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.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vacation Time

We are leaving for Colorado this afternoon as soon as mom gets home from work. I am very excited, like a kid on Christmas Eve I didn't sleep at all last night.

We are in a good place today. The girls are OK and Alex seems to be getting his head on straight. He still has setbacks but now it seems it is more like one step forward and only a half step backwards. That is progress, he use to be one step forward, half a dozen back.

Dad and son had a chance to talk yesterday afternoon. Seems like our talks end up with me delving into some of my lessons of life and I sense it is usually all for naught. Yesterday I am hoping we made a crack in the wall of defense.

We talked about his setbacks. He kept saying he was trying as hard as he could to follow all the rules and change all the way. I told him my philosophy on "trying". Trying is the first step down the path of failure. Trying is the first excuse out of the mouth of a person not committed. Trying gives us a ready made "out" for any complications or setbacks. Trying is a measurement of effort, not accomplishment. I ask him to remember, the last time he was measured on effort was in second grade on his grade card. I told him as long as he was trying he was setting himself for failure and continued heartache about his life, his addiction and his situation.

Successful people do. I will do are the first words out of the mouth of a committed person. To do, is to succeed. To do is positive, to try is a negative. I believe strongly he needs to take the negativity out of his mind to succeed.

In addition, using a point I got from a fellow blogger, I ask him what he was going to do completely different this time when he is released to remain clean and live honorably. I suggested he come up with five things completely different and then write them down on a piece of paper. Made me feel good that he was the one that brought up setting clear goals. He said he wanted to say it before I said it again. LOL I have harped on goals for all my kids lives, I know they hate it but it is one of those things that I credit for success.

To end the conversation he told me he would do these things to change. I think that was the first time I ever heard him say anything other than he would try, and that usually came with a pleading tone.

Now it's wait and see.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dwelling On Mistakes

It is the time that everyone with school age children is packing them off to school. An exciting time if they are old enough for college. It was always an exciting time when we sent each of of kids off to college. Dad and Mom did not take advantage of that opportunity to go to college when we were young; and with kids and life we never got around to it. So when our kids were packing and excited to go off to college we were proud and very excited to see the doors that could be opened for them with an education.

With our son we had the same excitement. If he had stayed in college this would have been his senior year. He had big plans too, but something in a needle got in his way.

Three years ago we were naive. We knew he had used but had no idea to the extent of his addiction. Neither of us had any experience with any type of addiction. We were probably like many others that are in this place now, we considered it a phase he would grow out of in time. During the summer he was getting ready for school I took him to a NA meeting. It was an open meeting so I stayed too. I spoke with a couple of addicts in recovery at the meeting and told them about his plans for school. At that time I had not faced up to, nor had any understanding of this problem. They both advised, do not send him away to school. How I wished I had listened.

Sending him away to school allowed the freedom he needed to do anything he wanted. He became out of control. Twice in the emergency room, once unconscious and not breathing he nearly died. This all in the first semester. Kicked out of the dorms so he crashed with a bunch of other users. Finally, when we got that call from the hospital in the middle of the night that he was unconscious and they were trying to restore his breathing and to come quickly we realized the gravity of our situation.

After that episode we got him into rehab. We got him into rehab that next day, I went back to the house where he was crashing and could not find anyone so I climbed through a window and got his clothes and stuff. That is my only episode of B&E in my life. I would not be a good burglar. Hell as big as mess as there was in that house I'm sure the other druggies didn't even realize anyone had been in there.

My point in bringing all of this up. Addiction doesn't cure itself. We learned that a hard way. Sending our son off to college with a problem that is bigger than him and bigger than us will not make the problem go away, the problem loves that scenario.

The title of my post may be a bit misleading. We no longer dwell on this mistake. However, we did dwell on it for a long time. As parents of addicts learn, the past is over, we must prepare for the present and the future is too far off to consider. One of the most important things we keep in mind now after every episode with with our son, good or bad, "What have we learned?"

This time of year we see the excitement and promise of parents sending their kids to college. Listening to them talk about the expenses and complaining about writing so many checks and getting loans for tuition, books, housing and food. (I'd rather go broke writing checks to colleges than rehab facilities) It has been a long road but I now feel joy for them instead of wallowing in my own regrets.

ps.: In my last post I mentioned a hearing that Alex had to attend for missing the bus. Last night one of the hearing officers was a no show so it has been moved to Monday.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Emotional Teeter-Totter

Up and Down, Up and Down, Up and Down

How many metaphors can be used for this roller coaster ride that is officially called "parent of an addict".

We came back from the lake and had a wonderful time while we were there. It was hot, over 100 degrees, but it is hard to become overheated when you are neck deep in water. Just sunburns your nose a little. I don't think there is a SPF high enough to keep that from happening. Mom gets mad at me for sunburning my nose. She says I'm going to get cancer on my nose and they will cut it off like Micheal Jackson's.

I came to work on Monday and spoke with my son. He told me that he was in trouble. On Saturday he was taken to Walmart for some shampoo and he missed the bus back to The Center. Of course, he had an excuse, seems like addicts never run out of excuses. On Wednesday he has to go to a hearing on him not being where he was suppose to be when he was suppose to be there. I don't really know the details, don't really care about them either. But he did tell me one of the possible consequences was that they could send him back to jail instead of The Center. I told him that if he goes to jail and cannot come to work he is fired. I will not hold his job.

Mom is stressing over this. My position and what I told her was that he didn't ask her permission so his actions are his consequences. She needs to let go of his actions being a reflection of her actions.

On Friday we are leaving on our motorcycle trip to Colorado and South Dakota. I am so anxious to go that it is hard to concentrate on work. Mom and I need this escape. No cell phone talking while on the bike! This may lead to withdrawal symptoms for Mom. Is there a 12 step program for telephone to ear syndrome.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Scourge

As I write I am selfish. I write what is in me, I write to make myself feel better, I write to organize my thoughts and I write to re-enforce my changing beliefs about addiction. Writing is hard but it is therapeutic. I have met many, many wise and experienced people dealing with this scourge on humanity. The only way I know to repay this debt is to offer my assistance to others suffering.

I have my e-mail posted on our blog for that reason. I want to be open and truly appreciative to others that have supported and helped us so much. With that, others write me and I only wish I had something tangible to offer, but in our experience, support is all that can be offered and it is actually what is most appreciated. In that vein of thought I have another hurting parent that has joined us and I think she may need some support with her struggle.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


When I first began this blog I wrote about the lifeboats Mom and I had used during this struggle. At that time it seemed like when we boarded the lifeboat it was if we had been treading water for hours and barely pulled ourselves over the side waiting for rescue. We have been having a good time with our son for a little while and I have had time to reflect on the critical need of these distractions from the everyday grind of dealing with an addict. So, why am I writing about lifeboats again?

When I spoke about lifeboats those months ago I talked about how important it is to get away for just a few hours. Mentally check out from the drugs, the behaviors, and the legal issues. When I look back I see those lifeboats were our salvation from insanity. Anyone dealing with an addicted loved one knows that you feel like you are going crazy, the world no longer makes sense to a rational human being when you are living in the world with an addicted child.

The ability to really take advantage of the protection of your lifeboat is to be able to detach for that small amount of time. We struggled with that, there were even times we got calls while we were out by oursleves from our son after he was taken to jail. It is hard to completely detach but we tried and it does get frustrating with no time alone, but it is necessary.

We are boarding our lifeboat again for a couple of trips. The first is on Thursday, we are going to Grand Lake in Oklahoma for four days. It will be relaxing and we are water people so just to be swimming and cruising in the boat will be very welcome. We will be visiting with family and I think it will be a wonderful event.

When we return from the lake we will go back to work for five days and then take off on a long motorcycle tour. We are anxiously awaiting this adventure. Mom has never been on a long trip. We are leaving from KC and going to visit a cousin in southwest Colorado. They have been inviting us for a long time but circumstances have always conspired against us. I guess we allowed our addicts life to hold us hostage. My cousins say they are excited about us coming and are talking about riding ATV's in the mountains and river rafting. Sounds like a blast to me. From there we are riding up the back range of the Rockies to Rocky Mountain National Park and to Estes Park. Absolutely no hurry, anything that looks interesting will get a stop and a look see. When we get to Estes Park our next leg will take us north through Wyoming to South Dakota and a ride through the Black Hills, visit Mount Rushmore and then through The Badlands on the way home. This trip will be about 2500 miles but we are taking 9 days. We are so excited and we are getting our gear together. Mom is stressed about packing so little in one saddlebag and half a luggage for a trip this long but I have told her this isn't a beauty contest and she looks beautiful in helmet hair.

I think we will be able to enjoy these trips because we feel so much more confident now with our son. We both know how tenuous this confidence can be but, from our experience you must have something to help you maintain your own sanity.

Here is a link to my first posting on lifeboats in case you are interested or missed it.