Matt. I watch as what’s left of my pen hits the dirt. It bounces once and disappears. God how I wish I could just throw your demons away like that dismantled pen. Just pitch them out the window of our lives and get back to being you and me. I still can’t believe how ugly we have become. I don’t recognize these people. That son cussing at his mother. The ugly words flowing from your mouth like venom. The mother cussing and throwing your stuff to the dirt. Acting like someone who has lost total control of her emotions. The mother who has suffered from an addiction that is not hers. The mother trying so desperately to remember that this ugliness is not her son, but the demons who now possess his brain.
I am broken beyond belief. I think back to that beautiful day when we had a glimpse of how life used to be. You and me having lunch. To outsiders we looked normal. A mother and her grown son enjoying each others company. Conversation, smiles and hugs. The mending of hearts. The beauty of a love that can only be shared by a mother and her son. Our dirty little secret kept hidden from the eyes of strangers. No one would ever guess that I just picked you up from a mental hospital. No one would believe that this mother and her son have fought for his life. No one could ever tell that you are that man they keep their kids away from. This handsome man is an addict. This man uses pills to get high. This man becomes ugly when his demons take over. This man lies, steals and breaks the hearts of all those who love him. No one would ever guess that I’m the mom who fights to keep him alive. The mom who beat his dealer on her front lawn. The mom who steals and hides his poison. The mom who spends hours begging for safe places to take her addict son. No one would believe the reality of our lives. No one would believe you are the addict and I’m the mother who would go to hell and back to save you.
I pull up in the driveway. Ray is waiting. “What took you so long?” “You were supposed to drop him off and just leave”. “Did something happen?” Oh Matt, I just don’t have it in me to tell the true story. I can’t even begin to tell Ray about the ugliness between you and me. Once again I put on my mask and pretend. For now I will keep the ugliness between us. So I make up a fib. “I got lost, took a wrong turn, you know me and directions”. I laugh and then start to sob. Ray grabs my arms. “He will be ok. You did the right thing”. I don’t even know what the right thing is anymore. I don’t even know who I am anymore. I feel so physically and emotionally abused. Your addiction has wrapped itself around my life. Smothering my soul with lies and chaos. Who have we become. A mother and her son, once the best of friends now turned inside out. I stand in the shower and allow the sobs to return. The water washing the ugliness from my body. My mind reliving our journey disbelieving the reality of who we have become.
Another sleepless night comes and goes. I’m in such a state of anxiety. Can’t get out of this funk that enveloped me like a straight jacket. The all too familiar choking sensation, chest tightening and now unable to get deep breath, I pace like a caged animal. I have to get away from this house. The ugly memories of the people your addiction transforms us into being follows me from room to room. I call Ray. He knows before the words leave my lips. “Be safe, I hope you find what you’re looking for”.
I feel my body begin to relax as soon as the sea air enters my windows. Like a salve on my burning body, my soul starting to feel a lightness that I’ve long forgotten. The cry of the gulls welcome me back to my peaceful place. I drive to our spot. I slip past the dunes to our rock and sit. The beach is empty. Just me and memories. I close my eyes and see my towhead boys jumping into the crashing surf. “Mommy, mommy don’t let go”. I hold your hand, you scream in delight as the waves crash around your feet. Everyday it was you, me and Mike running in the surf. Laughing and chasing each other into the waves. You always stayed so close. “Mommy, mommy stay with me, don’t leave me”. It never mattered how many friends were with you, it was me you clung to.
Our closeness continued into your adulthood. I remember how handsome you were in a tux. “Mom, what do you think?” “Do I look ok?” “Mom, I met a girl”. “Mom, I think I’m in love”. “Mom, this is Nat.” Memories of a life so loved. Our lives always intertwined, so full of hope for your future. Memories of you and Nat moving into the beach house. I remember how proud you were to be making a home for yourself. Even as you were becoming independent it was always “Mom, what do you think?”
Looking back brings such pain to my heart. We were that perfect parent-child. That perfect unbreakable family that is now so broken. I walk through the surf as the memories bring tears of regret. Tears of a mother missing her son and herself. I know this mother, this woman is not who I am. I am the fixer, the one in control. The one who loves her son, but hates what is happening to their lives. Your addiction has caused me to lose my control. To lose myself. It’s turned me into a person I no longer recognize. Your addiction has made me into this ugly, angry, hopeless, mother. The rollercoaster ride of our life has taken its toll on me. I feel like your addiction has beaten every fiber of my being into the ground. Every time I have any hope of returning to who we used to be it’s shattered over and over again. I might as well be the addict. I’m addicted to your addiction. I’m suffering like someone going through detox. My body hurts. My heart hurts and my mind is being destroyed by the constant agony of what’s coming next. I try to remember you are possessed by your demons. The real Matt could never be the man you have become. My Matt could never lie, steal and break my heart like you have on a daily basis.
I walk by the sea breathing the air. I can finally get that deep breath. The spray from the surf makes me feel alive. The vastness of the ocean restores my faith in God. My hopelessness is washing out with the receding tide. I feel the weight lifting off my heart. In the distance a boy and his dog are running into the water. I close my eyes and allow myself the fantasy that we are back. You are that boy and I am the mom keeping you in my sight. I close my eyes, mommy, mommy stay close. Yes Matt, I will stay close. This time I will remember to save me so I can save you.