Who has the map to “Rock Bottom”?

Giving a kid a road map to Rock Bottom isn’t easy and yesterday was one of the hardest days I’ve encountered yet. No matter who takes the trip we all suffer.

After couch surfing among three friends for at least 7 months my son became officially homeless about 7-9 days ago. He said he was fine and had a little secluded spot to sleep that seemed safe. It was near a grocery store and on the bus route to the methadone clinic, which he started 2 weeks ago.

It’s not easy to work and be homeless, but he works 2-3 nights a week and I offered to provide a lunch and take him. I worried that I was enabling him, but I felt that he was giving his new “recovery” plan a go, so I could be supportive and stop short of giving money or a place to stay. It worked great the first week of work and this week was near his bus route so a ride and lunch were not needed. I thought this might be getting easier, but I guess it’s hard to get any sleep when you’re cold, uncomfortable and stressed out.

Yesterday after working 2 nights, I met him to see how it went and how he was doing. With the exception of an occasional bout of withdrawal sickness, I had never seen him looking so sick and miserable, he looked like he hadn’t slept in days. It’s so hard to see my grown son so broken down, crying in my arms and looking so lost. The heartbreak was so deep that I could physically feel it in my chest.

When he realized that I wasn’t going to bring him home with me, his entire being seemed hopeless. A little voice in my head kept telling me that I couldn’t give in, I had to be tough, I had to let him find his own way back. Meanwhile, a different little voice was asking how I could leave a sick kid out in the cold like that. I felt like I was being ripped in two.

My next thought was to give him the tools he needs to survive and I will survive too. I found the nearest NA meeting for that area and drove to the front door; it started in 20 minutes. I got out of the car with him and gave him a hug. I and told him again that only he can fix this, take responsibility for his life and be in charge of the monkey.

I’m not sure how I made it home, sobbing the entire way. I woke up several times and cried to the universe to please protect him. I was so frightened that I had made the wrong decision and guilt ridden about being in a nice warm bed. Only to wake up this morning to his phone being dead.

This evening he called to tell me that he’s considering going off methadone cold turkey before he’s been on it too long. This was coming from a kid who adamantly stated he would never consider going cold turkey ever! He also went to his first meeting in 8 months.

I’m not sure if he spent the night in Rock Bottom, but he was in a town very near there.

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Letting go……

Letting go has got to be one of the hardest things to do.

Twenty years ago, when my boys were little, if someone had told me I needed to let go, I would have laughed at them and truly not known what they meant. I was a good mother. Attentive but not hovering, kind but firm and I always encouraged them to be themselves. With each new age I let them go out into the world and explore.

The thought of wanting to hold on to them and control their every move didn’t occur to me until the day I found out that my youngest son was using and selling several different kinds of illegal drugs. There were signs and rumors but it was after he was in a car accident I became suspicious and discovered his secret life.

I think it was at that point that I vowed to control his every move and nag him into submission. I’m sure this is a normal reaction to such a scary discovery. I felt completely helpless but I knew I could fix this and I could fix him. This would have been a great time to go to Alanon, but I was really too busy fixing it.

For an entire year, I was very diligent in discussing what not to do, watching who he hung out with and searching his room. I really thought I had done a good job until the day he told me that he gotten addicted to heroin. I was devastated. How could my sweet little boy be in this mess? I was so careful.

Letting him go to learn from his mistakes has been very difficult. It’s complicated. On one hand, he has to choose to get help and on the other hand, I’m his mother. What if he had cancer at age 22? Would I find him a doctor? Would I take him for his treatment? Would I pay his bills? How do I balance the normal care of a kid with an illness and enabling a heroin addict? It’s agonizing torment!

It’s been two and half years now; 1 7 day detox, 1 30 day rehab with detox and now he’s put himself in a methadone treatment program. He is losing his teeth, he hardly speaks to his dad and my partner and I have almost split up a couple times because I have such a hard taking care of myself first. This last week, after burning all his bridges,  he had to sleep outside. It’s all a terrible tragedy.

My heart is breaking for him everyday but I am finally letting go. I have sent him a list of programs, meeting and services that he can call for help. He did get a job and wants things to be different, but still believes he can do it his way. We’ll see….

I can truly see now that only he can decide to make his life different. I understand that heroin addiction is hard, but people get off it everyday. I don’t believe that he is a victim and I don’t believe that I am a victim. We all get to choose how we react to any given situation and this is no different.

I choose to let go and I hope he will choose to get help.