Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Tag: rollercoaster of addiction (page 1 of 2)

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.

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“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.

Heading To the Sea Searching For Me…..

hell

Matt.   I watch as what’s left of my pen hits the dirt.   It bounces once and disappears.   God how I wish I could just throw your demons away like that dismantled pen.   Just pitch them out the window of our lives and get back to being you and me.   I still can’t believe how ugly we have become.   I don’t recognize these people.  That son cussing at his mother.   The ugly words flowing from your mouth like venom.   The mother cussing and throwing your stuff to the dirt.  Acting like someone who has lost total control of her emotions.  The mother who has suffered from an addiction that is not hers.  The mother trying so desperately to remember that this ugliness is not her son, but the demons who now possess his brain.

I am broken beyond belief.   I think back to that beautiful day when we had a glimpse of how life used to be.   You and me having lunch.  To outsiders we looked normal.   A mother and her grown son enjoying each others company.    Conversation, smiles and hugs.   The mending of hearts.   The beauty of a love that can only be shared by a mother and her son.   Our dirty little secret kept hidden from the eyes of strangers.   No one would ever guess that I just picked you up from a mental hospital.   No one would believe that this mother and her son have fought for his life.   No one could ever tell that you are that man they keep their kids away from.   This handsome man is an addict.  This man uses pills to get high.   This man becomes ugly when his demons take over.   This man lies, steals and breaks the hearts of all those who love him.   No one would ever guess that I’m the mom who fights to keep him alive.   The mom who beat his dealer on her front lawn.   The mom who steals and hides his  poison.   The mom who spends hours begging for safe places to take her addict son.    No one would believe the reality of our lives.   No one would believe you are the addict and I’m the mother who would go to hell and back to save you.

I pull up in the driveway.   Ray is waiting.  “What took you so long?”  “You were supposed to drop him off and just leave”.   “Did something happen?”   Oh Matt, I just don’t have it in me to tell the true story.   I can’t even begin to tell Ray about the ugliness between you and me.   Once again I put on my mask and pretend.  For now I will keep the ugliness between us.  So I make up a fib.  “I got lost, took a wrong turn, you know me and directions”.   I laugh and then start to sob.   Ray grabs my arms.  “He will be ok.  You did the right thing”.    I don’t even know what the right thing is anymore.   I don’t even know who I am anymore.   I feel so physically and emotionally abused.   Your addiction has wrapped itself around my life.   Smothering my soul with lies and chaos.   Who have we become.   A mother and her son, once the best of friends now turned inside out.   I stand in the shower and allow the sobs to return.   The water washing the ugliness from my body.   My mind reliving our journey disbelieving the reality of who we have become.

Another sleepless night comes and goes.   I’m in such a state of anxiety.  Can’t get out of this funk that enveloped me like a straight jacket.   The all too familiar choking sensation, chest tightening and now unable to get deep breath, I pace like a caged animal.   I have to get away from this house.  The ugly memories of the people your addiction transforms us into being follows me from room to room.   I call Ray.   He knows before the words leave my lips.   “Be safe, I hope you find what you’re looking for”.

I feel my body begin to relax as soon as the sea air enters my windows.  Like a salve on my burning body, my soul starting to feel a lightness that I’ve long forgotten.   The cry of the gulls welcome me back to my peaceful place.  I drive to our spot.  I slip past the dunes to our rock and sit.   The beach is empty.   Just me and memories.   I close my eyes and see my towhead boys jumping into the crashing surf.  “Mommy, mommy don’t let go”.   I hold your hand, you scream in delight as the waves crash around your feet.   Everyday it was you, me and Mike running in the surf.   Laughing and chasing each other into the waves.   You always stayed so close.   “Mommy, mommy stay with me, don’t leave me”.   It never mattered how many friends were with you, it was me you clung to.

Our closeness continued into your adulthood.   I remember how handsome you were in a tux.   “Mom,  what do you think?”   “Do I look ok?”   “Mom,  I met a girl”.   “Mom, I think I’m in love”.   “Mom,  this is Nat.”   Memories  of a life so loved.   Our lives always intertwined,  so full of hope for your future.   Memories of you and Nat moving into the beach house.   I remember how proud you were to be making a home for yourself.   Even as you were becoming independent it was always “Mom, what do you think?”

Looking back brings such pain to my heart.   We were that perfect parent-child.   That perfect unbreakable family that is now so broken.   I walk through the surf as the memories bring tears of regret.   Tears of a mother missing  her son and herself.   I know this mother, this woman is not who I am.   I am the fixer, the one in control.  The one who loves her son, but hates what is happening to their lives.   Your addiction has caused me to lose my control.  To lose myself.   It’s turned me into a person I no longer recognize.   Your addiction has made me into this ugly,  angry, hopeless, mother.   The rollercoaster ride of our life has taken its toll on me.   I feel like your addiction has beaten every fiber of my being into the ground. Every time I have any hope of returning to who we used to be it’s shattered over and over again.   I might as well be the addict.   I’m addicted to your addiction.   I’m suffering like someone going through detox.   My body hurts.  My heart hurts and my mind is being destroyed by the constant agony of what’s coming next.   I try to remember you are possessed by your demons.   The real Matt could never be the man you have become.  My Matt could never lie, steal and break my heart like you have on a daily basis.

I walk by the sea breathing the air.   I can finally get that deep breath.  The spray from the surf makes me feel alive.   The vastness of the ocean restores my faith in God.   My hopelessness is washing out with the receding tide.  I feel the weight lifting off my heart.  In the distance a boy and his dog are running into the water.   I close my eyes and allow myself the fantasy that we are back.   You are that boy and I am the mom keeping you in my sight.   I close my eyes, mommy, mommy stay close.    Yes Matt,   I will stay close.   This time I will remember to save me so I can save you.

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……….

My Son Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest….

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Matt,   You really did it this time.  You had the balls to have your pill boy knock on my door.   What were you thinking, or not thinking I should say.   I still remember the shocked look spreading across his face as my punches kept coming.  I’ve never felt so out of control in my life.  Beating the person who brings you poison.  God, what a release.  It felt so good to punch and kick your demons.  Show him who’s boss, who’s in charge.   He’s the next best thing to punching the crap out of you.   That’s what I really want to do.  To duke it out with your demons.  An exorcism, like in the movies.  I want to wave a cross in your face.  Keep you tied up and safe.   I want you to stop destroying your life and dragging me down that black hole.   Dear God,  I can only hope no one saw my craziness.   Your addiction is turning me into someone I don’t recognize.   Never would I ever picture myself being the out of control mother that would be capable of physical violence.   Me, the nurse.  The care giver turned into a cussing, fist flying defender of you.   Oh Dear God what is happening to our lives.

Ok, so now how do we get past this?   How do we act like this never happened?  You are pissed.  Not talking.  Punishing me with your silence.   I tell you I did it to save you.  That one day we will look back on this and laugh.  One day when you are in recovery we will have a rip roaring belly laugh until tears flow and hugs are shared.  Forgiveness flowing from our hearts.  Me, forgiving you for the years of ugly chaos and you, forgiving me for pill destroying and running interference.   My dream of peace gets me through the next weeks of your healing.

You’re getting stronger and meaner every day.   You remind me of that caged tiger. Pacing from one end of his cage to the other.   Our home has become your cage, your prison.   I foolishly try to reason with you.  To get you to see my side.  I feel like I’m selling my soul to the devil.  I try to set boundaries.  To live here you must follow rules.   No pill deliveries.  No abusing.  You look at me with a piercing stare.  Your beautiful eyes, now cold.  Shark eyes, looking past my face into my soul.  I feel like I’ve been assaulted.   I look away.  A coldness settles in my soul.

I’m so worried about saving you that I forget about me.  I have a professional license.   All I need is for the cops to get wind of your activities and follow your supplier to my front door.   Those pills he tried to deliver where much stronger than those prescribed.   Your choice’s have once again threatened my sanity.  Now you’ve put my career in jeopardy.   The possibility of losing my nursing license is just too much to chance.   I tell you we must talk.  You sit and at least look at me.  I feel like I’m begging for my life.   “Matt,  if you stay there can be no more buying drugs”.   I hold my breath and wait.  You get up.   “No problem,  I’m going back to my friends”.   Just like that you pack.   I’m holding back my tears.  “Matt, please stop”.   I love you and want you to get well, please”.    I reach out for your arm.   You look back and tell me, “I’m not your little boy,  I’m not being told what to do by my mommy”.    Your words are like a slap.  I watch you walk out the door.   What’s left of my heart breaks again.   I close the door watching you pull away.   The pain of all these years hit.   I sit in the dark, alone with my memories.   My little boy.  My Matt. My tow headed shadow.   People would joke.   The doctor forgot to cut your cord they would say as you followed me every where.   What the hell happened to that boy.   Where did he go.  I listen and hear the laughter of your demons..

So now my sleepless nights return.  At least having you here allowed me to sleep.  Knowing you were under my roof and supposedly my control.   How stupid to think I controlled anything.   Now I lay in fear.   Fear of that phone call.  Fear of the police knocking on my door.   Fear gripping my heart as darkness settled.   My mind spinning with all the what if scenario’s dancing in my brain.  Why wasn’t there an off switch.   At least I could turn off for a few hours, but no, night after night your demons dance in my head.

You’ve been gone for two weeks.  It’s 2am I’m fighting the urge to just get up.  Stop the madness, knowing sleep will not come.   The headlights pierce the darkness of our bedroom.   My heart is in my throat.  Oh God,  my brain is getting ready.  This is it.  I leap out of bed jumping over Ray and run to the window.   You are in the driveway.  Stoned and screaming.  I fly downstairs and out the door.  You are waving a bottle.  I try to grab you.  Once again we are struggling for your survival.  I am on your back.  You have taken so many pills.   You tell me you want to die.  You can live like this no more.  Now, I’m screaming.  I don’t give a damn if the neighbors hear.  I’m sticking my fingers in your throat.  Puke Matt.  Just puke.  You are gagging as I see pills hitting the driveway.   More headlights.  Mike jumps out of his truck.   Oh God, how?   “Matts friend called, said Matt was threatening to end it tonight”.   Mike takes over restraining you.   His medical training  kicks in and his fingers replace mine.

I run into a startled Ray.  I’m screaming and violently shaking.  He doesn’t understand my craziness.  Seeing  you and Mike struggling in the driveway he runs outside.   So now at 2am your demons are making your family crazy.  We are battling for your life.  Mike and Ray finally calming you down while I’m calling for medical backup.  Calling all angels, my friend at Rockford.   I’m babbling.  “Help, help, help,”  She knows about your demons, she understands the distress call without any explanation.  “Get him here,  I’ll call ahead and meet you”.

I run back outside.  Neighbors lights are on and doors open.  I want to scream to leave us alone.  To scream into the darkness of night until I can scream no more.  We are struggling to get you into Mike’s truck.   You give up fighting and settle in.  I buckle you in and have a flashback of you sitting in your carseat and fighting being restrained and safe.  Have you always been this way?  Never wanting to be safe.  Fighting my attempts to restrain you.   I look into your eyes.  My tears falling onto your hands.  “Matt, we love you,  we will take care of this,  get you to safety”.   You look at me as a tear runs down your face.   “Mom, let go of him”,  I hear Mike’s voice as his engine roars to life.  “Let go, shut the door”.    “Mom,  I’ve got him, let go”.   You are no longer my babe sitting in a carseat.   You are a grown man  fighting for your life, fighting those who love you, fighting demons that have been unbeatable.   I stand in the driveway as Mike backs away.   Sobs wracking my body.  My two boys, now men.  I catch a last glimpse of your faces.   Matt, your eyes are closed.   Mike,  forever the big brother.   Determined to get you to safety.   Let go.   How does a mother let go?   Matt you are me and I am you.    I stand alone in the darkness.   Numb to the cold November night.   I look to the sky.   The night is clear, the sky full of stars.   Dear God, do you see what is happening?   Do you even care?   My son, on his way to a mental hospital.   Did you see him taking those pills?   Where are you?   I feel alone and abandoned.   I sit in the dark and google Rockford.   And so it begins.  Another ride on the roller coaster of addiction.   Chaos and craziness have become a way of life.   Hey Rockford,  do you have a bed for me?    This addict’s mom wants to be admitted.  Taken away.  No visitors.  No idea of what is happening in her world.   I want to be sedated.  I want Lala land.  I want to disappear into the sunset.  I want to be Alice.   I want my rabbit hole to be an endless ride through Wonderland.   I want to be The Mad Hatter.  To just be crazy or maybe The Queen of Hearts chopping off the head of whoever pisses me off.  I want to be anyone but   me,  the mother of an addict……..

A Matt With Nine Lives

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Matt.   So this tender love seemed to be working.  You would stop by to visit Kahlua.  You looked reasonably straight.  We were trying to work on getting back to you and me.  I couldn’t stay mad forever.  I was becoming cautiously optimistic that Ray and I did the right thing.  I was okay knowing you had a roof over your head and food that of course I’d send with you each visit.  You blew my mind during one visit when you thanked me for kicking you out.  I’ll never forget your smile as you said, “Mom,  I’m really glad you kicked me out”.  “It’s about time I figure out how to take care of myself”.  You gave me one of those bear hugs as you left.  I watched you walk to your car with a mixed feeling of joy and sadness.  This was never what I wanted.  I wanted you living at the beach.  I wanted you to be successful.  I wanted our life back.  I wanted you back and I wanted me back.

You shocked me when you came home one day and announced you found a job.  Working at the same auto parts store you did in high school.  You were so proud.   I was so sad.  I smiled and hugged you, all the time thinking how much your demons cost you.  Prior to the pills,  you owned a very successful business.  Living my dream life by the sea.  Now here you were working for minimum wage exactly where you started a million years ago.  I wondered if you actually passed the drug test or if you were able to sweet talk your way back in.   I guess I couldn’t be too picky.  Wanting you to be who you no longer were.  At least you had a place to be and responsibility.  I prayed this was a step in the right direction.  That if you started to feel useful and were surrounded by clean people maybe just maybe normal would find us again.

Matt, I remember the call like it was yesterday.  It was a beautiful summer day.  Ray and I were tag teaming the housework so we could head out to mountain bike.  Ray was happier knowing I was fine with you not living here as long as I controlled where you lived. We were finding a new rhythm, finally having the house to ourselves.  I never realized the enormous chaos you created until it was gone.   I was learning how to focus on something other than saving you.  A little piece of the way life could be.

Ray was vacuuming,  I was in the kitchen.  My cell rang.  Surprisingly, I heard it.  A number I didn’t recognize.  Any other time I would not have answered.  That little voice and a chill had me grabbing my phone.  “Hello”.  I hear a voice asking if I am MaryBeth.  Dear God, do I want to be?  Yes, I can feel my body starting to react.  My soul knew it was you.  “Yes, who is this?”   The next words brought me to my knees and had Ray at my side.  “Oh God,  is he alive,  please tell me the truth”.  You’re a nurse, so am I.  “Please stay with him, tell him I love him, please keep him alive for me”.  “Yes, Christiana, I work there, please tell them to get him to Christiana.”  I’m sobbing trying to talk to you as this nurse holds the phone to your ear.  She tells me you are still breathing but the accident was a head on and you are in very bad shape.  I stay on the phone until I hear the medics arrive.  She again reassures me you are still alive.  I hear the medics muffled words.  Calling ahead to alert the E.D a trauma is coming.  I don’t want to hang up.  I can’t lose our connection.  I want to keep telling you that I love you.  That I will be there.  Please don’t leave me.  Please fight, breathe, stay alive.

We fly to the E.D.  Ray has already called Mike.  Ray pulls up and slows down as I leap out.  I see the ambulance and know you were it’s patient.  A nurse/mother’s instinct.  I run in and am ignored by the unit clerk sitting in triage behind the plexiglass screen on her phone.  I am ready to punch the window to get her attention.  I look up and Terry, a nurse I worked with during my E.D days smiles.  Hey, what are you doing here.  My son is your trauma.  He was just brought in.  She asks for your name.  “Matt”.  Her smile disappears. She walks toward me and wraps an arm around me.  “You need to come with me”, she says.  Ray runs in the door and sees us.  Terry tells him to stay back and wait.  She continues to guide me toward those doors.  Oh God,  “Terry, I can’t do this.  I remember being the nurse and taking parents like you are taking me”.  ” I can’t do this”.  My body is racked with sobs.  I’m shaking so badly I can barely think or walk.   “Mare, you can do this, you must do this”.   She tightens her grip as we walk into the trauma room.  All eyes turn toward me.   “Hey, what are you doing here?”  I’m surrounded by a sea of familiar faces.  “That’s my Matt”.  I walk to the table.  You’re body is broken.  Purple bruising covers your chest.  The doc is scanning your abdomen.  I tell you I’m here and squeeze your hand.  You are alive.  I stifle a sob and try to calm my trembling body.  Terry remains by my side.  I don’t know why but my nurse mode turned on.  I’m looking at the scans asking about your liver and spleen pointing out things I don’t want to see.  I’m asking which Trauma Surgeon is coming.  I’m relieved when one of the best will be arriving shortly.  I’m asking about pain control and my mind is running down the trauma protocol when I hear this young nurse cop an attitude.  “Who does she think she is?”  I’m ready to scream, “I’ll tell you who I am smart ass, snot nosed, don’t know nothing little shit”.   Terry saves me from my tirade.  “Shut up, you have no idea who she is, she was our trauma coordinator,  She was here when you were being potty trained”.   We exchange a glance.  The trauma surgeon takes his place by my side.  He gives me a hug.  “Hey, we got this. You try to be the mom, we will do everything, you know we love you and he is one of our’s.  Go take a break.  I’ll see you soon”.

Terry walks me to that room.  The one we always deliver bad news in.  I tell her I can’t wait there.  Too many memories of families I’ve stayed with.  The mother’s and father’s I held as the news of loss was delivered.  I’m shaking again.  Ray opens the door.  He’s been waiting for me.  I collapse in his arms.  I tell him you are alive and to pray.  The door swings open.  Mike walks in with Heather.  His face says it all.  I tell him you are alive.  He needs to see you.  I call Terry.  Yes, Mike go.  Terry meets him and takes him to see your battered body.   I’m pacing as Mike returns with an officer.  He sits and tells me he was at the scene.  Witnesses say you crossed the center line.  He apologizes as he hands me your ticket.   He tells me how sorry he is.   They have drawn a drug screen.  The results are pending.  He leaves us in silence.  Each one of us lost in our thoughts.  I’m giving thanks that you are alive.  I’m praying you will recover.  The sadness surrounding your family  binds us.  Your addiction is killing us.

What started out as a day of happiness has turned into one of fear.  Once again not knowing where we were headed.  The normal I was starting to feel shattered.  The chaos of your demons never letting up.  I thought I had regained some control of my life.  How foolish to think after all we survived that normal would ever find us again.   Mike goes for coffee.  He needs to cry for his broken brother.  His only sibling.  Matt, your tough as nails brother is sobbing.  I wonder how much more we will survive.  How many more insults your body can take.  I wonder how to fix this.  The door opens again.  Our surgeon.  My heart stops.  He sits.  Your spleen is torn, several vertebra are fractured.  They are keeping you heavily sedated.  Watching closely for changes that will buy you a trip to the O.R.  He hands me a small bag, his eyes full of pity.  Matt our dirty little secret is out.  “He’s an addict”.  Those ugly words flying around the room.  Your demons laughing.  My heart breaking.  They will pump you full of drugs.  They have no choice.   I hear the roller coaster pulling up.  I see myself getting on.  The bar locking firmly in place.  I have no control.  I sob as if the world is ending.  My fantasy over.  The ride will start again………

 

 

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