Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Beautiful Boy

Has anyone read this book by David Sheff?

Well, it's pretty interesting. This book chronicals David Sheff's journey through his son's addiction with methamphetamines. Interestingly enough, his son has also written a book discussing his own jouney through this process called "Tweak". That one is next on my list and I'll probably start that one tonight.

A lot of you probably don't know this, because it isn't something I really like to talk about on the blog, but Wayne and I have a son who has been dealing with a serious addiction problem for going on probably 6-7 years now. We have really reached the point of having to distance ourselves from the whole situation because nothing good ever seems to come out of us being involved.

The person in question here is 30 years old so it's not like this is a teenager that we can just send off to rehab. I was interested to read about someone else's journey through this process just to see what it is like from someone else's perspective. Amazingly enough - it's all the same. Just change the kid's name and maybe some of the players but the rest of it is pretty much the same. The roller coaster ride of ups and downs, the lying, the stealing, the bad group of friends that B can't seem to distance himself from, the strung out girlfriends, the fighting, the jail time, the ODs that wind him up in the hospital, the rehab and re-rehab and re-re-rehab, the anger, the frustration, the sadness, the guilt, the worry - everything. It's all the same.

Not only are we dealing with B's addiction and everything that comes with that - but we are also dealing with other members of the family that are serious enablers so it seems that nothing can ever get accomplished. Back near the beginning of this whole situation, Wayne and I spent a lot of time going to rehab centers and meetings and family therapy sessions and that sort of thing. Some of them were great and productive and some of them ended very, very badly. Very badly.

No matter what we did, no matter what we decided, it didn't matter because the people who are the enablers in this situation were just going to do whatever they wanted to do even if it was not the best thing for B or for other members of the family. We really rode this roller coaster of situation after situation when we finally realized that WE were also living a life of addiction. Addiction to his addiction. Addiction to the drama surrounding addiction. We were overly involved in a situaiton that we had absolutely no control over and were dealing with everyone else's drama (both perceived and real) on an almost daily basis. We just decided that we could not allow this situation to take over our otherwise peaceful and happy life.

This didn't cause problems BETWEEN Wayne and I but it certainly added an element of stress to our lives that was unwelcome. For instance, one night B got arrested (again). B's mother called us to discuss the situation and we all agreed that we would NOT bail him out because he needs to start understanding and realizing that his actions have consequences. Fine. Everyone agreed this was the right thing to do. Then, the next morning we found out that B's mother went downtown anyway and bailed him out because she felt sorry for him being in jail. Well, I sort of thought that him not liking it was the point so he would think twice about ending up there again. Anyway, that is just one small example of the many, many, many battles we have fought with this whole thing. We won't even get into all of the cover-ups and excuses and the "I can't believe you think he would lie about something like that" situations. Talk about denial...........

To me, the whole point of being a parent is to turn out independent young men and women who are positive contributors to the world around them. We aren't here to be their friends, we are here to be their parents. Now, that does not mean that we are not also their friends but it means that we are here to do a job. We can't do that job if we never hold our kids responsible for their own actions, bail them out of any trouble that they get themselves into, cover up for them and lie for them, believe anything they tell us when we KNOW it is a lie, don't expect high standards from them and basically let them act however they want to act (including lying, stealing, etc). They need to have a job or go to school and be responsible for their own lives. We simply won't put up with that sort of thing in our home so we have now reached the point of "if you are using - you aren't welcome here". This is simply our opinion and how we choose to run our own home.

Over Thanksgiving, we found out that B had overdosed again on heroin (that makes it the 4th? 5th? 6th? time now? I can't keep track). So, I was talking about this at Thanksgiving with some of the other members of our family. My cousin told me that I needed to read this book. So, I went home and ordered it from Amazon.

I definitely learned a lot of information from this book but I also realized how many people all over the US are dealing with the same problems that Wayne and I face. Always hoping things will get better, always hoping that xyz will REALLY be the rock bottom this time, always hoping he will get clean, always hoping he will not continue to drag his small children down this nightmare path with him, always hoping we will be able to trust him in our home again, always hoping we won't have to worry that Christmas presents we buy for him be hocked for drug money, and on and on and on. Addiction is really crippling, for the family of the addict as well as for the addict.

It seems that almost everyone is touched by addiction in some fashion. If you don't personally know someone who is or has gone through this, then you probably know someone who is going through it with someone else. What this book really made me realize is how much addiction takes from everyone. David Sheff and his wife had 2 other small children who idolized their older brother, Nic. They were constantly dealing with all the stress and terror that the parents were going through and you realize how much attention parents give to this child who is an addict over their other children. Not because they want to or because the like the addict better but because dealing with the situation is so absolutely all consuming. It is really crazy how parents can act when faced with a worrisome, terrifying situation with their child (which is completely understandable - I don't think we ever stop wanting the best for our kids).

I guess you have to finally come to the realization that it is OK for you to not allow your entire life to be consumed by someone else's addiction. We can't control it and we can't cure it. All we can do is be supportive when he is doing the RIGHT things for himself and making the RIGHT decisions for himself and not allow ourselves to get caught up in the bad decisions. It is a difficult path to say the least and is one we continue to struggle with on a regular basis.

Like I said, I really don't like to talk about this stuff on the blog because, well this is supposed to be a happy and fun blog, right? But, if I can help one person out there by recommending a couple of books that might give them a little insight into the struggles they are facing then one depressing blog is worth it if you ask me.


Nalamienea said...

Wow, that is such a terrible story and I'm sorry for you and for B and for everyone else who is dealing. I've never been part of a situation like that, so I know my words mean little... but I hope it means a little when I say that I hope it all finds a positive end.

turtlegirl76 said...

Thank you for sharing, Brittany. You never know who may be reading out there that this post will give some understanding and support to. ((Hugs))

tracy.armstrong said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I'm going to definitely order this book. I have an 18 year old struggling with addiction and is currently in rehab. The program she is in has a parent support group which has been a saving grace for me (and so has knitting, btw). I will pass along the book to the other parents as well. Best wishes to you and your family and Happy Holidays

Lisa said...

I'm so sorry the two of you have to deal with this, but you're absolutely correct to realize that you cannot control the situation. That's probably the hardest thing parents ever have to do, and I'm glad that you agree and can lean on each other. BIG HUGS!!!

Roadchick said...

I know, all too well. I think dealing with the anger was the worst part.

We were so fortunate to come out the other side, still alive and intact, but unfortunately, my beautiful boy is just now realizing some of the impact of what he did - nearly every tooth in his head is going to have to be crowned due to the damage he caused to himself. Now the hard part is watching him dealing with his guilt and the knowledge that he did this to himself.

I may need to read this book, but then I think that maybe I don't. I just want to enjoy the sunshine for awhile.

Jan said...

Oh, my heart goes out to you and your family. I've been through this with an adult step-son who also has an anger issue and he is now forbidden from our property. I just will not live in fear at my own house. That makes us the pariahs of DH sisters family, whose 40 yr old son is still in jail (her fault of course, for not paying for an atty-this time). The word enable just doesn't mean anything to them. But it never stops being wishes to all of you.

Sara said...

Been there - done that - and it has been a painful part of my life as a parent...

I know what you are going through.

jomamma said...

So sad when families have to go through this. My brother's wife deserted him and their daughter for heroin. In and out of rehabs for 15 years to no avail... the pushers kept finding her and her mother kept bailing her out and giving her money. My brother and his now grown daughter are moving on with their lives.

katey said...

Wow. I don't know how I missed this post yesterday, but I know of what you speak. I had a boyfriend (who I was engaged to for a time) who was a closeted addict. He was destructive and lied about everything.

You know the drill. I know that you do.

I had the luxury of deciding to never see or speak to him again, but you just don't really, truly get to do that with family. You have to keep having the heartbreak over and over again, until, one day, hopefully, blessedly they decide for themselves that they want to change.

I hope this for your family. I do.

And if you don't get it, I hope that you and Wayne continue to keep your heads about you and hold on to your happiness.

Much love to you both!

Darcys Knotty Knitter said...

Thankyou for sharing the book and your story it needs sometimes to be said we cannot always be unicrns and rainbows it isn't realistic.((((Hugging You)))))) Darcy

Farmer Jen said...

It's healing to share your story and healing for us to read it. I don't have experience with chemical addiction personally or in my family, but I have a sister who is severely mentally ill and my father has dementia/alzheimer's both of whom I am currently dealing with. The drama and trauma sound very much the same as the addiction situation. I have to fight daily to NOT let it take over my own life. It's very hard. Thank you for sharing your story. You and Wayne are such beautiful people.