Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When It Don't Come Easy

“You're out there walking down a highway
And all of the signs got blown away
Sometimes you wonder if you're walking in the wrong direction.”
--From the song "When It Don't Come Easy" by Patty Griffin

I’m in a funk and have been for a few days now. I do indeed feel like I’m walking in the wrong direction; heading down a highway willy-nilly, with no idea whatsoever of where I’m going. That’s pretty much the same way I’ve felt for a few years now. There is no road map for the trip I’m on. I know that. But that doesn’t make feeling lost any easier.

I won’t bore you with a detailed recap of the entire Memorial Day weekend. I will tell you, though, that Friday was the only day my son got out of bed before the very late afternoon/early evening. And Monday was one of those days where I just shook my head and wondered what the hell just happened.

My head-shaking on Monday was the result of having given my son a little bit of freedom on Sunday night. He asked if he could go to a movie with a few friends of his. My wife and I were a little hesitant, but we thought it would be good for him to get out of the house and do something with friends. Of course, in order to do so he needed money. So we gave him $12.00 and told him that he needed to bring us a ticket stub from the movie. It was a pretty simple request, and one my son agreed to.

Well, you can probably guess what happened on Monday when I asked for the ticket stub. The response was, “It’s in my wallet, but I can’t find my wallet.” Fortunately, while my son was in the shower, my wife found his wallet. Unfortunately, we went through it and there was no ticket stub. When I confronted my son about the missing ticket stub, he said he didn’t know what happened to it. It was in his wallet. He swears it was. (Except that it wasn’t. And it never did turn up.)

This whole incident might sound like a little thing to get worked up about, but when you give money to a recovering addict, you always run the risk that it will trigger illicit behavior. I hope that’s not what happened. And I’d love to believe that the ticket stub from the movie just got lost. But, as I’ve said before, the trust is hard to come by these days.

Someone needs to drive out and find me, because I don't want to feel lost anymore.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

One year later

Yesterday marked exactly one year since my son completed his first rehab stay. A lot has happened since then, no doubt. Some of it's been good. Some of it's been bad. And one year later, I'm not sure if we're in a better place or not. But one thing I do know for sure: My son is still alive, and for that I am thankful.

I love my son with all my heart. I hope he can continue to make progress in his recovery during the coming year. And I hope he can find some happiness soon.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A little help from my son

Yesterday I spent the whole morning and part of the afternoon cutting and laying five rolls of sod. I did it to fill in bare spots in my lawn where I had killed off wild violets that were spreading like crazy last fall. The job was pretty labor intensive and tedious. Make the bare spot a perfect square or rectangle, measure the spot, cut the sod to fit, lay it in the spot, trim it if necessary, stomp on it, water it, etc. And then repeat, about 20 times over. Luckily for me, I had a helper throughout the entire project: my son.

I'm not sure what motivated my son to get up early yesterday morning, but he did. Maybe it was the comment I made at the dinner table on Friday night, after I mentioned that I was going to spend much of Saturday laying sod. "Can I help you?" my son asked me. "You'll probably still be sleeping when I'm all finished," I replied. Maybe that wasn't the nicest thing I could've said, but I thought it was a pretty realistic prediction.

So yesterday morning, I got up and went to the garden center to pick up the sod. I got back around 8:30am, took the sod out of the van, and went inside the house for a minute. When I walked in the door, my son was standing in the kitchen, wide awake and dressed. It was one of those little miracles that I wish could happen every day. A little slice of normalcy in my otherwise abnormal life. And not only was my son up and dressed, he was ready to help me with the sod-laying chore.

I think the whole job took about four hours, and my son was there with me for about 95 percent of it. He helped with all of the tasks and it was nice having his assistance. Even though it wasn't exactly a fun activity, I still consider the time we spent together "quality time." It was father and son, working together to accomplish something that needed to be done for the household. And that hasn't happened a whole lot in the last few years.

I'm not sure if the rest of the weekend will see my son getting up earlier or not--right now it's 11:00am and he's still in bed--but I'll gladly take yesterday and put it in the positive column.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The long weekend begins...with a hiccup

Today is the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend and I'm done with work until Tuesday. I'm taking a vacation day tomorrow and I'm looking forward to four days away from work. That has to be a good thing.

I wish the long weekend would've started totally stress-free, but it didn't. My son was supposed to go to his Intensive Outpatient Program at Brighton Hospital today, but instead chose to blow it off, telling my wife that he didn't feel well and couldn't get up to go. My wife waited 'til late in the day to call me at work and tell me this, and I'm glad she did. If she'd have called earlier, I probably would've stressed out about it all day. When I did find out, though, I of course started contemplating the reasons why my son would've skipped the IOP today (as well as a meeting last night).

As the parent of an addict, it's only natural to think the worst when something like this happens. Since a drug test is part of the IOP, it's not really a stretch to think that maybe my son wanted to avoid going because he's using again. Maybe that's the catastrophizer in me rearing its ugly head, but it's a logical conclusion. I'd like to think that my son really didn't feel well. I'd love to be able to trust him when he says something like that. But to be honest, my son has pretty much destroyed any trust I had in him. And it will be a long time before that trust is rebuilt, because I've been played and lied to and manipulated way too many times over the last couple of years.

I don't know what the weekend will bring. Or even what the next few hours will bring. My son doesn't have any money and he's out of cigarettes. That probably means that he's going to be asking for money sometime tonight. But after what he pulled today, he's got another thing coming if he thinks we're going to just hand him some cash. So that could be interesting. There also could be a drug test in my son's very near future. That could be interesting, too. Never a dull moment in this house, that's for sure.

I'm going to try really hard to play through the pain caused by my son's actions today. I've been looking forward to this long holiday weekend and I will do everything in my power to keep it going in a positive direction. I will not let this "valley" ruin my weekend. At least, that's my goal. Wish me luck.

Monday, May 18, 2009


There. I said it. "Uncle." Which is another way of saying, "I give up." And that's just about where I'm at today, for a few different reasons.

First of all, my son admitted the other day to using again. It was "only marijuana" (his words), but that doesn't soften the blow much. And I know that "Relapse is a part of recovery." But so what. It's still very disappointing.

Then there was Saturday night, which was a major challenge in our house. My son was upset because of some issues with his friends, and my wife and I were the ones his anger was directed at. We were accused of everything from not caring to the exact opposite: being over-protective. Maybe my son was just saying things without thinking in a fit of rage, but I have to say that being accused of not caring about him really hurts. When I think of all the time, money, and energy--both physical and emotional--that my wife and I have expelled trying to help our son over the last five years or so, I am dumbfounded as to how he can accuse us of not caring. And as far as being over-protective goes? Sure, we're going to be pretty damn cautious given the circumstances facing us. To not do so would be, in my opinion, reckless.

The kicker came today, though, and it has nothing to do with my son. At least not directly. Today was the first day of enrollment for my employer's new health care plan. Our medical benefits are changing on July 1st because our association with the company that used to own us is ending (we were bought by a private equity firm a couple of years ago). I was pretty certain that the amount I pay for my health care coverage was going to go up. But I was shocked by what I found out this morning.

Under the most expensive health care option I can afford--which will cost me about $40.00 a month more out-of-pocket--the co-pay for a mental health/substance abuse office visit will now cost my family $40.00 instead of the current $20.00. For my oldest son alone, that's probably going to mean an additional $1,800.00 a year out-of-pocket if we want to continue his current treatment. And this doesn't even take into consideration any mental health office visits for me, my wife, or my youngest son. This is going to make it incredibly difficult for me and my family.

It is said that God only gives us as much as we can handle. If that is indeed the case, someone please tell God that I'm close to my breaking point.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Progress, not perfection

As I alluded to in an earlier post, yesterday was a tough day at our house. But last night, my son got home from a meeting and apologized to me for the stuff that had happened in the morning. He said he's "working on things" and then dropped the "Progress, not perfection" line on me. After I thought about it for a minute, I realized that that should be the goal with him: Progress. Not perfection. As wonderful as it would be, I really can't expect things to change quickly. It's definitely going to take some time.

Yes, last night my son taught me something. And for that I am grateful.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Last week of school

This is the last week of community college classes for my oldest son. All I can say about that is "Thank God." This morning was another ridiculous affair, with him refusing to get up until every ultimatum in the book was thrown at him. He finally got up and out the door, but he was definitely late.

I have no idea how my son's grades will be for this term, or if he'll even pass any of his classes. While the controlling part of me sometimes thinks I should've kept a closer watch on him and his schoolwork and his grades, the ever-so-slightly-sane part of me knows that my kid is 19-years-old and needs to start taking care of business for himself. I think that's the only way he's ever going to figure life out. If he tanks in school this term, maybe it'll be a wake-up call. Or not. I guess time will tell.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Good news, good times

I got the results of my stress test and echocardiogram on Thursday. "Everything is fine and normal." Let me tell you: That is a huge relief. With a history of high blood pressure in my family and the incredible amount of stress I've been under for quite awhile, it's a blessing to eventually get this news. And here's why I say "eventually"...

The doctor's office called my house Thursday morning while I was at work. My mom was here with my youngest son, who was home sick, so she took the call. Then she passed the message on to my wife, who came home shortly thereafter. Eight hours later, while my wife is with my oldest son at his therapy appointment, I'm watching TV with my youngest son and he says, "Oh, did anyone tell you that your cardiologist's office called today?" Definitely a communication breakdown. But I'm not complaining about the good news!

Last night my wife and I went to the Rotary Club Whitefish Dinner in her hometown of Albion, Michigan. Her dad is in the Rotary Club and we decided to make the 90-minute drive to show our support and visit a bit. We also met three of my wife's high school friends there and went out afterwards with them. The dinner was nice and it was fun to meet some people from my wife's past and have some quality "adult time." Originally, both of our boys were supposed to go with us. But our youngest was still not feeling well. And when we were ready to leave to head to Albion at 3:30 yesterday afternoon, our oldest--and I know you'll find this very hard to believe--was not out of bed yet. So my wife and I decided to leave both boys home and just have a night out for ourselves. It was definitely an excellent decision.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


What a great 24 hours I've had.

Yesterday afternoon, I somehow tweaked a muscle or vertebra in my lower neck/upper back. As a result, I could barely turn my head or move at all without pain for a good part of yesterday and all last night. I had to skip coaching my Little League game. And sleeping was a total bitch. As if that wasn't enough, this morning I had to go in for a stress test and echocardiogram at my cardiologist's office. Rescheduling the test really wasn't an option because the office requires at least 24 hours notice. If I'd have given them less than 24 hours notice, they would've charged me $150.00 for the radioactive isotope tracer stuff they had to secure for the test. In the interest of not throwing away $150.00, I decided to proceed with the testing.

Let me tell you, there's nothing like being in severe pain and having to lie on your side for an ultrasound for 15 minutes or so; then on your back with both arms up over your head for 14 minutes while a camera takes pictures of your heart; then running on a treadmill at a hellacious pace for 12 minutes so your heart rate gets up past 145; and then having to do the arms-up-over-your-head-camera-thing again for another 15 minutes. Needless to say, the testing took a lot out of me and sure didn't help my neck/back pain at all.

To add insult to injury, when I got home from my stress test today I discovered that my son didn't get up for school yet again. I'm pretty much at the end of my rope with the school thing. I didn't choose the class that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:00am. In fact, I suggested early on that it might not be a very good idea. But my son assured me that it wouldn't be a problem. Well, I hate to say, "I told you so," but...

I think we're rapidly approaching a crossroads in this house. It may be time for an ultimatum. If you want to be treated like an adult, start acting like one. And stop jerking everyone around. It's just plain getting old. Real old.

Friday, May 1, 2009


It's Friday. Thank God. The week had some ups and it had some downs. But that's life, right? I mean, even if my situation wasn't what it is, I'd still have ups and downs during the week. So I'll try not to dwell on the negatives, try to embrace the positives, and roll with it as best I can. Hopefully the weekend will be a good one.