Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Tag: secrets and lies (page 1 of 3)

Anger Transforms Into Advocacy

 

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Matt,  there are days when all I can do is sit and think about your addiction.   Days I devour every article I can find trying to understand what went so horribly wrong.  I disassemble your entire journey in my mind trying to find that missing piece.   The piece that somehow got overlooked during your struggle with addiction.   Since your death, I find myself immersed in your world.   I feel like a detective always searching for answers to questions that dance through my brain.   Educating myself like I’m about to take the exam of a lifetime and if I fail I will disappear.   Trying to understand the power of cravings and how your prescribed pills changed the chemistry of your brain.   Changing you into someone I only recognized from the outside.  Your looks didn’t change.   You were still handsome with those eyes that melted my heart.  Your changes were  in the depths of your soul.

I remember calling your addiction our dirty little secret.   I wanted to keep it safe and sound protecting both of us from the ugliness and stigma that surrounded your misunderstood disease.   I remember those brief periods of time when we were given a glimpse of normal.   Those too short periods when treatment brought you back from the abyss that had become your life.   I think back on the struggle to find that perfect place.  The one that would keep you safe and provide me with a much needed brake from the endless worry that danced through my mind.  Watching your struggle taught me that helping an addict is like matching fingerprints.   You must continue until that perfect match is found.

We were never able to continue.   Never able to find your perfect match.   Too many roadblocks set you up for failure.   People were trusted and money was wasted.   I’ve heard addiction referred to as chasing the scream.   My version was chasing the dream.   The dream that we would bust through the roadblocks and you would be a survivor.   The dream that life would return to normal and your addiction would ride off into the sunset.

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That dream now lay shattered at my feet.   I am the lone survivor of your addiction.   I wanted to deal with my grief and let your addiction become a part of my past.   I wanted to disappear and lick my wounds.   Guarding my heart like a mama bear.   No more pain for me.  I wanted quiet times and precious memories to fill my broken heart.   I thought I could bury the pain with you and move on.   What I never understood before your death slapped me in the face and shook me to my core was that once you have witnessed the struggle and have lost your child to this mistreated disease it becomes a part of who you are.   The pain and loss course through your being.   Once you live the stigma and witness the hate, addiction becomes inescapable.   I was not the addict, but I’ve learned how society hates those who suffer.   I’ve learned that stigma lives long after the addict dies.

I never planned on becoming an advocate.   I craved some type of normal.   For seven years my life was a rollercoaster ride.   During that time all I wanted was to get off and find stable ground.   Now, that ride has ended and it’s the only place I crave to be.  I have nothing from the only world I knew.   No Matt, no career, just endless time to think about what should have been.

I’ll never forget the day my life found a new path.   I read an article about a first responder.   This man felt using Narcan was a waste of time.   He felt addicts should just die.   I remember my body starting to shake.  My heart beating like a war drum.   Anger burning in the depths of my soul.   You were one of those people he wanted dead!   I was out of control.   He never knew you.   He had no idea that you were the victim of a pill mill practice.   That by following doctors orders you became addicted.   He had no clue how hard you fought for your life.   Yet, here he was someone in uniform wanting those suffering from addiction to just die.

With shaking hands I called his Fire Chief and then the Mayor of his town.  I felt a calmness envelope me like you were there wrapping your soul around mine.   A sense of peace that I hadn’t felt in such a long time.   Your spirit was with me on that cold winter day.   You guided my words and calmed my heart.   I told our story.    A beautiful man and his grieving mother.    The battle for treatment.   The struggle for compassion.   I felt that by sharing the reality of your struggle I could open the eyes of people who have no clue.   By sharing the grief of loving then losing you, I could strike back at the stigma that continued to fuel the hate toward your misunderstood disease.   My call was met with compassion and concern.   A man who understood your mothers grief.   The firefighter was relieved of his duties.   A victory for all those impacted by addiction.

On that bitter winter day an ember caught fire.    My soul experienced a rebirth.   A new passion burning for truth and justice.   Staring into the star filled sky, I could see your smiling face.  Your beautiful eyes.  The whisper of the icy wind saying your name.   Matt,  as long as I live you live.   Forever connected by the bond that even death can not break.   Forever in my heart…….Your grieving mom has put on a new hat..

 

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……….

Biting The Hand That Feeds You And So Much More….

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Matt.  I must say you did give us a short break after you got home.  Either that or you weren’t able to get your hands on any pills.  You did the all the things I asked.  Went to meetings, cleaned the house when I was working.  You passed all my spot checks.  No swaying walk or sloppy speech.  No stupid laugh or glassy eyes.  For a brief moment I let myself believe that maybe, just maybe you were on the right path.  Even Mike thought we might be heading in the right direction.    It was so nice to have a little touch of normal.   I still looked through your stuff when you weren’t around.  I still went through your text messages when you showered.  Old habits that become a way of life when your son is an addict.  The weather was breaking and I foolishly thought that the spring would be a new beginning for us.   That was until I came home early.

The NICU was slow that day and I was the first to get PTO.  I jumped at the chance.  Working only four hours when I was scheduled to work twelve.  What a gift.  It was Friday and the start of a week off.  I floated out the door and into the sunshine.  I was still under the illusion that you were on the road to recovery and that was definitely something to celebrate.  I stopped by the store to get your favorite Bubba Burgers and other junk you loved.  I envisioned all of us eating, talking, being normal.  I hadn’t felt such joy for so long, I  let it fill my battered mind.   Turning into our development, I see a car leaving.  A car and driver that I’d seen before but just couldn’t put my finger on where.  My senses now on alert.  My heart starting to speed up.  My breath coming from my tightening chest.  Palms sweaty.  WTH was going on.  My gut reaction, my fight or flight in full force.  I pull into the garage and forget about the groceries that minutes ago gave me such happiness picking out.   Something is not right…

I walk in quietly.  The dogs run to greet me.  No barking, tails down.  They lead me to you.  Slumped over on the couch.  Coffee spilled on the floor.  A bottle of opened pills scattered on your lap.  Shit…..Now I know.   Your buddy from the beach making a drop off.  I grab you and start slapping.  You open your glassy eyes.  Hey Mama.  I want to scream, to kill you with my bare hands.   Matt, Matt get up.  I grab the bottle and gather the fallen pills.  I pray the dogs have not eaten any of your poison.  I drag you by your shirt and throw you fully clothed into the cold shower.  Your cussing screams let me know that the cold water is hitting you like my fists want to.   I run upstairs clutching your pills.  Breathless and wet I hide them.  Your favorite demons, Percocet and Xanax have entered my fantasy world  once again blowing it to pieces.  I’m so angry I’m shaking.  Heart pounding.  I want to grab you and scream in your face.  I want to punch you until I can punch no more.  Instead I put on my “I don’t know what you’re talking about face” and head back downstairs.  You are out of the shower and pissed as hell.  WTF Mom.   What did you do that for.  Ok, my fox, you treat me like I’m dumb so I’m playing dumb.  Matt,  I just got so scared.  You were laying there just like the old days.  You know, the days I’d come home and find you stoned on the couch.  Coffee spilled on the floor.  You remember, right, I say through my smile.  I’m so sorry.  Guess I over reacted.   Mom, I just fell asleep, that’s all.

I remember the groceries and walk out to my car still trying to calm my pounding heart.  I return to find you bent over searching the floor.  “What ya looking for”, I ask.  Nothing, you answer.  “Hey, clean up that coffee stain while you’re down there”.  I go about my business trying not to think of the pills I’ve hidden.  I wonder how many you took and if you will start to withdraw.  I wonder how long this has been going on.  God, I wonder how I could have been so gullible.  I wonder lots of things but mostly I wonder if our lives will ever be normal.

Saturday morning is sunny and warm.  You are dark and nasty.  You are sneaking around looking.  Thinking I don’t know what you’re up to.  I continue to play dumb.  “Mom, did you find anything when you woke me up yesterday?”  “What would I find”, I ask.  Trying to contain my smile.  It’s almost sick, but I feel like I’m giving you a dose of your own medicine.  You lie to me, I lie to you.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Matt”.  I go through my day, cleaning, laundry and continuing to play our game.  You are getting restless.  Pacing, some sweating, a little itching all subtle signs I’m watching for.   Finally you get angry.  “Mom, you took my pills.  Stop your shit and give them back.  They are my pills. You have no right”.  “Matt, I love you.  I’ll be out in the garden”.

I open the shed and grab everything I need to play in the dirt.  Garden therapy I call it.  Pulling and planting.  I lose myself in the dirt and allow myself to relax.  I Pod playing thru my new ear buds taking me away from the chaos playing out in the house.   Ray breaks my peace.  “Hey, did you take Matt’s pills?”   “What if I did? ” I’m not saying one way or another.  “”Well, he’s in there raising hell.  He’s tearing his place up, cussing and threatening”.  Ok,  I’ll handle it.  I brush off the dirt and walk right into you as you are flying out onto the deck.   “Mom, I know you have them. Give them to me”.  “Matt, I love you and yes I have them”.  “No, I’m not giving them back”.  “You need help and I’m helping you”.  “I’m off all week.  If you go through withdraw I will help you.  But no pills”.  You turn ugly like a cobra ready to strike.  You punch the air and start cussing me out.  “I love you Matt”.  I put my ear buds back in place and walk back to the dirt.   Ray follows.  “You can’t do this.  He will go crazy”.  “Ray, I’ve done this before.  He won’t hurt me.  You need to leave.  This is between me and Matt”.  You look at me like I’ve got two heads.  “Are you out of your mind?  I’m not leaving you alone with him”.   “No really, I want you too.  I don’t want you to see the ugliness that will spew from him.  It’s not who he is”.  I start to cry as you bust through the door and start cussing to my face.  “Matt, I’m doing this because I love you”.  I walk inside to get away.  My phone rings,  “Mom, what is going on over there?”  “Matt called.  He’s accusing you of taking his pills”.  “Mike, I took his pills and I’m not giving them back”.  “Mom, is that Matt screaming at you?”  “Yes Mike,  It’s ok.  I’ve been through this before it’s nothing new.  I told Ray to leave, this is between me and Matt”.  I hang up and go back outside.  Every time you attack I tell you that I love you.  My tears are now mixing with the dirt.  My quiet place invaded by your demons.

Mike arrives.  I’m out in the garden.  “Mom, Matt called the police.  They are coming”.  ” What are you talking about?  He’s downstairs.  He settled down” .

Mom, he called the police.  Now I’m the one who’s pissed.  “Are you shitting me?  That b…..  Good, let them come.  Maybe we can get him real help”.   I walk into the house as the first police car pulls up.  Followed by two more.

Really.  Are you Fuc*** kidding me.  You appear with a cocky smile all over your face.  I want to smack the hell out of you.  I open the door and see my neighbors running and walking dogs all craning their necks to see.  I want to shout.  Mind your business.  This is not who I am.  I have done nothing wrong except try to save my son.  Jesus, I want to dig a hole and climb in never to return to this living hell my life has become.  So much for the neighborhood.  Yup, the property values just plummeted.  Sell now before this becomes a daily occurrence.

So here we are.  Mike, Ray and me standing in my driveway talking to two police officers while you are on the porch talking to another.  You have called in a domestic dispute.  These poor cops had no idea what they were walking into hence the backup.  “Hello officer,  I’m Marybeth, Matt’s mom.  He called you to come.  Exactly what was his complaint.  Pills, yes officer I took them.  I’m a nurse trying to save my addict’s life.  No, no one else knows where they are”.  I look at you, now pacing like a caged animal.  Domestic dispute  I’m thinking.  My mind is saying, “officers please close your eyes”.  I just need ten minutes with this conniving  little shit.  Then we can call it a domestic dispute.  Call it assault by a mother who is going out of her mind.  A mother who has spent years living with the chaos of her son’s addiction.  A mother that had suffered mentally and physically.  A mother who would give her life to save her son.

The officers begin to get the picture.  You are getting mouthy.  Your officer is trying to calm you down.  My brain is praying that you become aggressive and I can watch you be carted off to rehab.  Your officer is calling the Psyche Crisis Line.  My heart is souring.  Yes, yes, finally we will get help.  Thank you God.  Ha Ha, my little monster, you did this to yourself.  I’m so happy in my fantasy I don’t hear what is being said.   “What, are you crazy.. Sorry officer but I’m not giving his pills back”.  “Do you not see the shape he is in.  I have fought this battle for years.  I need your help.  You see what he is.  No way, sorry.  It ain’t happening.  We are detoxing today and hopefully you can take him to rehab”.  Now both Mike and Ray are telling me it’s not worth it.  “Mom, just give him his damn pills.  He called the cops on you”.  WTF.  Your yelling grabs everyone’s attention.  You are on the phone with the psyche crisis evaluator.  I hear your lies, “yes, I’m fine, just need my pain meds”.   “No, I’m not abusing them, no I’m not suicidal, I just need my pills”.  I bolt up to the porch.  “Give me that phone” I yell as I grab it out of your hand.  Hello, I try to remain calm but I’m quickly losing it.  “Yes, I’m his mother, he’s an addict and I took his pills to save his life”.  “He will kill himself if he doesn’t stop”.  “Please help me, he needs rehab, please”.  I am begging for our lives.  The officers are looking at me with such pity.  I have no pride as I continue to beg for help.  “What, seriously, you think he’s stable”.  Now I’m screaming.  “You asshole, do you have to hear the gun cock before you realize that someone is unstable?”  “Do you not hear the desperation in his voice, the speech, WTH, you are no professional, go to hell”.  Great, now I look like the crazy mom I’ve become, but tried to keep hidden from the world.

Excuse me,  The young officer approaches carefully.  Oh boy, probably thinking he’s got a loony lady to deal with.  I’m really sorry.  I understand what you are doing, but if you don’t give him back his pills I will have to arrest you.  Now both Ray and Mike are at my side.  “There is no way you are arresting my mom, what is wrong with you”.  Ray is getting pissed.  “Where are the pills, I’ll give them back, this is crazy”.  Nope.  I look up at you and see the hate pouring out of you toward me.  “Matt, I love you but I’m not giving you the pills”.  “Ok officer, I’ll go to jail.  It’s going to be a relief to be away from here.  It’s about to get real ugly and I’d rather miss the whole BS”.   “Actually officer,  jail would be like heaven right now.  Calm and quiet.  Can I grab a book?”  Ray and Mike are screaming at me but I’ve made up my mind.  “Just don’t cuff me, ok”.  The officer looks at me with such sadness.  The other officer is doing his best to calm Ray and Mike.  You remain on the porch killing me with your eyes.  I look away.  I can’t look at the man you have become.  My heart is breaking.  I walk toward the police car and feel a hand on my shoulder.  The young officer stops me.  “Please think this through, you are a nurse.  You will be charged with stealing narcotics, that’s a felony “.  “You will go before a judge today.  I can’t guarantee the outcome”.  “You will lose your nursing license and spend time in jail.  “Please, I see what you are doing, but Mike and Ray are right, you are too kind to suffer like this”.   Now Mike is on the porch.  Both my boys going head to head.  One defending his mother the other defending his demons.  My boys once so close are now close to killing each other.  Ray grabs my arm.  “I will not let you do this, get the f***ing pills or I will tear this house apart until I find them”.

I am shaking.  I’m sick inside.  I’m defeated by your demons.  I go inside as the officers stay with you and Mike.  Ray follows me inside.  “His addiction is going to kill you”, he says as I hand him the pills.  He leaves and I watch from the window as he walks up to you and hands you the bottle of poison.  The sobs catch in my throat.  I hold myself as I fall apart.  Barely able to breathe.  Two officers pull away.  The young one stays behind.  I hear him talking to you.  He is telling you how lucky you are to have a mom who loves you enough to risk everything to save you.  He tells you to get help.  He tells you how blessed you are to live in this beautiful home with a family that cares so much.  I hear his words and let the sobs rack my body.  Yes, my beautiful son.  I would go to jail to save you.  I would walk through hell and take on the devil if it meant getting you away from the demons that are killing our family.  I watch the last officer walk to his car.  He looks up at the window and tips his hat to me.

Ray and Mike find me upstairs. ” Mom, I can’t believe he called the police on you.  He is such a prick”.  I hear the words I’ve been dreading.  “He can’t stay here.  I’ve had enough.  This was the last straw.  After everything you’ve done for him.  All the years of  taking care of his problems and this is what he does”.  Oh God Matt.  I know you are very sick.  You have really done it this time.  I hear you come in.  You immediately go downstairs to your hideaway.  I can only imagine what you are doing.  I’m so beat down.  I just sit and cry.  Mike hugs me before he leaves.  I tell him you are sick.  I tell him not to judge or hate you.  This family has to stick together.  He looks back with tears in his eyes.  “Yeah Mom”.  Ray sits next to me.  I have no words.  I am numb.  I hear the words again.   “Figure out what you need to do, but he can’t stay here, not after this”.

Matt, I sit alone in my room.  I thought this was finally a way to get you help.  I was happy you called the police.  Overjoyed.  I was ready for them to take you away to a safe place.  Psyche Crisis.  What a joke.  Everything working against a mom trying to save her son.  I can’t even pray anymore.  Nobody listens.  I curl up on my bed.  The pups find me.  They jump up and curl their bodies next to mine.  I feel their breathing.  It calms me.  I think of the nightmare this day had become.  The peace of the garden long forgotten.  I close my eyes and will myself to disappear.  I want to be Alice or Dorothy.  Clicking my red slippers or falling down my rabbit hole.  Dear God, anyone but the mother of an addict………

 

 

 

A Meeting Of The Minds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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