Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Tag: no more lies

Tough Love From A Tender Hearted Mother

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Matt.   You really did it this time.  It takes a lot to upset Ray and he is pissed.   The fact that you were going to let me go to jail and risk my nursing career just about blew his mind.  I keep telling Ray you are sick.  That you need help but your actions and attitude really aren’t helping my case.   I planned to spend this week relaxing in my garden, but now I have to put the fires caused by your addiction out and try to keep this family together.

I’m in the kitchen drinking coffee staring out the window.  I’m so lost in my thoughts that I don’t realize you are up.  I can’t even bring myself to look at your face.  I’m still having a hard time believing that after all we have been through together and everything I’ve done to help keep you safe that you would throw me to the wolves.  I’ve read about  tough love.  How parent’s throw their addicts out.  Turn their backs.  No home, no food, having nothing to do with their once loved kids.   I’ve read that the only way to save an addict is to let them hit rock bottom.   The problem with tough love is I’m not tough.  I loved you and all I cared about was getting you straight and keeping you that way.   I knew my back was against the wall.  I never though Ray would say those words.  I just didn’t know if I was strong enough to kick you out and your rock bottom scared me to death.

You brush past me without a word.  My heart is breaking.  Where are you? What happened to my funny, loving son?  Who is this stranger living in your skin?  My mind asking questions as my lips remain silent.  I’m trying not to cry.  I’m so emotionally beat up.  All I want is my son and my life to be normal.  I’ve forgotten what those days were like.  The days before the demons became your love.  When life was full of joy, before the chaos and drama starting chipping away at our lives.  I wanted it all back.  I wanted to grab you and shake you and rid your body of the poison slowly killing us all.

“Hey Matt, we need to talk”.   I wait for your response.  Nothing.  You are ignoring me.  Your demons have control.  I say it again, “Matt, we need to talk”.  You look at me with glassy eyes.  My heart sinks.  “Matt, this has to stop”.  “You need to get into a rehab or find another place to live”.   There, I’ve said it.  Those words I never thought I’d say.   Out of my mouth and floating between us like poison gas.  I hold my breath and wait for your reaction.  You look at me and smile.  “You can’t throw me out,  you have to evict me”.   “I looked it up”.   You continue to gloat as you make a cup of coffee and float downstairs.   I’m sitting there in shock.  I grab my laptop and google eviction.  I’ll be damn, you were right.  Holy shit.  How can this be.  I own this house.  You’ve never paid a dime to live here.  Just do your drugs and eat the food.  This is crazy.  Now I have to pay court costs to get you to leave.  My brain is reeling while my heart is relieved.  The perfect excuse.  No tough love.  I can’t be blamed by anyone.  For me it’s a win/win situation.  I did what Ray wanted.  Told you to leave.

Ray comes home expecting you to be gone.  I decide to play my I don’t know what you’re talking about game.  To slip into my pretend world.  I pretend we are just like any other family.  We had a misunderstanding and need to work it out.  Ray starts to question me.  I tell him we talked.  I share the information about kicking someone out that has lived at the residence for years.  I tell him this is your home.  You hear him come in and stupidly decide to come and challenge him.  Oh God, I’m looking at you willing you to shut your mouth.  My eyes pleading for your silence.  This is not the time to be cocky.   I feel the anger building.  You are high and mighty, untouchable.  Your words are ugly.  “F*** you, you can’t make me leave.  I live here”.   I hear the words and start to slowly die inside.  You are out of control and Ray is done.  I’ve never seen Ray so angry.  He pushes past you,  grabs a backpack filled with your stuff.  “Get the hell out”.  He is screaming, you are screaming and I am disappearing.   I watch in horror, tears flowing as Ray grabs you and throws you out the door.  Oh God,  I can’t do this.  You are my baby.  I have to save you.  I grab Ray and his eyes tell me to back off.   This is between you and him.  I’m sobbing and pleading for us to calm down and take a breath.  These ugly people are not who we are. Dear God, you look at me hate spewing from your eyes.  Ray slams the door and pushes past me.  I hold myself,  sobbing as you get into your truck, give me the finger and leave.

I continue looking out the window tears streaming down my face.  My mind is reeling.  How do you choose between two men you love.  One is your child.  You’ve loved him from the first moment the stick turned positive.  Dreamed of his life.  What he would look like and who he would be.  Never once did I think my beautiful boy would turn into a man capable of such turmoil.  Never did I dream that my son would grow up to be an addict.   Ray comes to me.  I cannot speak.  Just shake with the sobs racking my body.   He sits and tells me he’s sorry.  He’s trying to do the right thing.  He’s trying to save me.  “You can’t see what he is doing to you”.  “You are consumed by his addiction”.   “You aren’t tough enough, you still see the little boy,  not the grown man who is slowly killing you”.   “Let’s see what happens, Maybe this will open his eyes”.   I still can’t respond.  I need every ounce of energy to breathe.  I know Ray is trying.  I know he’s supported every decision.   Put up with Matt’s chaos and always tried to help.  Right now none of that matters.  My heart is broken.  I feel dirty and hateful.  I know I will not survive.

The first night I am once again on the couch.  Me and the pups.  A bottle of red and bones.  I try to call you.  I need to know you are alive.  Need to hear your voice.  To tell you I’m sorry and thinking of you.  And once again, your voicemail is all I get.  Hopelessness wraps me up.  In all the years of our struggle I never felt so defeated.

I am a mess.  I haven’t slept in weeks.  Laying there night after night wondering where you are.  If you’re still alive.  What have I done.  I hate myself.  I call Mike.  Ask him if he’s heard from you.  Nothing.  He’s trying to be strong, but I know he is thinking the same thing.  He will drive around and look for you.   I try to stay busy.  I check my phone constantly.  Every call sets my heart racing.   I go through your stuff.  Same old game. Searching for poison.  Hoping you have left some behind.  A reason to contact me.  Nothing.  Your demons have full control.  I sit and smell your clothes and cry.  “Mom,  Matt slept in his car last night”.   “At least he’s alive”.  “Ok Mike,  I’m going to make some calls.  Let’s put him in a motel until I can find a place”.    So Mike and I team up to find you a place to put your head.  I keep thinking about this tough love bullshit.  Well, I just can’t do.  Let them say what they want.  I don’t give a damn.  Everyone telling me to throw you out has never lived my life.   How do you handle not knowing where you’re son is.  Yes, he’s an addict.  He’s done terrible things.  He’s still my son.   All the tough hearted parents writing the advice books, well good for them I think.  Good for them.  They’re not Matt’s mom.  They haven’t watched his struggle.  They haven’t seen the glimpses of my Matt that sneak out and touch my heart.

Weeks go by.  You are now staying with a friend.  Of course I am paying rent to keep you safe.  I can finally sleep knowing you are not on the streets, cold and hungry.   People have told me I did it all wrong.  Just enabling from afar.  I say addiction is not a black and white disease.  What works for one addict doesn’t work for another.  Tough love is not all it’s cracked up to be.  It was tougher on me than you.  But you already knew that.  You played the game.  Acting hurt and hateful, killing me with your eyes as you left.   Knowing my heart was putty in your hands.   Knowing I loved you too much to be tough.  Knowing I would find a way to keep you safe.  My sweet boy knew he was loved too much by a mother who was too soft for tough love…..

A Meeting Of The Minds

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Matt, there was really no way to give you a heads up that your brother was now in on our dirty little secret.  I just couldn’t keep up the lies anymore.  I was so beat down by your behavior that I told him for me.  I am not a liar and it was very hard for me to continue to make up stories to your brother.  He’s a very smart man and it was only a matter of time before he figured it out.  I felt he needed the whole truth before he signed up for the ride of his life.  I witnessed your ugliness when it came to your precious pills but he still thought you were his charming little brother.

The meeting was days away.  I went from being excited at the thought of seeing you clean to being a shaking mess at the thought of your reaction to both me and your brother showing up.  I had no experience in the world of rehabs and had no idea if you were even aware of this upcoming event.  No communication was their rule and I wasn’t about to stir the pot if it meant getting you healthy.

Mike and I talked several times before the meeting trying to come up with our plan on how to approach your situation.  We were going to present a united front.  I tried to prepare him for the Matt that took up residence in your body, but until you witnessed the behavior first hand it was hard to imagine.  I knew the power of the demons, he was about to find out.

Meadow Wood presents itself as a Behavioral Health System.  Like I said, I had no idea what to expect.  I spent my years in the NICU and had no idea how they would treat addiction.  I tried to educate myself about the services they offered.  Qualified clinicians providing services 24/7.   Psychotherapies both individual and group were offered.   Family education, after care and discharge planning.  The more I read the more upbeat I became.  Finally there was hope that you would get and stay clean.  I prayed you would be there until you were strong enough physically and mentally to fight the poison your body craved to live.

Matt, the day is finally here.  I am shaking and sweating.  It’s a crisp, sunny perfect fall day.  I took that as a sign today would go as I planned.  You, me and Mike all united in the fight.  Supporting you in your recovery. Mike was meeting me in the parking lot.  I arrive and he’s waiting in his truck.  Hey Mom, you ready for this.  I’m as ready as I’m going to be.  Hey Mike,  be kind.  He’s been through so much already.  He’s probably going to be embarrassed that you know what’s been going on.   Mom, I’ll handle it, don’t tell me how to feel. Sorry, you’re right.  This is between you and Matt.  I felt a cold chill run through my body.  My mind warning me to hold on.  The roller coaster was just getting ready to take off.

Matt, the look on your face sucked the breath out of my lungs.  I don’t know what I expected but the look that greeted me was full of hate.  First, you see me, then Mike.  The tension in the room is stifling.  Your counselor looks like she just finished preschool.   She had no clue as to how manipulative you have become.   She has no clue that you have learned how to play this game.  You know what to say and how to say it.   I sit and listen to how you have been the victim.  How hard I’ve made your life.  I can’t even look at your face.  I want to click my magic heels and return to Kansas.  Any where but here.   I can feel the anger building in Mike.  I keep giving him the look.  Oh God, please this room is about to explode.

Your brother has heard enough.  I close my eyes and will myself to disappear.  I listen as he retells our story and calls you out on everything you have put me through.  Your counselor looks like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, looking for the magic hole to slide down.  I want to follow and never return.  You sit in your chair.  Squirming like you did in school when I had to meet you in the principal’s office.   Oh God, I am silent as you and Mike go head to head.  I can’t even speak.  My mind is saying get up and run for your life.  Your counselor is no way prepared for the wrath of your older brother.   I wasn’t prepared for the anger spewing from Mike.  I try to speak but can’t find the words to fix this.  My boys at each other.  Your addiction has taken another victim.   You have learned nothing in the week you have spent away.  Your cockiness shining through with every word you speak.  It’s your life.  Your responses blow my mind.  Never in a million years did I ever expect this.  The meeting full of ugliness and accusations.  How do we go on from here.

Mike and I walk out together.  I try to stop the sobs that are forming in my throat.  I feel so defeated.  Mike,  I try to talk but the words won’t come.  Mom, I just can’t believe he sat there like he’s the victim.  Like he’s done nothing wrong.  Who the hell does he think he is.   I try to explain that it’s not you.  It’s the disease.  I tell Mike that I know his anger.  I lived with anger blaming you for this chaos that took over our lives.   Until I saw first hand the horror of detox.   I’ve had glimpses of the old Matt before the demons.  My education in addiction has been ongoing.  Mike is new to the craziness that has become a way of life for me.  Mike, we have to work together, we can’t tear each other apart.  Matt is sick.  He needs help.  I didn’t bring you on board to fight.   Mom, I’m sorry.  I just couldn’t believe how he sat there and played that girl.  If these people are the experts then we are in for a hell of a ride.

We hug as you walk me to my car.  I watch you pull away.  I sit in the dark and let my emotions loose.  The sobs rack my body.  I try to get control but have no power over the tears.  That familiar feeling of hopelessness returns.  I can’t believe a family meeting tore our family apart.  My two boys, once so close now so far apart.  I closed my eyes and relived the destruction of our lives.   I wondered how these so called professionals could be so blind to your cleverness.  Your demons outwitting the people I counted on for help.   I didn’t realize it that night but your brothers words rang true.  The experts were blind and we were in for one hell of a ride.

 

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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