Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Tag: overdose (page 1 of 8)

Denial Is My New Best Friend

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Matt.   Denial is defined as a refusal to accept a past or present reality.   It’s a self defense mechanism  that comes from the subconscious mind in an attempt to protect both the psychological and emotional wellbeing of the person struggling to accept the harshness of the thing we call reality.

Denial is used to protect our minds from a painful reality repressing the truth to guard our mental health.   In other words, denial keeps me from losing my mind.

I think my denial started very early in your addiction.   Like most parents I just never thought that dirty word would ever come crashing into our perfect family.   How could it?   I was a nurse.   We lived in great neighborhoods and you went to a private school.   You went on to trade school.   You started a business, lived at the beach.   You were living my dream life.    How in the hell did addiction creep into our fairy tale and shatter it to pieces?

I remember the call.   You hurt your back.   You needed help.   The injury required surgery.   You stayed with me for weeks to recover.   I drove to the pharmacy and got your script filled.   Those poison Percocet would one day lead us down the road through hell.   As a nurse, I knew post-op pain was tough.   As a nurse I should have known the dangers of giving you those pills.   As a mom, I wanted you to feel better and go back to living your life.   Little did I know how much your brain was changing right before my denying eyes.

Denial kept me in my safe place for years.   Visiting you at the beach, my denial kept me from clearly seeing the subtle changes in you.   The unkept house, the unpaid bills.   My denial allowed me to believe everything that came out of your mouth.   You worked late.   You forgot about deadlines.  Of course Mom I’m fine.

Denial is how I survived those horrific seven years as we rode the rollercoaster of your addiction.   Never once did my denial let me believe you would not survive.    I denied the ugliness as it swirled around our beings.    The words spoken, the lies told, the yelling and screaming weren’t real.   We were both just stressed and so damn tired of how your disease wrapped it’s chains around us and refused to let go.

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I denied that I was an enabler.   No way, not me.   I’m a mother trying to help her son.   I denied that those pills would kill you.   After all they were just pills and they were prescribed over and over again by a doctor! A doctor would never overprescribe and watch his patient self destruct.   No way…..

My denial kept me so protected from our reality.   I was wrapped so tightly in my shell nothing could penetrate unless it hit me like a rock splitting a can wide open.   You calling the police after I hid your pills was that first split.

Denial fit perfectly.   I could poke my head out for a bit.   Deal with what I could and slip easily back into my cocoon.   The reality of our lives was harsh.   Denial was easy, denial was soft.

Denial was my first reaction upon hearing those words I denied would ever come.   “It’s Matt”.  “He’s dead”.   No way.   The first reaction was NO.   Matt promised me he was ok.   He promised me he would never hurt me like this.   He Promised.  I refused to believe you were gone.   Those bastard pills, those f…….. doctors.   No it had to be a mistake.   Someone stole your wallet.   It’s another mother who should be called, not me.

I denied it was you until my cocoon shattered as I saw you laying so still.   You, my Matt were gone.   My denial slowly slipped away as I ran my fingers through your hair still soft in death and laid my head on your chest to hear nothing but the echoes of my sobs.

There are days I allow myself to slip back into my safe world.   Days I walk by your urn and tell myself to breathe.  Days I deny reality and allow myself the luxury of denial.    You are living in Florida.   Spending your days by the sea we both love.   You are in recovery and very much alive.

Denial is how I get through those days when I feel my mind starting to break.   It’s how I keep myself from falling into a million pieces and blowing away in the harsh winds of my reality.   Denial is a friend I call upon to survive when survival is nothing I want.    Denial is that warm blanket holding my broken pieces together as I learn to live life without you.

 

Grief and Guilt My Constant Companions

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Matt,   Grief is defined as keen mental suffering over loss.   It encompasses sharp sorrow and painful regret. Grief and Guilt take turns pounding pain into my heart.   Each hitting me when I least expect.   Sweeping me up in emotions I can no longer control.   I never knew that Grief could physically hurt.  I never knew that Guilt could be so cruel.  My body feels beat up. Every muscle and bone feels the pain of loss that no one can see.   This incredible anguish cannot be described.  I could never imagine that this type of pain existed until it crept into my soul the day you left me behind.

My books on Addiction have been replaced by books on Grief.  Books that no mother should ever have to touch or read.  Books on the stages of grief and how to survive each one.   Titles lining the shelves that bring tears to my eyes.   The Bereaved Parent, Transcending Loss and When A Child Dies From Drugs have replaced Stay Close, An Addict In The Family and Beautiful Boy.   Those books gave me a false sense that you like their children would also survive.   Those books met their demise on a snowy, grief filled night as I tossed each one into my roaring fire.   These books made me feel like I failed to be that perfect parent who did everything right.  You know the parents who can brag that their child beat the demons and now leads a productive life.   My jealousy rears its ugly head and  my Guilt slaps me like a foulmouthed child.  Where were the books that had our ugly ending?   The books that would have warned me that endings are not always answers to our prayers.   The books warning of middle of the night phone calls that bring parents to their knees..

Guilt then replaces my grief.  The what if’s and I should haves wrap me up in a tight cocoon refusing to let me go.  Feelings of failure course through my veins replacing my grief with powerful emotions of hopelessness and regret.   Flashbacks dance through my brain .   Things done and said in anger and frustration whirl through my mind.  Knowledge I have now eluded me then.   Trying to save you and survive life changed my rational mind into a crazy, calculating one.   Your addiction became mine.   Staying a step ahead of your demons took every ounce of my being.   Now, in a calmer state I see things clearly.   My mind in a rational state sees things I should have seen when I was losing it.   I have become someone I do not want to be.   My soul caught in a perfect storm.   Tossed between two painful emotions.   Grief and guilt holding hands as they dance over my heart.

Some days weathering the storm is almost impossible.  There are days I want the storm surge to carry me out with the tide.   To drown my grief in the sea we both so loved. To stop my pain, to sweep me away allowing my pain to dissipate with the sea spray.   Sadly, I have become a swimmer.   I am the one pulling parents out when I find them struggling to stay float fighting the same storm surge that has consumed my soul.    I throw the life preserver forgetting how soaked I am in my own grief and rescue those drowning in my sea.   Still there are days that even rescuing another has no impact on my heart.   I fall into the abyss of the perfect storm.   I wonder why your grip kept slipping from the life preserver I continued to throw in the midst of our storm. Why were you swept so far away from my attempts to save your life?   I look at the sea and remember holding tight to your small hand.   So tiny, but fitting perfectly into mine.   As you grew, your hand became harder to hold slipping away again and again until you disappeared.

There are days the grief storm is manageable.   Putting on storm shutters and hunkering down, I survive. There are days the power of the grief and guilt pulls me into the undertow of reality sucking the breath from my lungs.  This sea of grief and guilt ever changing is where I live since you left me that cold January day.    Navigating through the powerful waves on a daily basis.  Some days the waves hit gently and I can walk through without falling down.  Other days a wave hits without warning knocking me to my knees.   Learning to weather the unpredictability of my storm takes practice, patience and self forgiveness.    Navigating through this storm is tough.   Attempting to hold myself together while I slowly pick up pieces of broken sea glass that used to be my heart.

The Final Goodbye

 

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Matt,  It’s been four days since you died and my world spun off its axis.  I’m unbalanced now.  Walking around in a fog.  Disbelief and reality take turns playing games with my heart.  Trying to bring you home has been a challenge.  I was told it would be easier to cremate you in Florida.  Quicker and cheaper.  This mother needs to see you again.  A part of me remains in denial.  This is a horrific mix up.  You are alive and this is the son of another mother.

They tell me your flight finally arrived in Philly late last night.  The last time you were in Philly it was to fly into a new life.  You were so full of hope and dreams.  I never expected you to return home in a box.   Flights have been off schedule due to back to back snowstorms.  Was that you Matt?  You always loved the snow.

I’m told I can see you today just for a bit as we now have a schedule to keep.  I need to see your handsome face.  A face that is now frozen in time.  There will be no wrinkles or gray hair for you my beautiful boy.  We will never dance together as you wed the love of your life.  I will never hold your child in my arms.  My dreams about your future torn to shreds, blowing away in the January wind.

I feel like an actress in a role I never wanted to play.  What does a mother wear to go view the body of her son.  My mind is foggy and my body feels like I’m walking through quick sand.  Eyes swollen beyond help.  Face puffy and red.  I can’t even look at my reflection.  I don’t care anymore.  I don’t talk to Jesus.  There is nothing to talk about.  He didn’t protect you and neither did I.  I’ve read that Jesus only gives you what you can handle.  He doesn’t know me like I thought he did.  I always told him I could never survive losing you.  You are gone.

I was able to spend two hours with you.  It was the shortest two hours my life.  I needed to see you alone before anyone else.  I needed it to be just you and me.  Like it used to be.  A mother and her son hanging out sharing life except now your life was gone and I was left behind.  Ray dropped me off and went to park his car.  I walked inside and tried to catch my breath.  I asked you to give me strength to see you today.  To walk into a funeral home and say goodbye to my beautiful son.

The rooms eerily quiet.  I walked through my fog and felt that familiar throat tightening, heart racing envelope my body.  I closed my eyes and prayed it would not be your face my eyes would see.  I would shout for joy, it’s not Matt, it’s not Matt.   My fantasy was short lived.  You looked like you were sleeping.  Quiet but so cold.  I could see the bluish color under the layer of makeup applied to your face.  I grabbed your hand and ran my fingers through your hair.  I lay my head on your chest praying to hear the beat of your heart.  Oh God this can not be.  My brain is silently screaming.  Slowly Ray and Mike approach.  I will not move from holding you.  My body frozen with yours.  They ask why you were wet.  I didn’t realize that my flood of tears was falling onto you face.  I wondered if you were looking down on your broken family.  Your brother once so strong crying like a baby.  Our time is up.  I want to stay forever.  I want to sit with you until I am no more.  In my fog there are voices.  Mom, we need to go.  Mom, please let go.  I’m surrounded by what’s left of us.  Mike and Ray giving me their strength to walk away.  The slap of reality hits my face.  A blast of icy wind on this most brutal of days.

I spend the next days planning your memorial.  Denial is a wonderful thing.  In all the years we battled your addiction I never thought I would be planning your funeral.   I felt betrayed.   In all the books I read written by parents like me the addict lived.  Everyone had a happy ending.  Beautiful Boy,  An Addict In The Family, and Stay Close all gave me the misconception that no matter how sick the addict was they lived.  Those books would be burned with the next fire.  Where were the books to shatter my illusion?  Where were the books to let parents know that addicts die?  Addiction is no fairy tale.  There is no happy ending.

Writing your obituary was brutal.  I remember pacing around the kitchen while Ray sat at the computer.  I was sobbing and shaking as I tried to find the words to honor your life.  A life cut too short by your demons.  We kept the service private.  Family and close friends would be the only one’s sharing my grief.  I feared your drug buddies would come and I couldn’t risk the reaction of your brother.  I lost one son, I could not lose another.

The day I foolishly thought would never be part of our journey is here.  I always thought it would be you and Mike saying a final goodbye to me.  Never the other way around.   It’s snowing.  I run outside and look at the sky.  Is that you, Matt?  I want to grab each falling flake and hold it to my heart.  Matt, Matt, how will I survive this day?   I stand outside closing my eyes and remember coming home one night crying after losing a baby in the NICU.  “Mom, I don’t know how you do that”.   You gave me a hug and said,”It must be so hard when a baby dies”.   Now it’s my baby who died.  My soul is broken and I want to stay here watching the flakes fall from the sky not go to say goodbye.

The day was cloudy and dark.  The weather mimicking my soul.  The snow continued to fall.  I stood in my bedroom staring at the borrowed black dress.  My brain not able to allow my heart to feel.  I am numb.  My body in survival mode.  I will need the strength of an army of angels to get through this day.  There is nothing that can be done to ease my pain.  I am weighted down by grief.  My limbs have turned to lead.  My movements slow.  I remember once again feeling like an actress.  Getting ready to play a role she didn’t want to win.  My face shows years of stress and days of profound grief.  My eyes have no shine.  Shark eyes.  No life.  I am the walking dead.  I don’t waste time with makeup.  My tears continue to fall.  I remember being in Ray’s car.  He is driving to our church.  The same church we attended together will be the place we will say our last goodbye.

I walk in alone.  I need to prepare myself for this moment.  Picture boards are placed next to your urn.  I can not look.  I walk to your urn and give you a hug.  Sobs are racking my body.  This is what’s left of you my precious child.  Once again it’s just you and me.  My brain screaming, this can’t be.  My heart breaking as the reality of our life washes over me like the waves we used to run through.  I close my eyes and we are laughing and running.  So full of joy and life.  I’m so lost in my fantasy that I don’t realize that friends have lined up to pay their respects.

I am hugged over and over.  Boys you grew up with, now men telling me how much you were loved.  Their parents shocked faces afraid to look me in the eye.  How does a mother bury her child.  The line seemed to go on forever.  Muffled voices mixed with tears all coming to show support.  I feel like a robot.  Shaking hands and allowing people to hug me.  The only hug I want to feel is from you.  I have put on my mask.  Pretending to listen to words when all I hear is the roar of the ocean.  I’ve been offered pills to help me get through this.  I am angry.  I felt the pain of giving you life.  I need to feel this pain of saying goodbye.  Finally the line is over.  The service is starting.  I hear the songs I chose fill the church with beautiful music.  Songs you started to listen to by Casting Crowns and Mercy Me.  The words gave you hope and increased your faith in Jesus.  I sit between Mike and Ray.  Holding on for dear life as Mike, our minister tearfully talks about your life.  He became your friend and tried so hard to help during your dark days.  He is overcome with emotion.  Your brother is shaking as tears spill down his face.  Oh God, my boys were supposed to grow old together. To hang onto each other when I was gone.  Your brother struggling so hard to be strong has become a sobbing little boy.  His only brother, his partner in crime now gone forever.

I don’t know how I did it.  I’d written another letter to you and wanted it read at your service.  It was my final tribute to my son, my hero.  You struggled for so long to get clean.  Your struggle now over, mine was just beginning.

I took a deep breath and stood up.  I walked to the podium where minutes before our Pastor was speaking.  My vision blurry and my voice cracking with emotion.  I held on for dear life as I started to share our story with those who loved you the most.

Dear Matt,

You said this day would never come.  You told me you loved me too much and could never hurt me this bad.  Yet here we are gathered today to honor your life.  A life cut too short by your demons.

Now I stand here sharing my last words about you with the people who loved you so much.

My son was an addict.  I am not ashamed.  I will shout it from the rooftops, my son was an addict.

Oh Matt, we were both so foolish to think you had the power to keep that promise.  The demons were stronger than both of us.  Now you are gone and I am forever broken.  These last seven years have been a horrific struggle.  Ray, Mike and I watched you slowly destroy yourself day by day.  There were endless night of worry and torment, not knowing where you were or if you were alive or dead.  Nights when I would call out for help and your brother would drop everything and come.  Together Mike, Ray and I would devise our next plan and get you to safety.

I thought bringing you home would save you.  There I could watch you and protect you from your demons.  I am your mother and that’s what mothers do.  Oh Matt, we tried so hard to get you to see that drugs were not the answer.  So many rehabs, programs and counselors.  We thought we were on the right track.  Now I stand here and look at your brothers face and realize how foolish we were to think we could outwit the demons.

There were so many times we had hope.  Spring came and the old Matt was coming back.  You told me you wanted that monkey off your back.  A new rehab, the start of a new life.  Mike, Ray and I could only see you on Sunday for one hour due to the rules.  I remember us sitting together looking out over the water thinking we finally did it, we beat your demons.

You looked so good.  Your face and eyes so clear.  You said you were done with drugs and looked so forward to a new life.  Now where to go as the demons lived in Delaware.

Your new life in Florida was supposed to be a fresh start from the demons that followed you most of your life. You and I are beach people.  We shared a feeling of peace with God by the sea.  We talked everyday.  You told me you loved it near the ocean.  You felt so blessed at the chance for a new life.  Finally there was joy, hope, peace and sleep for Mike, Ray and I.  I deceived myself into thinking our nightmare was finally over.   Little did I know it was just getting ready to destroy us.

The last time we spoke was Friday night, January 2nd at 6:23 p.m.  You sounded normal.  My trained ears hearing nothing to prepare me for what was to come.  We ended our call as we always did.  I love you, Matt.  I love you, Mom.  I’ll talk to you soon.   That next call never came.

For reasons I will never understand.  Reasons that will haunt my heart for the rest of my life you used and overdosed, being left in a motel room by the man I trusted with your life.  You died at 4:50 a.m. Saturday morning.  I remember waking at that exact moment feeling like something was horribly wrong.  A cool breath surrounded my body at the same time your spirit was leaving yours.  Was that you Matt giving me one last hug?

I am so proud of the man you were.  You were loving and giving.  You who had nothing would give it away to someone in need.  If you could only read what your friends are posting on your Facebook page.  How much you were loved.  How you were looked up to and how devastated everyone is by your death.  I wish you had loved yourself enough.

I’ve read that losing a child doesn’t just change you it destroys you.  Matt I am destroyed.  Pieces of my shattered heart still beat in my chest. I have become the walking dead.  Feeling nothing but the  profound sadness that has taken up residence in my soul.  I would gladly ride the rollercoaster of chaos with you again.  I would gladly exchange my life for yours.  I will never understand.

Your nightmare is over while mine has just begun.    I am going through a withdraw from your addiction.  You see, Matt you were not the only addict in our family.  I was addicted to saving you.  Now I must find a way to make it through the rest of my life.  I’m told I must go on.  My toughest struggles are ahead of me as I navigate this life.  Knowing that I will never hear your voice or look into your beautiful eyes again is just too much to bear.  There will be no more birthdays, no wedding, no children.  Everything is gone with you.

There is a saying that ‘Life’s a Beach’.   I pray heaven is your beach and you are free.  Playing in the ocean like you did as a boy.  When I can breathe again I will free you and your beloved Kahlua into the sea you both loved so much. Until then you are coming home with me.  Even though you were a man you will always be my tow-headed beautiful boy.  I will love you forever.  I pray you will meet me when I take my last breath.   Wait for me by the sea we both love.  I want to open my eyes and see your handsome face.  I want to look into your eyes and know that I am home.  I want to grab your hand and run laughing into the surf that we both so love.

Godspeed my precious son.  My wingman. Until we meet again.

Love Mom

 

 

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.

“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.

Really Rockford, Really!!!!!

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Matt,   Once again your addiction has turned our world upside down.   Mike should be home in bed, not fighting to get you admitted to a mental hospital.  I should be sound asleep not pacing like a wild animal in my darkened home.   I dial the intake number listed on their website.  No answer.  WTH.  How can a mental hospital not answer the phone in the middle of the night.  So the wait begins.  Ray has given up and gone back to bed.  Someone in this household needs to be able to function like a normal human being and right now it’s not looking too good for me.

So I wait and sit and pace until the sun starts to appear.  What the hell was going on?   How long does it take to admit someone who has attempted to end it all.   My mind is out of control.  I fight the urge to get into my car and see what the hell is happening for myself.  If this takes much longer I will have a breakdown and need one of their precious beds for myself.   Do you think we can share a room?  Do they have family suites like hotels do?   Ladies and gentlemen, this is the addicts wing.   This is where we put the addicts and their poor mothers who have now lost their minds.  I really don’t know how much more I can take.   I’m mentally and physically exhausted.   I can’t eat, barely sleep.   My face shows signs of constant stress.  I have forgotten how to smile.   Maybe I’m the one who should be admitted.  If anyone saw me beating the crap out of your dealer on my from lawn they would certainly vouch for my craziness.  I know most of my friends would.  “You’re crazy for putting up with his crap”.   “You’re crazy for letting him live with you”.   Yup just call me crazy.   Give me permission to lose my mind.   Let me find that rabbit hole and just keep sliding far, far away from here.

Headlights break into my thought.  ” Mike, what?”  I don’t even get the words out of my mouth.  “Mom, they finally admitted him”.   “Three hours, holy shit I never thought they would take him back”.    “They had me clean out his pockets”.    Pills spill out of Mike’s jacket and onto my table.   My brain screams as I see the shapes and colors all dancing across my table.   Matt, where in the hell did you get these? Enough to do the job you intended to do.   I relive beating your dealer.  My mind goes to a dark place.   If I could find him at this very moment I would force these pills down his throat and watch him die.   Yes, your honor.   I’m guilty.   I’m just the mother of an addict trying to save her son from the pusher trying to kill him.   Crazy,  yup that’s me..

So now I must wait to see you again.   There are rules to follow.   No visitors until the weekend.  No phone calls, no nothing.   I want to scream.   I’m no visitor,  my mind screams,   I’m his mother.   I try to play dumb as I once again dial the number I now have memorized in my brain.   I plead my case to deaf ears.  Please I just need to know he’s ok.  I need to know what he needs.   He is there with the clothes on his back.  I want him to be comfortable.   I need him to know I love him and I will not abandon him.   Please…..Nothing.   No information.  Thank you Federal Government for HIPPA..

My heart is in my throat as I sit in the parking lot waiting for Mike.  Never in a million years did I ever think your addiction would lead to me sitting in my car in the parking lot of a mental hospital.   In my fantasy world, you were just going to kick this, just like that.  What the hell was I thinking.   I was so lost in my thoughts that I never heard Mike until he hit the hood of my car.   “Mom, where are you.  I’ve been calling you for a few minutes, are you Ok?”   “No Mike,  I’m dreaming of a life that doesn’t exist”.   “A life free of the demons that are slowly making me crazy and killing our family.”   My tears start as Mike grabs my arm and leads me to the front door.

We have to sign in and show ID.  We sit and wait for our turn.   I stare at the enormous fish tank thinking how nice it would be to be a fish.   I hear a buzz then our name is called.   We are greeted by an attendant who leads us through a maze of doors.  He locks and unlocks doors as we follow him like rats.   I can feel that familiar throat tightening.  My heart starting to skip beats.  I feel like I’m being lead to an execution.  Last man walking.   We are left alone in a small room.  There is no air.   I can feel my guts starting to shake.   “Mike, please no confrontation,  I can’t take it.”   The door opens.   My heart drops.   You are there.  I want to run and wrap you in my arms, to tell you that I love you and it will be ok.   Your stare stops me.  Your anger is palpable.   You wear a shirt I don’t recognize.   You shoes have no laces, your pants no belt.   My mind is screaming.   Suicide precautions,   Dear God,  my son is on suicide precautions!  I felt like I’d been hit by a bat.  I feel the room spinning.  Oh no.  No you don’t.  My mind is screaming.  No passing out for you Mama.  Your demons are in the room.   Laughing.  That’s right Mama.  We almost got him this time.   We win, you lose.

Your counselor is young and naive.   You once again have used your charms to pull the wool over the eyes of those who are supposed to know.   Mike looks at me reading my mind.   He is polite but firm.   He tells the story of the last two years of the endless chaos, the nights of wondering if you were alive or dead.  The total mess our lives have become due to your using and lies.  The betrayal of everyone trying to save you.   My heart is silently breaking as I watch your brother pleading our case.   Trying to keep you in a place where you will be safe.    I watch your face.   My sweet, sweet fox.   The innocent lamb with the big bad wolf as your brother.  You once again have mastered the art of deception.   You are the victim.   I’m screaming inside my head.   I’m kicking and screaming grabbing this young, dumb so called professional and shaking the shit out of her.   Don’t you see!  Don’t you see!   He’s lying!   We are the victims.  Please, Please, don’t let him out.   You are supposed to be the expert.  Trained in the art of treating and recognizing the lying, manipulative behaviors of those in active addiction.   The hollow sound of her binder closing brings me back to the reality of the bullshit that just went down in this airless room.   I am numb.   Nothing we have said means anything.   You, my fox are an adult.   You are the one in charge.

We are escorted out through the rat maze.   I crumble into a mess when I feel the air on my face.   Mike is pissed.   “WTF, Mom, WTF”.    I sit in my car and watch Mike pull away.   Mike’s too proud to let me see his tears.   I sit in my car.   I am numb.   Did this really happen?   My mind replaying the scene over and over.   I feel the sobs racking my body.  The familiar waves of helplessness washing over and pulling me down into the abyss.   I lost track of time.   I’m now sitting in darkness, the parking lot mostly empty.   My eyes are closed as I try to formulate a plan to fix this.   A loud thumb startles me as I look into the face of a security guard.   I roll my window down knowing my eyes are swollen and red.   ‘Lady, you ok?”   I smile and shake my head.   My mind screaming.   Do I look ok you stupid, stupid man.   I’m sitting alone sobbing in my car in the empty parking lot of a mental hospital where my son is a patient.   What the hell do you think?

Driving home I’m once again accompanied by me, myself and I.   We are having a conversation about what to do.   Funny, I thought my days of talking to myself were over, but here I was once again asking questions and answering them.   I don’t even look over at the car next to me.  Yup,  whatever you’re thinking about the crazy blonde driving the car is true.   Yup, she’s lost her mind…

The letter I write details our life through your addiction.   I leave nothing out.  No more dirty little secrets, nothing but the God’s honest truth.   Ladies and gentlemen this is the true story of Matt’s life.   This is not fiction, this is the reality of the disease of addiction and how it is slowly killing my family.   I could not make this shit up.   The letter is two pages long.   I send it to the psychiatrist that you’ve met once.   Another copy to your counselor and another to the social worker.   I say a silent prayer as I hit send.   My heart is afraid.

So here it is Thanksgiving.   I sent my letter two days ago and still no response.   My heart is in my throat as I pull into this dreaded parking lot.   Once again I’m led through the maze, but this time there are parents who look just like me.   Sorrow spilling from their pores as we follow like mechanical robots all waiting to see our children.    We are taken to the gym.   A big room filled with small tables.   I see you sitting  staring at me as I approach.   I kiss the top of your head before I sit.   We are told we have one hour.   My mind is pissed.   WTH is this prison.   It’s Thanksgiving and I am generously being given an hour to see my son.   “So you wrote a letter and sent it to everybody”.   Shit, shit, shit.   Those bastards ratted me out.   I try to stay calm, putting on that mask I’ve come to hide behind when I know the shit is getting ready to fly.   “Yes, I did”.   “They need to know the truth, I’m trying to get you the help you need since you have pulled the wool right over their eyes”.    You look at me and laugh.   “Don’t matter Mom, don’t matter”.    I try to make small talk while struggling to hold back the flood of tears threatening to fly out of my eyes.   You ask if I brought smokes.   Against my better judgement I hand you a pack.   You are restless and quiet.   Oh Matt, my heart is breaking.   It’s Thanksgiving.   We should be home.   I should be making stuffing as the smell of Turkey floats through the house.   You should be watching football and hanging out with Mike.   But we are here trying to act normal in the most un- normal place.    I’ve never felt so alone in my life.   It’s as if you can’t wait to get away from me and all I want to do is hang on to you.   My fantasy is to grab you and run like the wind.   To find the rabbit hole and fall and fall holding onto each other.   Laughing and hugging and flying away from the ugly reality that is our life.   I want to run into the Queen and grab her Axe and chop off the heads of your demons,  freeing us both from the grip they have on our lives.   I want to live in Wonderland and be happily ever after.   A guard appears and calls time.   I look around and see the sad faces of parents like me.   I look at you and smile through my tears.   They have begun to fall, I have lost control.   You give me a hug and walk away.

So once again, I’m lined up and led through the maze.   One door opens while another slams shut.   I make it outside before the sobs hit like a wave I can’t pull out of.   I’m drowning in my grief.   Thanksgiving,  my son eating with strangers while I sob all the way home.    Thanksgiving, sorry Lord, there’s nothing to give thanks for.

It’s Saturday morning.   I’m finally recovering from our visit.   Trying to hope my letter made a difference.   My phone rings and your picture pops up.   I grab it on the second ring.   “Hey Mom,  I’m getting out today”.   You sound like it’s just another Saturday, not like you’re calling me from a psych hospital.   I want to vomit.   I try to mask the horror in my voice.   “What, they think you are ready to leave, seriously”.    “Thanks Mom,  glad you’re so happy to hear from me”.   “You picking me up or not”.    “Matt, who said you’re ready?”   “I want to talk to your counselor”.     “Forget it Mom,  I’m discharged.   You coming or not?”

I pull up.   You are standing in the parking lot a smoke hanging from your lips.   Your shoes are tied and your pants are belted.    Well I guess the geniuses think it’s safe. Your possessions are in a brown bag.    My heart breaks when I remember the man you were.   The owner of a beach house.   The owner of a thriving garage.   Living with a beautiful girl.   Living the life by the sea.   Now you are left with the clothes on your back and whatever you hold in that bag.   God how I hate what this disease has done to you and me.   You open the door, take a last drag and throw the butt to the ground.   I put on the mask.   The mask I hide behind.   I hear the sound of the rollercoaster pulling up.   The sound of the breaks as it stops outside my car.   I feel the bar come down to lock me in place.   I feel my stomach start flipping as the coaster pulls out of the station.    I close my eyes and hold on as we climb and climb.   I feel each level.   Higher and higher.   I look over and see your smiling face.   The face I love so dearly.   A face that has become a master at deception.   I grip the wheel and pray……….

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