Thursday, March 26, 2009

Guarded Reality

The Oxford House he was interviewing for on Monday got filled before he got there. He has 2 more interviews on this Sunday.

It is easy to hope but hard to accept his behavior to get better. He is doing all the right things, saying all the right things and doing what he needs to do. Sometimes you feel like pinching yourself but we have been down this road before. I guess sometimes this is like a road trip, keep the destination in mind but be sure to enjoy the ride every mile you travel. Right now I feel like we are traveling a very nice road but, the destination is far away.

Even though from the past it is nearly impossible for me to believe him. However the most important thing I can do for him is to believe IN him. Last night I verbally said, "I believe in you, it is really important that you believe in yourself." "Do you believe in yourself?"

His answer was, "Yes"

With him trying to be serious about ending this we understand that our home is not a safe or easy place for him to live. I feel it is even more important for him to get to a clean living environment now more than ever. We understand that getting out of here now is on different conditions than when he is lying, stealing and using. It seems we are even more intent on getting him out of here and re-located now than when we wanted to just throw him out on his butt.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Watching In Wonder

Yesterday was my mother's birthday. In our family birthdays are important. Or maybe we just use any excuse to get together and eat. No matter, we always have fun.

In the past any holiday, birthday, or big get together seemed to be an occasion for our son to get high and ruin the festivities. More than once he or his friends had made complete asses of themselves to the point they were either asked to leave or they left because it was so uncomfortable.

Last night was DIFFERENT. We met at a nice little local restaurant. Our son went with us. our daughter came and brought the grand baby. Our son was NORMAL. He carried on normal conversations, there was no "up and down", no fidgeting, no loud talking, nothing like when he is high. In fact our daughter felt OK enough to actually bring the grand baby to our house for cake and ice cream after dinner. That was something she was not going to do. Her plan was to eat at the restaurant but not come over for cake and ice cream.

During cake and ice cream we had a house full of people. He sat down on the floor with his sisters and cousins. He talked normally and everyone else talked to him.

THIS IS THE CHILD WE RAISED! After everyone left he told his mother that everyone seemed to be moving on, college, marriage, moving into homes, he recognized he was behind and seemed to sincerely have an interest in moving forward himself.

He was suppose to go for an interview for an Oxford House last night but he had no one to take him but one of his drug buddies. He cancelled the interview and it is re-scheduled for tonight when I can take him.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thank You All

Reflections on this experience of blogging about our addict and our life.

I began this quite frankly as a lark. I was tired of just carrying this burden and thought maybe I could unload this by writing it down and then coming back only when I needed. This experience has been much more than just unloading. 

Sometimes you just need to vent. Anger, hope, confusion and disappointment seemed to be a way of life.  Searching endlessly for answers, not recognizing these are just a set of emotions to be dealt with at that moment not a way of life.

What I have found there are too many that struggle with these problems of addiction or have the misfortune of loving an addicted child, brother, sister, spouse or loved one. Every person seems to have a story to tell and set of circumstances that makes each situation unique. The help and comments by others I have read on my blog have eased my burden, I hope our story has provided a measure of help or hope to someone else. Thank you to all that comment, reassure and even just have us in your thoughts. Those are nuggets of gold that are worth more than can be measured.

I have come to realize that walking with an addicted loved one is not a journey that has a clear path. It is a jungle with no map where you hack and chop every obstacle only to be faced with sometimes an even greater barrier. I cannot say this has been a journey I would choose. However, in this journey I have learned a great deal, not always pleasant learning either. For this learning I am grateful because I believe a lifetime of learning is a gift not a burden.

Blogging about this has provided me an organized way of composing my thoughts and deliberating about this challenge. One of the mentors in my life a long time ago taught me that time for deliberation is very important time to take each day. When he told me that, I was associating it with my job because that was the context in which we were speaking. I didn't realize the wisdom in what he said, he was talking in the language of life, I was listening in the language of job. A very, very wise man, thank you Ketch.

I think I am going to turn in early tonight. I finished my 31 cabinet doors for my daughters kitchen in her first house today. Mom and I went on a motorcycle ride to Topeka to watch our other daughter taking a rider training course from Harley Davidson. And finally our son is seeming normal tonight and has an interview at an Oxford House tomorrow.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Care But, I Don't Care

I struggle with trying to figure out what exactly our son understands and what he doesn't. The hard part is trying to communicate normally and wondering if he got it when I speak to him and not sure if I get it when he speaks to me.

I have been trying to get across to him that I care for him but as far as his drug use goes I have stopped caring. By that I mean when I focus on his drug use I tend to take on the problem. Then my fix it mentality kicks in and our relationship suffers. I try to focus on his life now not on his addiction. His problem with addiction will never be solved until he hates his addiction as much as we hate it. All I try to impress upon him are the consequences if he chooses to use. He must understand that using is his choice, if he never recognizes that it is his choice he can never chose to stop. 

It is hard not to get your hopes up constantly, we are always looking for that light of our old son. Flickers appear and and it is like a tiny spark in a puddle of gasoline. An explosion of hope and love burst forth only to burn out just as quickly when a behavior raises the tiniest suspicion. Just like a roller coaster, terrifying drops and next moment spine tingling thrills. Inside I know he has to recognize the same things, he is too intelligent not to be aware. I can see the roller coaster emotions in him at times. What is truly sad is the despair I can see in his face when he is using. I want to believe that he can see his problem. My constant fear is does he have the strength to slay that demon.

Tonight I see that glimmer of light. We are watching basketball games, normalcy seems natural but it is a guarded normal. He told me that he is 15 days clean. I know so very well how fragile that statement is. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Update to the Plan

Our son has a plan but it does need some more work and more detail but I think at this point he is doing the best he can.

His plan was to get out of the KC area but that is not totally his call. He made an appointment with his probation officer. The probation officer will not allow him to leave this area at this time. He must continue to live at our home or get approval for another arrangement. He ask the PO if he could get try to find an Oxford House in this area and the PO agreed to allow him to look for one. He must go for orientation with the PO next week. I don't know what that is.

The PO also put him on a daily call list for drug tests. 

Not everything dad wanted but it is a start, sometimes we can only work with what we are given.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Where Are We Now?

Here is the update and the plan.

Our son went to court on Thursday, his attorney was a no show so the judge continued everything to April 22. Mom and I both know he will not make it here at home until then. We've had a discussion with him (again) and before he gets the boot we are trying one last time.

We presented an opportunity for him to come up with a plan to ensure his sobriety. We laid it our that we knew from his past that there is probably no way for him to stay clean living here, in our home or even in this city. His basic options are to get an attorney, and his probation officer to speak with a judge and get him sent to The Center, basically a jail with no bars but they have to get a job and work and come back when not at work. Constant drug tests and officers watching over them. Or the second option is to find an Oxford House outside of the KC area, but it has to be in KS, probably someplace like Topeka, Wichita, Hays or Salina. We have offered to help him get set up again in an Oxford House. The stipulation is that failure or relapse is not an option. He controls his success and we will not support any further failures.

His one stay at an Oxford House in Topeka was for 6 months and he stayed clean. That was his longest time clean.

He owes us a detailed plan with defined measures of performance. Guess this is my control side. Before I invest in his plan. 

Success or failure he has been told he must find someplace to begin his recovery and he cannot move back home.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Joy In My Life

Sometimes as we journey through this addiction with our son it is easy to become overwhelmed with the despair and anger of his addiction. What he drags us through in the name of his problem is something every parent of an addict knows all too well.

It's time to lighten up for a minute. We have a new granddaughter. She is 4.5 months old and she is our first grandchild. I know some of you are already grandparents so I'm sure this is redundant to jabber on about a baby but I beg your forgiveness and patience.

Brooke can roll over now. She is becoming more and more active. I think she is beginning to recognize others, at least it feels like she is recognizing us. She smiles when we are close and laughs when we talk to her. I want to think it is because Grandpa and Grandma are special but I know she does it for everyone else too. She is a happy baby. She is truly a ray of sunshine in our life.

Maybe today I need to think more about the sunshine instead of brooding over the clouds. Maybe today we all need to think about the sunshine.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wrong Friends, Dangerous Consequences

At breakfast this morning a friend reminded me of a story I had told him about 3-4 years ago concerning an encounter I had with convicted drug dealers that was serving time at the Lansing State Correctional Facility. I want to tell this story and take a minute to regress and go back in time to show everyone how prophetic this encounter was.

A friend at my work was having a boat dock built at a metal fabrication shop in Leavenworth, KS. At this shop they employed a number of men that were on a program of work release from the Lansing State Prison. I don't know the details about this program but they would be brought over on a bus each morning and they would work all day for this metal fabrication shop and then in the afternoon they would be loaded back on the bus and taken back to the prison.

During the construction of this dock I had the occasion to go up the shop and oversee some of the construction and the loading of the dock for transport. During this time I worked with a couple of men named Brad and Tim, they were welders and fabricators. I knew these guys were prisoners but they really seemed like just straight normal guys I'd be happy to work with every day. Smart, hardworking and conscientious were the words I use to describe them. I've worked in manufacturing for 35 years. 25 of those have been in supervision and management, so I usually am a pretty good judge of work and work ethic.

At first I was apprehensive working with these guys but that disappeared after about 2 hours. After a couple days I felt comfortable enough during a break to ask them why they were here doing this as prisoners. Both of them had similar stories. On the outside they were both business owners, one in construction and rehab of homes and another owned a trucking business. Both started using drugs then found that the money in dealing drugs was just so overwhelming that dealing overtook their legit businesses and became their life. Both wound up getting caught and they had some very interesting "lessons learned" they communicated to me but those will wait for another time. I want to focus on one particular thing they counseled me about.

I told them that my son was an addict. This was back when I just knew I/we (dad and mom)could fix this thing for him. This was just after he had just gotten into his first serious brush with the law. At that time all the promises were being made to quit by him, we were parenting fools, reading everything, sheltering, keeping him busy, taking him to AA and NA, going to Al-Anon and Nar-Anon. I told Brad and Tim this. They both kind of chuckled and told me good luck, with a smirk. They then explained how futile our actions would be.

Brad told me that if my son was one of the users he dealt to that we wouldn't stand a chance of helping him to stop using drugs. He explained that if my son had even one contact no matter if our son initiated the contact or Brad initiated it, he would have my son back using within a week no matter what we did. He explained a few of his methods, but the important thing of this story is that NO ONE has as much influence over an addict as his dealer or user friends. Both of these guys agreed, Dad didn't stand a chance against what they offered.

Of course at that time I heard him but I didn't listen to him, after all, I was Dad and I knew better. What a joke.

My belief is that when they decide to stop and if an addict does not give up completely every person in his life that was apart of his using (users or not) they have no hope of stopping their using and addiction.

Those two prisoners were very prophetic.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

It Ain't Going To Happen

I said he was to be homeless if he continued to use.

I believe my son is using again. Mom says he is probably using. If you read my last post you would think he should be gone but Mom and I are not seeing eye to eye on this.

Mom wants him to stay here to see what happens on Thursday and to see if he gets into The Center. We were both in agreement that he could not use here but he has manipulated her again. He is playing the needy son card again. She doesn't want him to leave she feels he will just go on the street and not make it to court on Thursday and get the judge to send him to The Center. Then he will never get better. I feel this is his responsibility and it is time for us to back out. When I ask her what we do if he doesn't get into The Center she doesn't respond.

I don't know how we are going to make it to Thursday. She has lost her set of keys to my truck. He has taken them before and I think he has them again so the truck is not leaving my sight. This morning her purse had been dumped, she is blaming herself. Last night she took him to a AA meeting. She was going to wait, dropped him off, saw him enter and she sat there for a while and decided to drive down the street to Dairy Queen for an ice cream. When she got back she saw him and another male walking down the street while he was suppose to be inside the meeting and when he saw her he ducked and went around the other building, the other male took off the other way. I'm sure there must be a back way out he used. How much more does she need to do what needs to happen?

I am at that point I ignore him and ask nothing from him because I know he will just lie. I cannot throw him out against her wishes. Until the light comes on for her, this is our life.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Less Than 24 Hours

Well it took less than 24 hours for my suspicions to be raised. When I got home from work yesterday he was gone. Got dropped off by someone I didn't know. They didn't bring him to the driveway, he got dropped up the street. I checked his myspace page, he sent messages asking people, "who is holding". I assume that means who's got the dope. His behavior last night was classic using, jerky, up and down, not able to hold a conversation, in and out of house, shaky, went to bed a 9pm but was up and down all night long.

Now it is just a matter of time before the evidence presents itself. Classic pattern, use, bizarre behavior, and then evidence. I really believe he has no idea what game he is playing with us this time. I even reminded him last night.

If I am right my son will be homeless soon. Probably real soon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What's Next

Our son was released from jail yesterday. After his court in Johnson County he was transferred to KCKS. He was there one night and they released him on a PR bond. Needless to say he was calling to get us to pick him up. Mom picked him up on her way home from work.

His story is, on March 12 he goes to see his probation officer and he will then get placed at The Center. Until then he is on his own so he is back at our house.

One consequence of that for us is our daughter called and told us that as long as he was in our house she was not coming over and will not bring our new granddaughter into our house. I can't say I blame her. If I had a new baby I wouldn't expose it to the drugs and life he brings with him.

I am not in a real good frame of mind having him back at home even if it is only for a week. The tension level between mom and I has escalated just because he is around. I cannot allow my anger at the situation spill over into our relationship.

I laid down the law to him last night concerning him being in our house. You can do and decide whatever you want to do but here are the conditions that I am living with and apply to me.

No drugs, stealing or lying. If I find drugs in this home or evidence of drugs usage I will do what I should have done a long time ago. I personally will do whatever is necessary to protect my family and home. Use drugs and you are out of my life and out of anyone's life that I care about. I will see to that personally and do whatever it takes to make it happen. This is until you can prove that you are an honorable person and can live a life of honor. If you chose to never do that then it will be goodbye.

The line has been drawn. There is too much happiness in my life to allow his shit to mess it up. This has been going on too long. Doing the same thing for almost 6 years, crying, pleading and bargaining has not worked. It is the classic definition of insanity if we return to the same methodology to try and fix this problem and expect it to work. Next steps are NEXT STEPS. Drastic? yes but at some point self preservation must be considered. I am beginning to understand that an addict will gladly take you to the grave with them if you allow it to happen.

So, he's back in our house so that means we are the ones in jail. Back to locking up keys, hiding the change jar, locking purses in the car and monitoring phones and computers. No more nights of sleeping well, one eye always open and one ear listening for strangers in the house after we go to bed.

I always hold out the hope for his recovery but I no longer invest myself in it. My real hope is that my investments in the stock market and him both turn around quickly.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Calmed Down and Realistic

Well I blew off some steam. It's been a few hours since I got out of court and I had some lunch.

I don't know if he is getting out of jail or if he is getting transferred to another jurisdiction. But if he is coming home we must be prepared and stop just letting life happen to us. This is a situation that we control. We can chose to give up control but if we do we must make that a conscious decision.

If he comes home ground rules must be established by us. No more free rides, a 21 year old pulls his own weight. "Our house, our rules", that is a phrase that every parent of a teenager knows. With a young teenager the bluff usually works wonders. With a 21 year old son it has a definite meaning and if he thinks it is only a threat than he'll suffer the consequences of his actions. The rules and enforcement is up to us not him to establish.

I have always heard that in prison there is "hard time" and "easy time". In some ways, as a non-addict, I have to believe that for an addict just the complete lack of being able to control your life because someone else has taken that responsibility would make not using the "easy time". Being out and not using when the drugs are so available has to be the "hard time". That is if they really want to quit, but who am I to know. One thing for sure, quitting is his choice if he chooses to use then he cannot be in our home or maintain a close relationship with me.

It is sad, I love my son but he is coming dangerously close to being just another addict to me.

Something stark hit me last week. I was having a discussion with a person that I have worked with for over 10 years that knows this whole situation. He made the observation that I used to speak of Alex this and Alex that, now I refer almost always to him as "my addict". That observation has been weighing heavily on me, the truth is after thinking about it, Alex is disappearing. What is remaining is an addict in which the shining good qualities of my son are growing dimmer and dimmer.

Anger With The Criminal Justice System and Him

Thank you everyone for your comments about attending our son's sentencing. I read and re-read them all weekend trying to decide what decision I should make. Everyone had such good thoughts and comments. What's right and what's wrong, is it ever clear?

I attended the sentencing this morning. 6 months in the Department of Corrections (DOC) for removal of a theft deterrent device. 5 months in DOC for theft. Time suspended with 18 months intensive probation plus pay court costs, fines, and restitution. This was the result of a plea agreement for a guilty plea.

Now my anger. All along he said he wanted to be sentenced to The Center. It is a half-way house type thing operated by Johnson County and staffed by officers, kind of a jail without bars. They have work programs, NA meetings and treatment, provide a place to live, drug tests and rides to and from work. When the judge and lawyer began talking about this the lawyer informed the judge that our son had a good relationship with his parents and he wanted to be allowed to come back home. in addition he told the judge his parents had be making arrangements to get him in an Oxford House and maybe rehab. The judge then said, "OK, probation with release."

I was sitting there in "the gallery" and by this time I was so angry I am sure if I had stood up to say something the first words out of my mouth probably would have been 'WHAT THE F$@%" and it would have gotten worse from there. I'm sure contempt of court with a fine and jail would not have helped my anger.

All along he had told us his plan was to go to The Center. Then when he sees a chance to come home and probably go back to his old ways he jumps on the opportunity. My anger is directed at him and the justice system. First of all, we had not agreed to "get him into an Oxford House." We had discussed that may be what he needed. We did not agree to more rehab. We had discussed that may be what he needed but how was HE going to pay for it this time. We had already put out $17,000 in one year for 2 stays at rehab. He hears what he wants to hear, and cannot seem to process what is really said. NO ONE FROM THE JUSTICE SYSTEM EVER ASKS DAD AND MOM.

My anger with the justice system. The judge sits up there and agrees to whatever the lawyers say. There is only ONE person in the courtroom that is not and officer of the court or a defendant. THAT IS ME! The judge doesn't question him about moving back with his parents. The judge acknowledges that he violated house arrest and asks why he is incarcerated? My son's lawyer chirps in that he violated house arrest because of a warrant in Leavenworth County for traffic citation. That is why he was transported to and incarcerated in Johnson County. The judges response, "Oh, OK just a traffic warrant." HE VIOLATED HOUSE ARREST BECAUSE I THREW HIM OUT OF THE HOUSE BECAUSE HE WAS USING AGAIN AND MADE HIM TAKE THE DAMN CHIRPER AND DISCONNECT IT FROM THE PHONE LINE. No one says that. That is what put him in violation, LV County picked him up for JO County and then found his outstanding warrant and held him.

At least then the judge ask about any other outstanding warrants. KCKS has a warrant and so does LV County. The judge ordered him held until they decide if they want to come get him. If they don't come and get him, he comes home.

Home does not work for him or us. It just begins a cycle of promises, boredom and using.

We live in a rural/suburban area. There is no place close for him to work. There is no mass transit for him to get to place to work. He has a suspended license with no way to pay his fines so no way to get a license. He does not have a vehicle. All he did was get himself sent to a place that he knows that he can continue his using any time he wants. After all, we know dealers deliver. Dealers are better than Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut won't even deliver to our house.

Violation of his probation results in 11 months in the state pen.

If you have read this far thank you for suffering through my venting.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mom's First Post, Finally

This week, I finally did some things I've been putting off. We'd put off going through and cleaning the room our son was staying in, while on house arrest. Each time he's left, we have had to go through everything in the bedroom, looking for his paraphernalia he's hidden. We never know were we will find it, sometimes just sitting behind a cabinet door, sometimes hidden in a spot he is sure we'd never look or find. The last time he'd went to jail, we cleaned his room the very next day. Boxing up all his clothes & stuff , took down the bed and tucked it all in a closet. We had told him he'd crossed the boundaries an no longer had a room in our home. When he came walking in late Xmas eve, we felt no choice, but to let him do his house arrest here, so he pulled the mattress out of the closet and shortly after, began to once again bring in his "stuff" and hide it. Cleaning this time was no different,there was some stuff in a Bart Simpson game box and some in a small bag inside a large trash bag of clothes that he was making to give the Good Will. When you are cleaning, you always hope you won't find anything- but then you do. So many emotions go through you, from anger, to disgust, to sadness. It is so stressful and draining. I know that's why we put it off for so long, this time.

His dad has been after me to add to the blog. He's been doing such a wonderful job of expressing the things we've been going through. But after accomplishing the room, I decided I might as well add some thoughts. It's not that I haven't wanted to add to the blog, actually I've written tons of entries to the blog, in my mind. I guess I just couldn't bring myself to write it down. Writing it down makes it so "R E A L"!

One of our fellow bloggers has a clip art that says "This is not the Life I signed up for". That saying is definitely my feelings. Having to keep cleaning out a room to make sure it is safe for family & friends to be in, again waiting to see what happens to our son in court tomorrow. You know, the stuff parents of addicts have to go through. We didn't sign up for - but we endure, we put one foot in front of the other and make it through another day.