Saturday, December 24, 2011

Home for Christmas

As I type this post, my wife is on her way to Ann Arbor to pick up our son. He is coming home for Christmas weekend and we will take him back to his sober living house on Monday. Although I'm sure it will be a bit stressful, we're all really looking forward to spending Christmas together. (There are also three cats in this house who will be thrilled to see their buddy again.)

Today we will decorate our tree. It's been up since last weekend, but we've been waiting for our son to come home before we decorate it. After that, we'll probably just hang out, wrap gifts, watch football, and enjoy being together at home.

Tomorrow we will exchange gifts and I will cook up a nice Christmas dinner.

Nothing too overhwelming. Just a nice Christmas weekend together. Fingers crossed.


On a Christmas-related note, yesterday my wife and I went to our local Kmart store and anonymously paid off the layaway balances for three people. Money has been tight for us lately, but we know there are a whole lot of other families in much worse shape than us. Hopefully our gesture will help make this Christmas a little happier and a little easier for those three people and their families. And being "Secret Santas" made my wife and I feel pretty special inside.

'Tis the season.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Majoring in "Recovery"

So, my son has been living in a sober living house in Ann Arbor for almost two weeks now. Things have been up and down with him, but at least I'm pretty sure that he's clean and sober. At least nobody at the house has told us otherwise (they do drug test the residents). So that's a good thing.

Monday was his 22nd birthday, and we weren't able to be with him to celebrate. But we did go out and visit him on the Saturday before, took him to lunch, bought him a bus pass, and did some shopping at the mall. It was nice to hang out with him, and even nicer for him and his brother to have some quality time together.

I think my son is a bit disappointed to be back in Michigan. In a perfect world, I think he would've liked to have stayed in Palm Springs, with the warm California weather and the new friendships he had made. But he didn't follow the rules, and I think he thought heading back east was his only option. The house he's living in now is nowhere near as nice as the sober living house he was living in in California. He went from living in a pretty plush place to living in the basement of a house that's much--how shall I say it?--less comfortable. But I guess that's a consequence of his actions.

I do think Ann Arbor is a good place for him to be, though, assuming he embraces it, works hard on his recovery, and gets/stays serious about moving forward on the right path. I told him the other day to think in his mind that he's attending the University of Michigan and majoring in "Recovery." He's in a great college town and living in a house that's probably the kind of house he'd be living in if he was living off-campus as a student. He needs to "go to class" every day, study hard, and work towards that Recovery "degree." It would be nice if he found some kind of work, too, because Lord knows my finances will not be able to support both him and the rest of the family much longer.

This week will be tough. With Christmas coming up a week from today, my wife and I haven't quite figured out what to do about our son coming home for the holiday. He said the house manager told him he would be allowed to come home for two days. While that sounds great, and we'd love to have him spend some time with us--he hasn't been in our house in almost four months--there will more than likely be a huge amount of stress associated with such a visit.

My wife and I are in the process of coming up with a list of "boundaries" that we would expect our son to follow if he comes home for Christmas. While we don't want to be too controlling, the simple fact of the matter is that if he's going to be spending time here, he's going to have to follow house rules. That may even include not going to visit friends who live nearby, because some of those friends are still doing the kinds of things that our son just can't do if he wants to stay clean. One stupid decision could get him kicked out of the house in Ann Arbor; then he would be in an incredibly difficult position.

I'm not sure if he'll agree to the rules we set forth. But if he doesn't, we will probably just tell him we'll pick him up on Christmas morning, let him spend the day at home, and then take him back later in the evening. I guess the choice will be his.

The holidays are always stressful. But when you're the parent of an addict, that stress can be multiplied exponentially. And then some. I have to remember that my life--and my recovery--are important, too. Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of that. But I'm working harder on staying focused on me. I think I need to major in "Recovery," too.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tough morning

I think I just had some sort of mini breakdown. Haven't cried that much in a long time. Sometimes it's the only way to feel better. So happy to have such a wonderful wife. She helped me through it.

One day at a time.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Back to Michigan

Through a series of unfortunate events, my son's California treatment/sober living days have come to an end after a little more than three months. There's no need to detail everything that happened, but the unfortunate events did include another relapse, which resulted in a positive drug test and my son's expulsion from his sober living house. Rules are rules, and if you break them you will suffer the consequences. At some point, that has to sink in, doesn't it?

During the series of unfortunate events, one thing did happen that made me extremely proud of my son. A girl he knows, who is also in recovery and was also kicked out of her sober living house, texted him late one night from her hotel room. She told him that she had just taken all of her meds. My son reacted by waking up someone in his house who had a car, going to the hotel, and taking the girl to the hospital. The woman who runs the sober living house told my wife that our son "saved that girl's life." That's pretty powerful.

So tomorrow, my son flies from Palm Springs back to Michigan. He's coming "home," but he's not coming home. Arrangements have been made for him to move into a sober living house in Ann Arbor, which is about an hour's drive from where we live. The house appears to be a decent place--though nowhere near as nice as the Palm Springs digs--and the guy who owns it is in recovery himself. It's near a bus line (Ann Arbor has a great bus system), near the University of Michigan Addiction Treatment Services (which has top-notch outpatient care), and is reasonably priced. Ann Arbor is also supposed to be a very recovery friendly city, with lots of AA and NA support meetings to attend, a large recovering community, and a strong support network. I think there should be some decent job opportunities there, too.

This whole "move" is happening pretty quickly, and my wife and I were scrambling a bit yesterday, making sure our son got all his "extra" stuff to the UPS Store so they could pack it and ship it back here. (He ended up with more stuff in Palm Springs than he originally took there because we had sent him things he had needed/wanted over the course of his stay there.) One observation: Having a bunch of clothes and books and a guitar packed and shipped from California to Michigan isn't cheap.

Late tomorrow afternoon, we will pick our son up at the airport, take him to his new sober living house, and help him get situated. It'll be great to see him, but I wish it was under different circumstances. I'm also not sure how it's going to be having him in sober living so close to home. Yes, it's an hour away, but it's way closer than California. I'm pretty sure he might lobby to come home at some point. But that really isn't an option anymore. At least not until he gets some quality sober time under his belt and gets back to working the program seriously.

December is going to be a tough month. My son's 22nd birthday is only eight days away. And, of course, Christmas is right around the corner. I'm not sure how these days will be celebrated, but I guess we'll figure it all out as it comes.

I really hope this Ann Arbor thing works out, because it's probably the last option we can afford. The last few months--the last few years, really--have drained us financially, and at some point my son is going to have to take full responsibility for his recovery; if he ultimately chooses to recover. My wife and I have to do what's best for us and for our younger son. We have lives, too.

The next couple of days will be interesting and challenging. But then, being the parent of an addict is always interesting and challenging. That's the nature of the beast. If you're reading this post, please take a moment to say a prayer or think a good thought for my family...especially for my son.