Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I decided to say nothing to my son last night. My wife and I had discussed talking to him about it, but I just didn't want to deal with it. My nephew from New York is staying with us, and I didn't want a "discussion" about my son's drug habit to escalate into something that would ruin the night for everyone. And who knows? Maybe "The Silent Treatment" will have more of an effect than any sort of discussion would have. Lord knows my kid has heard everything I would've said last night before.

We will discuss what happened. Eventually. But I'm pretty sure that this time any such conversation will end with, "You have until such and such a date to move out of the house." Because I'm done trying to fix things. And I'm done letting my addict son dictate how I feel. And I'm tired of having a black cloud hover over my house and family. I'm just done with it all.

Oh, and I confirmed that the phone calls my son made/got came from his drug dealer. I actually called the number, just because I was curious. It was a cellphone, and the call went to voicemail. The recording said the voicemail box was full. But less than a minute later, the guy called back and I answered the phone. He thought I was my kid, calling me by my son's name. When I told him he was in fact talking to his customer's father, he claimed to have the wrong number. Interesting experience, for sure. It's not every day you get to talk on the phone to your son's drug dealer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So disappointing

Please be forewarned that this post might be a little incoherent. I'm in kind of a bizarre state of mind right now.

Tonight, after declaring that he was 67 days clean, my kid said he wanted to walk to his AA meeting because he needed to decompress. Shortly before this announcement, he got a phone call. This was right after he had made a phone call. You can probably see where this is going, can't you?

So after he left for his meeting, I checked the caller ID and the last number dialed on the phone. The numbers matched. And wouldn't you know it? The phone number was the number of my son's friendly neighborhood drug dealer. I know this because it's the same number my son called the night he gave us a sob story about owing his dealer money. The night that my wife and I so stupidly gave him the money to pay the dealer back with, thinking at the time that it was the best thing to do. We gave him the money that night, then he called the guy to tell him he was bringing it over. And the number he called that night is the same number he called tonight.

I can hardly wait to hear what my son will have to say for himself when he gets home.

This should definitely make for an interesting holiday around here. Kind of sad that it happened on the night we put our Christmas tree up.

Quote for tonight: "Trust is like a vase. Once it's broken, though you can fix it, the vase will never be the same again."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thanks, society

Well, that didn't take long.

Last night, my son told us that he really wanted to go out and buy some beer. Because that's what people do when they turn 21. (Thanks, society.) And even though he doesn't like alcohol, he likes the taste of beer. Then he asked why we think he's gonna go out and get "shit-faced"--his words, not mine--all the time.

So, less than 11 hours after I made a blog post expressing fear that my son might want to start drinking now that he's legal, that fear walks right up to me and kicks me in the gut. Hard.

My wife and I tried to explain our concerns to our son. We told him that with his addiction history, drinking probably wouldn't be the best thing for him to do. I asked him why he would even want to start drinking, especially after all he's been through; and after he's seen close up in AA meetings how alcohol can ruin so many lives. I didn't really get an answer, though.

I don't want to sound negative, but I fear that this situation is a timebomb, ticking and just waiting to explode. I think my son thinks drinking beer has nothing to do with smoking pot or snorting heroin. That drinking and drug use are totally unrelated. But with his past history of addiction, I would say there's a very high probability that he's wrong. If he starts drinking, I shudder to think what might happen. Especially with a history of alcoholism in my family.

I also told my son that if he chooses to start drinking, he'll have to do it while living somewhere else. I felt bad saying that, but my family has been through hell and back with the marijuana and heroin use. There's no way we're going to go through it all again with alcohol. We just don't have anything left in the tank. If my son wants to celebrate his entry into adulthood by becoming a drinker, he can become a full-blown adult and get himself a job and a place of his own to live.

Less than 11 hours. Damn. That didn't take long at all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

21 years later

My son turns 21 today. I can't even believe it. It seems like only yesterday that my wife and I were trying to figure out how life works when there are suddenly three of you instead of only two. Now it's 21 years later. Where the hell did the time go?

I think 21 is the birthday that grabs someone who's still pretty much a kid and yanks them into adulthood, whether they're ready for it or not. People mature at different rates, but once you hit 21 you've got the "adult" label on you for the rest of your life.

As my son turns 21, I'm not sure if he's ready for that full-time "adult" status. He may be deemed an adult by the general public, but I know he still has a lot of growing up to do. He probably knows that, too.

Twenty-one is also the "magical" age in our society that allows someone to legally drink alcohol. As I've mentioned before, I'm scared to death that my son might decide to start drinking, even though alcohol has never been his drug of choice. I think he's only drank a handful of times in his life, and he openly admits that he hated it. I hope he continues to feel that way.

While I can certainly hope for what the future holds, there's no way I can control it. Lord knows I've been reminded of that on more occasions than I can count. But for today I'll revel in the fact that my adult son who lives at home will most likely spend his evening taking 21 shots at enemy troops in some video game he'll be playing on his new PS3 instead of trying to down 21 shots of alcohol in some bar or dorm room.

When you become a parent, nothing is guaranteed. You hope that your children are healthy and intelligent, and grow up to be fine adults. But if there are a few bumps in the road along the way--like addiction and depression--you have to improvise and ad lib to the best of your ability in order to help everyone--most importantly, your child--get through it. There's no owner's manual. It's like trying to figure out the most complicated computer software known to mankind just by sitting down and playing around with it. Trial and error. Over and over and over again.

All this somehow brings me back to what I think is the most powerful passage in David Sheff's remarkable book Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction. It is a passage I quote with much frequency:

"Our children live or die with or without us. No matter what we do, no matter how we agonize or obsess, we cannot choose for our children whether they live or die. It is a devastating realization, but also liberating."

Yes, our children our "ours," and they always will be. But at some point, the responsibility for their lives transfers over to them, and we as parents just have to sit back and watch. Watch and hope that they can figure things out for themselves.

So, as my son turns 21 today--actually, at 9:57 pm tonight--I will celebrate his passage into "official" adulthood; not by taking him out for a beer, but by cooking him a birthday meal at home and eating some cake and ice cream with him and the rest of our family. And while he's making a wish and blowing out the candles on his birthday cake, I'll be making a secret little wish of my own.

Happy 21st birthday, son. I love you more than words can say.