Thursday, February 3, 2011

One year later

I'm not sure why I stopped writing. Things became and continue to be so horrific that even writing no longer helped. I questioned whether publishing my family's problems online would help matters at all. Since my last post, over a year ago, my son has entered into a drug induced psychosis, brought on by stimulant and cannabis drug abuse. Never heard of that condition? Google it and learn about the depths of despair our family has reached. I plan on writing more details later, but essentially he was admitted into a psychiatric ward last year for a six week period. Following his treatment, we went through an okay period with him, where we desperately hoped things were getting better. Then this past Christmas, he began using stimulants and cannabis again, sending him back into a psychosis. On Monday, a psychiatrist is visiting our home to determine whether he meets the requirements for another involuntary admittance to a psych ward, and we will try again. The worst thing about his current condition is how alone I feel. Before, there were so many parents to commiserate with about my son's addiction; however, very few people have even heard of, let alone know someone who has experienced this horror. I use to believe that there could be nothing worse than a child addicted to drugs. I was wrong. I think I have decided to write again to hopefully educate other people about what a drug induced psychosis is, and what the signs are, because the earlier the intervention the better the outcome. It may be too late for my son to be helped, but if my words help one other family, it will be worth sharing our awful experience.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Little children, headache; big children, heartache. ~Italian Proverb

I guess I'm not so good at this blogging thing. Four months is an awful long silence. I am not sure why I have been silent for so long - perhaps I was waiting to be able to share some good news, but it looks like I would be waiting forever. So, this is what the last few months have looked like for my son:

- drug use has continued
- counseling (family and individual has thus far not helped)
- the trying to not be enablers has not helped (no car, no cell phone, no money etc.) Justin always finds ways to get the drugs that he needs, with or without our help
- we have learned more about the extent of our son's addiction. someone once commented earlier that it sounded like my son was using more than weed and they were so right. he has been abusing prescription pills as well. lately, his pill of choice is called dexedrine
- Justin will be eighteen in exactly one month and I am terrifed that we will lose him completely
- my marriage? done. the one thing I had left has finally collapsed under the pressure of having a drug addicted child. we are still living together, but have agreed that there is nothing left to salvage of our relationship at this point. my husband has given up on my son. I have not. Perhaps, I am a fool and will end up losing both my husband and son at the end - if this ever ends
- the lying, stealing, manipulating and every other consequence of drug abuse have continued with my son
- my son is but a shadow of his former self. no ambition. no goals. the drugs that promised him so much happiness have taken everything away

All of the things I stated earlier about healing myself first? That hasn't worked out so well. I am so emotionally invested in my son that I just can't seem to get my own life on track until I get his back first.

I am overwhelmed and so sad. I feel like the battle has been lost.

Final score: Mom: Zero Drugs: One million. I surrender.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's funny how we feel so much, but cannot say a word."

Another long silence, I know. This time, my silence will not be followed by good news. Justin has slipped. My fear was that once he started school and was among his old 'friends' again, that he would start using. My fears were not unfounded, as within a week of school starting, all of the signs were there again. I ignored them for awhile, hoping they would go away, hoping I was wrong, but they soon became too clear to deny, and the vicious cycle began again. I think it would have been better if he did not stop using for that short time, giving me a false sense of hope that our painful road had ended. To be given that much hope, to have a glimpse of my son again, only to have it taken away. Well, it would have been easier if things had just stayed the same. I really can't understand what is going on his head. It is so clear that his life is better when he is not on drugs, and yet...

Life has been busy, overwhelming really. I started a new job, and it's stressful and demanding. My marriage, once strong, is starting to show cracks under the pressure of our son's problems, and all of the other problems that seem to go along with living. My life seems to be falling apart no matter how desperately I try to hold everything together. I have so many feelings going on inside me stemming from the circumstances of my life: anger, sadness, betrayal, bitterness. The bitterness is the worst, turning me into someone I don't like. In the past, writing about my feelings helped. Now, my emotions are too confusing, too difficult to discuss with anyone, even in this space. I'm afraid to let the ugliness out. If people knew what really went on in my head sometimes...well we shouldn't go there.

The title of this post is from Sarah's McLachalan's "I will remember you."

"It's funny how we feel so much, but cannot say a word,
we are screaming inside, but can't be heard."

And that's where I am today. Silent screams.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And We're Back

A few days after my last post, my husband and I decided to take a family road trip. We told the kids they were going, like it or not. I have found that we have lost a lot of our parental authority over the past few years, and always seem to be compromising with, or simply giving in to our kids, forgetting that they are the kids and we are the parents. Our daughter, of course was happy to go. Our son, was not too happy about being taken away from his access to weed, and there were a number of, shall I say, disagreements about the trip. I remained adamant in my decision that he would join the family, reminding him that at least for the next few months, he is a minor.

I've been reading a book that a friend gave me called "Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy! Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind," and it has been tremendously helpful in my responses to Justin and his outbursts. I've succumbed to the understanding that I cannot control his actions, but I can control how I react to them. The book also helped me to understand that it is not my fault that Justin is making the choices he is. One of the main themes of the book is that teens are temporarily 'insane' for a lack of a better word. In the past, this insanity usually passed without too much difficulty, because the world was a different place. Today's world is saturated with sex, drugs, and violence, and we put our kids in the middle of it and expect them to be okay. We mistakenly believe that our teens can handle the exposure to this crazy world we bring them into, often with drastic results.

Another insight that I gained from the book was that parents have to let go of the past, and stop reliving our child's youth. If you have read a bit into my archives, you will see that this has been an issue with me. I just can't seem to reconcile what he was with what he has become. The author believes that parents need to stop mourning the well behaved child of the past, and deal with the present and work towards the future. He lays out what he calls the ten commandments of parenting. The first commandment is to behave and think dispassionately. I used this commandment in my reaction to Justin's refusal to go on the trip, and you know what, it worked. Typically, I would react to his outbursts and anger with my own outbursts and anger. This time, I remained calm and respectful, no matter what he threw my way. I repeated again and again that he was a minor and he would be joining the family. The angrier he became, the calmer my reaction. Many times, I just walked away. Incredibly, as the day of our departure came, he had his bags packed and was ready to go. I had no idea how he was going to behave on the trip, but away we went.

I'm happy to report, that although there were a few bumps along the way, a good time was had by all. We spent a week with my sister in Toronto, which included a trip to Canada's Wonderland. It was incredible to see my son smile and act like a kid again. We spent a couple of days shopping in downtown Toronto, allowing both of our kids to buy whatever clothes they wanted (I'm still afraid to look at the credit card bill). We listened to Johnny Cash on the 401, all singing along to our favourite Cash song, "A Boy Named Sue." We made memories - good memories, something our family has been lacking for a long time.

In a small cafe on the way home, somewhere between Montreal and Ottawa, my son leaned over to me and said, you know what mom, I think I might stop smoking weed. I've felt pretty good this past week, better than I have felt in a long time. I have been waiting to hear those words for four long years. At this point, I'm cautiously hopeful. We have only been back a few days, and although it does appear that he has remained sober, he also has not really left the house, sticking to watching movies. I have a feeling that he is afraid to go out with his friends, because he is worried that he will fall back into his old habits. He starts school on Tuesday, and that will be the true test as to whether or not he can stay clean. He has another appointment with his drug counselor tomorrow, and I think I will give the counselor a call ahead of time to ask him if he can talk to Justin about peer pressure and give him advice on how not to be so easily influenced by others. It's been so nice to not be fighting for the past couple of weeks. The peace I have been craving for so long has finally arrived. I'm praying that it will not be taken away, plunging us back into darkness.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"You can't have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday all the time.”

My sister gave birth to a baby boy last week. Holding the perfect little bundle, with his resemblance to my own son, was definitely a bittersweet experience. Memories rushed back to me, taking me back to such a happy time in our lives. Remembering what it was like when he was so innocent, and when I held such hope for his future. Seventeen years ago, holding my own newborn son in my arms, I would never had expected to be experiencing what I am today. I know that I can't torment myself with memories of the past, but instead, must accept our circumstances and continue to try to get my son back. I need to believe that the future will be better.

I am disappointed in myself; Last week, I was going to attend an al-anon meeting, and I did not go. Following Justin's incident with the cops, I had noticed some improvements in his behaviour. I was hopeful that perhaps we were at a turning point, and that he was beginning to see the problems his drug use were causing in his life. There has been a part of me that has been hoping that Justin's drug use is not as bad as I think it is, that maybe it really is just some teen experiementation that he will grow out of, and that he is not really an addict, just a teen gone wild. I was in one of my hopeful moods on the night of the meeting, and foolishly decided that I would feel out of place among the people who are involved with real addicts. And then, the truth hits me hard, like it did a few days after I thought he was improving. He wasn't improving, he was just getting better at hiding his use.

Justin attended his assessment with a counselor yesterday. I'm so relieved that he agreed to go. We have another meeting on Tuesday where we will all be present to discuss where we need to go from here.

I just keep taking it one day at a time, trying not to focus on the past, and instead continuing my search for our better tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

I was driving into town the other day, thinking about my situation and feeling very sorry for myself. I kept wondering, why me, why us, why is this happening to my family. I was feeling a lot of anger and bitterness because I felt like we had done everything right as parents and made so many sacrifices for our kids, and therefore we did not deserve what was happening. Lately, everywhere I look, there seems to be happy people. I search faces wherever I go, and wonder, are they as happy as they appear to be on the outside? My answer came to me the other day as I was driving into town. I had stopped the car at a red light and looked over at the car next to me. At first glance, it appeared to be a perfectly content family. Nice car, handsome father, car seat with a cherubic toddler safely buckled in. And then I looked at the woman in the passenger seat and realized that she was crying. Fat tears slid down her face as she gazed off into the distance. Pain was etched deeply in her face. I will never know what was causing her such sorrow, but it made me realize that appearances can be very deceiving. We all have sadness, regret, and situations that test us and sometimes break us. I am no more fortunate, nor unfortunate than anybody else. We may have periods where we sail blissfully through life, oblivious to the pain of others, not realizing that our turn will come eventually. No one gets through life unscathed. Bad things happen to good people, and we have to learn to accept our circumstances, one day, one moment at a time.

It's been a difficult few days around these parts. Three nights ago, Justin came home from a party. He drove my father's car home, and when he walked through the front door, I could immediately tell that he was stoned. I took the keys from him and called the cops. He knew that I had called and left home, yelling that he hated me and that he would never be back. I immediately regretted my actions, feeling that I may have driven him away, before he had the opportunity to receive treatment. The cops arrived and took his description. They found him about an hour later at a local teen hangout. He went with them willingly and they had a long chat and then they brought him home. During their conversation, Justin had mentioned that he wanted to become a firefighter. They took pity on him and decided not to press any charges. They carefully explained that a drug charge or a DUI would completely derail any hopes of being hired by the fire department. Part of me was relieved that he was not charged, and then there was the other part of me that realizes that my son always seems to get himself out of trouble without any serious consequences. I know, though, that his luck is running out. In a few short months, he will be considered an adult. If he continues to abuse drugs, he will eventually face charges. I would rather that he faced charges at seventeen then at eighteen, where it will remain on his record. The only good that came out of this was my father promised to never let him use his car again. I could not take the guilt, if my son killed somebody with his recklessness, and my father now understands how foolish he was to trust him. Since that night, the tension in our home has been thick. Justin is angry at me for calling the cops. I know that someday, he will understand and forgive me.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Some days are so difficult that I start to question why I chose to have children. The stress in my life is so incredibly high right now that I often find myself thinking about how different life would be if I had remained childless. I am ashamed to admit that there are days when I wish I had taken a different path. To remedy these feelings, I look through old photographs. And then, I remember. Justin's first fourteen years were the happiest of my life. My daughter, at twelve, still brings me so much joy. She is the reason that I get out of bed each day. I need to work hard to provide her with some sense of normalcy. As much as possible, we hide the anger, the tears, the fear, so she can look back at her childhood and remember something other than her brother's problems. I worry constantly that she may choose the same road as her brother. I do not think I could handle losing both of my children to drugs. I pray each day that my son will find his way back to us, his family, because then I will be able to look at photographs like these without tears - only smiles and fond memories.

This is me, my son and daughter exactly twelve years ago. I remember the overwhelming love and pride I felt as this picture was being snapped. Happy twelfth birthday daughter of mine. Happier days ahead.