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………