Monday, December 28, 2009

Can't Give What You Ain't Got

The holiday has come and gone and another is rising on the horizon. New Years Eve is I am sure another stressful time for addicts in recovery. New Years Eve has always been a celebration at our home. Not the drinking get smashed drunk type, although there are a few bottles of wine and champagne emptied, but there are usually a large number of people to spread around the spirits. New Years Eve is an evening to feast on steak, shrimp and other culinary specialties anyone chooses to bring. In addition that day is also my birthday. I joke that from what I have heard there were no parties on New Years Eve until 1955, from then on it has been a day of celebration, could the two things be related? ;-) Mom says something about my ego being bigger than the Times Square Ball but I have always been comfortable in my belief parties actually began in 1955, so that is that.

It was an anxiety ridden Christmas for Dad and Mom. Not knowing what to expect. There were assurances from Alex he was doing OK but any parent of an addict knows how much weight those words hold. I thought we did well in holding our expectations to ourselves. But I guess only one person can answer that truthfully.

We have to keep tempering our expectations to reality. My continued observations along with anecdotal evidence I hear from others lend credence to my conclusions about developing maturity levels as associated to addiction. Over this holiday there was much interaction with Alex and his relatives of the same generation. In our extended family there was a baby boom that provided many siblings and cousins around the same chronological age. That makes for some interesting observations from clothing, conversations, attitudes and general social behavior. My conclusions are; I believe when a person becomes addicted their maturity level remains fairly static at the point of addiction until their addiction is being controlled and a recovery process allows maturing to resume. That has serious ramifications to those of us with an addict in our household and our setting of expectations of behavior as it relates to a chronological age versus a maturity level. The data I am not privy to in my conclusions are are the experiences Alex had outside of my purview, such as jail, dealing and buying drugs, and homelessness. How does all of that shape his character and behavior. For Alex I wonder, is there an imbalance in his expectation of life versus his appreciation of life? To me that is another of those balances that we need to work to be centered most of the time just like "give and take" to have a happy life.

So with all of this I must remind myself to live in the world of "what is vs. what ought to be." That means I must not fault Alex for not giving something he does not have to give. Dad must also not fall into the trap of lectures when I see teachable moments. Experiential learning is best for a 21 year man, not lectures from dad.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Countdown, Christmas T-1 Days and Counting

Just a quick note to say Merry Christmas to all.

All of those parents hurting because their sons or daughters are MIA. It is OK to be sad, but do not forget to look to all the others that love you and feel blessed by that love. There is hope for a parent or loved one of an addict. You just have to believe.

Exactly one year ago at this time Dad and Mom figured we had already shared our last Christmas with our son. At this time in the morning he was locked up and hope was nothing more than a flickering candle in the wind of a Kansas tornado. We had no idea where to turn. It has been rough year but you people with your encouragement, comfort and advice got us here. Alex got himself where he is today. He is clean and in our lives again. Ours thanks go out to you and especially to Alex.

I'll say it before Barbara sends me to her rock and roll website. Credit to Fleetwood Mac, don't stop believing in tomorrow........don't stop, it'll soon be here......

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Countdown, Christmas T-5 Days and Counting

The shopping is done. Today is designated as wrapping day. Too many big boxes for that baby so maybe there will be some just put into Christmas bags.

I have been really intense on allowing Alex to find his own way. Listening and following is not one of my strong traits. On Friday it was father-in-laws 81st birthday and we all gathered at a local restaurant for dinner and returned home for pie and ice cream. He likes pie more than cake. The daughters left early to finish their shopping. I took Alex to a friends house to hang out. On the way over there Alex began to talk. I'm not going to get into any details but from Dad's perspective it was probably the best father/son discussion we have ever had. I learned by listening and adding my perspective when it was right. 

I'm not saying we have turned the corner because I know it is a long way back and he told me how hard it is but he also said that world is in the past. When he speaks of the past that has a real meaning in our family. I always, for a long as I remember spoke of life as a walk down a sidewalk. As you look back over your shoulder there is nothing we can do but learn from the past. The concrete on the sidewalk past is hardened, and no matter whether it is pretty or ugly nothing can be done to improve or change it. The concrete around our feet is hardening as we walk. It we stop our progress we will become frozen and stuck, the concrete continues to harden no matter what is happening, we must keep moving forward. The concrete in front of us is just being poured. We can shape it, mold it, make hills, make curves, be creative, put in designs, even put our name on it (who hasn't scratched their initials in wet concrete)  but that is all about what is in front of us. Alex spoke well of the difference of the past and future. 

He has heard my lectures in the past, I really thought I was being tuned out.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Countdown, Christmas T-9 Days and Counting

A substantial change is in place from Christmas preparations of the last few years. One year ago he was in jail and slated to be there for a while and then unannounced at 5pm on Christmas Eve the sheriff dropped him in our driveway with a house arrest monitor. We followed our normal plans to be at my cousins for our family Christmas celebration. He hooked up his monitor and called them to tell them there was something wrong with it and they said OK bring it back in on the day after Christmas. Needless to say as soon as we left, he left. We spent Christmas morning with him passed out and barely coherent the rest of the day. I don't need to describe the graphic details to anyone familiar with this condition.

Today Alex is home, he is clean (our fingers and toes crossed) and he seems intent on his staying that way. Dad and Mom are still cautious, too many times of being hurt when hopes exceeded reality.

The season of joy and happiness is fulfilling its promise. Dad and Mom are getting better at learning the limit of our control is our own lives. That in itself is bringing more peace than we have felt for many years.

We have a busy winter season ahead. As if Christmas and New Years is not enough our second daughter is getting married in January and it is going to be a beach wedding south of Cancun in Mexico. We are all going along with numerous family and friends. When we return we have a big reception, upwards of 200 planned for the weekend we get back.

I need to brush up on my Spanish, uno cerveza, por favor, gracias. OK that's it. As far as I am concerned I know all I need to know, I am now bi-lingual .

I can't help but think of all our friends on here, and their children and loved ones fighting this disease. In no way do I consider us out of the jungle, more like a small clearing. We know so well that heartache of an empty chair at the table and a missing heart around the tree. Our thoughts are with each and everyone of you as this holiday arrives. Never ever lose hope, where there is life there is hope. I believe in each and every one of our children, there is a home, there is life and there is love.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weekends Are Welcome

For so long mom and I dreaded the weekend. It meant the phone ringing off the hook, mysterious people showing up and whisking our son away and phone calls on the caller ID specifying some local law enforcement agency. The rest of a weekend never came and we were glad to escape to the security of our work.

It is so easy to get back to normal routine. Not worrying about what the next minute was bringing is relaxing. We know that we are skating on thin ice with only a thread for a lifeline but we know our son is on thinner ice with a smaller thread doing the same. Co-dependency or not every parent of an addict knows how closely our moods and feelings are tied to our addicts actions and state of mind.

For the last couple weekends we have felt safe. It allows a freedom of thought that enables you to feel a measure of guarded physical freedom. The holiday season is nearing, it will be stressful but not nearly so much as the past few years. The growth in ourselves will allow us to be better parents. 

Friday, December 11, 2009


I did my presentation last night. I feel it went well but it is hard to tell and be objective if you are the one up speaking. I spoke on the 7 truths but I did not want it to sound like I was just reading. I didn't count but i think there were probably 40 or so people in attendance. There were some very new to addiction and the leaders/sponsors of the group had a son that was over 20 years clean and sober. Everyone participated in the talk.

I decided to do this talk in the form of a validation process. I presented a truth like, Parents Are Enablers, and then spoke of my learning about this truth from my experiences and ask people in the audience to share their experiences first hand of enabling. Participation was overwhelming and at times emotional with laughter and sadness. In this way they validated to me my belief that parents are enablers but also they validated to themselves and others in the audience that this truth is valid in dealing with addicts. This process of validation exceeded my expectations of the group. Maybe it was just my hopefulness but I think some people experienced one or two "ah-ha" moments, what more could I ask for of the group.

I hope I get other opportunities to share this again.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One Step Forward, One Step Back

Alex is living at home and it has been an eventful couple of weeks. The main event right now he appears to to be clean and working to stay that way. The alertness is back. A sharpness in his voice has returned and he is actively looking for a job and investigating what it will take to go back to college. I know it's a long road for him but the old cliche, every journey begins with one small step is so applicable in these circumstances I cannot help but repeat what we all know.

I recognize the difficulties in finding a job in his present circumstances but it is something he must do. It is healthy for him and critical in his recovery. I caution him not to become impatient but to just keep plodding along. In the '90's I was once out of work for 8 months so I know how discouraging it can be even for someone not suffering from addiction. Right or wrong in this society most of us tie our worth and self esteem to our job or profession. I believe, addict, non-addict or recovering addict, that is a universal trait. A principal difference is our coping mechanisms.

These are Alex's steps forward. He is definitely plodding along although in a bit of a trepid pace at the moment. Even Brooke had to learn to crawl before she could walk. I would expect an addict with many years of addiction also must re-learn many things that come naturally to the rest of us. We still find it really hard at times to figure out the balance in helping with his recovery versus enabling his addiction. I'm sure the answers to those questions will remain fuzzy for a long time. One other thing I am sure of is dad and mom will continue to make mistakes in this process, but we do try to learn.

All of you parents out there can probably recite the behaviors of your addict when they are using. After a while they become so clear. Alex has them too. The ironic thing is from what I have heard from other parents their addicts believe they are acting normal, even while using, Alex does too. I work on it but when I see those things I "go nuts". Yes that is a real diagnosis, my cousin's son who was an emergency room doctor in a hospital said many, many people are diagnosed in the ER with JPN disease. He is a real doctor and really, really smart, in fact he has diagnosed many in our own family with JPN. (Just Plain Nuts) Back to my real point.

Less than 48 hours after Alex's release he relapsed. We noticed the signs and found the evidence, like I said I went nuts but was able to calm down after a few moments or extreme anger and elevated voices. There is always an excuse. I have finally learned after all this time not to make decisions, take rash actions or issue ultimatums while angry. Hollering, cursing, and crying is OK, just keep it at that and remember my self imposed boundary, no decisions about addiction can be made during anger times. I know Alex hates it but I will only communicate decisions, actions or ultimatums in a calm discussion setting. He hates discussions.

We talked more calmly the next day. I said my piece and of course had a hard time listening but I am trying to get better. We all have things to work on with this disease that effects the whole family. His sister had a day with him and hopefully they cleared some air and I hear she took him to a meeting. So we are up to about 1.5 weeks of clean. Truthfully, from my perspective I have never seen him struggling this hard and this devoted to making it work. But only time will tell.

One step forward, one step back is actually measured as progress in our book. In the past everything was always measured as one step forward, five steps back. My business side talking, the trend is moving in the right direction.

ps.: My presentation is tomorrow. I'm just going to be myself, this isn't worth getting all nervous about. Everybody gets what they get.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Personal Invitation

A while back I contemplated how to take this "thing" that has invaded our family and learn from the experience and pass that learning on to others. I began to explore other avenues in our community, at the library, and with our local school district. Not long after that "The Partnership For A Drug Free America" contacted me and ask if I would write some articles for them to post on their website in the section called Intervene. They explained it was designed for parents and experts to pass along their experiences and knowledge for others to learn. That fit as a piece to one of my goals, but is was not local and face to face. However I have been amazed at the reaction I have received from that single posting.

An outcome of that posting is I have been ask to speak at a local support group called, Stand Up Parenting. This is a direct result of someone in that group reading my post and following up to see if I would speak to them. As a result I am achieving my goal of bringing this learning to my community and face to face with the personal interaction of parents.

I am issuing a personal invitation to all that read this blog near or far to come and watch Dad, stutter, stumble and fall in front of a group. We all need a little humility in our lives at some point. If you are able to join us the meeting is a week from tonight.

"An Addict In Our Son's Bedroom"
Thursday, Dec 10 6:30pm Room 213
The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection
13720 Roe Avenue, Leawood, Kansas 66224

Monday, November 30, 2009


As I read through blogs of other parents dealing with the same issues the differences of situation vary all over the board. There are parents of addicts raising their grandchildren as their own. There are parents in all stages of reconciliation with this disease and the pain. Parents are struggling with acceptance of the problem and even some refusing acceptance of the truths involved in addiction. I reflect on our own experiences and struggles of acceptance and reality and the rough path it was to reach this point. Today, with a harsh reality staring me down at every corner, this is not over yet. Is it ever over?

I think that is the hardest issue for us and maybe for many others wearing our shoes. Is this ever over? When is the rest and peace that we long for? Our reality is not the reality of dreams when we held that tiny baby born one month early. Our reality is to love an addict and continue to help him fight this disease. How hard it is learning lessons from past mistakes and trying not to to enable him, prolonging his treatment and recovery. Where do you go for those answers? Not so long ago our questions could always could be traced back to that horrible unanswerable word, WHY. Now I feel we are balancing on the next step of, WHAT. What's the next thing to do, what do we do to help, what about this, what about that.

One thing I am sure of in this whole process. I believe in my son. I believe he is capable of subduing this demon. I believe he can be in control of his life and destiny. I believe there are dreams within him that are not yet attained. I believe one day he will grow from these experiences.

A message I want to send to every addicted child out there with loving parents hanging by a thread at times. I believe in you, too. Take that first step in believing in your yourself. It's risky believing in an addict, but if you believe in yourself you may go places you haven't thought of going for a long time.

Friday, November 27, 2009

3760 Holes

After 48 hours I am still trying to digest my impressions. It is hard for me to leave the old world behind. Even though I hated it the old feelings try to rise to the surface. I think it is my self preservation instinct to protect us from being hurt again. Complete change is a necessity for me. I will not continue my old life whether he does or not.

Mom and I had decided we wanted his release to be a celebration. We went out to eat and visiting. I had not seen that Brooke for over a week and wanted to see her. Our daughter had said Alex was not welcome at her new home. I respect that but we called her to see if we could come by and we had Alex. They thought it over and called us back and said we could come over and bring Alex. That was the first time he had seen her house and she gave him the tour. Plus we all got to play with Brooke. She had grown so much since Alex had last saw her 6 months ago. He was playing the part of a proud Uncle. It was a nice visit.

We then went by my mom's. His incarceration had been hard on his granny. A few smiles and tears and time melted away.

We were as patient as we could be. 24 hours after his release, almost to the minute we had a talk. It was hard holding in all those things even that long but it was so good to talk and I tried to listen too. Mom and I discussed our boundaries with Alex. Tried to be clear and there was nothing directed towards him. Everything from us was about how we were to live our life going forward. We said we have not enjoyed our life for a long time and for the last 3 months we learned again what it was like to enjoy life. We released our stress of his safety and learned to live again. Our goal is not to go back to that life again, our life is too short.

He talked to us. We listened. Alex said he has learned to believe in himself. He said,"there is nothing in life mentally and physically tougher than prison, if I can do that time in there I can do whatever I really want to do and I never want go back to my old life either." He also credited me with saying something before he went that helped him through it all. He quoted back to me my talk to him about "trying vs doing" ( He said he is no longer a person that tries, he said from now on in his life he is a do'er. It's almost hard to hold back tears when I heard that. Maybe they do listen sometimes.

We both talked about how hard this was going to be for us all. All of us changing at once. We offered our help. We told him we no longer would guess at what he needs and enable his death. We said we would help when he ask, but he must ask for help now. He is no longer a child he is a man and he "man up" and fulfill the role. 

Went to the regular family Thanksgiving. Alex was welcomed with open arms and many hugs. Having such a supportive family is gold to us and I am sure for him too.

3760 holes is how many holes were in his perforated steel cell door once he was out of "the hole" due to being sick and quarantined. I don't know what you see in that useless fact but it tells me a lot about a small piece of his life for the last month.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Alex Is Home

It has been a long day that has included driving over 400 miles. It is good to sit on the couch for a while. 

Alex was happy to get out and he talked for about 100 miles. Life in El Dorado does not appear to be pleasant. Got home and got him out of his "issue" clothes. Plus while there in the intake and evaluation they are not allowed to shave or get haircuts. So the beard came off and he wanted a haircut. He spent some of his $100 get out of jail money on a haircut. 

I am trying not to be overly sensitive to whatever he says. I am trying to take it in and working on my listening instead of my talking skills. He appears to have a good attitude, whatever that means. I have never understood what people really mean with that comment but I use it because it seems to convey a certain type of message. I usually try to not judge on attitude, when it comes to attitude I try to boil things down to "observable behaviors." Those I understand. 

I have my fingers crossed or whatever. This time have had a ton of new learning since last summer. I am not allowing him to control me, my emotions or my judgement. (when I can help it, no absolutes in this job as parent of an addict)

My son is 21 years old. He is an adult and I have spent most of the time in the past treating him as my child. He is my son, he is not my child. He has experiences that I cannot relate too in my life. Dad can learn from son, I hope son still can learn from dad.  

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blog Awards

Thank you all for the blog awards. I have them all posted now but I haven't got everyone linked yet.

There were a lot of conditions on these awards but I am going to wimp out. If anyone wants them back just let me know. But when I began thinking about 10 things to list that people do not know, I better not do that. If I told 10 of my secrets I would no longer have any readers. TMI!!! That is the reason I cannot run for President of United States. LOL

We were all young and dumb once, right??? My skeletons shiver even I if just crack open the closet door.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tone In Your Voice

I just spoke with him on the phone and he told me about his release on Wednesday. I told him I would be there to pick him up.

I wish my son could hear himself. His voice and manner of speaking is so different when he is not using. There is a sharpness again in his tone. In high school he was very accomplished public speaker in forensics and debate. When he is using there is a slow painful tone when you listen to him. 

As a parent you can hear these differences. It matters to us. 

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Release Date Nov. 25

I called El Dorado State yesterday to find out what the procedures are for picking up someone that was was being released on Friday the 27th. I was told that Friday was a state holiday and he would be released on Nov. 25. The instructions were to come to the main entrance. Go to the first guard tower and tell them why you are there and they would tell you where to park and where to go. Be here by 8:45, the process starts at 9 and it may take up to a couple hours. 

This is knowledge I never expected in my life to possess. Some things I would have been happy going to my grave never knowing. 

Our Thanksgiving plans were to go to my Aunt and Uncles, traditional they have Thanksgiving. I am going to call them today and make sure it is OK to bring Alex. I know there will be no problem but I want to be respectful.

Mom left town today with her sister and brother-in-law for Branson, MO. The girls went with them and took Brooke. They are not coming back until Wednesday. So it's me alone going to El Dorado. I am anxious to see Alex and I have such hope that he has seen the light. Only time will tell.

Work is going very well so well in fact that I had to cancel all vacations until after the second weekend of Dec. I have never worked someplace where I felt so close to everyone. To be able to count on everyone regardless of our responsibilities it makes work someplace you want to go when you wake up each morning.  I hope they understand I really need Wednesday, day before a holiday off. Without me picking him up they would provide him a one way bus ticket to downtown KC and from there he is on his own. I really don't want that impression for him when he is released. My way of thinking if someone isn't there for him when he is released how will he be able to count on his family when times are hard.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I have been responding to some other's posts but have not been too active in following up with our stuff. So here goes.

We went hunting and the group killed 17 pheasants. That wasn't bad considering it was misting and rainy on Sunday so we didn't hunt. The CRP was very thick this year so it was hard finding downed birds. We lost several we shot and I always hate that, but I guess the coyotes need to eat too.

On Saturday evening we always have a huge dinner at my cousins place where we hunt. It usually is just a big meat fest. Bar-be-que, chili, ham and my brother fried a whole turkey. This year he fried a few of the pheasants that we had just killed and they were great. Truth is, I'm a guy, anything fried is pretty damn good. After all that dead stuff we just ate, my other cousin brought homemade apple pies, we also had pumpkin pies and brownies and anything else sweet you wanted. Notice there isn't any mention of that green type food and healthy type stuff, cause it just ain't there, and if it was there it would still be there.

A very funny incident happened while we were hunting and I hope I can describe it adequately so everyone can get this mental picture and have a chuckle too.

I was blocking at the point of an irrigation circle. There were others walking thought the CRP. The grass in CRP fields this year was at least 4' high and in places taller than that. We had a couple of german shorthairs, a lab and my golden retriever in the field too. My golden is nothing more than a house dog. She gets into the field once a year but her instincts take over and actually she does a very respectable job. As I said I was blocking and about 200 yards from the line of walkers. Watching them all of a sudden I could see Paul running as quickly as he could and around in circles. The people on each side were making a hasty retreat to the rear. Of course I couldn't see anything else due to the tall grass. And when you are trying to run in 4' tall grass with a shotgun in your arms and weighted down with shell vest and a dead bird in a game pouch that actually is comical enough. After they finished walking to the end of the field I got the story.

Lexi, my golden retriever had found a skunk. She had this skunk in her mouth shaking it and was trying to retrieve it back to Paul. As she was shaking this skunk and bringing it to Paul this skunk was spraying like a garden hose. Paul was running in circles away from Lexi to escape being hit by skunk spray. Lexi just kept following him and the skunk just kept spraying.

Lexi smelled horrible. I had to take her back to the barn to try to and get the smell off. First of all she actually had skunk spray that was all yellow and wet right on her face. I cut the fur off her face down to the skin. My cousin told me about a formula to remove skunk spray. 3 parts tomato juice, 1 part hydrogen peroxide, a very liberal amount of baking soda and a liberal amount of Dawn dish washing detergent. I will attest to this formula, it works. I washed her twice and she was once again clean enough to be around people. She actually smelled fine. I could not believe the results, it was amazing. Except for a few bald spots from me cutting away the fur she is none the worse for wear. I haven't gauged Paul's mental state.

Another funny incident, my youngest daughter is a hunter. She has her license and likes to walk a few fields. I try to have her close to either Paul or me. She is very inexperienced and most all of her shooting has been at clay pigeons. When she has been in a field she has not really had any good shots. We are walking through some CRP and coming to the end of the field so I told her to get ready because pheasants much prefer to run instead of fly and many times they will run to the end of the field before flying. Right after I told her to get ready a rooster literally come up right from under her feet. Thay make quite a racket getting out of the grass with their wings plus they are usually cackling loudly. It startled her so much she literally fell flat on her back. Paul and I shot the bird, she didn't even get to shoot.

Still trying to think of "what if's" for when I pick up Alex. That's just my nature, I also try to cover every possible circumstance before I begin anything. My trouble is I have to keep reminding myself that what is to happen is up to him. I need to be a listener instead of a talker. Help him with his plan instead of implementing my plan.

My posting on The Partnership For A Drug Free America has garnered a lot of comments and I have been trying to respond to them. In addition I am receiving 1 or 2 e-mails each day from parents that open their souls and are grasping for help. I try to get back to them in a timely fashion also. Most of the time I also refer them to some of the wisdom of you bloggers that read, post and comment to blogs. Another outcome of this posting is I have been contacted by a counselor that runs a program here in the KC area and ask to be a guest speaker at a meeting on Dec. 10. That's quite a jump, I hope I am up to it and they consider it worthwhile. The message I got from her is they want me to focus on my 7 truths writing. She is publicizing this meeting and my speaking so I really don't know how many to expect. They are a part of one of those mega churches that have thousands of members and she said she is putting it out for the entire church and others. New doors have opened so anyone that really knows me, I'm going in. LOL Hope I don't run back out screaming with a mob on my tail swinging implements of destruction at me. Alex will be home at that time. I am going to ask if he would like to join me. I'd love to have an opportunity to introduce him as my son. Despite everything and sometimes I don't show it well, I am still proud of him and proud to call him my son.

I have submitted my second article to The Partnership. They haven't posted it yet. It is on Boundaries.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quiet On The Home Front

It has been quiet on the home front. Alex will not be released until Nov.27 at the earliest. So there is not much activity. I am still struggling with what is to be when he is released. Dad and Mom's role, what he really wants and if we can help.

This weekend will be a stress relief weekend. All of you die hard animal lovers please stop reading now.

Pheasant season opens in KS this weekend and I am going west to kill some birds. This will be a weekend of killing and mayhem. This is my weekend where SOMETHING will die at my hands and be eaten. Plus there will be a great deal of family socializing at my cousins home north of Pratt, KS.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Partnership For A Drug Free America

A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from The Partnership asking if I would write to be published on their blog. After a lot of thinking I decided to go or it. I sure don't have the answers but if they want my words and thing they may help someone I'll try.

My first posting can be found at

It is pretty much a re-post of a posting on our blog about The Truths. So many of you wrote positive comments about that posting that I thought it may be a place to start. The columns I write for the The Partnership will be a personal account of our learning's through this parenting an addict. 

We will continue with our blog as a daily/weekly accounting of life with our son and the struggles of dealing with addiction. You cannot imagine the relief we get from those of you the support us with thoughts and comments. Thank you so much.

The Partnership home page is There is a lot of good info and resources on their site.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Communication From Alex

We received a letter from Alex yesterday. It was written on 10/30. He told us about his transfer to El Dorado. When he arrived there they gave him a physical and he hadn't been feeling well and he registered a temperature of over 100. So he said they want to take no chances on the flu so they have put him in isolation and he has to spend 24 hours a day in his cell and he has a cell by himself. Plus when they bring him food he has to put on a face mask. When he wrote he said he was feeling better but he was still in isolation.

He also said he was tired of this life and he is going to change when he is released. He was worried that everyone had given up on him and had moved on and would not accept him when he gets out. There was a lot of reflection in his letter. His final thought was that if he ever gets to have a life and have kids he said he has some real stories to tell about how and why to avoid this life he has lived.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

There is Hope. . .

The email we received from J. this weekend was surprising to say the least. It was wonderful to see that he was getting clean and doing the steps to stay that way. I think his blog will help me understand just what he and my son were going through.

This actually wasn't the first apology I had gotten from someone that had done drugs with my son. One day while having lunch at the grill across from my downtown office, a young man in painter's clothes came up to me. He asked if I knew who he was. I said yes, and called him by name. He said that he wanted to come over an apologize for getting Alex started down the wrong path of life. You see, he is the one that had first introduced our son to drugs. Back then, when I found out, I had forbid Alex to see or go over to his house (lot of good that did since he lived within walking distance to the high school). Alex had told me a couple of years ago that this fellow had gotten clean, gotten a good job painting and had found religion. He continued on telling me how he hoped Alex could get his life together, as well. He said he felt responsible for Alex's troubles. At the time I was relieved he's put it that way because the co-worker I was lunching with didn't know anything about Alex's troubles ( that is a story for another time). I smiled at him and said that I hoped Alex could get his life straightened out as well. He said he'd let me get back to my lunch, he had just wanted to apologize to me and Alex's dad for a long time. That day seemed like a good opportunity, since he saw me sitting there. I thanked him for coming over and wished him well.

When he left I sat there half thankful that he had gotten his life together and believe it or not half jealous that he - who had introduced the poison to my son-appeared to be doing so well. I wanted that for my son. 

I've been thinking after this latest apology, what courage these guys have had to come to me and dad. I hope they know how good it feels to us, not just to receive the apology but more getting the courage to approach us on their own. By doing this they have showed us there is hope for our son-- and your son or daughter as well.


Monday, November 2, 2009

A Letter In My E-Mail

On Sunday morning Mom and I were going to visit Alex at the El Dorado State Prison. His visiting hours were 8:30 in the morning. So we had to leave KC at 4am. After a 180 mile drive one way we found out he was not allowed visitor until his evaluation and assessment period was complete and that would be in 4-6 weeks. So turn around and return another 180 miles. I had read the visiting info online but it said nothing about that.

Before we left I checked my e-mail. Quite a coincidence but we received an e-mail at 2am and I checked it at 3:30. I printed the e-mail and took it with me to show Alex but that didn't work out.

I responded to the the sender with my own e-mail and I ask him if I could re-print his e-mail on this blog with his identity hidden. he graciously allowed his permission. I feel this is a powerful testimony that when they want to quit it can happen, just comes down to the "want to".

Mr. and Mrs. Grover-

My name is J. You guys don't know me, but I know you've seen me before, when I would drop Alex off at the end of the driveway on the street. I feel as if I owe you both a HUGE and heartfelt apology, because in a way, I helped your son feed his addiction while feeding my own at the same time. I am an addict. However, I have been clean since April, and in a way, your son inspired me to clean my act up. Whenever I would ditch school to pick him up in the afternoon to go get high, I saw what kind of lifestyle addiction leads to.

I first met Alex on Christmas Eve last year...I was with a mutual friend, and was just about to drop said mutual friend off, when he called and asked if we could pick him up. So we did, and that was the beginning of my, at the time, drug-friendship with Alex. Over the course of the next two or so months, I got to know him a bit more, and saw that if he could just clean up and straighten his life out, he could be successful. I sincerely hope Alex can overcome the evil demon of addiction, because it can be done, and that comes from first-hand experience. It is a difficult road, but it is worth it in the end. My parents felt the same way you guys did, and so I feel I can relate to you on so many fronts.

I discovered your blog just randomly poking around on facebook, and I'm not gonna lie I read the entire thing, and it was very eye-opening to see things from a parent's perspective. My constant prayers and support for you both, and Alex as well. I have faith that he can ultimately overcome this demon, and when he does, the relief you ALL will experience will be overwhelming.   

Wishing you the best, J

Someone Needs Support

Here is a 19 year old recoving oxy addict. He sounds like he is working his issue. Check it out, he is just beginning his blog.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The World of IS vs the World of OUGHT

It is very hard to live with a son incarcerated. I know all the sides of he is safer there than using on the street, he needs time clean to help get his head on straight, he did things wrong and he must pay. These are all things I have written before and they are actually things I have come to believe and trust. However, that doesn't stop the emotional turmoil that boils inside of you when you think about incarceration and what it means. You miss your son, you still worry about his safety and most of all you constantly think about if any of this is doing any good to help him with his disease.

I think as a parent, not just a perspective of a parent of an addict, we are always wrestling with the concept; the world of "what is" versus the world of "what ought to be". As it pertains to our own children we make it personal. No matter if your child is an angel or an addict we parents want the best for our kids. We want them to never learn a lesson the hard way. We want them to listen to the wisdom we have acquired over the years. We want smooth sailing and calm waters as they grow and mature. This is "the world of ought to be".

The world of "what is" causes us pain. The world of "what is" only allows us as parents to do the best we know to do and are capable of doing. That world requires our kids at times learn there lessons the hard way. The reality too is that if our children listened to us all the time and did as we ordered there would be very few free thinkers. Innovation and progress would slow. Our progress as a species relies on our children not being satisfied with the status quo. Unfortunately, many times that causes us parents anguish and grief.

What are the lessons learned and how does this all apply to our son and us? Yesterday our son was transferred from the county jail to the Department of Corrections prison in El Dorado, KS. I can be angry but that will change nothing but my blood pressure. I can bemoan the fact that he shouldn't be there, he ought to be in treatment. I can stress about the past and how he ought to have stayed away from the drugs and those people that led him down this path. He ought to, I ought to, they ought to, ought to, ought to, ought to. As it pertains to my son and his situation "ought to" is a thought process that leads to anger. Trust me when I say that dealing with my sons addiction in the past anger has been a domineering emotion and upon reflection it has not served me well. Nothing changed or got better while I was angry, me being angry was just me being stubborn.

The world of "what is". It has been very hard for me at times accepting the fact that if something is wrong, like his addiction, I cannot change/fix it. That's living in the world of what "ought to be". Moving towards the world of "what is" allows that I cannot change this. I must accept what it not only does to him but what it does to me also. If the world of "ought to be" was my design there would be more rehab centers, there would be no drugs and there would be a lot less sons and daughters incarcerated and they would be getting the help and treatment they need. Living in the world of "what is" allows me to speak and try to get people to recognize the need for treatment centers for this disease. Living in the world of "what is" I realize I have little effect on the influx of narcotics into my world, however I have a platform where I can try to educate others before they begin, convince them early not to enter this world of pain.

"What is" versus what "ought to be" causes pain. I am not saying we accept the status quo simply because it is what it is. My point is getting angry over this struggle serves no useful purpose. There is a reason things are the way they are. Until we have a very clear understanding of the whole picture, not just the picture we are allowed to see we will never move closer to the world of ought to be. It is a struggle because the picture is ever changing but if we are all doing the best we can then that means we are doing all we can. Isn't that all you can expect from anyone, no matter if they are an addict or an angel.

ps.: As a side note, we have been doing this blog for about 9 months and we have been writing what we feel and any way we feel. A couple weeks ago I found out from another blogger you could have your blog submitted to people that review blogs for content, appearance and I guess just a general critique. I decided to ask for constructive help and submitted ours to see if we could make it better for you readers. We got a 4/5. If you are interested you can see the critique posted online at:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Found Him

I guess I was a bit premature in thinking we had lost track of our son. Our son called the other evening and told us he was still at the Butler County Detention. I went in to the computer after our conversation and it showed him still there but the page looked different. I guess maybe they had taken down that part of the site to make modifications and the default was just no information. We all know what kind or assumptions that leads to. With an addict it is ALWAYS the worse case scenario.

Our conversation went well. Dad has a real problem with not lecturing. I try very hard to carry on a normal conversation about whatever but for some reason I find myself always coming back to his addiction. I know it stems from my control issues but I am self-aware of that weakness so at least I am working on my issues. I also know that there is nothing in my mind that overshadows his addiction and my wanting him well again. I know what I'm going to hear from everyone but no matter what is right or wrong, I as a human sometimes want what is not mine to have. At least not right now, but as a human I also have within me the best thing going for humans and that is HOPE.

Alex is looking forward to getting out. I do not discuss with him what it is like in jail. I can tell he doesn't much care for it, he is always making plans and worrying. He tells me he is worried about getting job, worried about where to live. My advice to him was to end all non-productive thought processes like worrying and begin a concrete process of goal setting and the planning of action steps to make the goals attainable. His response was that, I had been telling him that stuff all his life and he thinks he might ought to give it a try. All I can do is cross my fingers.

He ask about one of his childhood friends step-mother. We found out she had cancer and told him she was not doing well last time he called. I told him she died a week ago. He was quiet for a minute. I told him that his life of drugs was stealing from him. I said the addiction was stealing the most precious thing he possessed, time. I said that Brooke was having her 1st birthday on Friday and that she will miss him very much and she didn't even know it yet because she didn't know him.

Life goes one while our addicts battle this disease. They miss so much but seldom realize it until it is too late. But for all of us that love addicts we must also remember that life goes on as they battle this disease.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where Did He Go?

I guess our son is now in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections in El Dorado, KS. He is no longer listed under the county jail inmates and his last call he said he was probably going to transferred.

His impression is that he is still scheduled to be released on Nov. 29 but from what Mom and I see it could be not until Feb. 2010. I guess it really doesn't matter much after his release by Johnson County, then Wyandotte County wants him. This warrant rolling is insidious but he did it to himself so it is hard for me to work up a lot of sympathy. After all, all of his troubles are a direct result of his actions while using and everything he has done is in direct conflict to what we worked our lives to teach him while he was growing up. Reconciling that is the hardest part of this issue. Did he not listen to ANYTHING we said while he was young?

Mom seems to struggle with her frustration of the legal system. She doesn't understand why the system is so antiquated concerning communications. I really don't either but my philosophy is that "it is what it is", her mindset is more personal to her baby. The actual truth is if my company operated as inefficiently as the court systems across boundaries we would be out of business. My feeling is they operate so inefficiently and are so obtuse because they can, or they do not know better cause they are just government employees feeding at the taxpayer trough and have no incentive to get better.

There are many things coming up to distract us from our son's issues. I am more focused on my little granddaughters first birthday this week.

Maybe this seems cold and callous but I take advantage of his being incarcerated by putting his everyday life out of my realm of concern. His food, shelter and behavior is someone elses concern now. There is going to be a day soon ??? that he will be released. Right now I don't yet have a plan for my role or reaction but I know something must be done. I am not one that does things on a whim in these types of circumstances. What my role is as a father I really don't know, suggestions would be appreciated.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It Was Cold

Another Fall Festival in the books for 2009. It was cold, the high temperature for the day was 46 and the low was 31, plus the wind was blowing. Normal high for KC on this date is 72. Needless to say it was freezing for everyone. The theme this year was Fall on the Farm, hence the tractor pics and so many people wearing their western wear and cowboy boots.

Despite the temperatures everyone that showed up appeared to really have fun. We had a big fire and that proved to be the most popular spot in the yard. Maybe even more popular than the food tables. Even with it being cold people still played games like kids, and some of them were actually kids.

If you are interested the photos are posted at our flickr page:
ps.: can you believe that is the same baby as in our profile picture?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall Festival

The countdown has begun. Each year for the last 6 years we have hosted a Fall Festival at our house. It is an event that starts at 2 and goes until ???. It is Sat. the 10th. One year there were still teens and young adults sitting around the fire at 2am. This is one of Dad and Mom's major distractions for the year that keep us going. It started with about 40 people and now has grown to 150 or more.

Everyone keeps coming back so we assume they are having fun. We have a big fire and everyone cooks hot dogs and marshmallows on the fire, there is chili and everyone brings Fall type treats. We play games all day and this year we are having a hayride.

Yesterday we got all candy and toy the stuff we use as prizes for the games. We get a bunch of the "dime toys" for prizes for the little kids. They love getting something for playing and we have a blast giving it away and watching them. Already have all the hot dogs and chili fixin' stuff.

Fortunately we know some really talented people and they come do shows and play games. Dad and Mom have no talent at all. LOL One year we had a retired NFL quarterback come and play football with the kids, I work with him. How many kids and teenagers get to go back to school on Monday and talk about playing football with a NFL player. I work with a guy that is an actual yo-yo champion and he has put on demonstrations, and gives lessons to the kids, it is amazing. I work with a person that raises snakes and she brings snakes for show and tell, I have seen people that have a deathly fear of snakes touching and holding them, and they are adults. My brother-in-law is an Eagle scout and he puts on demonstrations on making rope by hand. My son-in-law and his friend are home brewers and they make special beers for tasting for the event. My daughter makes homemade root beer and ginger ale. Glad we are surrounded by so much talent.

This year we decided to theme it Fall Festival at the Farm. Bringing down lots of hay from Mom's dad to pile around along with the big John Deere tractor to take pictures around. A picture is the price of admission, you must sit for a family photo record of the year, then my daughter and mom make me a photo book of the event. We also post them all on-line for everyone to see. We are hoping that people come dressed in "farm clothes". We actually get Christmas cards from people that use that photo on their card.

What really has amazed me is one year we sent out a scavenger hunt list with the invitations. This has become a dog eat dog competitive event. You cannot believe the trouble people go to and find the items and the they actually make displays to show them off. I have taken a "hands off" on that one, I make the list and I let Mom judge. I have actually started using riddles for some of the items. They have to figure out the answer to the riddle before they can get the item. The little kids get their chance too, when they first get there I give them a lunch sack with a list on it from things they can find in the yard, like a pine cone, acorn, red leaf and stuff like that. it's fun to see these kids running around looking for stuff and coming back to turn in a full sack to us for a sack of toys and candy.

Oh well, 5 days and counting. I am anxious. Lot's of work to go yet but nothing too serious. Of course my weed eater quit yesterday so I need to borrow son-in-laws to finish the yard but everything else is falling into place. It is suppose to be cool this Saturday, that makes it nice and everyone gets in an Autumn mood.

BTW, if you're in the KC area and want to come, e-mail me and I'll send you the info. This is one way Dad and Mom keeps addiction from completely destroying our life, another lifeboat.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Addiction - As I Imagine It

Living with yourself while your addicted child is incarcerated.

This is my imagination at work. To recovering addicts if I am not exactly accurate, please forgive me. To parents of addicts if I am too graphic, please forgive me. This is just my imagination at work.

Caution: Adult language ahead. This is a fictional story that I play out in my mind when I begin to feel sorry for myself or for my addict while he is in jail.

I told dad once needing to use is like breathing, sometimes I think using is more important than breathing, or at least just as.

God, I can't stand it, answer the fucking phone, answer the phone. Shit nobody wants to answer. Yea, I'll call her. Yea, are you holdin'?

Yea I got some, what ya need.

I need 80's can I come in to get 'em?

Yea, but listen mother fucker don't come showing up again with a fuckin' old Barbie doll from the 1960's in the orginal box with your goddamn mother's name written on the back of the box in crayon. What do you think I am a fuckin' toy collector. You ain't got cash then fuck off.

OK, I'll bring cash this time.

What can I get this time, they don't leave shit for cash in this house any more. Dad's stuff downstairs. Yea, this will work, a DeWalt Saw. Shit this thing is brand new.

Evan, you gotta come over, take me to KCK. I need to pick up some stuff.

OK, I'll be right over.

Hey, glad you came fast, I'm hurtin'. We got to stop at the shop on the way, you know the one on State.

OK, no problem.

What can I get for this saw? It's a Dewalt and it's new.

Where'd you get this? Did you steal this?

No, I work construction. It's my saw I just need some cash. Give me $25.

No man it is only worth $10 in pawn. Grinning because he knows the kid is strung out and needing.

$20 and you got a deal.

OK. Quickly handing over the cash for a tool he knows cost nearly $150 new.

Hey, I got 20 give me what you got for 20.

You cheap ass fucker. Get some real money from now on or find somebody else to dick with. The guy she is living with is on couch sitting there stretched out. It must be uncomfortable with gun in his belt against his gut but he isn't somebody to fuck with.

Come on Evan let's get outta here.

We're home, get your kit man your in bad shape, I gotta go, outta here bye.

OK, upstairs. Back downstairs, where are those fucking matches. God damn it they ain't in the drawer. Oh yea, dad grilled steaks last night, look on that table next to the door to the deck. Yea, here they are.

Light the candle, get the water. Come on baby, don't burn the shit, don't get it too hot man. That's good, that's good. Pull tight. Sure glad that dad saved all his old worn out belts...........

There are 2 endings to this story. This is like some of those new DVD's or computer games where you can choose your scenes. It's your choice, pick the one you want to read.


It's a good vein. They ain't all gone yet. Slow and steady, watching the needle press against and then puncture the skin. Pulling back to draw a little blood into the syringe and then a slow push of the thumb. A calm peacefulness settles into his face as the syringe empties. The anxiety is gone, life is calm and right. Relaxing, man this good. Breathing is settling into a normal pattern now. this will hold me for a while. Gotta pick this stuff up.

Blow out the candle, stash this stuff behind the tupperware storage box in the closet. Grinning, I bet dad doesn't even miss this old belt.


It's a good vein. They ain't all gone yet. Slow and steady, watching the needle press against and then puncture the skin. Pulling back to draw a little blood into the syringe and then a slow push of the thumb. A calm peacefulness settles into his face. His head droops towards his chest, cocked to the side, his jaw open slightly. His body slumps and his chest moves in a very shallow irregular pattern. Soon there is no movement. His eyes half open, blank, no blinks. Nothing there to even take out the needle. The candle slowly burns down and out, the flame flickering its last life.

Hi babe, it's me. Are you out of work early today? On your way home? Half way there? I'm just leaving the office now, I'll be there soon. See you when I get there. Bye, love you.


This is what enables me to sleep at night while my son is in jail. One day I know he will beat this demon but until he is ready I want him in a place where I know he is watched.

2 posts in one day, be sure to read CDC Report also.

CDC Report

Drugs Set Deadly Trend

In the Oct. 1 edition of the Kansas City Star there was an article datelined Atlanta from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This article highlighted that as of 2006 data in 16 states deaths from drugs outnumbered deaths from automobile crashes in those states. Nationwide auto crash deaths are greater than drug deaths but within these states drug deaths outnumber auto related deaths. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington hold the dubious honor of these statistics.

You can read the whole article at this link:

I have a belief that the horror of this epidemic will not be realized until the local news begins to cover the deaths of addicts in the same way they cover the deaths in auto crashes. My personal belief is most people not closely associated with addiction probably just shrugs off the death of another "low life, drug addict". Perception is a real problem that we with addicted loved ones face in our families and community.

"Drug overdoses make up the vast majority of the drug related deaths, and there was a sharp increase in fatalities tied to cocaine and to drugs known as opioid analgesics - including methadone, fentanyl, sedatives and prescription pain killers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin." Mike Stobbe, Associated Press

This is data from the last year available, 2006. I have to believe the problem has gotten no better in 2009. The CDC does not yet have finalized data for 2007 and subsequent years.

Margaret Warner, epidemiologist with the CDC who co-authored the report, "Drug poisonings are definitely going up."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


We went to visit our son in jail on Sunday. I know that I have said we don't visit. That is one of our boundaries. I'll have more to say about later.

Alex looked good. He was in good spirits but was very concerned about where he was to go when he is released. He seemed to have reconciled that if he could not get into a clean living environment he was homeless in the winter. This was causing a great deal consternation with him and I could tell with that on his mind he was not focusing on what I felt was actually more important, how were things going to be different this time. We finally told him that where he would live after he got out was actually a simple problem to solve, there are many options and this is an easy issue, it only takes money. We ask him to focus more on "what" was going to happen when he got out. How is it going to be any different this time. He seemed a bit relieved but I'm not sure he actually understands how much bigger that issue is to deal with rather than where to live. But that goes to an addicts one day at a time and living only in the moment.

When we have set a boundary about not visiting in jail because jail is punishment why would we go visit and violate our own boundary? Actually, we went for mom. Mom had been having bad dreams about Alex and in all of her bad dreams was Alex and all of her dead friends and relatives. She was troubled by this. I'm not sure if she puts much stock in that sort of thing as a premonition or something but she is religious and so she was worried. I just look at it as a dream and so what, but it troubled mom so that troubles me. The visit calmed her worries.

To be clear, I do not see boundaries as a solid impenetrable wall that resembles something like the Berlin Wall with heavy life or death consequences at the mere thought of violating them. I see boundaries that we set for ourselves more like a rope line. There is a clear demarcation of where we should not go, there is security to make sure we know there are consequences for crossing but there are circumstances that necessitate crossing the line and there may be consequences that you or your loved one may have to pay for that crossing.

Boundaries must be set after much calm and reasoned thought. My experience of setting boundaries in the heat of battle with my addict resulted in failure every time. Especially because those boundaries I was probably hollering were being set for him or at him and not for me. If you are setting boundaries for yourself and using a calm deliberate approach success can be more easily achieved and you can control your own actions. That really goes well with the control freak in me.

Setting good boundaries for yourself allows you, the loved one of an addict to bring a measure of sanity into an insane situation.

Friday, September 25, 2009

More Hurting Parents

As we all know the longer we are entangled in this scourge of addiction the wider the web grows. I have found a couple other blogs whose situations with 21 year old sons so closely parallel ours it is uncanny. Both people are fairly new to blogging and I hope everyone has enough room to welcome them into our world of self help. The first is:

Blinded By Love For J

Another one:

Loving and Parenting an Addict

It's funny the first post I read on this blog was entitled "I'm Not In Kansas Any More" As you all know, we are still in Kansas. (and still love it)

What still amazes me is the scope of this problem. Two blogs, one family in CA and the other in OH, all sharing circumstances and a common issue with us that live here in KS. And when I see that counter on my blog with people hitting this page from over 50 countries, sometimes it just leaves me in shock. To me this is a worldwide problem with consequences on people and governments just as serious as wars, terrorism and economic turmoil.

When I speak of having a son that is addicted I find most times the other person begins to relate stories of someone in their family or extended family suffering from the same. I have pondered the ramifications of this many times. It has come to be my belief that drug usage needs a more personal face. Parents, brothers, sisters, friends and everyone connected needs to stand up and demand more accountability from our governments for drug addiction. Politicians find it easy to pound their fist about drug addiction and it is easy to brag about how many addicts and dealers they have put in prison on their watch. Addiction is a disease. We need our leaders look for new answers, our current methodologies of dealing with addicts once they are in the system are only marginally effective. The power of every person touched by drug addiction is to big for our leaders to ignore. This affects us all.

I am asking everyone that reads this blog, when you are done here go to your U.S. Representatives website and e-mail them, ask what they are doing about drug addiction. For those from other countries, do the same with your government, if you are allowed to do this. I do see there are visitors to our blogs from some very repressed countries, do what is safe for you in your place. We all need to be heard more loudly and with a larger voice to get something done.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Can't Fix Stupid

Made someone very happy today. I called them and offered them a job. They were very excited and will begin work on next Monday.

At the same time I was kinda sad. This is the job my son screwed up. He was hired to fill a temporary position however a person here is leaving to join the military and my son would've been good to slide into that position. In fact everyone was happy with his work and he was working hard. But, we all know how that ended. A probation violation for missing his ride back to the residential center and he was shipped off to jail and has been there ever since. WHAT A WASTE! There is some comedian that does a whole routine about "You Can't Fix Stupid". I think this applies. (and everyone knows I tried)

I've never been in jail and hope to never go but, my hope is that my son has a lot of time for reflection and can make some decisions about how he wishes to live his life.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Peaceful soon-to-be Autumn

I know autumn doesn't officially get here until next week.

It has been quiet on the home front. We are just getting ready for our Fall Festival that we hold each year. Been waiting on the grocery stores to put all the ingredients needed on sale and this week the chili beans and crackers hit the sale advertisement. That fills out our list. I'll pick up 60 cans of chili beans tonight. Already have 25 pounds of hamburger cooked up and nearly 200 hot dogs waiting for fire. I hope it is cooler this year than it has been for the last couple years. Last couple years it has been nearly 80 and it is hard to get in the mood for Fall when it is that warm.

Son is still in jail and will be until Nov. 29. If you don't know what it is like living with an addict you would probably think we are mean and cruel but the peace and rest of having him away for a while is rejuvenating. We do not visit while he is in jail. Someone ask me about that the other day and I explained it like time out. When you send your little one to time out it is not effective if as soon as they are sitting in the corner you run over and begin reading a book to them. Never been there but I see jail as adult time out, probably a bit harsher

I have been thinking about how can we put this experience with our son to use as a positive in a more personal and effective way. With this blog we have come into the open. That has been a helpful experience for Mom and Dad. We stopped hiding quite a while ago, and got over the embarrassment and shame. My thoughts now are centered on creating a presentation for parents of teenagers. The experience of being a parent of an addict. I'm now trying to find the best way of communicating lessons learned, and making it easier for those parents that are "lost" in this world of addiction or parents that are aware that this can happen to anyone and want information and knowledge. We'd have given our right arm to know then what we know now, but I also recognize this is very personal for every person and learning happens at the pace an individual allows it to happen. I took a big step today, I contacted a friend within our local school district and offered my services to speak to parents or teachers. This would be my first step and I really hope they see the benefit of having a person speaking in first person about the experience and learning.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Good Question

Last night at dinner, friends posed a very good question. If Alex was a bright rebellious 13 year old again what would you look for and try to change.

Many many things came to mind immediately when you think about what would I do different. We've ask ourselves that question 100's of times but my time machine still has a few bugs so I am reluctant to begin human testing. But quickly I came up with 3 things we didn't think were so critical but in hindsight we believe had a huge impact on his life today.

1. Know your child's friends. I don't mean the names or stories. Know them, their habits, their parents and what they are interested in. If your child talks about his friends but they do not hang out at your house. They won't bring them over to meet you or let you get to know them. RED FLAGS!!! Your child knows you won't approve if you are not allowed to meet and hang with his friends too.

2. Skate parks mix all ages. you will find 10 years to 19 year old at these places. When younger kids mix with older kids the younger kids will soak up every bad habit and word the older ones do and say. We may think that 17 year old and maturity is an oxymoron but 17 year old does have a different maturity level than a 14 year old and 14 year old idolize and worship being a part of an older group. Teenagers belong with their own age, sometimes even 1 year difference can make a difference, especially if you have a mature 16 and an immature 15 year old. Why am I picking on skate parks? Skate parks are unsupervised and most of the time I see very few parents sitting there just watching their 14 year old son for hours on end skating.

3. Your child's group, click, gang, buds or whatever you want to call it. Whoever you child is hanging with is a mirror image of your child. If your child is hanging with some bad characters and you make excuses that "my kid is a good influence on them." (we did this) I got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale and it is a bargain price just for you and you only.

These three things were just from the top of my head. The common thing that is overriding in these three things is you must be involved in your kids life. We were involved but sometimes bad things still happen. What haunts us is "what if, what if, and what if." My thoughts are, when you think you are involved, just try a little harder and insist on a little more involvement and intervention. We all know how much a teenager wants their parents in there life, most of them are actually begging for it, right? "No" and "leave me alone" and "treat me like an adult" are not permission slips for us to abdicate our responsibility.

I wanted to post some things about this, and maybe list something that you can do before they start down the wrong path. You go to the drug prevention sites and you get a lot of info about how to tell if your kid using. Bad grades, mood changes, being secretive, these are things after the horse left the barn. If you have read this far and have other thoughts we'd love to have a list of ideas from people that have had the experience.

This isn't a list of do this, then everthing will be fine. These are just some thoughts of parents that have been there.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


An update, our son is in jail for a probation violation. On good behavior his release would be Nov. 29. If he has troubles he will stay longer. This time so far has given me a chance to deliberate upon my own problems and actions concerning his addiction.

It is difficult for me to recognize that my son is an adult and responsible for his own actions. I think that comes with the territory of being a parent. As many of you know that follow this blog he is 21 years old. It is easy to recognize that age as an adult in others but with him and for me I struggle at times. This I must do for him to get better.

Most of you know I am a control freak, I have written about that many times and it helps when I am able to write and do a third party analysis on my own behavior and thoughts. As a part of my efforts to control I impose upon my son. I try to impose my lifestyle, my interests, my values and my "words of wisdom". I think that is OK and may work when they are young but when they get older and begin developing their own life it think it doesn't work as well.

When he is released it will be difficult. The urge to help him and push him into doing what is right is strong but those tactics have been an abysmal failure to date. It is time for us to allow him to succeed or fail on his own. I believe this time if he fails it will be catastrophic but I'm not sure mom or dad have to power to prevent his fall. Nor do we have the power to make him succeed.

I must not impose upon him what I believe. He will figure on his own what works and doesn't. I'm not sure I have anything left to tell him or teach him that I haven't already tried.

It is time for life and others to provide the lessons.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

KC Readers

If you are a regular reader of this blog and live in the KC area e-mail me a note, I have something for you.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Weekends Can Help To Heal

We spent the weekend at the lake. We needed the escape. It can be healing to and helpful just to change the scenery.

When our son is not in jail we share the experience that many of you have. Weekends are often a dreaded time. Seems as if you look forward to the time off work but those phone calls in the middle of the night disturb any relaxation.

I still struggle every day to understand what drives this addiction crap. Accepting is not something that comes easy for me. As someone that has not experienced an addiction it is difficult to me that a conscience decision to abandon that lifestyle is not simply just a choice that can be made.

With that I accept my son and the life he lives. I don't condone it, I don't understand it but it comes with the territory. I must accept it. That in no way means I must continue on with the same life I have been living for the last 6 years. At some point he must accept my life and my conditions to maintain a typical father/son relationship also. Maybe he isn't there yet, and maybe I'm not there yet. Tomorrow is another day.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Right Thing, Wrong Feelings

It has been a miserable week for me. In my head I know I did the right thing. But it has been a terrible struggle in my heart.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Tougher Road

My son just called me from jail. He had a plan. His plan was he had the money to try and bond out and then he would be able to come to work tomorrow.

I just told him, Alex, what part didn't you understand, I told you up front if you screw'd up you would be fired. You are fired.

There was a long pause, he then said he'd just stay in jail.

I don't know if I was right or wrong but I fired my son for his own good. I must live with it now and it is real hard.

48 Hours

48 Hours, that's all it takes for him to drag another crisis into our lives. We return from vacation, relaxed, de-stressed and guess what, he's now in jail.

When I got back to work it wasn't normal. I just had a feeling. There wasn't the normal banter and chat with a few people. Things just seemed strained. I had a feeling, something happened. Then a couple of my co-workers told me they didn't think Alex was going to make it, not in those words but that was the meaning I took. I didn't even ask for details.

When he was taken back to The Center after work they took him straight to jail. Of course he called and was wanting sympathy. Of course he had a story, that would only make sense to an addict. No more sympathy or understanding to give here. We don't pay bail and we don't visit jailbirds. He said maybe he would get out in Nov. Hope he has someplace to go because I have ridden this ride as far as I want to go.

I am angry and resigned. His mother and I have done all we know to do. As I have said it really is up to him but we wanted to help. After much contemplation last night I have come to realization that recovery and sobriety is probably a long shot and incarceration or death is the more likely outcome. I am prepared.

I only have one question:


Oh well, just another day at the office, terminate an employee for failure to maintain acceptable attendance. I guess that sounds good. If he's in jail he can't come to work. I told him I'd fire him if he screwed up and he will see I am a man of my word. Does anyone know, do they accept registered letters at the county jail?

Monday, August 24, 2009

We Are Home

We're back..........regretfully.

First leg of trip. Kinsley, KS

It was a wonderful time. We have been to the Rockies many times but seeing them on a motorcycle was completely different. The only way I have come to describe how different it is, think of riding in a car and seeing the mountains. That is like viewing the scenery on a 19" analog television. Seeing them on a motorcycle is like viewing the scenery on a 60" plasma high definition television. On a bike you feel like you are a part of the scene, you feel the wind gusts, you feel the temperature differences, you smell the pines, you see not through tinted windshields but through your own eyes, you can even feel the freshness and smell the the streams as they rush and ramble over the rocks. We'd take off to do this again tomorrow if we could. Never knew what we were missing riding in a cage, (car).

I took the computer for e-mail but didn't keep up on reading blogs or writing in ours. We took a real vacation, called home once and the phone was in the tour pack so no checking in except at night. We were so lucky, never once took rain suits out of the pouch, and when you think of 8 days in the Rockies and no rain, lucky. On top of the mountain at Rocky Mountain National Park we had snow flurries and 40 degrees. Even that was exciting. Coming through Wyoming we could see the rain and hail in the clouds moving east in front of us. As we got closer to the storm clouds they were just passing, all of a sudden hailstones hit us. By the time I could pull over it was done. The road wasn't even wet, just a few hailstones laying the side. Antelope herds in Wyoming on the side of the road, glad they stayed on the side of the road. As soon as you slowed they took off on a run.

Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse memorials. On a cool factor, Mt Rushmore was a 7.5, Crazy Horse was a 9. The Crazy Horse memorial is completely being done on a volunteer basis with private contributions. One man started it and for pretty much 10 years worked alone. They have been working for 50 years on this and work will go on for another 50 years. His children and widow are carrying on the work. It was magnificent. When done it will be multiple times larger than Mt. Rushmore. There was so much more to see at Crazy Horse and it was so accessible. Native Americans staffed a cultural center and were hand making jewelry, blankets, dresses and toys for you to purchase. The proceeds help to build the memorial. The atmosphere at Crazy Horse was casual and reverent. Mt. Rushmore was built as a government project and it is a designated national park. As such, it is manned by the Park Service. The carving was magnificent. When you looked at the presidents it was almost as if they were looking back at you. It only took 14 years to complete the memorial and that included fundraising and Congressional bickering. The feeling at Mt. Rushmore was almost cold, all the park service employees dressed in their uniforms and you had a feeling they were there watching you instead of helping you. At Crazy Horse they even had a bin of rocks from carving the memorial. This bin of rocks were for you to take a rock with you home to be a part of the experience and the land. At Rushmore you were almost afraid to even touch a rock in fear you would be hauled away for violating some federal regulation.

We visited a mine in Creed, CO. The Last Chance Mine. That mine and The Crazy Horse Memorial were our favorite places, another cool factor 9. An individual bought this mine and has it open to public to see what mining was like long ago. He is doing this work himself. It was awe inspiring to see his passion and dedication. Some of the story is on their website. this mine was way up in the mountains above Creed and we would have NEVER known about this if our cousins had not taken us there. This place was one of the true highlights of our trip. In the picture below we had been talking to the owner and restorer of the mine. You can actually make a request to spend a night in a cabin at the mine. He is a truck driver during the week on his "regular job". The mine is open only Saturday's and Sunday's. A job and a passion. I'd be hard pressed to get me into that truck with an adventure like that mine waiting for me every day. He pays for his passion by selling rocks and jewels from the mine. He had amethyst and turquoise and other gems he has taken from the mine for sale in those boxes you see on tables behind us.

We rode through The Badlands. It is possible to see beauty in desolation.

We tried to stay off the interstates as much as possible. 2 lane state highways provided much of our enjoyment. Small towns, cornfields, sunflower fields, pastures and wildlife provide scenery that you would never see on an interstate highway. Small town cafes provided our meals. There are some good cooks out there, but there are some bad ones too. How is it you can mess up a breakfast of sausage and eggs, but some can.

We truly made this a vacation. We did not agonize over our son. We figured it is what it is, and when we return if there was a crisis it could wait. Closer to home.