Saturday, June 6, 2009

Conning Yourself

We went for our first visit to the residence center to see our son. It was pretty uneventful. I mainly just sat there and listened to his mother and him talk. 

Afterwards we went to dinner. I ask mom, "What did you think?" She thought it was a good visit. 

She ask me, "What did you think?" I said, thought he was conning himself. He spoke of getting a job and getting his fines paid and he thought the rules were ridiculously strict. We told him good, glad they are strict. He spoke of getting out and getting into an Oxford House. He had already got in trouble for back talking.

Curiously absent, no mention of apology for what he had been doing. Unless prodded, no mention of stop using. Just another list of what he wants us to bring him. 

I told mom that I believe until he becomes contrite and has enough moments of self reflection there will be no healing, there will only be him conning himself. To me that is the worst con, honesty with self must come before honesty to others. 


Annette said...

I *SO* hear you dad. That is what I keep saying to my husband...until I see some humility, some contrition, not guilt and condemnation, but some kind of softening, brokenness really....I won't believe she is on the road to healing. In the spiritual world when they speak of "repentance" it means turning away from the past, your old choices, your old wrongs, and making new better choices. That is what I am waiting for. And it sounds like its what you are waiting for too. Unfortunately we don't get to decide when that happens...we only get to hope, pray and wait. That works good in us too though.


Hi, new to your site......but wow does it hit home! Our son is 33 and has been using since late high school all though it advanced as he got older. Plus the way he used advanced.
We are at a place now where for 9 months doing "tough love" I guess that would describe it. However like you we tend to help out now and then. He is on the street, but doesn't seem to mind, of course usually finds a place to crash at friends or other addicts places. He was in juvie a lot off and on during high school and jail a few times since, at present just finished probation of 3 years. He managed to graduate with a stroke of good luck by his probation officer at the time. He is a Dad now to a beautiful wonderful little boy who is wise beyond his years. Currently is only allowed to talk on phone with his boy. Like you one wonders what does it take?
Would be cool if someone let us know we are doing the right thing with this "tough' deal.
Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

Lou said...

My gut says you are right. You are getting another con. Let's see how long he lasts in the treatment center. They are used to cons, and will only put up with so much. Unlike us mom and dads;)

Not to be completely negative, each brush with rehab is another brick in the wall. Recovery for most addicts is a long, cumulative experience.

Syd said...

Honesty with one's self is so important. I don't know what addict's think but denial is certainly a big part of the alcoholic's mindset. And gradiosity is a close second.

PostNick said...

Allow me to comment on your issue, as both a clinical psychologist and a former meth addict (fully recovered 3 years ago), I have tasted all the bitterness drug addiction could inflict on a person. Now, and for every moment in the past three years, every time I look back at the times I abused my parents' support, patience, faith and trust (not to mention their hard earned money), I feel a firm strike of guilt and remorse, as well as gratitude to everything they had gone through to pull me out of the hole I had dug myself in.

However, and speaking from both knowledge and experience, you may be mistaken in expecting to see remorse and 'repentance' from your son at this stage of recovery.

Simply put, everything your son has been through is so very scarring to his ego and his self-esteem in so much that allowing himself to consciously and 'actively' feel guilty would in fact be too much to handle. In some cases, it could lead to extreme depression and ultimately suicide. So his relatively aloof demeanor is nothing more than an intrinsic defense mechanism. But let there be no doubt: deep down inside, your son's guilt over his past actions is very real, and very tormenting.

Instead, I'd expect him at this stage to think in concrete, stepwise terms (e.g: find a job, make money, resume normal life...) which as I understood is what he's doing.. This is VERY normal, and yes, as healthy as it gets at this point in time.

6 months from now, you will wake up to his weeping at night and his countless apologies. In fact, your next battle will be to help him get over his guilt and move on.

Finally, please be strong and keep it up! whatever it takes, believe me, it's worth it. Four years ago, I was a slowly dying junkie. Today, I'm a successful therapist with endless ambitions, and I owe every bit of the life I have to my parents' support throughout my worst of times.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with PostNick on this. I believe addicts do feel great remorse and guilt it is likely what keeps them using to a degree. Of course they can't admit what thier actions have done in the beginning of thier recovery it would devestate them. I believe they will deal with it as they move along in thier recovery, get stronger and have the tools to deal with thier guilt that is healthy and productive.
I too used to wait for apologies and contrition but finally saw that our son is incapable of it right now. I would be happy if he was just trying to stay sober