Happy Birthday, Kamry!

 

nathan

So, today is my grand-daughter’s birthday.  I woke up so sad for my son.  Excited for my grand-daughter though.  Her mom brought her by my office and I got to play with her for a little bit.  Her big party was last Saturday and my son missed that as well.  I know 100% it is all his fault, as does he.  It doesn’t make it easier knowing where the blame lies though.

Reflecting on a few things, I realize we are really lucky that we have a good relationship with Kamry’s mom.  That doesn’t mean we haven’t had our challenges, but we always work it out.  One thing that my husband and I have talked about recently is how unbelievably nice Kamry’s other grandparents are.  They could be a lot of other ways towards our family and about Nathan.  Instead, they care.  “How is Nathan doing?”  They always ask.  They don’t judge us for having a son that is a drug addict.  They don’t hate Nathan for fathering a child with their daughter.  They could.  I’m not sure I would be as nice.  We really got lucky.

My heart hurts knowing my child’s heart hurts.  He talked about Kamry on Saturday when I visited him.  He spoke of her on Monday when he called me.  He sounded the saddest that he has been since he has been in jail.  I think he always believed he would be released before her birthday.  I did.  Now it looks like he will be there another month, possible two.  I can only hope that this feeling right here will be what it takes to help him get a stronghold on sobriety and staying clean.  And I really have to say, seeing him clean right now every week is kind of nice, regardless of the circumstances.  We talk about books, his plans and his daughter.  The last few months before he was arrested he was back to using and if I talked to him at all it wasn’t pleasant.

So, today I am a little sad. I give a little nod to the sadness and keep it where it belongs.  I am excited it is his baby girl’s birthday and that I get to help her celebrate.  I am hopeful that this will be Nathan’s big “aha” moment.

 

Happy Birthday, Kamry Anne.  You are so loved.

My Heroin Addict

I read comments about addiction and I keep my mouth closed. I see uninformed posts regarding narcan and I keep my mouth closed. I hear all drug dealers should be sentenced to death and I keep my mouth closed. I see horrible comments like “natural selection” and “let them weed each other out” and I keep my mouth closed. I’m not sure who people picture when they think of heroin addicts, so, I’d like to introduce you to mine.

My heroin addict weighed 7 lbs when he was born.

My heroin addict collected hockey cards and memorized all of the players’ names when he was 5 years old.

My heroin addict cried because his dad missed his 7th birthday.

My heroin addict held his baby sister for the first time and was in awe.

My heroin addict played 2nd base in the little league World Series. Twice.

My heroin addict broke up with a girl in middle school and was so concerned about her that he had me call her.

My heroin addict took his little sister to the father/daughter dance because her dad was out of town.

My heroin addict threatened to beat up a kid bigger than him for picking on his sister.

My heroin addict always noticed if I changed my hair.

My heroin addict was reading at a high school level in 2nd grade.

My heroin addict is loved by so many people.

So, maybe we should all remember, whatever state they’re in today, there is a mom somewhere, with knees bleeding from prayers, that just wants her baby back. Maybe instead of judging, we say a prayer. Maybe we become a bit more educated and help raise funds to help recovery facilities become more successful. Maybe we contact our lawmakers and request more useful laws concerning addiction.

Maybe we try to remember that every heroin addict is someone’s child.

My Visits

I go to visit my son in jail on Saturdays.  He’s been there 3 weeks I think.  Will be there at least another 2.  Possibly another 6.  This place is a dump.  Not all jails are.  I know this because when he was in jail last year it was at a pretty decent facility.  It kind of sucks that I know this.

Saturday I walk in with his friend, Tony, who wanted to visit my son with me.  I explain to Tony to get out his ID, leave other things in the car and I give the clerk my son’s name and our ID’s.  She sends up our group.  I have the timing down so I don’t have to wait in the small lobby with the other visitors.  It is really sad and uncomfortable.

We get on the elevator and the women we are with look nervous.  I can tell it’s their first visit because I used to look like that.  One of the women asks what are we supposed to do?  I explain the process to both of them and they look relieved.  Relieved that I answer.  Relieved that I seem normal.  Relieved that I’m not judging them for being there.  I understand that too.

The visit starts and my son shows up on the monitor.  He is so happy to see his friend.  Don’t get me wrong, he is glad I visit, but I always visit.  When someone else shows up he is ecstatic.  Last week the mother of his child and his daughter went with me.  He was so grateful.  (sorry, I can’t say baby mama, she is so much more than that)

When I say, my son, that’s what I mean.  He is clean now.  No more detox.  He is clear and he is the guy I know.  It is so refreshing to see him like this.  Each week he seems better.  How horrible is it that I don’t want him to leave right now?  Right now I know he is doing okay.  He is safe.  He is clean and bright eyed and oh speaking of eyes, he has awesome clear blue eyes and that is a fact that gets lost when he is using.  I saw them again on Saturday.

I can hear a woman talking to her inmate and she is crying hard and loud.  We continue to talk to my son about books and UFO’s (seriously) and just fun stuff.  We talk a little about the business end, what his attorney told him, how is his daughter, stuff like that, but mostly it was a light-hearted visit.  I didn’t leave with a heavy heart like I have in the past.  The woman at the end is a freaking mess.

We all get on the elevator again to leave and the woman is still crying.  I talk to her for a minute.  I’m not sure why her boyfriend is in jail and it’s none of my business.  I found out her name is Lindsey and I add her to my prayer list.

I get a little – something – not angry – I guess upset, that none of my family members visit or talk to my son.  Not his siblings, not his dad.  I realize they had to set boundaries themselves and I am trying not to let this get to me, but I know he is going to need support in order to succeed.  I hope they come around.

So, here I am.  The veteran visitor.  Helping others with the process.  Comforting others.  I never do anything half way.  I drink, I become an alcoholic.  I run, I end up running marathons.  I visit jail, I become the room mom.  Go figure.

 

Some Things You Might Not Know About Alcoholism

 

Genetic predisposition. That’s what they call it. Some of us have a genetic predisposition for addiction. Looking back, I’ve always been prone to addictions of one form or another. In high school it was weight loss. At one point I was losing a pound a day. It was euphoric to see the scale go down. I graduated weighing 96 pounds. And, of course, later in life, I became addicted to alcohol. There are things that happen during the throes of alcoholism that I’d like to try and explain.

  1. Drinking wasn’t fun. Not anymore. I wasn’t drinking for the fun little buzz that first got me drinking. I was drinking to feel comfortable in my own skin. It worked until it didn’t.
  2. If you loved us you would quit.” I wish. I was incapable of quitting by myself. It took a twelve step program, an online support group, friends, therapy and a psychiatrist to help me quit. I tried so hard to quit by myself.
  3. It’s hard. 5 % of people trying to get sober make it. So if you know someone in long term sobriety, they are the exception, not the rule.
  4. I couldn’t stand myself. You know how you say, “I’ll start that diet on Monday,”? Then you don’t and you feel kind of bad. I would tell myself every day that tomorrow I wouldn’t drink. So every day, I felt like a failure.
  5. Addiction thrives on isolation. If I didn’t show up when I said I would, if I missed an event, it wasn’t because I didn’t care. Sometimes I felt paralyzed and couldn’t leave my house.
  6. It’s not about willpower. Some people think that if you want to quit you can if you have enough willpower. I trained and ran a marathon. I get discipline. I had to get help and I had to change from the inside out in order to quit drinking.
  7. I don’t regret my alcoholism. I regret things I did and people I hurt, but I don’t regret the fact that I am an alcoholic. I am grateful that I got the chance to heal and take care of things in my life that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
  8. I will always be making amends. My life now is about trying to be the best person I can. I try every single day to make up for all of the hurt I caused.

There’s a lot of controversy about addiction. What do you call it? Substance use disorder? Addiction? A disease? I can honestly tell you that to me that’s quibbling over semantics. The way I see it, addiction is like a tornado. Hitting one, skipping the next. Causing destruction along the way. The good news is, we do recover. Just remember, it’s easier when we recover together.

Mother of an Addict

“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the pasture and go after the one that is lost,until he finds it? ”

I’ve heard this phrase my entire life.  Always thought I knew what it meant.  I have 4 kids.  Ages 20-30.  Funny, all adults but they are all still my kids.  They still need me in some capacity or another, sometimes to help with FAFSA paperwork, sometimes to babysit.  Sometimes to be an ear because work, school and relationships get tough.  Basically though, 3 of them are self sufficient and contributing members of society.

Then, there’s the one.  The one I have dropped everything to help.  The one I cry over and pray over and agonize over.  Addiction is a weird and cruel thing.  There is the argument that it is a disease.  There is the argument that it is addictive.  To me, it’s all semantics.  I know personally that the brain changes.  I know personally that it takes a lot of work to overcome addiction.  I know personally that we can recover.

I knew my son experimented with drugs.  Who hasn’t?  I wasn’t wild about it, but I hoped it was a phase and he would get through it.  His brother did, his friends did.  He did not.  He came to us at the age of 20 and told us he was scared and he needed help.  My world stopped.  Heroin happened to the bad kids.  To the bad families.  That was what I always thought.  I didn’t realize heroin happened and then you became the bad family.  Suddenly that was the only thing I focused on.  Helping that one son get clean.  And he did.  He would be clean for months.  Then he would use.  Not show up for family functions.  We knew when he was using because he didn’t show up.  I had to explain to my daughters to not expect him but be glad if he was there.  They would still get disappointed.  He missed big things.  Graduation parties, monumental birthdays. Then he would be back.  And clean.  And we would be hopeful.

He was having a baby and he went to rehab.  He wanted so badly to be a good dad.  He came home.  Stayed clean for maybe her first month. He wasn’t ready for life.  He didn’t know how to deal with feelings or life if he wasn’t messed up.  He spiraled out of control.  Lost 2 good jobs, got kicked out of both homes (his father’s and mine) and was homeless.  Living in his car I would meet him a couple of times a week for lunch.  I’d take him to buy food that he could keep in his car.  He was stealing to survive and he was stealing to use.  I took him to a drug treatment facility 2 times, they kept him for a few hours and let him go.  He had no insurance and no job and no way to pay.  He got arrested and that probably saved his life.  Then he went to mandatory state paid rehab.  For 3 weeks.  He came home, attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings and out-patient rehab.  He was doing great.  He was seeing his daughter and was actually happy.  Then he started working at nights which took him away from his meetings.  Then he started using again.

So, right now, he sits in jail.  I visit.  I talk to him on the phone.  I tell him I love him and I know he can get this all behind him.  and I pray.

I get the phrase, leave the 99 to find the 1.  My heart hurts so bad for the 1.  I just want him safe and I want him home. I want him to have peace and I want him whole.  I get it.  I wish I didn’t.

I don’t feel like writing today

I really don’t.  My son was arrested.  Old charges, but still.  I really believe jail is saving him from himself, but still.  I prayed for this, but still.  I don’t really want to carry this burden today.

You feel like people are thinking, “if she’d been a better mother,”  “if she would have gone to church more,”  “if she wasn’t an alcoholic,”.  And, maybe they are.  And, maybe they are right.   I don’t know.  What I know is, he was a cool kid.  He loved baseball and his baseball team more than life.  He knew every player in the NHL when he was 5 years old.  He loved giving hugs.  He had the sweetest voice.  He is really smart.  And he is weird in that “believing in aliens and ghosts” fun kind of weird.

He was my big elephant in the room yesterday at our family Easter gathering.  Not that others weren’t missing.  But they weren’t in jail.  For heroin.  I put every effort into being present for my family that was present.  My heart was with the one that needed me though.

If a mother’s prayers get answered, this kid (who is now a 28 year old man) is going to come out of this bigger and better and stronger than ever.  If a mother’s prayers get answered,  his struggles with addiction will help him carry an important message to other addicts.  If a mother’s prayers get answered, he will find a path he can stay on.  If a mother’s prayers get answered, he will get to enjoy his daughter growing up the way we enjoyed him.  If a mother’s prayers get answered I won’t be burying my son.

Sinking Deeper

Have you ever been caught in the ocean too far away on the other side of the rip tide?  I was once.  It was kind of scary.  The tide just kept pushing me further and further away from the shore.  I’m a really strong swimmer, but the ocean is mighty and I was no competition.  I tried not to panic and use everything I had been taught.  I could see the shore and people and people could see me, but they didn’t know I was being kept away.   I eventually figured out I needed to get under the water to get back to shore. I had to stop fighting.  It worked.  I let the water carry me to shore.   This was my depression.

I was going through my days and  trying to act normal and not panic, all the while I was sinking deeper into the depression.  Everyone was around me. I knew they loved me and wanted to help, but I just couldn’t get the footing to get to them.  God knows I wanted to.  The depression was mighty and stronger than me.

So, I drank.  I drank to try to feel normal.  I drank to try not to feel.  I drank to breathe.  The six months after we moved were so brutal to me.  The worst part is, I believed the voices in my head.  Telling me I was a loser mom, a terrible wife and a horrible sister and daughter.  The voices that convinced me that my best life was behind me and that I had nothing to live for anymore.  I believed the lies and I believed the fear.  Fear is a liar.  I know that now.  But in those days, I fell for the lies hook, line and sinker.

I had to go under in order to get out of the depression.  That’s how I got back to shore.  I feel like I really drowned during those months.  I had to stop fighting and acknowledge the fact that I was drowning.  Once I stopped fighting, I was able to get pulled back to shore.

I never intend to get caught behind a rip tide again.  I will take precautions and pay attention to what is going on around me.  And if I get caught, I will yell for help and I will not fight.  thumbnail (1)