Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Tag: relapse (page 1 of 8)

Let The Battle Begin

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Matt,

The day has finally arrived.   The day I’ve been dreading and wanting to put behind me all mixed into a crazy bag of emotions.   My mind is spinning knowing that I will be facing the men who are defending those who feel dumping addicts while under the influence of drugs who have no sense of the imminent danger of losing their lives is an acceptable practice.   My emotions are on high alert.   Fight or flight, hot then shaking, anger then tears anticipating what is to come.   I feel like I’m being sent before the firing squad for a crime I did not commit while the criminal pulls the trigger.

I remember hearing the words he is here.   I felt the bile rise in my throat.   I had to stop the urge to run away and vomit.   How dare the man who dropped you off in a hotel when you needed help feel the need to sit in a room with your grieving mother.

Walking into the conference room, I felt as if I walked into a vacuum.    I could here those words over and over again,  “It’s Matt”.   “He’s dead”.    My mind started to scream as the pig smiled my way!   I kept telling myself to breathe,  just breathe.    I couldn’t let them know that what I really wanted to do was squeeze the life out of this smiling arrogant man.   I wanted to repeat the words he said to me when he finally found the time to call me days after he knew you were dead.    “People die here everyday”.    Yes, those were the words that came from the mouth of the man I trusted to keep you safe.   The man who cashed my checks and pretended to give a damn about your recovery.    I wanted to watch the color drain from his hideous face as I repeated those ugly words as I stared into his eyes knowing that my grieving face would be the last thing he would ever remember.

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My fantasy of revenge was short lived as question after question came flying my way.   Some so absurd I wondered what these lawyers were trying to prove.   Ridiculous questions that had nothing to do with the fact that he woke you from a sound sleep and made the decision to dump you knowing you had used and were in a compromised state.   He told your roommate  to watch you.   Really, a man who professed to be an expert in the field of treating addicts dumped you off with a kid and told him to watch you!   Well, he did.   He watched as you died.

As I sat there answering those incredibly painful questions I thought of you.   The last conversation we had. The I love you Matt and I love you Mom spun around in my head.   I tried to remember what your voice sounded like.   I tried to find strength in knowing that you knew you were loved.   Then a flash back to the last time I saw you.   My heart broke silently as I remembered you lying so still on a gurney.   Your face blue.   Forever frozen in time.   Forever 37.   I remember holding onto to you, placing my head on your chest listening and praying that I would hear your beating heart.   I closed my eyes and prayed that this was a nightmare and I would soon wake up.

That familiar gut punch found it’s way to where I sat.   Once again I was being swallowed into my dark abyss.   I wanted to disappear.   My tears began to fall.   I looked across the table through blurry eyes and wondered how these men would feel if you were their son?   Would they be questioning why I am suing this man or would they be outraged that he neglected to get their son to a safe place?   It’s so easy to judge when your life has not been shattered into pieces that no longer fit together.   It’s easy to sit back and place blame on those who paid the ultimate price for a decision that was not their own.

Hours later we are done.   I gathered my strength and look directly into his eyes.   I tell him that I will forever blame him for your death.   I will forever live knowing that he is a fraud, a liar.   His decision that fateful night forever changed our lives.   I was never given the chance to hear your voice or tell you I will be there with the first available flight.   His decision tore the fabric of our family.  You are gone and I am broken.   Oh how I wanted to say so much more.   Words are useless to a man who has no conscious or ethics.   I decided not to waste my breath.

I found myself on the beach in Boca.   The beach you loved.  I walked to the spot you stood.   Your handsome, smiling face, your beautiful eyes captured in a picture days before you left.   Your image forever burned into my brain.   I closed my eyes and saw you running in the surf.   My tow headed beautiful boy jumping and laughing.   Reaching your hand toward mine.   The wind blew my hair like a gentle kiss from your lips.   For a brief second you were there and my heart felt complete.   I walked on the sand you walked.   I breathed the air you breathed.   I prayed for your peace and for strength to continue my fight for you.

As my plane climbed higher into the clouds taking me away from where you last walked the earth, I felt a piece of myself stay behind.   Almost as if I was standing by your side on your beach watching as the plane grew smaller and smaller until all that could be seen was a trace of smoke.   A piece of my soul sits and waits for you to come again.   To once again walk side by side hearing the crash of the waves whisper, I love you Matt.   I love you Mom.

There Is No Black and White In Addiction

 

 

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Matt,   Today is my birthday.   My third without you.   I still have such a hard time believing that there will be no phone call or card signed Love Matt.  You won’t be hiding in the house to surprise me.   Once again I try to get though another milestone without you.   I’m in New York.   Funny you know I would have rather spent my day at the beach walking on the sand listening to the sea birds and the crashing of the ocean.   But my article about your addiction was featured in a magazine and I was invited to attend the reveal here in NY.  This humbling experience was something I could not miss.

Since your death, I have become an advocate for the treatment of addiction.   I write and speak about how horribly you were treated by the Insurance Industry and treatment facilities.  I speak out about the ugly stigma that follows addiction.   I work to make changes in our state laws.   It’s the only way I survive.  Your death rocked me to my core.   Everyday I struggle to find my new normal.   Everyday I pray that you are finally at peace.   Everyday I wake to this empty house.    My regrets about letting you go to Florida smack me swiftly in the face.  I feel so guilty about your death.   I still can’t believe I didn’t see how wrong it was for you to leave home and go so far away.   The thought of you being dumped in a motel to die kills me more and more each day.   My guilt beats at my soul.   My brain questions what kind of mother lets her son go so far away?

I wanted you to have a fresh start at a new life.   I was tricked into believing that new people, places and things would cure you.   All those books written about addiction by people who think they are experts in the field led us down the path of no return.   Parents who talk about tough love and disowning their kids because of addiction.   So much misinformation published by people who think they have the answers to addiction.   Don’t they know that every family is different?

There is no black and white once size fits all in this ugly disease.   Misleading parents like me that if we follow what they did our story would have the same happy ending.   Looking back I should have followed my gut.   I should have known you would never survive without your family close by to support you when you fell.   I knew you better than anyone and still I let you go.   Those books have been trashed as they should have been so long ago.

It’s ironic.   I wrote the truth about us.   The ugly, horrible, brutally honest truth about how your addiction stomped our family to death.   How your addiction shattered us to the core.   How I became addicted to your addiction and turned into a person I no longer recognized.   Funny, the editor I sent it to told me it was too ugly to publish.   That both you and I were horrible people.   That no one would want to read my work.

At first her words crushed me.   Then reality hit.  The reason this epidemic continues to have such power  killing far more than any disaster or war is because many people don’t want ugly.   People want pretty.  People want fairy tale endings.   People want to think that if we continue to ignore addiction it will go away. That it won’t affect our families.  That addiction is something that happens to others.  That addiction is something we can walk away from and never look back.   We only want to hear about beautiful children from perfect families who go on to lead successful lives.

I blame myself.   I should have never let you go.   I lived the ugliness with you.   Yes, there were a few glimpses of pretty.   The few times you came back as the Matt I knew before.   Times when the possibility of our fairy tale ending played tricks with my mind.   Your addiction was more powerful than even I could have ever imagined.   Your addiction won.

Now I live with regret.   I live with guilt.    The joke was on me.  I live knowing that birthdays, holidays and life in general will never hold the same meaning.   Oh how I wish I read how brutally ugly the true reality of addiction could be.

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.

Are you Matts Mom, Oh God Do I Want To Be

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Matt, there is no sleep for me tonight.  I am physically shaking.  I want to puke until there is nothing left and I disappear into thin air.  Everything back fired in my face.  I thought I was just so cool.  Grabbing your scripts and reporting the pill pushers.  I really thought the medical community would support my whistle blowing shutting down the practice and cutting off your supply.  Never did I think you would be let in on my plan and turn against the mom who is fighting to save your life.  Ahh, what did the mad little pill pusher say to you.  Your mommy ratted me out and now I can’t poison you anymore cause she might come beat me up.  Why didn’t they just tell you that they were not the right place for you and you needed to move on.  Why bring me into it.  Just shows what true assholes they really are.  If they cared at all I would have been willing to meet with them and work out a weaning protocol, getting you safely off the poison.  But no, they just cut you lose.  WTH was I going to do now.  You and your 90 Percocet and God knows how many Methadone in you hot pissed off hands.

I blow up your voice mail with pleading message after message begging you to please come home and once again let me explain.  Your mailbox now full, I start texting.  I can’t believe this is happening.  I am slowly going out of my mind with worry.  I start calling your close friends.  Tell them there is a family emergency and I really need to talk to you.  I get in my car and drive by all your hang outs praying I will see your truck and at least know you are still alive.  I search until dark.  My phone rings, my heart jumps, oh  God please let that be Matt.  It’s Ray.  I’ve been so frantic I never looked at the time.  Where are you, he asks.  I’ll explain when I get home.  Too much to say and I am barely holding onto my sanity.

I’m shaking as Ray tells me to calm down and breathe.  I grab the letter and tell him to read.  He like me is in shock.  Seriously, they think pushing pills is ok.  I can’t believe it either.  I tell him what happened and that I’m so scared.  You have not answered my calls or texts and are no where to be found.  I imagine the worst.  I can’t stop pacing and crying.  Your phone going straight to voice mail with the message that has been playing all day.  No more space for my pleading for you to come home.

I call out for the morning.  There is no way I could keep my head clear enough to save a critical baby.  Your addiction has seeped so deeply into my life that I become crippled with hopelessness.  I replay all of it from the very beginning.  Your addiction movie etched into my brain.  Still trying to figure out the grip the demons have on your soul.  You have lost so much and yet you continue to let the drugs steal your life away and impact me to the core.  I will never understand how or why this happened to us.  I look at your smiling face and question every decision made.  I was the greatest enabler.  I loved you so much and wanted such a better life for you.  Always fixing you and saving you from yourself was taking it’s toll on me.  So here we go again.  The roller coaster ride.  I rode it up thinking I once again saved the day and now I’m stuck on the downward spiral not knowing how this will end.  God, I wish I was stronger.  I wish I was one of those moms that could just let go but every fiber of my being knew I would never give up on you.

I stayed on the couch that night.  I knew It would be a restless night and Ray had to work in the morning.  So as we’ve done so many nights before, the pups and I curl up and wait for a sign from you.  My phone is by my ear.  One eye opening constantly checking.  I look at all the texts I’ve sent to see if you read them  Nothing, nothing, nothing.  This is crazy I think.  I get up and grab a bottle of wine.  Hoping to calm my raw nerves.  The dogs follow sensing my stress.  Wine for me biscuits for them.  I sit in the dark and remember the conversations we’ve had about my wine and your drugs.  Hey Mom, you’re no better than me.  You drink.  Every night you have a glass of wine.  So really you’re just as bad.  Really Matt.  Let’s make a deal.  I won’t have my glass of wine if you don’t take your pills.  Well, we all know how that worked out don’t we.  I could feel the wine warming my soul and letting my beat up body and mind start to relax.  My muscles were finally unknotting and I could feel much needed sleep coming.  Please God, let him be ok was my last thought before sleep overcame my frantic mind.

The sun shining on my face and the sound of Ray in the shower wake me.  God, I was so sore but all I could think of was you.  Checking my phone again, nothing.  Ray greets me with a kiss.  His eyes showing his pity for me and what I live with because of your addiction.  He doesn’t even ask what I’m doing today he knows.  Coffee and a shower and I’m in my car again.  Repeat from last night. I Drive by every place I know you frequent and some places I just take a chance.  Still no luck.  Hours pass and I feel the dread creeping into my mind.  I keep reliving our fight.  Beating myself up for causing another rift between us.  I miss us.  I want a do over and go back before the demons came knowing what I do now.  Life the way it should be, not the way it is.  I give up and go home.  Grab the leashes and walk.  They are the only ones who listen without offering an opinion.  I can say the same things over and over and they just look at me with knowing eyes.  Constantly supporting as if to say It will be ok mom.  He will be back.

Night falls and still no sign or call.  Now I’m calling my friends in the ER.   Hey, by any chance have there been any accidents or admits for drug abuse.  I take a breath and call my friend the detective.  I tell him what’s happened.  He calms me and reassures me he will keep an eye out.   There is nothing more I can do.  I am defeated by your demons.  They won, just like the laughter I would hear in my head.  They have you and I don’t.   My phone breaks the silence and brings me back to reality.  I do not recognize the number.  Excuse me a voice I do not know says, are you Matt’s mom.  Oh God,  this is it.  The call.  My heart now beating so loud It’s the only sound I hear.  My hand is shaking.  I grab the counter.  Yes, yes, I am.  Please is he ok.  Oh God, please.  He’s with me.  He was in the parking lot of our NA meeting and he is high.  I drove him to Meadow Wood and I’m getting him admitted.  Can you come.  Oh dear God,  I’m shaking and sobbing grabbing my keys and run right into Ray as he’s walking in the door.  He grabs my keys.  Between sobs I tell him you are safe and I must go.  I’m driving.  You will get killed.  I sob all the way holding myself as the sobs of relief rack my body.  My brain screaming he is alive.  Thank you sweet Jesus.  We pull up and you are standing between two of the most beautiful men I have ever seen.  I run to you and wrap you in my arms.  All the grief and anger forgotten.  Matt, I’m so sorry.  Please forgive me.  You look at me as tears run down your face.  Sorry mom, you smile that cocky smile that I love so much.  It’s ok, Matt.  It will be ok.  You are taken back to be admitted.  I dissolve in Rays arms.  The sobs are now of relief.  Ray drives your truck and I drive mine.  No music just quiet prayer.  Thank you sweet Jesus for saving my precious child.  Please guide me in how to be an addicts mother.  I pull up behind Ray.   Your truck back in the driveway.  You in a safe place.   All is well in my world tonight.  I look at the stars and whisper a thank you……

 

 

A Calm Before the Storm

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Matt, I must say I was pleasantly surprised.  You really kept your promise.  No drama, no chaos at least none that reached me.  Life was good as Ray and I got into the rhythm of married life.  I was finally back at work busy every day saving those babies.  My life found a rhythm again, a calm that I hadn’t felt in a long time started to settle in my brain.  So this is normal I would think out loud as a smile would find my face  and a lightness found my step.  Everyone noticed.  I felt so blessed.  Finally I was able to just concentrate on my life without the constant stress and worry about you.  I would remind myself that you were a grown man living your life and this was how it should have been all along.

Being back at work and having the ability to pick up extra shifts allowed me to get the mortgage caught up on our house by the sea. I felt so accomplished and once again felt that I was in control of how life was supposed to be.  God, I just didn’t learn that lesson.  So foolishly I continued down the road of denial believing that your addiction had left the building and we were home free.  I no longer worried about our dirty little secret and started to act like we had returned from a very bad place but were safe now.

Weeks turned into months.  We spoke nearly everyday.  You and Lisa seemed to be finding your own rhythm as you spoke of a more permanent future together.  Even though I still felt she was not your match I kept my opinion to myself as my only concern was for you to be happy and stay clean.  Whoever you loved I loved thats just the way it was.

Ray  had to travel for work so I took those days off and planned a trip to see for myself just how things really were in your life.  I had to admit I missed you.  I wasn’t used to you not needing me like you did in the past and was feeling kinda left out of your life.  I kept reminding myself that this is how a normal relationship was between a mother and her adult son, but you and I never had normal so I was having a difficult time adjusting.  Driving down I tried to keep my spirits up.  Tried to keep that anxiety at bay.  After all, you said you were fine and you sounded fine, so why in the heck was my body starting to react like the old days.  The throat tightening, the worry about what I would find, all the normal feeling I had in the past came rushing to my brain.  Oh God, what if I’m wrong and he’s lying, what if, what if.  Stop, for God sake stop, shouted my brain.  WTH is wrong with you.  Do you always have to think the worst.  Maybe, just maybe he is telling the truth and you will have the happily ever after you have been praying for.  For God sake take a break.  So once again it was me, myself, and I all battling back and forth reliving every horrible moment of your addiction.  I just could not get my brain to shut up.  So here I am, once again talking to myself in my car on the way to the beach just like the old days.  Groundhog day, yup just like Groundhog day.  Really Matt, I think my whole being knew that this was just a break in the storm and my body and mind were getting ready for battle.

I arrive.  The house is quiet, the dogs are gone.  I use my key and let myself in.  I long ago lost the feeling of guilt about coming in unannounced.  I was paying most of the mortgage and felt like I had every right to just let myself in.  It was getting dark so I walked around turning on lights.  I figured the neighbors would see my car and know everything was ok.  It was obvious you didn’t spend much time home.  I could have written you a note in the dust.  Matt, you weren’t raised to be a slob but this was crazy.  At least the sink wasn’t full of dirty dishes.  I opened the fridge and was greeted by the greenest food I’d seen since my college days.  Ok, so this was proof that you were spending most of your time at Lisa’s.  So that’s a good thing right, my brain is thinking.  After I grab a trash bag and clean your fridge, the old mom police starts to resurface.  I Try to tell myself not to do this, but I knew my brain would not relax until I did.  So just like the old days I went snooping.  All the time telling myself I was doing it for your own good.  I lifted your mattress. Looked in all your favorite nooks and crannies.  I kept listening for the sound of your arrival.  Dam, I wish the dogs were here.  They would give me ample time to run to the couch and grab a book, smiling my innocent smile if you came home during my search.  I really didn’t know what I would do if I found  anything.  Probably have a break down but that still didn’t stop me from snooping.  Nothing, absolutely nothing.  Do I really believe that this horror story has come to an end or have you just gotten smarter.

So now I see a big pile of mail.  Stay away, don’t look my mind is spinning like a top.  He’s a grown man.  He’s handling it.  I can feel the guilt running off me like syrup as I grab the pile and scan the addresses.  Electric bill, water bill, credit card bills all thrown casually in a pile like they were junk mail.  Slowly I open one figuring you wouldn’t notice a torn envelope in this mess.  Now my heart starts to sink.  Overdue, not by a month but months.  That familiar feeling of suffocating has found me.  I leave the pile and walk outside. I need to feel the sea air.  I need to breathe.  Calm down, there has to be a reason.  I start to walk and before I know it I’m a Lisa’s door.  I hear music and laughter.  Too much music and laughter for someone who needs to be at work in the early morning.  The door is unlocked.  I walk in.  You look like hell.  Cigarette hanging from your hand, a joint hanging from her’s.  You see me and look like you’ve been shot.  She jumps up, WTF.  Yup exactly, WTF.  I feel like I’ve been kicked in the chest, I’m trying not to scream, to act like an adult.  I just can’t believe I bought your crap.  Here I am working extra shifts paying not only your mortgage but sending extra payments to get your cards paid off.  Working myself crazy to keep you from stressing over life.  Doing whatever I could to make your life as simple as possible.  I am the best enabler you could have ever asked for.  Someone please tattoo it on my forehead so whenever I look in the mirror I will see just how stupid this addicts mom really is.

I leave out the back door, the dogs wake with the racket of the slam.  They come running as if to say please get us out of here.  You follow, I can’t even look at you.  I am sick, so sick of your selfishness, so sick of being taken for granted.  I’m running as fast as I can with the dogs in tow.  You catch up, we are both breathless, I’m sobbing.  Matt, what are you doing.  You are with another addict.  Why are you doing this again.  How many times will it take before you get it.  Mom, I lost my job.  I felt my heart crack, just a little.  You what.  You heard me I lost my job.  You were so happy I didn’t want to burst your bubble.  I’ll figure it out.  I took a pill and came to work.  Charlie let me go.  Oh God Matt.  One pill or many pills.  You’re a mechanic for God sakes.  You can’t work on cars when you’re stoned.  WTH is wrong with you.  What were you thinking.  Now everything is screwed.  I can’t keep paying your bills and your mortgage. How can I explain this to Ray.   Oh God, I should have know this was too good to be true.  Addiction never leaves the building just hides in the shadows waiting and watching until it latches on again sinking it’s hooks into your soul.  Matt, I can’t do this now.  I’m sick of this life, this lie we live.  All I ever wanted was normal.  I leave you in the dark.  The dogs follow me and we don’t look back.  My heart once so happy now starting to break.  I know the path this will lead to.  I’ve walked it too many times.  The demons will not let go.  Our dirty little secret will surface.  This lie will continue to haunt us, to shatter us into a million pieces.  I curl up in the dark, the dogs lie at my feet.  I stay like this for hours.  I keep telling myself that you have a disease, that you are sick, that I can get you through it again, that I can fix it just once more.  I try to tell myself it will be ok.  But all I want to do is scream………

 

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