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.