Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers Day and a Very Personal Decision

Today I have two very personal things I want to discuss and in that I want to express more thanks to people than it is possible to express either here or in person but I want to give it all I got.

First of all, happy Father's Day to my Father. My father died in 1982, I was 26 years old. When I look at myself I guess I can thank my dad for my gray hair, for being 5'11" the same height as he was and probably countless other genetic "hand me downs". But, the most important gift he passed along to me was wisdom. My father was a wise and thoughtful man. My father was a patient man, that I see now as one of the traits of wisdom. Sometimes when issues are especially difficult I can hear words or phrases from him in my mind. I am still learning lessons from my dad. It is the most amazing thing to a see dead man become smarter and smarter every day he lies in that grave.

An Update On My Son (family) On Fathers Day

This is going to a long update because there is a lot to say.

This has been a very hard week for Mom and I, maybe one of the most emotional weeks for both of us since this whole nightmare began. It has been hard between us together and hard alone. You all know what happened on the outside from reading, I may get too personal but this involves what happens to a father and mother trying to make a life or death decision.

Right up front I know some of you may agree with our decision and some may disagree. As I have learned through all of this there are few absolute rights and few absolute wrongs. The reality there is only life and those cards are dealt one day at a time no matter if you are an addict or just a lifer. We welcome and value comments either way.

We knew our decision was a life or death decision. We also knew without saying that each of us had to make that decision for our own self even before we could articulate what our feelings were inside. I don't know how mom made her decision but I am going to share what I went through and what we have done together this weekend.

I struggled, I didn't have an answer for this problem, I sought help. First I want to thank everyone that commented on my posts this week. I have read them over and over so many times I can almost quote your comments and impressions. This is one of the reasons blogging has helped me more than just about anything during this period in my life, all of you. I hope one day I can repay all of you with the right words at the right time as you have for me.

Also I spoke personally to others. I spoke with someone close to me that in her younger life she was a user and she was also a stepmother to an addict. She knows my son. I am going to share a thought that made an impression on my decision. She said, "Your son is a very smart person but I do not think he may have what he needs to be homeless and make the decision to turn around. He is a thinker and needs guidance, without some guidance and influence he is the person that will give up because he is impatient." Another person I know that is also struggling with addiction in his family said nothing other than, "How is Alex?" His point to make a special effort to inquire about my son in the midst of all of his issues actually said more than a here's what you ought to do type response. We went to dinner Friday night with friends, she has a son that is 31 years old and has been an active addict since his early teens. Just needed to be around someone of our own kind. It is easy to vent and be relaxed without explaining bizarre behavior.

Most importantly I want to thank my oldest daughter. Yesterday was a tough day. Mom was crying, I was angry there was nothing constructive happening other than I had taken out one window in the house and had a new one installed. We didn't know what to do and it seemed that there was no way we could get to an answer alone. Our daughter came over and mediated plus she had a vested interest in this, after all this is her only brother. She brought calmness and wisdom with her. What followed was a 3 hour discussion and an issue solving exercise that she suggested.

Leave him in jail, bail him out, throw him out of the house into homelessness, what are we going to do. We knew this was a decision that could have repercussions maybe for the rest of our lives, not just his life.

Ultimately in considering everything, including finding out that one of his dealers was actually considering bailing him out. Our daughter's counsel over 3 hours came down to if we don't do something then he will die. He may die anyway but you cannot leave options on the table never to be explored. Our daughter said, Alex is making deals with the devil, the devil needs some competition. We need to become Alex's devil. Give him a clear choice. She suggested we develop a list of specific behaviors that he must sign off. She said make it clear he does have a choice, that we a now OK with his using and leaving. Part on good terms and maybe one day in the future our paths may cross again, maybe not. We have become OK with our life. The physical part of our decision I want to share now.

Right or wrong we bailed him out of jail but on our terms. We exerted the control we needed on our life. I know we can't control him but we operate best when we have structure and this helps us, if it doesn't work for him that's OK. We are still at the same place.

Our daughter suggested our son be required to sign off on the expectations we have before even being bailed out. It was really quite odd. We made a list and had to pass it to the corrections officer to give to Alex to read and sign. The officer watched it all and I could see him reading over the shoulder, grinning, he then put his hands up and told our son, "Hey, we have nothing to do with this, this is between you and them." Pointing to us on the other side of the glass.

We made it clear homelessness is his next step. We wanted to put that reality in writing not just another threat delivered in anger. Below I am going to post his conditions that he initialed every line and signed and dated in full at the bottom. This "contract" will be posted in our home where we all can keep it in the forefront of our thoughts. Here is the deal our son made with the devil. I don't know how this will work but we hope to be a better devil than his drugs and dealers. His signed this deal with the devil.

___________ You will come clean on all activities that has occurred in our home.

___________ You will turn over every paycheck to dad and money will be allotted to you based upon a predetermined budget.

___________ You will supply a list of your dealers along with phone numbers and addresses, which will be turned over to law enforcement.

___________ No driving will be allowed until a letter from the state of Kansas certifying your license has been re-instated.

___________ No alcohol of any type will be consumed at any time.

___________ No drugs of any kind, including marijuana will be used at any time.

___________ You will attend and participate in family counseling with Dad, Mom and any other family members that is required or wants to attend.

___________ You will begin an active recovery program. (simply “not using” is not sufficient)

___________ An active job search for a second job will take place and a second job will be used to pay all debts.

___________ You are not allowed any contact with, (names omitted but specifically name every person we know he did drugs with) or any other known or unknown active addict, dealer or users.

___________ There will be no stealing or “borrowing without permission” from any person, home or commercial establishment.

___________ Monday through Friday the doors to our home will lock at 10:00pm. You shall be in the house before the doors lock unless work schedules require adjustments. Adjustments must be arranged in advance.

___________ No in and out to smoke or anything else after curfew time.

___________ Weekend door schedules shall be set at the discretion of Dad and Mom.

___________ At any time you may be required to produce receipts, signed papers or and other documentation necessary to justify your expenditures or whereabouts.

___________ I understand that violation of this agreement may result in us contacting law enforcement with charges being filed against you for violations of the law.

___________ I have read this agreement understand and agree to abide by each condition that has been listed. Additional conditions may be added at any time at the discretion of (names omitted).

When we got home, the four of us discussed every point on this list and told him the work on some of these points needs to take place over time such as lists but behavior issues begin NOW.

There is no way to know the future. He may or may not have a future but Dad and Mom wish to be have a future and we have realized our current life will not allow us that wish. Changes in us and him have to happen, one way or another. But we have to be able to live with ourselves and with our decisions. Today we feel like another beginning. (been there before but that what hope does to you)


Annette said...

I hope this works for all of you. At least now the ball is in his court. If he messes this up then he knows what the consequences will be.

I am praying Dad. Happy Father's day to you. ((HUG))

Lou said...

Mom and Dad-God Bless you for trying. Our family went through all the emotions, all the decisions, all the doubt and second guessing. You are absolutely correct there is no concrete answer for all--not tough love, not unconditional love...I think it's a little head, some heart, and a whole lotta faith. It may not stick this time..or the next time..or the time after that.

But after ten years with our son that included numerous overdoses, rehabs, homelessness, and a two year prison stint, I can tell you we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I see by his actions (NOT his words) he is just plain done. He is wore takes a lot of
time and energy to be a junkie. Being a lying, thieving, manipulative low life finally starts to be more trouble than it's worth. Not for every addict, but for most in my opinion. It's the waiting it out that nearly destroys the average family.

Look toward the future, thank your Higher Power your son is alive.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. And Mom..YOU are awesome.

Anonymous Mom said...

Dad and Mom - I think Alex has been given a generous opportunity here. I agree with your daughter and with the person who said "...he is the person that will give up because he is impatient." I've always thought of my son the same way. Your contract is very clear. I am hoping with all my might that this is it for Alex. I personally think you are doing the right thing, but as we all know, the outcome is up to him.

Happy Father's Day to you. Its nice to know you are still gaining wisdom from your dad (reminds me of the Mark Twain quote I have on my blog today!). I lost my dad when I was 15 and still miss him.

Syd said...

I wish you a good day Ron. I also hope that the contract works. If it does, it will be great. If it doesn't, then you'll know that addiction can't be controlled by us. What Lou said has been what I have heard in Al-Anon meetings, along with a lot of the 3 C's. Wishing you the best.

kelly said...

I see your father's wisdom has been passed to your daughter as well. How insightful she is! I understand where you are coming from.. you can't choose death for him. I just hope you don't feel like you are living as a prisoner in your own home. I felt that way when we had these "rules" and I took my purse to bed with me every night. It wears on you.
Bottom line, it's up to him. At some point he has to get to Step 1, realize there is a higher power than himself. I hope it's sooner for him.
I also hope he didn't just sign the contract to get out of jail.. that's what my daughter did. It was a waste of paper... time and energy. Time will tell.
But most importantly, you and Mom feel at peace with your decision and you deserve that.
Thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dad,
First time posting but I have been reading your blogs since January. I am sorry to say that our daughter sat down and mediated between me and my husband yesterday. This was after our 24 yr old somewhat recovering addict son (has stopped herion, vicodin, and some) but is still taking xanax (claims panic attacks) mixed with alcohol ended up in emergency room with .35 alcohol level. Social worker felt that we
should put him out of our home. We have done this before and let him come back after his promises of " I'll be good" My fears are that he will give up and hit his bottom. Gosh how I hate that term. I have tried the naranon approach but some of it goes against my protective mom instincts especially putting myself first. Very hard but they tell me I need to go to counseling to learn how to do this. My heart breaks everytime I read about another family going through this...couldn't wish this on my worst enemy. Last night the mother of son's friend texted me telling me how my son urinated on her floor and stumbled into her playstation causing damage and how it was my responsiblity. I want to call her back and tell her that I didn't place blame on her when her 24 yr old son who is a nurse was hooking my son up to iv's he stole were her fault. Fortunately for her, her son is in court ordered recovery or else he will lose his license. My son happened to be at their house when EMS was called yesterday. Her recovering son texted my husband numerous times telling him how it was our fault our son did what he does. We were bad parents. Happy Father's Day to my husband-what a way to celebrate. Like you we have another child who is not an addict or possible alcoholic. I know we did our job but yes I still fwwl blame. Sorry for rambling so much but yesterday was tough and unfortunately for all of usI am able to relate to you and Mom. My prayers to you and all others suffering from this pain.
Maria (not sure how to post this comment because I do not have a blog or those other accounts so this will be posted anonymous but would appreciate advice on how to create a signature if someone could help

Bristolvol said...

Ron, I also left nothing untried as long as I was in touch with my daughter. When she was in jail, she begged to be bailed out. I told her under only ONE condition: No more contact with her drug dealing boyfriend. She told me she'd rather rot in jail. She was in for four months, got out, had a baby with him, married him, and now has two kids with him. It is encouraging to know that Alex was willing to submit to the conditions as my daughter was not. I hope that it will be a lesson and that he will change his ways. All we can do is try.

Lisa said...


I undestand life and death decisions. We were there last October when we offered up the Narconon facility to Bryan (and he chose to make it work). You and Mom have offered Alex a priceless gift (one more opportunity) with nothing more than reasonable rules. It will now be up to him to chose to make it work; and it if does, you will never regret your decision to bail him out and bring him home. And if it does not because he is not ready or willing, you will still sleep better at night knowing you did what you needed to do at the moment.

You remain in my thoughts and my prayers, and I want to wish you a Happy Father's Day. We know that being good parents is not about how our children grow up (because we've all learned the hard way we can't control their choices), but it is about how we love them; and you are a great father. Take care.

Unknown said...

When my youngest was 10, she asked WHY? Why do we have to do this for HER!!!

So I told her. One day, we WILL be standing next to your sister's coffin.

We can either be crying, wailing, and saying WHAT COULD WE HAVE DONE TO SAVE HER....

Or we can stand next to her coffin and say We DID everything possible to save her, it just didn't work.

Which do you prefer? I will leave it up to you what we do.

she chose to do everything we could, even though it meant she wasn't able to get the trip to NYC, the trip to Toronto, the car at 16 and the best prom dresses.

Her sister is still using 11 years later. She will die someday. But when we stand next to the coffin, we will be saying that we loved her and did everything in our power to help.

After that, we put it in God's hands.

Gledwood said...

I think you're being very brave. And it looks to me like the right decision, not a wrong one.
Why are you calling yourselves "the devil"? You aren't the devil. Some of what you are doing does seem like you're treating him like a small child but I can see... well, what else can you do? Your rules, after all, are no stricter than the requirements of an ordinary reahab.
If your son genuinely wants to go clean and serene, you've set up a perfect environment and situation in which this can happen.
Now it's wait and see time ~ and only time will tell...

Anna said...

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am relieved that you all came to the same decision. It really helps the family when this is possible. You have created a structure here that is very similar to the best 12 step halfway houses. The main difference is that he is not living with others in the same program.

I so hope it works for you and for him.

Gledwood said...

If I could have emailed this quickly I would have for the sake of privacy but I want to make sure you get this message:
Just one thing and I have to say this, you have me worried. Look your photos are up for all to see and you are talking about passing names to law enforcement. They probably already have these details anyhow, I know but please, tread cautiously in this area. You've been through so much already you don't need any more crap from anyone. I don't care for my sake whether you leave this up but I would consider deleting this comment along with any references you made to passing local information to local police... you don't know who is reading this blog, who they know, or what their motives may be. Please stay safe.

Her Big Sad said...

I'm with Gledwood on the deletion of that one part of your list given to Alex - and that second particular comment (about it), made by Gledwood - I had the same thought, as I read it.

Now, that aside, I line right up there with FractalMom on this one. Many many decisions have been made at this house with me saying to my husband, "I'm not sure this is wise, BUT, I do not want to face you across her coffin in the future and have you have any doubt whether you did everything you could." There have been a few times when the reverse was true, and my husband saw fit to meet me on a decision important to me.

You have thought this through, you have had outside input, and inside (the family) insight, and you have made a decision together. You are offering him a choice and a chance. I will be praying for continued wisdom for you, and continued strength for you and Mom, and above all, for Alex to reach out and take this chance. Bless you, Dad and Mom.

Heather's Mom said...

A father's job never ends, even on father's day... I hope getting A home and going over the contract gave you some peace for the day.
You and Mom have had an agonizing week, and through the pain and time I think you came up with as good of a solution as you could find, and praise God A signed and agreed to the terms.
Through the counseling PLUS recovery program, I pray that something breaks through in A and he is able to stick to the terms. I pray for you and Mom that he is able to stick to the terms.
You have to make the decisions that are right for you and your family - your whole family - and it sounds like everyone is in agreement - this is the best deal A could get - I hope he sees that.
I remember when he wrote his blog, he's a good kid, I hope this gives him a chance to realize his potential and put a stopper on this disease.
Continued prayers for all of you.
God bless.

A Mom's Serious Blunder said...

Indeed that is what hope will are in my prayers.

Unknown said...

I did the same with Stevie. Please make sure it does not become wall art, background noise, a comfy chair. I became convinced it was working. I stopped asking for receipts. I stopped checking in on him. I stopped and he started using. Homelessness really does not scare the addict. Dealers, users, pushers and junkies live in an underworld of their own. Stevie was proud of his little piece of turf in the wash. I pray it works for you....I really do. He will take it as serious as you keep him toting the line.
I have seen it work. I know where you are, making that decision between life and death. Either one sucks- he lives with you and possibly continues to suck you in is nothing more than a stranger in your home, causing tension, issues, and problems, or kick him out and spend sleepless nights, mindless days wondering, worrying, fretting, crying, seeing your son in every panhandler on the corner...... it truly is painful either way. God Bless you!

Unknown said...

As far as giving names- I did it. I downloaded his call list and turned the logs over every month. I took pictures, emails, myspace pages, license plates, names as I learned them...... I will not live in complete fear; the one who supplies my son has already taken my life.

The neverending battle of child's opiate addiction said...

So much already said above. I would tend to agree with fractalmom,Glenwood and HBS. We all have to take this thing as it ihits us, one day at a time. You have set up your bounaries and if he breaks those, he knows the conseqences going in. Good for you for making a decision and stiking to it, often that struggle alone case wreak havoc.

Unknown said...

The hard part now, is the consequences IF he should not uphold the contract. Of course, YOU know the Rest of the story in our family, 11 years later we still HAVE a family, but it was badly fractured and the ramifications of her using will last generations. We did finally put her out and make her homeless, and at 4 months pregnant and in a snowy Ohio winter, so you can imagine the point a mother would have to come to, to do that.

There isn't always a happy ending, but sometimes,once in a while, there can be. I pray for you and Mom that this will be the time.


Anonymous said...

I'll be praying that this works for Alex. Unfortunately it didn't work for us. At one point we went this same route, with the contract and everything. Had alarms installed on the house, so that every time a door or window opened the alarm would go off. I had to take my purse up to bed with me at night (he still managed to sneak in there and steal my credit card as I slept). We became prisoners in our own home.

There is a very fine line between laying down the law, and enabling. When you lay down the law, it will work only when Alex is ready for it to work. We found that out the hard way. J wasn't ready. The really unfortunate part was that we then had to follow through and kick him out, where the drug use became worse, to the point where he almost OD'ed while his stoned friends did nothing (thank God he vomited!) Even that wasn't enough to scare him straight. I can only hope a year in prison will be his catalyst.

I pray that Alex will have the wisdom to see how much you and Mom love him, and want him to get better. I pray that he will see this as the awesome opportunity that it is. I pray that he will follow and obey all of the rules, not just for today, but for forever. And I pray for you and Mom - to have the peace you so richly deserve.

Wait. What? said...

House rules were the one thing implimented during myu sons mandatory family sessions that I am so glad I learned from. We still post and update our house rules, and I think having everything in writinh is the best way to not have any miscommunication about what is expected.

I applaud your efforts. Making choices that you all can live with has to be a big part of the equation.

VJ said...

There are some wonderful post here with keen insight into this situation all parents will eventually face if their child continues to abuse alcohol or other drugs.

I have posted our "Family Agreement" on my blog as it may help others develop their own. In addition, I believe my post entitled, "Grace and Serenity" may also be of benefit.


clean and crazy said...

that is a great contract. if my parents were half the parents you were, that would have worked for me. as it is my parents enabled my behavior i never got a dui because dad drove me everywhere, including to parties. course it doesn't help when your father is the party supplier for the hell's angel's in california, retired of course. it took him dying for me to hit my bottom. then i came clean.
happy fathers day, i wish i could say that to my dad.

Anonymous said...

Good luck. My personal experience with contracts is that they never work. Most professionals agree. We tried a contract, but its monitoring became such a huge job and chore, we gave up. Also, there were countless exceptions to the "rules" that needed to be interpreted and dealt with, and it created a whole new platform for conflict and control. The contract really was "our" program for our daughter's recovery, not her own. Maybe Alex will respond to this kind of structure - hope so - but, I would be very surprised. What is your goal with the contract? Are you essentially just "baby-sitting" Alex until he can monitor his own behavior? What is the time line? And, how will you evaluate/modify the terms? Again, I wish you luck. Peggy

Tori said...

I don't believe you can ever stop trying. Your contract was great - and it will be a full time job keeping it going. They need babysitting and the fact that he signed it is pretty impressive although we know he was desperate. As Parents I don't know how you can ever give up. At some point you would think something would stick. I wish you much success and appreciate as always how much you share.

sydney said...

I noticed you didn't post what the ramifications will be if he does not comply with the contract... Any thoughts on that?

Dad and Mom said...


Our discussion with him spoke of consequences. Just as anything in life there are gray areas. The ultimate consequence is that he is homeless.

I have been clear about one thing with my son many times. I do not expect perfection. I am not a perfect person and it would be wrong for me to expect perfection from my son as he works through this. My expectation is we all work towards progress.

These items are not forever. This document will grow and change as we all grow and change. I know some will consider that statement as just building in an out for him or us but in reality we see this as a starting point, something we haven't tried yet.

I don't know if this will work, I for sure do not see it as an answer to addiction. But one thing for sure, what we have done for us, and what he has done for himself in the past has not worked.

Am I stupid enough to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting something different??????......wait a minute, don't answer that question.

Anonymous said...

Just being honest, I feel like you are trying to control the uncontrollable. I did not read the list. Although I disagree with bailing him out of jail and the list, I DO understand why you did it. We are all at different stages in our development dealing with this horrible disease. I was where you are once so I certainly empathize.

summer said...

I truly hope this works for your son. As an addict for the past 20 years myself, i will say this, when my mother made contracts with me, and i would agree and sign, i knew as i was doing it that i was just buying myself a little more time. The whole contract thing made me feel belittled, humiliated, and like a child, which are the feelings that made me use in the first place. That method did not help me stay clean, it helped me stay high. Again, this is my personal experience, and i honestly do hope that it works for your son. I have been clean almost six months now, five months longer than i have ever made it before, but to do this i had to totally remove myself from my family and friends, and even the state i was living in. Drastic situations require drastic measures. When i was still living around my family that always treated me like a lying, theiving, no good junkie, that's EXACTLY what i was! I am now being treated like an equal, being treated with respect, dignity, and being trusted in general, since i have been treated this way, that is EXACTLY the person i am becoming! Just some food for thought. -Best Wishes

sydney said...

Summer has a good point. At some stage it's either got to be sink or swim. I hope this enables him to swim, but maybe while he's learning it's healthy to let him flounder a bit?

Dad and Mom said...

Sink or swim is a good analogy. It was used by a counselor we were seeing once with him.

She told our son that he was sinking. That there was family and friends all on shore throwing him life rings but for every one that was tossed to him to save himself he was throwing them back onto shore and sinking further down. Now many of those people have left and stopped throwing rings.

The hardest thing for parents to learn is that you cannot wade out and pull him ashore. I tried that for 5 years. The most you can do is to throw rings and hope he grabs one someday.

Right now we are still throw occasional rings.

Erin said...

Sigh... I can so feel your emotional struggle here and your wifes. I also bailed my son out, I don't regret doing it and I would probably do it again. I also have laid down the rules I also feel that I need to have some control in what is actually a situation totally out of my control. My son was clean from heroin for a month, going to rehab and taking suboxone. Unfortunately I found a receipt from a drug store last night, he had bought needles. He told me they were for a friend...... He has just started a new job which is wonderful and my heart sank into my stomach when I found this receipt. I thought well maybe God wanted me to find it so I could catch this right away. I asked him this morning where he would like to be buried, I know this sounds terrible, but it is how I felt at the time. I just don't think that there are any clear cut answers in dealing with this, we do the best that we can, but in the end they have to want it. I absolutely believe that we have to have boundaries as to what is acceptable in our homes but be willing to follow through when those boundaries are crossed, that is the problem most of us including myself don't follow through. I'm praying for your son you and your wife, so tired of dealing with the horror..........