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.


Fractalmom said...

sorry to hear about the relapse. not surprised, but sorry.

hopefully it will be his last. most relapse at least once when they get out of jail, just to see if they CAN.

weird, but true. The next 3 weeks will be the crucial ones, for both you and he.

boundaries are way important as you know.

Good luck to the whole family and I will be praying for his continued soberness.

Gledwood said...

That's good to hear!

clean and crazy said...

i only quit using dope one time. i was lucky though, i am a dork and could not hit my own veins. for me getting really, really involved with my home group was a big, big factor in my recovery, hospitals and institutions is a subcommittee of NA these members take meetings into facilities and the rewards are beyond measure. he will need to have at least 90 days clean to sit on a panel, but i believe most home groups will let you chair a meeting at 30 days. try to encourage him to get involved, ask him what activities are going on in the area, i believe you are in the 'Mokan Region' I met some members from there this past weekend at the world workshop we had. i would have really liked to come to your speak tonight, i appreciate the invite. you should be proud of yourself. you really have used this experience to help so many. for him pounding the pavement and looking into school is great, but he needs a strong foundation in recovery, that takes NA. try to get him to get involved with NA i cannot stress that enough. the therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel. i feel he is a lot like his father and does not want to go, he has a mental block and does not want to ask for help. he may feel surrender is quitting. like you once shared. merry christmas!!

Kim A. said...

Letting go, for me, is a much more "in-my-face" challenge when my son is living with us. I know the hypersensitive-alert-status that I go into to try and detect or predict his sobriety, or lack of. I know that your speaking engagement will touch those hearts that are ready to hear the hope and help available.


Mom of Opiate Addict said...

My son is also currently living with us and searching for work. It is always harder when they are living with us and all the issues that go with addiction are right in our face day in and out. I like your boundary about not making decisions when angry, I try but sometimes still fail at that one. I am a work in progress just like my son I guess. I hope he keeps taking those steps forward and many less back.

Annette said...

Let us know how the presentation goes....I can't wait to here. Them getting the real you is plenty good enough Dad!

Lou said...

The problem with this stepping forward and stepping back, is that you feel you are right there "walking" with them. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Ron, great job tonight at the presentation. You were real, honest and human. My husband and I set a boundary about our son's illegal behavior with drugs and alcohol and we are sad that by using again, he has chosen to no longer live in our home. He is only 18 and still in High School. He wants to stay until the end of the Christmas holiday but we have indicated that the only way that will happen is if he has a job by the 18th (the last day of school). If he doesn't, he needs to leave by the 20th. If he does, he can stay until the 4th of January. We are all scared but my husband and I feel strongly that we are doing the right thing. Fortunately, we have managed to remain on the same page very consistently. Anyway, our thoughts and prayers are with you and we will keep you posted on our son's progress as well.

Syd said...

I'm sorry about the relapse but glad that you had that discussion and hopefully things will move forward with Alex on the path to sobriety.