Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Answering A Comment

If you want to share, I was curious, what changes do you see when he is clean and with you and the family? I mean, is he like you expected him to be before the addiction or do you still see the addictive thinking present?

This is the question I was ask in the comment section of a previous post. I've been going back to this question often wanting to answer VJ but after a lot of thought I begin to realize it was much to important of a question to answer in a comment. I am still not sure I do this justice and a lot of my thoughts are still random but I want to get some things down while I have this time.

I see a respect in my son that I would not have expected. Maybe it is more of a humbleness that I would not expect of a 22 year old male. My son was a very self confident person before he began using. He felt he had the world by the tail and I am not sure he wasn't right. I can still see confidence in him that he can do what he sets his mind to do but I also have a feeling that he is now scared of what he has been through. This is a scary observation for me because I am trying not to inject what I wish into what I observe.

Our family has always been a very close family. That is not just from us 5, it is a generational thing in our family, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, I don't want to sound too "Mafia" but blood really meant something. There is nothing you wouldn't do for family. My son has hurt many people in his family and some have not forgiven him. This troubles him greatly. He has reached out to some but they are not yet willing to embrace or even shake hands. He is still to young in his recovery to understand amends. Some of us understand and help without formal apologies and others don't yet, time is a healer of this wound. He is apprehensive around family, maybe that is good right now.

To understand my expectations you need some details of how I got where I am with my son. My son is smart. I don't mean normal "my kid" smart I mean testing in the 95th percentile and above in multiple subjects of skills testing in school. A kid that we were ask about accelerated schooling tests and when we ask him about it he said he would fail them purposely, he didn't want to be a geek. A kid that skipped freshman math, instead he took senior level pre-calc and trig. As a father, he was to be everything I could not be, nothing like my life, no unloading trucks and jack hammering concrete for him.

My expectations, that is so hard. When we started this and for many years I lived in blissful ignorance. Some think I still live there but we all change. I thought this was just something he would go through and come out the other side and resume life. Back on track and off we go. It doesn't work that way. Today my expectations for my son are very simple, happiness. I still believe he can be anything he sets his mind to be. But now I am happy when he is tired from a hard days work, I am happy when he cashes a paycheck that he worked for, I am happy when he smiles at his niece or his family, I am happy when he hugs his mom and he isn't high.

Addictive thinking I believe is in his every thought. He is just a baby in recovery. I want, and impatience is with him all the time he is with us. I can see him struggle with himself with those things. I can see him struggle when we go out to eat to just sit still and converse quietly. It's so much easier when we "walk and talk." I think him working this issue is another one of those things that only gets better with more time.

Damn you VJ you ask such hard questions. Hope I answered it.


KMKZ said...

Your son sounds gifted. I have researched the correlation between giftedness and addiction, since I myself have an abnormally high IQ and dealt with heroin.

Give this article a read:

VJ said...

Yes Ron, you did a wonderful job of answering the question. I appreciate you.

I have found my greatest advantage comes when I keep an open mind and learn from other parents through their experiences.

I will now keep a close eye out for the "respect" and "confidence" I know my son has when he is clean. I will let him know he still has many great qualities that will support his recovery. I sometimes look over the positives and focus on my fear and resentment.

I actually have more difficult questions but they can wait til later :)

Syd said...

It is a life long issue but hopefully not a life-long struggle. There can be happiness.

jackandaisy said...

thank you for posting this. my son is 22 also. and i always add that he is an immature 22. right now he has been clean for about 40 days only. so he is very raw. after spending a few hours with him spread over a few days we all started relaxing a bit. but it is tense. he is like the puzzle piece trying to fit in now. but i suppose it is necessary for us all to go through this.

right now i believe my son is abstaining from using, i don't think he has truly embraced sobriety. i don't know if he can at this age yet.

i just thank God for the moment we are in and i feel that each day i am more and more prepared to deal with this disease. but it takes work on my part too.

thank you for sharing this really important post.


Erin said...

Thanks for sharing this Ron. My son also has only been clean for a few short months. In the beginning he was very emotional cried a lot over many things, he was actually experiencing emotions and feeling his feelings instead of drowning them with heroin or whatever other opiate he could get his hands on. My son also was a high achiever all the way through high school, well until his senior year when he started using drugs. I think that they are forever changed, the person that I knew is no more. This is not to say that the clean person that he is today is bad, just different, it is nice to be able to just enjoy a meal together, to talk about his job and everyday things. I am praying that as Syd said that this is not a life long struggle. And as Daisy said I thank God for these moments that I share with him. I am so grateful that we have finally found a counselor that he can relate with he came back from a session last week and said Mom, you finally found one that I like, and I could tell that he had really gleaned much from him. Sometimes you have to go through several we sure did, until you find the right fit. I kind of feel like their maturity level stopped when they started using and that they have much growth to do. That's okay he is only 22. This is the child that God has given me and in spite of everything I am grateful for the gift of my son.

Dad and Mom said...


I completely agree with you when you say, they stop maturing the minute they begin using. I have thought that for a long time.

Tempering the expectations is the hardest thing.

Accept instead of expect. (I keep reminding myself and repeating)

LisaC said...

Ron, I read this post the same day you put it up, but I didn't have a comment to make. Today I'm commenting because I saw your comment on my last post (9/1/2010), and I cried (honestly) when I read it. Thank you, and I look forward to sharing your comment to Bryan with him.


I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

God Bless You ~Ron

Barbara said...

You did a great job answering this. I relate to so much of it. Keven was always going to be the "first one in our family" to go to college. He was going to be successful. He had goals and plans for his future...until he "met" heroin. Now, like you, I just want him to be happy, to be "normal" to live a decent and healthy life without drugs. I still don't see the humility in him that you are seeing in Alex but I have hope for it.

The progress Alex has made seems genuine this time and I hope he feels the difference and continues down this path. He has an awesome family (mafia or not...)

BMelonsLemonade said...

I visited your son's blog. And I hope I was able to offer some support. The first few months are really hard. So many people think that once you get through the withdrawal it is smooth sailing, but it is not. I thought that too, before I was clean for a substantial amount of time. It takes months to be somewhat normal and it can take years to wake up in the morning and have your first thought be something other than heroin. But, when that finally happened...I knew I was really better. The thought pattern was broken, finally. It is so, so hard those first few months. Reading your son's post, I was flooded with memories of those days. And it was REALLY hard then. But, not impossible. He is lucky to have you two in his corner. I will be checking on him regularly. And I am honored you asked me to visit his blog.