Sunday, November 20, 2011

When will it sink in?

It's been 89 days since my son went to Palm Springs, California, for his latest round of treatment. After 39 days of inpatient treatment at Michael's House, he moved into sober living. That happened on October 1st. Almost two months ago. And yet, after nearly three months total in Palm Springs, my son still doesn't seem to "get" it.

His recent relapse was disappointing, but it was still something I could deal with. Relapse is part of the disease, and it is a very small percentage of addicts who get sober without ever relapsing. That's just an unfortunate fact of life. The things I do have tremendous difficulty dealing with, though, are the things my son does--or doesn't do--that seem to indicate he just doesn't care. For example...

While he's been away, my son has overdrawn his bank account multiple times. This is the account my wife and I deposit money into so our son has money to buy groceries and other essentials. We've told him numerous times to keep better track of his money, and to be careful not to overdraw the account. But he just keeps doing it. And it costs us money in bank fees whenever it happens. Last night my wife told him to send us his debit card and we would just wire him money from now on. That costs $5.00 a pop, but it's way cheaper than the bank fees.

A week ago yesterday, my son had a first appointment scheduled with a new therapist who came highly recommended by another family whose son is in recovery. We sent the therapist a check to pre-pay for the session. But guess what? Our son decided to just not go. No phone call to the therapist or anything. He just didn't go.

This past Friday, we got a call from the head of the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) at Michael's House. He said our son hadn't been to IOP in three days, and that if he didn't call or show up by Monday they were going to discharge him, because he wasn't living up to the terms of the program. When my wife called our son to tell him this, he said he's been having trouble sleeping and hadn't been able to get up in time to go to IOP. That story sounds a bit fishy to me, but at least he called the head of the IOP late Friday afternoon and told him he would be there on Monday. Will that actually happen? We'll have to wait and see.

It's these types of things that make me wonder if my son really cares about getting sober. Or if he thinks he's just on vacation out in California for a while on our dime. To be perfectly honest, my wife and I are very close to telling him that we're cutting him off. No more money, no more assistance with anything. That may seem harsh, and it would probably really hurt us to have to do that. But I'm not sure we have many choices left. We continue to be taken advantage of, and it's getting old.

If we cut him off, I can't imagine what would happen to our son. He has no job, no car, no driver's license, no other place to live. There are only nine days left in November, and when the end of the month comes there will be hard decisions to be made. Do my wife and I want to continue financing what seems like a less-than-sincere attempt at recovery? I don't think so. Can we possibly come to the incredibly painful decision to cut our son off completely? I'm not sure. But the clock is ticking.

There were two more little things that happened yesterday--which happened to be my twenty-third wedding anniversary--that really made me sad.

During an exchange of text messages with our son about the bank issues, my wife finally texted him from the restaurant we had gone to for a celebratory lunch and said, "I'm done talking about this for now. We're celebrating our anniversary." She got no message back. Nothing at all. It might sound a bit selfish, but we both thought it would've been nice if our son had at least replied with "Happy anniversary." But he didn't.

Then, late yesterday afternoon I posted a quotation to my son's Facebook wall. It was a quote that I really like, and I felt it was rather appropriate:

"Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it." --Bill Cosby

I was hoping my son might find some inspiration in that quote. But instead, he deleted the post from his Facebook wall. That may sound like a trivial thing, but it kind of hurt me. On the other hand, maybe he is afraid. Maybe that's why he deleted it.

I think it's going to be a tough week in our house. Thanksgiving is coming up on Thursday, and this will be the first Thanksgiving we've ever spent without our son. I'm sure there will be some tears shed. He can be a tremendous pain in the ass a lot of the time. But we do miss and love him. I just hope the whole recovery thing sinks into him soon.


  1. Dean, May I first extend my wishes to you and Kathy for a very happy Anniversary. To be able to stay together through the trauma Sam's addiction has caused your family is a mighty achievement, and I know your love must be very strong to withstand this.

    You know I have been following your story for a long time. I will make a couple of comments. If your gut is telling you something is "fishy," it is, Dean. You have never been wrong in that dept. so far. Secondly, you cannot want Sam's Recovery more than he does. All you can do is provide him with the tools to get better and set him free...God knows you have done that and then some.

    I'm sorry your hearts will be heavy this Thanksgiving. I feel your pain. Remember to laugh too after the tears. Don't let Sam's disease steal all the joy that there is between you and Kathy and you guys and Josh.

    Lastly, I am praying for Sam. And I am holding you closely in my heart & thoughts.

    All my love,

  2. We're in similar places right now. I did just cut my son off and it feels horrible. He has nothing with him and I don't know if he's going to go on a drug binge today or show up at a rehab tonight. I've been told by many people to LET GO and that's what I am desperately trying to do.

    I hate to say this, but it sounds like your son, like mine, is not ready for recovery. One thing I've learned is that there is nothing we can do to help them want it. But, so many have told me that it wasn't until they cut off their child, that they actually were ready. Its just very scary.

    I'm thinking of you today.

    And, Happy Anniversary.