June 14, 2012
Lately I’ve been remembering my son before meth. He was my first baby, and when I found out I was pregnant with him, I was ecstatic and did all the things I was supposed to do to have a healthy baby. I ate healthy foods, didn’t drink or smoke, and I even stopped drinking things that contained caffeine. I refused to have any drugs to relieve the pain during delivery, because I didn’t want any drugs entering my son’s system. Ironic, right? When he was born he was a beautiful, great baby. He even won a local baby contest when he was a year old. He wasn’t fussy and was always smiling and laughing. He was a go-getter and learned to crawl and walk early. I read bedtime stories to him every night. When he had trouble sleeping, the lullabies he wanted me to sing were “You Are My Sunshine,” and “Silent Night.” Growing up he was well liked, had a good heart, and was smart and funny. He loved watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, eating oatmeal pies, playing with his Hot Wheels, and listening to Boxcar Willie. He did well in school and brought home good grades. We went to church together and he and his sisters went to Sunday School. We sat down each evening and ate dinner at the dining room table and talked about our days. I taught him values, and the difference between right and wrong. He wasn’t perfect of course, but for the most part he was respectful to me and followed our house rules and boundaries. I did all the things parents are told to do to help their kids “just say no to drugs,” including regular talks about the dangers of drug use, and giving him pamphlets to read. Even though I was doing my best to help my kids stay on track for a good life, I still blame myself, often, for my son's choices. I do try to catch myself when I start my self-inflicted shame game, and remind myself of the 3 C's that I learned in Alanon "didn't cause it, can't control it, can't cure it."
Things gradually started to change when he was in high school. He started to become sullen and uncommunicative. He started pushing the limits with my curfews and skipping school. When he was 17 he came home drunk one night, sick as a dog, and swore to me the next day that it would never happen again. When I found a bag of marijuana in his jeans I started taking him to a counselor, who assured me after several sessions that my son was fine, and that it was just typical teenage behavior. I started taking him for regular drug tests, and wouldn’t let him drive his car if they weren’t clean. He began to hate school, his grades started dropping and he skipped frequently. He wouldn’t talk to me much about why he didn’t like school, but when he did he always talked about the other boys teasing him and being mean. He started staying out later and later on weekends and defied my boundaries more and more. I had taken away privileges, including his driving rights, but his behavior continued. I felt him slipping away, but seemed to be helpless to stop it. When he was 18 he met a girl and soon they were living together. After he moved out, his visits and phone calls were infrequent and when he did call it was usually to ask for money. He was holding down jobs, but they never seemed to last long. He would get fired after either being late often, or just not showing up. All the while, when I would ask him why and ask him if he was using he would look me straight in the eye and swear that he was off drugs. I was so deep in my denial that I actually believed him. I was the classic enabler. I would help with rent, food, and utilities, thinking that’s what loving parents do, they help their kids when they’re down. I couldn’t have him homeless or hungry could I? Hindsight is 20/20, and I would have handled things differently if I could have had a crystal ball. I wish that I had found Alanon years ago, because that would have helped me see the reality of the situation.
This has been our journey. I still have faith and believe with all my heart that underneath the addiction is my beautiful, smart, happy, and funny son. He is strong and if he makes up his mind to beat it, he will. Someday, he will break free from the ugly tentacles of addiction and live the life he was meant to live.