pacing like a caged animal.  Domestic dispute  I’m thinking.  My mind is saying, “officers please close your eyes”.  I just need ten minutes with this conniving  little shit.  Then we can call it a domestic dispute.  Call it assault by a mother who is going out of her mind.  A mother who has spent years living with the chaos of her son’s addiction.  A mother that had suffered mentally and physically.  A mother who would give her life to save her son.

The officers begin to get the picture.  You are getting mouthy.  Your officer is trying to calm you down.  My brain is praying that you become aggressive and I can watch you be carted off to rehab.  Your officer is calling the Psyche Crisis Line.  My heart is souring.  Yes, yes, finally we will get help.  Thank you God.  Ha Ha, my little monster, you did this to yourself.  I’m so happy in my fantasy I don’t hear what is being said.   “What, are you crazy.. Sorry officer but I’m not giving his pills back”.  “Do you not see the shape he is in.  I have fought this battle for years.  I need your help.  You see what he is.  No way, sorry.  It ain’t happening.  We are detoxing today and hopefully you can take him to rehab”.  Now both Mike and Ray are telling me it’s not worth it.  “Mom, just give him his damn pills.  He called the cops on you”.  WTF.  Your yelling grabs everyone’s attention.  You are on the phone with the psyche crisis evaluator.  I hear your lies, “yes, I’m fine, just need my pain meds”.   “No, I’m not abusing them, no I’m not suicidal, I just need my pills”.  I bolt up to the porch.  “Give me that phone” I yell as I grab it out of your hand.  Hello, I try to remain calm but I’m quickly losing it.  “Yes, I’m his mother, he’s an addict and I took his pills to save his life”.  “He will kill himself if he doesn’t stop”.  “Please help me, he needs rehab, please”.  I am begging for our lives.  The officers are looking at me with such pity.  I have no pride as I continue to beg for help.  “What, seriously, you think he’s stable”.  Now I’m screaming.  “You asshole, do you have to hear the gun cock before you realize that someone is unstable?”  “Do you not hear the desperation in his voice, the speech, WTH, you are no professional, go to hell”.  Great, now I look like the crazy mom I’ve become, but tried to keep hidden from the world.

Excuse me,  The young officer approaches carefully.  Oh boy, probably thinking he’s got a loony lady to deal with.  I’m really sorry.  I understand what you are doing, but if you don’t give him back his pills I will have to arrest you.  Now both Ray and Mike are at my side.  “There is no way you are arresting my mom, what is wrong with you”.  Ray is getting pissed.  “Where are the pills, I’ll give them back, this is crazy”.  Nope.  I look up at you and see the hate pouring out of you toward me.  “Matt, I love you but I’m not giving you the pills”.  “Ok officer, I’ll go to jail.  It’s going to be a relief to be away from here.  It’s about to get real ugly and I’d rather miss the whole BS”.   “Actually officer,  jail would be like heaven right now.  Calm and quiet.  Can I grab a book?”  Ray and Mike are screaming at me but I’ve made up my mind.  “Just don’t cuff me, ok”.  The officer looks at me with such sadness.  The other officer is doing his best to calm Ray and Mike.  You remain on the porch killing me with your eyes.  I look away.  I can’t look at the man you have become.  My heart is breaking.  I walk toward the police car and feel a hand on my shoulder.  The young officer stops me.  “Please think this through, you are a nurse.  You will be charged with stealing narcotics, that’s a felony “.  “You will go before a judge today.  I can’t guarantee the outcome”.  “You will lose your nursing license and spend time in jail.  “Please, I see what you are doing, but Mike and Ray are right, you are too kind to suffer like this”.   Now Mike is on the porch.  Both my boys going head to head.  One defending his mother the other defending his demons.  My boys once so close are now close to killing each other.  Ray grabs my arm.  “I will not let you do this, get the f***ing pills or I will tear this house apart until I find them”.

I am shaking.  I’m sick inside.  I’m defeated by your demons.  I go inside as the officers stay with you and Mike.  Ray follows me inside.  “His addiction is going to kill you”, he says as I hand him the pills.  He leaves and I watch from the window as he walks up to you and hands you the bottle of poison.  The sobs catch in my throat.  I hold myself as I fall apart.  Barely able to breathe.  Two officers pull away.  The young one stays behind.  I hear him talking to you.  He is telling you how lucky you are to have a mom who loves you enough to risk everything to save you.  He tells you to get help.  He tells you how blessed you are to live in this beautiful home with a family that cares so much.  I hear his words and let the sobs rack my body.  Yes, my beautiful son.  I would go to jail to save you.  I would walk through hell and take on the devil if it meant getting you away from the demons that are killing our family.  I watch the last officer walk to his car.  He looks up at the window and tips his hat to me.

Ray and Mike find me upstairs. ” Mom, I can’t believe he called the police on you.  He is such a prick”.  I hear the words I’ve been dreading.  “He can’t stay here.  I’ve had enough.  This was the last straw.  After everything you’ve done for him.  All the years of  taking care of his problems and this is what he does”.  Oh God Matt.  I know you are very sick.  You have really done it this time.  I hear you come in.  You immediately go downstairs to your hideaway.  I can only imagine what you are doing.  I’m so beat down.  I just sit and cry.  Mike hugs me before he leaves.  I tell him you are sick.  I tell him not to judge or hate you.  This family has to stick together.  He looks back with tears in his eyes.  “Yeah Mom”.  Ray sits next to me.  I have no words.  I am numb.  I hear the words again.   “Figure out what you need to do, but he can’t stay here, not after this”.

Matt, I sit alone in my room.  I thought this was finally a way to get you help.  I was happy you called the police.  Overjoyed.  I was ready for them to take you away to a safe place.  Psyche Crisis.  What a joke.  Everything working against a mom trying to save her son.  I can’t even pray anymore.  Nobody listens.  I curl up on my bed.  The pups find me.  They jump up and curl their bodies next to mine.  I feel their breathing.  It calms me.  I think of the nightmare this day had become.  The peace of the garden long forgotten.  I close my eyes and will myself to disappear.  I want to be Alice or Dorothy.  Clicking my red slippers or falling down my rabbit hole.  Dear God, anyone but the mother of an addict………

 

 

 

Hey Mom, What’s Up With Matt….

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Matt,  in my mind you are safe.  Just for this night I can close my exhausted eyes and let sleep take over my brain.  I tell myself this is a start.  You were willing to finally go.  After all the screaming matches we had about you needing rehab it took your peers to convince you how messed up you really were.  At this point it really didn’t matter how you got there,  just that you were there and for tonight my heart and mind would find peace in beautiful sleep.  No laying awake worrying or constantly checking my phone.  No more jumping out of bed when I hear a car pass by.  Just for tonight I kept telling myself,  just for tonight sleep…

I woke to the phone ringing.  I couldn’t believe the time.  Almost noon.  I couldn’t believe I’d slept that long.  Ray was long gone and I never heard a sound.  Even the pups still lay beside me in lazy slumber.  Looking at the phone as if to say how dare anyone wake us.  I didn’t remember ever sleeping that deep.  Not since you came home and your addiction took over my life.   I answer.  A voice I don’t recognize introduces herself as your counselor.  Would I be interested in a family meeting.  Absolutely.  She tells me you are being detoxed and I can not visit or speak to you until the day of the meeting.  She gives me the date and I tell her I will be there.  I hang up feeling relief.  My mind once again reliving the day.  The hell you put me through.  I really didn’t want to talk to you yet.  I still had to calm myself down.  I still could not believe the ugliness that took over my sweet boy when you didn’t have your pills.  I was getting an education in addiction that I really didn’t sign up for.  I wanted my normal son.  I wanted my normal life.  My mind and body still feeling the aftermath of your fury.  I needed a mental health break.  Just a few days not consumed by your addiction was all I could think about.  You were where you needed to be and for once I could just relax and enjoy being home.

I tried to be normal.  To do normal things.  The laundry, grocery shopping,  walking the dogs, but that little voice kept breaking thru.  Go look, go look.  You don’t have to worry about him finding you in his stuff.  Go look.  Ok, so now here I am.  I want and need a break from your addiction, but with you away the time for my searching is just perfect.  Don’t have to calm my racing heart.  Don’t have to depend on the dogs barking to alert me to your return.  It’s just me, myself and I plus your demon pills.

So much for normal I tell myself as I carry the ladder and a flashlight to your space.  How convenient for me that you lived in my finished basement.  I didn’t even have to leave the house to play spy mom.  So now I take my time.  Lifting ceiling tiles and looking.  Dumping drawers and emptying boxes.  Taking my time and finding pieces of a life I had no idea you lived.  The more I searched, the more I found.  My shocked brain kept saying WTH you weren’t raised to be this kind of person.  To hang with these kind of people.  Oh my God.  I sat and realized I was pretending all along that you weren’t one of them.  The addict who hung out with the bad boys.  The addict who lied and fought for your demons.  I felt like I’d been slapped in the face.  Reality.  Addiction the four letter word.  My son is an addict.  I never found your pills but I found so much more.

I sit in stunned silence.  Finally seeing you and your addiction for what is was.  Dirty, ugly, deceitful.  My little sweet boy had grown into a man with a horrible disease that made him do horrible things.  I felt the tears and the tightness taking hold of my body.  Damn you,  my mind is screaming.  The phone startles me.  Hey Mom,  I can’t get Matt.  What’s up with him.  Something isn’t right.  Do you know where he is.   Oh God, Mike.  My mind is saying,  while you’ve been away serving our country busting the drug cartel your brother has been giving them business.  My mouth doesn’t move.  Now the all familiar heart racing, throat tightening that has become my bodies automatic response takes over.  Mike,  we need to talk.

I will never forget the look on your face.  I could feel your anger as I told you about the dirty little secret.   WTF Mom.  Why didn’t you tell me.  WTH were you doing.  I had a right to know.  Mike, my eyes are pleading with you.  I couldn’t put you at risk.  You were gone.  Out to sea dealing with your own life.  What could you have done.  I try to defend my decision.  Please Mike,  I can’t battle both my boys.  I did what I thought was the right thing to keep you safe.  You could not be worrying about your brother and do your job.  You needed a clear head.   I was pleading for my life.  Once again your addiction was the poison hurting our once close family.   Where is he Mom.  Is that why the beach house is gone.  Is that why he lives with you.  All these questions deserved answers.  I felt so guilty for keeping our secret.  No more Matt.  No more secrets in our family.  I needed all the help I could get.  Maybe your brother could get through to you.  Maybe just maybe we could work together to save you.

Mike knows everything.  No more dirty secrets.  He knows you have an addiction to pills.  He knows all the horror we have lived through these last years while he was away.  He is both shocked and saddened that you have lost so much and still use.  He knows about the family meeting.  He is coming.

Your big brother wraps me in a hug as I cry letting the years of grief, worry and uncertainty rush from my body like wave after wave hitting the sandy shore.  The release of loving a son with a horrible disease.  The relief of having someone who loves you as much as I do know our journey.  I pray you will understand my need to come clean.  The burden of your addiction has broken both my spirit and my heart.  I need backup.  I need help.  Forgive me Matt.  I need all hands on deck.  Your demons must be stopped and I’m tired.  Your brother will step up and join the fight.  He never had a fear of rollercoasters….

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