Saturday, July 21, 2012

Going in the right direction

This week has been a pretty big one for my son, who, at age 22, still doesn't have his driver's license. He took driver's training when he was in high school and took the test to get his license when he was 16; but he had some problems with parallel parking and the tester failed him. He never tried taking the test again and his depression/addiction issues sidetracked the whole process for years. Until Monday.

On Monday, he planned to go to the Secretary of State's office to finally get another driving permit. His last permit expired when he was 18, so he hasn't driven in over four years. Before getting his permit he also had to get a replacement Social Security card, because he had lost his original one.

I took my son to the Social Security office Monday morning to get the replacement card and he took care of the whole transaction himself. That in and of itself was a big accomplishment for him. He seems to be overcoming his shyness and fear of such situations. Later in the day, my wife took him to the Secretary of State's office to get the permit. He took care of all the "business" there, too. And walked out of the building with his permit, which is actually a Level 2 driver's license.

In Michigan, a Level 2 license allows holders to drive a car unsupervised. The only real restriction is that they can't drive alone between 10:00pm and 5:00am. In order to drive during those hours, they have to be accompanied by either a parent or licensed driver who's 21 or older.

My wife and I didn't realize that our son could actually drive by himself now. He's the one who educated us about that. So on Wednesday we let him take my wife's car for the day so he could go out to a local mall and put in job applications. He also borrowed the car yesterday to drive to the pool with some housemates. And today he borrowed the car to go to an AA picnic at a local park.

Of course, my wife and I are a little bit nervous about all this driving stuff, but we decided our son needs to do this in order to mature and continue making progress with the basics of life; and, maybe most importantly, to continue gaining independence and self-confidence. Besides, my wife's car is pretty much a beater--it's a 1997 Lincoln Mark VIII that has a lot of issues, but still drives well. (We call it "The Pimp Car.") So if something were to happen to it, it wouldn't be the end of the world. (As long as our son or anyone else wasn't hurt, of course.)

To be perfectly honest, I was wondering if this time would ever come. But six-and-a-half years later, my son is behind the wheel and eligible to take the test for his full-blown driver's license whenever he's ready. (The Secretary of State waived the 30-day waiting period because he's over 21.) After some driving experience and some practice parallel parking, I think he'll be prepared to do that. And I'm very confident that he'll pass the test this time. He has way more self-confidence than he did when he was 16.

I'm still incredibly proud of my son for recognizing the fact that he was in a bad situation in Atlanta and realizing that he needed to get out of it. He's doing well at the sober living house. He is amongst friends in recovery, all of whom seem to be great guys. And the owner of the house has told my son that he sees a definite change in his attitude. I have, too. Example #1: He went to the midnight showing of the new Batman movie the other night and the movie didn't get out until about 2:45am. But my son still got up at 6:30am and went to an early bird meeting. Example #2: Yesterday he went to not one, not two, but three meetings.

I also have to say that it's nice having my son close to home again. Granted, it's a bit more stressful having him close by, but when he's far away my wife and I miss him so much. So does his little brother. And our three cats.

My son is 19 days clean today. It's not 90 days, but I think this time he's on his way to 90--and beyond. I sense that he's definitely going in the right direction. And for that, I'm grateful. And proud.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Here's the song

For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, here is my son's song. I uploaded an MP3 file to YouTube.



"ONLY GHOST" (lyrics)

just another way to kill the pain
just another way to shut me down
just another day that got away
it's all coming unwound
I could pull another couple strings
to get me off the streets
but I'd just as soon embrace the sting
and revel in self-defeat

where did it all go bad?
there's no way to tell
and it's all so sad
I did this to myself

a cigarette burn always marks the site
of my last fall from grace
yeah, you know I cannot seem to wipe
this guilt from off my face
it's a fire raging deep within
pour gas onto the flame
feeding 23 long years of sin
and it always winds up the same

where did it all go bad?
there's no way to tell
and it's all so sad
I did this to myself
I would kill to hold you close
but you're too far away
you could be my only ghost
and I'd love you just the same

(swear I'd love you just the same)

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Only Ghost"


My son came over for dinner on Saturday night, which was really great. I grilled burgers and the four us of had a nice family dinner together. But before dinner, my son told me he was "going upstairs to record something." An aspiring musician/songwriter, he had brought his acoustic guitar with him. So he headed up to my bedroom, where the seven-year-old eMac desktop computer resides.

About 20 minutes later, while I was downstairs on my laptop, I noticed that my son had posted something new on Facebook. It was a link to a music sharing site, where he had uploaded a new song called "Only Ghost." This is what he had recorded upstairs.

I listened to the song and was blown away. Even though it was a rough "demo" version of the song, recorded on the first take into an old computer, it moved me to tears. The song, which has a folk rock sound, is very personal; the lyrics tell part of the story of my son's journey.

I asked my son if I could share the song on Facebook and he had no problem whatsoever with that.  Not surprisingly, a lot of my friends loved the song and left very positive comments. My kid has a lot of talent.

I wish I could share the song here, but it's posted on the music sharing site under my son's real name and sharing it here would mean stripping him of his anonymity. But if you'd like to hear the song, maybe I can get him to post it to a more anonymous site; or simply give me an MP3 file that I can post here. (If you're friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, I posted the link to the song the other day.)

In the meantime, here are the lyrics to the song. Straight from my son's heart...

"ONLY GHOST"

just another way to kill the pain
just another way to shut me down
just another day that got away
it's all coming unwound
I could pull another couple strings
to get me off the streets
but I'd just as soon embrace the sting
and revel in self-defeat

where did it all go bad?
there's no way to tell
and it's all so sad
I did this to myself

a cigarette burn always marks the site
of my last fall from grace
yeah, you know I cannot seem to wipe
this guilt from off my face
it's a fire raging deep within
pour gas onto the flame
feeding 23 long years of sin
and it always winds up the same

where did it all go bad?
there's no way to tell
and it's all so sad
I did this to myself
I would kill to hold you close
but you're too far away
you could be my only ghost
and I'd love you just the same

(swear I'd love you just the same)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Beautiful people do not just happen."

Someone recommended another parent-of-an-addict blog to me today. The blog is called "Meth Addiction--A Mothers Perspective" and it's written by a mom who's relatively new to blogging.

When I went to the blog, I read the most recent post. Then I moved to the post immediately below it. A post entitled "Dedicated to all the beautiful people who are on the same journey." It was there that I came across this amazing quote:

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." --Elisabeth K├╝bler Ross

Wow. That quote spoke to me like not many others have.

It actually moved me so much that I made it my Facebook status update; posted it on my son's Facebook page; and e-mailed it to a friend who's going through a difficult time right now.

And now I'm sharing it with you.

It seems like blogging parents of addicts all share their experiences and innermost thoughts for the same reason: to help others. Like the author of this new blog says in her "About Me" section: "[I'm] hoping that as I travel along in my journey of acceptance of my son's addiction to meth, and journal my thoughts, I can help others who may be on the same path."

Finding that quote sure helped me today. Maybe it will help you, too.

"Beautiful people do not just happen."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Finally found those knives

Yesterday I was looking for something I couldn't find--a more frequent occurrence of late--and was going through all of the kitchen cabinets hoping it would turn up. I never did find what I was looking for, but on the very top shelf of one of the cabinets, waaay at the back, behind the soup bowls, I did find some things that I had forgotten were even missing: three small, very sharp knives.

About seven years ago, when my son first started to have issues with severe depression, he went through a "cutting" phase. He would use a knife to cut--or self-injure--himself. (To this day, you can still see the word "SIN" as a scar on his left bicep.) Knives would often go missing, and we'd sometimes find them in his room. Or hidden in his bed covers. It was very scary.

It finally got to the point where we had to hide all the knives. The larger kitchen knives were all hidden in one place. But these three smaller paring knives must have gotten stuck up on the top shelf of that cabinet at a different time. I'm not sure when they were hidden up there; but I do know why they were hidden up there.

Thankfully my son eventually outgrew his cutting phase. But finding those knives yesterday brought back some pretty dark memories. It also reminded me how much my wife and I have been through. And how much our son's been through.

And how far all of us have come.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Best thing I've read today

My son's latest Facebook status update:

"Extremely grateful to be back home with my friends. With their help I will be able to stay the fuck out of my head. Taking it easy, trying to get well. One day at a time."

Word.

The Fifth of July

My son is back in Michigan and has returned to the sober living house he was previously asked to leave because he wasn't getting up on time. Back then, the owner told him he couldn't come back under any circumstances. But my son took it upon himself--while he was still in Atlanta--to call the house owner and ask to come back, because he needed to. The owner agreed.

This was a monumental step for my son and I'm incredibly proud of him for taking the initiative. It shows me that he truly wanted it.

He spent one night at our house, had dinner with my family last night, went to a meeting, then went to sober living, where lots of familiar faces were ecstatic to see him.

The road to recovery is a long one. And even though it may get sidetracked from time to time, there is always Hope along the way. Always. We must never forget that.

Yesterday was the Fourth of July. But today I'm celebrating the Fifth of July. No fireworks needed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Goodbye, Atlanta

As I type this, my son is on his way to the airport in Atlanta. He's flying back to Michigan this morning. The arrangement with his roommate didn't work out, and he's decided--after a little more than a month--that he needs to come back to Michigan and return to a sober living house.

There are lots of feelings running through me right now: Pride. Fear. Disappointment. Gratitude. Love. Hope. Confusion. Happiness. Sadness. Etc. It's like I'm in a thunderstorm of mixed emotions without an umbrella. I'm just trying to sort them all out and avoid drowning in them.

I've been dealing with so much lately, including major health issues with my father (another thunderstorm of mixed emotions). I'm just not sure I can write an intelligent blog post at this time. I may post more details about my son's return later. Or not.

One question I do have: When is this incredibly long test God is giving me going to end? And, when it's done, will I pass or fail?

Regardless of the circumstances of his return, I love my son more than life itself. I will be very happy to see him and hug him. As will his mom, his brother, his grandma, his aunts...and, of course, his cats. 

The journey continues...