Saturday, April 28, 2012

A new day

Yesterday was a tough day, but I'm grateful to have had it, even though it was fraught with disappointment.

"Progress, not perfection," right? My son is still clean, and as of now he's still in his sober living house. My wife and I talked to him last night and told him that we were stepping back for a while. We told him that we love him very much, and that he needs to do whatever the house owner asks of him, even if he doesn't always agree with it. We also told him that he needs to work closely with his sponsor.

Some people have asked questions about my previous post. Things like Why are we letting his sponsor control our son's life?; or Why are we cutting off contact with our son altogether? All I can say is that my wife and I have tried many, many different things over the last seven-plus years we've been dealing with our son's addiction. None of them have really worked, so we're trying something new. That's all. We have come to learn that we can't control or cure our son's addiction. He has to be the one to help himself. And we believe that deep down inside he wants to do just that.

My wife and I have made many mistakes over the years. We've coddled and enabled our son way too much. He's 22 years old now and he has to start figuring things out for himself. That is why we are stepping back. To give him an opportunity to mature and gain independence. We are not abandoning him. We are always here for him and love him more than words can describe. We are simply giving him some space.

Will this approach work? Obviously, there's no way to know. But our son's sponsor suggested it, and my wife and I have agreed to give it a try.

Thanks for all the well wishes and prayers. I truly appreciate everyone who reads this blog.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Conned again

It's Friday morning, and what started out as a great day has suddenly gone downhill fast.

I just got a call from my son's sponsor, who is the person who got him into his current sober living house. The call was to tell me that my son is on the verge of being kicked out of the house he's in. Evidently he's been skipping meetings, not working the program as he should be, not communicating with his sponsor, etc. The owner of the house told my son this morning that he's on his last leg. The owner then called my son's sponsor to tell him the same thing. And, unfortunately, this is the second time this has happened in the last few weeks.

I'm incredibly disappointed, but not the least bit surprised. My wife and I have been conned again. It's not the first time. It's probably like the 4,275th time. And it won't be the last time. It's what addicts do. They live in their self-centered world, do what they want to do, and tell their loved ones what they think they want to hear. It's just part of the disease.

Our son's sponsor thinks our son has been lying to us so if he does get kicked out of the sober living house, we'll let him come back home...because he's clean. But I will tell you right now, that will not happen.

The only good news here is that my son is clean. So there is that. But if he gets kicked out of the house he's in, he's going to have to find somewhere else to live. And he's going to have to do it without mom and dad's help. My wife and I are done fixing things for our son. He's an adult and has to figure things out for himself.

His sponsor told me that we should not have any contact with our son until he has six months clean--with one exception: we're supposed to call him later today and tell him that we made a mistake by letting him come by the house over the last 30 days, talking to him on the phone, taking him places, etc. And that starting today, we are cutting off all contact. In fact, after I finish this blog post I'm going online to block my son's cell phone number from my wife's cell phone. (I don't have a cell phone.) No more calls. No more text messages.

I admit that my wife and I screwed up by not avoiding all contact with our son over the last month. It's just so hard to cut your child off completely. But that's what we need to do. Starting today.

If our son ends up getting kicked out of his sober living house, his sponsor said he can probably get him into some kind of shelter. So he won't be living on the streets. But his situation will drastically change.

Our son's sponsor is going to call him today and lay everything on the line. We're praying that our son will get the message and change his ways. But if not, we will accept whatever happens and let him deal with it on his own. That's the way it has to be.

Happy Friday.

"I've always thought I could use my brain and my heart to jockey everyone around to the good. But life is not jockeyable. When you try, you make people infinitely crazier than they already were, including or especially yourself." --Anne Lamott

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It feels different this time

I took the day off work yesterday to give myself a bit of a break. Work's been incredibly busy and stressful, and I get a lot of vacation time. It's just hard for me to take it in big chunks. So I've decided to take a day off here and there to take care of things around the house and recuperate a bit.

In the morning, the phone rang. Looking at the Caller ID, I could see that it was my son calling. Not too long ago, seeing his number on the Caller ID would send me into an immediate panic. Sometimes--no, most of the time--I wouldn't even answer. But yesterday I didn't feel that panic and picked up the phone.

My son has been wanting to get a new tattoo for a while, and he was calling to see if I would be willing to take him to the tattoo place after he got off work. (My son still doesn't drive.) He had earned the money to pay for the tattoo by working, which I thought was a huge accomplishment. So I agreed to take him. It actually worked out well, because I had to drive my younger son to an appointment around the same time, and both places were relatively close by.

When we picked up my son at his house, one of the first things he told us was, "I got my 30 day chip today." That was great to hear, and I gave him a fist bump, congratulated him, and told him I was very proud of him.

After dropping my younger son off at his appointment, my older son and I headed to the tattoo place. During the drive there, my son and I talked quite a bit. I told him again how proud I was that he had 30 days of sobriety under his belt. What he said in response came as a pleasant surprise to me. "I've had 30 days of clean time a few times before, but this is the first time it feels like 30 days of recovery instead of just 30 days of not using."

I thought that was a very revealing statement. My son went on to tell me that he hasn't even thought about using during the last 30 days. He said he's had some bad days, and some bad moments during other days, but that he's been able to deal with things without thinking about using. After seven plus years of battling addiction, a few stints in rehab, and six sober living houses, that statement by my son is a huge reason why it feels different this time. He said it with such honesty and conviction. It might be the most amazing and promising sentence I've heard come out of his mouth in seven years.

After getting his tattoo--which, by the way, is "XO" on his chest over his heart (XO is the name of an album by one of my son's favorite singer-songwriters, Elliott Smith; and also the subtitle of a song on that album, "Waltz #2 [XO]")--we went and picked up my younger son and headed home. When I dropped my son off at his house, I told him yet again how proud I was of him and how much I loved him.

It feels different this time.

Monday, April 23, 2012

30 days

It's been 30 days since my son moved into his new sober living house. And 30 days later, things are still good. He's working the program and working daily for the owner of the house, doing painting and various odd jobs. He's paying his own rent. Buying his own necessities. And becoming more independent.

Yesterday he came by for a visit. It was nice to have him hang out with his brother and me for a bit (my wife is out of town visiting her parents). I even cooked the two of them lunch. I can't remember the last time I cooked both my boys lunch. It was nice.

When I took my son back to his house, he showed me his house "financial statement." This is something the owner gives to the residents on a regular basis, to show them how much rent they've paid, how much money they've earned by working, what money has been paid out to them, etc. My son was very proud to show me that he was $72.00 in the black. That in and of itself is a huge step in the right direction. He's paying his own way and earning his own spending money. This is a first, and I think it's giving him a great confidence boost.

After more than seven years, this is the most optimistic I've been about my son's recovery. I pray every day that things continue to go well.

"It's never too late to be what you might have been." --George Eliot

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Living in the moment

I'm very happy to report that the last few days have been great ones. My son seems to be doing extremely well in his new sober living house. I think the painting job really helps, too, by keeping him occupied during the day and giving him a feeling of independence and self-worth.

The other day, my son walked over to our house to pick up a book I had bought for him. I asked him if he wanted a ride back to his house and he accepted my offer. When we got there, he asked me to come in for a tour. The house is really nice. It even has a koi pond in the backyard. Very peaceful and relaxing.

When I was leaving, I said to my son, "Make smart decisions." His reply? "I will. I can't afford not to at this point." I think he might finally be "getting" it.

In any case, I'm trying my best to live in the moment. I'm not lamenting about the past. Or worrying about the future. I'm just enjoying the here and now. One day at a time. And it feels incredibly good.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I've been inked

I guess I forgot to blog about this, so just a quick update for those of you who haven't already heard via Facebook or Twitter.

Nine days ago, I did something I never thought I'd do: I got tattooed.

For the last several years, when my kids have gone through difficult times, or when I just wanted to be reminded of how special they are to me, I've occasionally written their names on the inside of my wrists in black Sharpie. Over the last few weeks, I found myself doing it more often. So I decided to make it permanent with a couple of tattoos.

I got recommendations on where to have it done, then went there on my lunch hour and took care of business. I printed my sons' names on a piece of paper with a black Sharpie, and the tattoo artist made a stencil from it. Then she did her thing. No fancy fonts. No fancy colors. Just my boys' names, one on the inside of each wrist, in my own "handwriting," in black ink.

The tattoos look badass. And I will always be reminded just how special my sons are to me. I'm so glad I decided to do it!

Happy Easter

Today is Easter Sunday, and I wish everyone who reads this blog and celebrates this holiday a very happy and blessed day.

Easter in our house will be very low-key and quiet this year. I'll be cooking Easter dinner, but it won't be a big family affair. It'll just be me, my wife, and my younger son. We'll then deliver some meals to the other members of my family.

My older son did ask if he could come home for Easter dinner, but my wife and I are sticking to our friend's suggestion that we have limited contact with our son for 30 days. So instead, our son will be going to his roommate's family's house for Easter dinner. And I think that's a great thing.

Happy Easter, everybody. Enjoy your day. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your life. It's too short not to.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Two weeks later

It's been two weeks since my son moved into his latest sober living house. Fourteen days since my wife and I dug in our heels and did one the most difficult things we've ever had to do as parents. And two weeks later, I'm happy to report that things are going very well.

My son's been going to two meetings a day--including the 7:00am early bird meeting six days a week--and working the program. He's also been doing actual work: painting with some of his housemates for the house owner's painting business. Yes, he's been earning money towards his rent and earning his own spending money. No more National Bank of Mom and Dad.

Last night my son texted my wife and said that he feels the best he's felt since he was in California. That's a powerful statement, because at one point, while he was in Palm Springs, our son was in a really good place in his recovery.

My wife and I are cautiously optimistic and incredibly proud of our son. And we continue to pray that he finds his way. Maybe, just maybe, he is on the right path now.