Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why have I kept this stuff?

My wife is out of town tonight, spending the night at her parents' house in northern Michigan after driving our younger son back up to school after a two-week spring break. So I've been putzing around the house, cleaning a little, organizing a little, and what have you.

While I was putting some papers into the safe in our bedroom--the safe we bought to lock up all our medications and valuables in while our older son was living at home--I came across a Ziploc bag of "stuff." What kind of stuff? This kind of stuff:

These are just some of the things I "collected" while my son was living with us. Most of this stuff was found right before he moved out; after I started going through his room, his guitar bag, backpack, etc. (Yes, parents of addicts do engage in their own little "scavenger hunts" from time to time.)

I'm sure I missed out on a lot of other finds over the years. I mean, I was naïve--clueless, really--for so long. As I've said before, being the parent of an addict doesn't come with an instruction manual. You learn as you go along.

In any case, the stuff I keep in that Ziploc bag in the safe includes: tiny little plastic packets that used to contain heroin; a CO2 (carbon dioxide) cartridge used for huffing; a dollar bill through which cocaine was snorted; a "one-hitter" stealth marijuana pipe that looks like a cigarette; empty incense and potpourri packages; and even the phone number of one my son's old drug dealers (which I got by pressing "redial" on our home phone after I overheard him making a call one night).

So the question is: Why have I kept this stuff? And the answer is: I don't know.

Part of me thinks I've kept it to remember the struggles our family has been through. And the struggles my son has been through. That might sound kind of crazy and sick, but I'm being totally honest. It's almost like it's a "negative trophy." Not a trophy you'd want to display on a shelf, mind you, but a trophy nonetheless. A memento that symbolizes a part of our lives.

I also think I've kept these things in case I can use them to educate someone. Perhaps a teenager or a parent.

I'm sure some people might find it incredibly bizarre that I've hung on to things that bring back such terrible memories. Those people are certainly entitled to their opinions. But although this "stuff" conjures up memories of an awful, not-too-distant past, it also serves as a reminder of how far my son has come. (He's coming up on 10 months clean and sober.) And maybe that's not such a bad thing.

I'm sure I'll throw the Ziploc bag and its contents out someday. But for now? It's back in the safe.


  1. I can understand you keeping the stuff. We all deal with it in different ways.

    I always took the "stuff" out into my garage. I destroyed it. I don't mean I threw it away. I would take syringes and snip them into little pieces with wire cutters. The stealth marijuana cigarette looking pipe I put to in my vise and crushed it and when I found another one I smashed it with a drillers hammer. I found a scale once and I drove my truck over it, I think it wasn't made to measure that much weight. Baggies and stuff I would put them in an old coffee can, when they were metal, and I burnt them. Anger was always involved and it released my rage in doing those things for me.

    We all have our own ways of dealing with stuff.

  2. 10 months....its so great to read those words. Mine a few months behind yours. I've found many things in my son's fact I will post a photo for you on my blog right now of just one time

  3. I can also understand your keeping the 'stuff.' It is like a milestone upon which to measure the progress from a time you never thought you'd endure. When the time seems right, you'll part with it, or perhaps keep it as a trophy of a challenge you, and he, surmounted.