Not With a Bang, But a Whimper

coffee lumbar11That’s how our son’s short stay with us ended. With a whimper, or something equally weak and mundane. A falling out over a laptop. And breakfast at Denny’s

He seemed to be going through the old predictable stages of his addiction while staying with us, as I wrote about in Am I Crazy? Or Is He? How Addiction Warps Us. First he was Hyper-Happy, then went to Mad Maniac, demanding I take him to buy Methadone on the street until his doctor’s appointment for a prescription to Suboxane came through.

But after that horrible experience, Dangerously Depressed seemed to be emerging, and I wanted to head it off.

I know how depression makes you want to hibernate, but if forced to move around, get outdoors, talk to people, sometimes it lifts. That’s what I was hoping.

After two days of hiding out in his room, in bed, blinds drawn, his eyes glued to the laptop monitor, I decided this was not healthy for him. I urged him to come out and spend time with his dad and me.

When he refused, I said OK, but I’m taking my laptop back. And I did.

He flipped out. Harsh words were exchanged. And he stormed off.

I didn’t think he’d go far. I didn’t think he’d act on the threat he’d made earlier that week, to hitch-hike into town to score heroin. Not over a laptop!

But I was wrong. He didn’t come back. Not that day, or the next day when he had his long-awaited doctor’s appointment and the promise of a Suboxane prescription. Not the day after that, or the next.

He’s not coming back.

I might have gone after him that first day, or given him back the damn laptop if it hadn’t been for that last “hug” and parting remark.

He grabbed me in the hall in a big bear hug, my arms pinned to my side. It felt more like a stranglehold than a hug, like what boxers do when they’re exhausted, before going to the next round. Alarm bells were ding-ding-dinging in my head.

“I love you,” he said sweetly, as he held me tight.

“Don’t worry. I’m not going to leave,” he crooned.

“Now give me back the damn laptop!” he growled and hugged me tighter.

Then he laughed.

I almost laughed with him. It was so absurd, what we were doing to each other. Me trying to control him with the laptop, him trying to control me with his hug.

He was laughing at himself, at me, at the fake hug that was holding us up and clenching us together. Laughing bitterly at the knowledge that I wasn’t going to give the laptop back, that this wasn’t going to end well, for either of us.

“Let me go,” I said finally, and he did.

But just before he let go, he whispered in my ear. “You know those Methadone pills I gave you to hold onto for me? You can flush them down the toilet. They’re just aspirin. It was heroin I was buying, heroin all along.”

Then he let me go and walked out of the house.

His parting words felt like a knife twisting in my stomach. But I know now it was the very thing he needed to say to let go of me, and to force me to let go of him. To enable him to walk away, and to keep me from going after him.

He was burning a bridge between us with that confession, and he knew it. There was no turning back.

He’s living at a homeless shelter now.

He missed his doctor’s appointment and never got the suboxane he wanted. Instead he signed up for a Methadone Detox at a clinic. They needed a co-pay to get him started, so I met him there that first day.

Before we parted again, for who knows how long, we had lunch together at a nearby Denny’s. The noisy restaurant was filled with normal people going about their normal lives. It felt surreal.

Normal is such a quaint thing. You grab it when you can. Even when it isn’t real.

We ordered huge breakfasts, and traded items off each others’ plates. I had a slice of his sticky-bun french toast, and he had some of my sausage skillet. We packed what was left of our meals into one box for him to take.

When the waitress put the bill down on the table between us, I grabbed it.

“I’ll get that, Son,” I told him, loudly, as the waitress was walking away.

“Are you sure, Mom?” he asked. “Thank you. I’ll get it next time.”

Then we laughed. Together this time.

It reminded me of that last laugh, when we were caught in that death-grip hug. Another surreal moment. Another recognition of the absurdity of life, our lives at least.

But this time, all the tension and remorse and guilt melted away in that shared laughter, and all that was left was love.

When we were done eating, I dropped him off in time for his appointment with his Drug and Alcohol counselor.

Then I drove away.

I don’t know when I’ll hear from him again. Not for a long while, I hope.

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36 thoughts on “Not With a Bang, But a Whimper

  1. ❤ Sending positive thoughts, I hope that someday your son recovers from this. A close friend of mine is a recovered heroin addict, methadone saved his life. Hopefully the methadone helps him, my friend was extremely motivated so I do believe that when and if he wants to get better he will.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story!My boyfriend is “trying” to get off of pain medication. Opiate addiction is so nasty. I’m thankful that he hasn’t transitioned to heroin so far, but I see so much of his, and my struggle with him, in this blog.

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  3. I’m sorry it didn’t work out the way you had hoped. Methadone saves lives, too though (it saved mine), so there is still hope. Try to remember that most of the things he says and does are the addiction speaking and doing through him. You’re doing the best you can, and he’s lucky to have you.

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      • I wish there was more I could do to help you (other than words of encouragement through comments).

        Do you mind if I ask if he is going to be on the methadone program, or just get on it for a short period of time and then taper off?

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        • He said he signed up for the detox program where he will be tapering off, but he said that was because it was less expensive and covered by medicare. Which kind helped you? Also, did you have underlying conditions that were treated at the same time? I’ve been doing more research and think he has borderline personality disorder. He’d been diagnosed with “borderline mania” years ago, and I was actually relieved. I thought, oh, that’s good, nothing truly serious, just “borderline!” Now I’ve found out that that is actually a serious condition!.

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        • Ironically, I literally just posted about my experience with mental illness. Currently I have no specific diagnosis; I was unofficially diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder when I was 16, but haven’t been able to see a professional since. People close to me think it’s either that, seasonal affective disorder, or bipolar disorder.

          As for getting treatment for those thing, I could have. I went to the methadone clinic, where I went up or down on my dose at my own pace. They had a psychiatrist there, but I heard she was lenient with prescribing other narcotics (xanax and the like), and it was slightly difficult to get an appointment with her. I saw her once, but I don’t really remember it. Most methadone clinics have many different kinds of counselors though. At mine, I had a counselor I saw once a month, a group I went to once a week, and some other random things. In my experience long-term was better for me. Many people continue to use in the beginning, it’s more of the harm-reduction idea I was telling you about before. The only thing is that many clinics are strict about drug tests, meetings, etc., but they’re all a little different. I know people who have done well with the methadone detox, but from what I know of your son’s story I’m afraid it won’t be a big enough impact for him.

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        • I just looked at your blog post. It does seem uncanny how we seem to be on the same wave-length on so many things. I’ll be responding to you post soon. I urged my son to talk to the people at the clinic about getting properly diagnosed and getting therapy. He said he would. I’m actually a bit more hopeful than I had been these last few days and weeds. The clinic appears to be a good one with “real” doctors, and evidence-based treatment, according to their website. They acknowledge that co-occurring conditions could be the root cause for addiction and try to treat that in addition to the addiction. So if he can get the therapy along with the methadone, I’m encouraged. I’ve read that they had had great success with Dialectic Behavioral Therapy for people with BPD, if that is what he has. At this point, any kind of counseling therapy would probably be helpful. I’m also encouraged because the homeless shelter where he’s staying tests daily and has a program with groups and meetings, and if you stay there for 3 months, they help you get permanent housing. That’s his goal. But he’s saying the Methadone is making him fuzzy-headed, larthargic, and has a lack of energy. That doesn’t sound goo to me. Do you have any experience with that?

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        • Oh definitely. One of my main problems with methadone is that I felt a kind of “rush” about half an hour after I took it every day, and I was incredibly tired all the time. A lot of the people around me thought I was still high. It may be his dose, but it may stay like that the whole time. Suboxone was a much better choice for me, but methadone did benefit my life for a year and a half.

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  4. I haven’t been in your situation (and I hope I will never have to be), but your writing brings tears into my eyes. Very touching. Thank you. I wish you snd ypur son all the best and hope for a good end.

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  5. I’m so sorry the chaos of addiction has done this to your family. I hope you’re getting some help yourself, to know that you’re not at fault for what your son is perpetrating. You’re in my prayers

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  6. Addiction is no fun! I am “only” addicted to Nicotine and I am fighting it since a few months. I am sorry what you have to go through, I wish we all would have an “on and off” switch and could just turn the addiction off. I only harmed myself, so no comparison at all, but I have the same voice in my head bullying me around, in my case it’s only asking for Nicotine. Stay strong!

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    • Yes, I know what you mean. I get cravings for comfort food when I’m stressed, and it is almost impossible to resist. And then I think of my son, and how hard/impossible it must be for him to try to resist his cravings, and yet we all expect that addicts should be able to “just say no!”

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  7. You narrate the struggles of addiction so well lots of people should read stories like this. It’s so hard to be the person on the outside watching it, and you are a strong person! Some times it easier to just let them go at on their own and hope, and be there when you can. I hate the cycle of addiction it’s defined my whole life between my parents, now my boyfriend. I agree with you, a break in the tension and letting go isn’t giving up its a relief from the pressure and constantly worrying. It might be helpful to your son, I hope it is. Thanks for Sharing your story!

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    • Thank you. I think we definitely need a long break from each other, but as the days go by, I start to worry and wonder. Sometimes that’s worse, not knowing what’s going on. I send him encouraging texts sometimes. It’s a relief when he answers back. Then I can sleep that night.

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  8. My breath becomes shallow, and my mouth dry as I read your blog. As a mother, through your blog I stand in your shoes and I feel your brave, impossible choices. Your writing about this makes me a different, more compassionate person.

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  9. I am so glad that my mother never really saw me at my worst. My girlfriend was really the one that bore the brunt of my addiction, more than anyone else.

    When I was in active addiction, I had very similar moments of intentionally saying the most hurtful thing possible, mainly because I was consumed by feelings of shame and worthlessness and I felt the need to push everyone away from me. I felt that my presence in others’ lives was contaminating them somehow. My extreme lack of self-esteem was one of the major things that kept me sick for all those years.

    Keep sharing your experience, I know there are many out there that can benefit from it.

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    • It breaks my heart to hear you say that. I think my son feels the same way sometimes, and that’s why he pushes me away. I hope you and your girlfriend are working through this together and that you are in a better place now. I so appreciate your sharing your thoughts with me.

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  10. I UNFORTUNATELY HAVE PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF EVERY SINGLE ASPECT OF YOUR STORY….. BUT I HAVE TO SAY, THANKING GOD THAT YOUR SON IS IN JAIL IS UNDERSTANDABLE, HOWEVER WHEN SOMEONE IS INVOLUNTARILY COMMITTED TO JAIL, THEY ARE FORCED TO GET CLEAN AND 99% OF THE TIME AS SOON AS THEY RETURN THE DEMON CALLED “ADDICTION” COMES BACK IN MOST CASES TEN TIMES AS SEVERE AS WHEN HE LEFT BECAUSE HE BRINGS SEVEN MORE DEMONS…. MORE EVIL THEN HE… JAIL ISN’T THE ANSWER. HE MUST WANT TO CHANGE HIMSELF… ONLY GOD CAN DO IT. DEMONS ARE REAL…. I KNOW I’VE SEEN THEM. I WELCOME YOU TO VISIT ON josephinacanseethehidden.wordpress.com or josephinaspiritualadvise.wordpress.com .FOR ADVISE AND PERSONAL KNOWLEGE….. GOOD LUCK, AND GOD BLESS YOU……..

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