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.


  1. I read your post and I know that feeling of stress and anxiety of having a child come home that needs to respect the boundaries set forth. In some ways I envy you, Ann Arbor seems well equipped to support Sam through his recovery. I spent 6 straight months looking for help for my son. Incidentally while we were so focused on our oldest child's recovery, our son was slipping through the cracks and we believed he would never be like his sister as he was so dead set against heroin and junkies. Needless to say he fell deeper into the darkness and became a full fledged iv drug user. My baby is 19 and clean and incarcerated. I am praying he gets to go into the STOP program in Portland. His court date is the 20th and he will not be home for Christmas. So I guess Dean what I am trying to say is savor the moments you can with your boy, as stressful as it may be. You and your wife are amazing. I am inspired by your commitment. Merry Christmas. Brett

  2. So hard, Dean.

    But if you don't mind, I'd like to point out two things. Twice you said 'guess.' "I guess that's a consequence of his actions." I'd like you to reframe that --- "it is a consequence of his actions" because, Dean, it is.

    And then again when you write, 'I guess the choice will be his.' Dean, he is 22 and the choice WILL be his. "The choice will be his." Can you say those sentences to yourself and take the "guess" word out?

    I'd like to leave you with this. I hope it helps you. It sure does me:

    "God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
    courage to change the things we can,
    and wisdom to know the difference."

    May your holiday be drama free. Remember your son is visiting your home and asking him to follow rules is not being mean or unreasonable...They are necessary. He does not have enough time under his belt for you to believe he has his Recovery under control just yet.

    I still know you will get there, Dean. Be strong. Be consistent. Be clear.

    Merry Christmas and Peaceful, Happy, & Healthy 2012.

  3. i concur w/ the 2nd post from anonymous @ DECEMBER 18, 2011 5:44 PM

    well stated.

    Dean I wish you and your family well this Xmas season..