One month ago I wrote about how going “No Contact” with my addict son was helping me regain my sanity. I was finding normalacy again without the daily drama and crisis that were forced upon us by his life style. I foolishly thought that we hadn’t heard from our son because we were doing such a good job of holding our boundaries.
I was wrong.
It turns out, he had just found a way to survive without us. It was something illegal and I don’t know exactly what it was, but he was making a lot of money. It abruptly ended one week after I wrote that piece.
He got beaten up, had all his possessions and money stolen and landed on our doorstep. We cleaned him up, fed him a meal and deposited him on the street corner of his choice. We told him he could not move into our house and he would have to figure out what to do now that his gravey train had ended.
Our period of “No Contact” was over. After that day the phone calls started. Even though I have seventeen of his phone numbers blocked, he found new ones and called and texted multiple times a day with one crisis after another.
We refused to let him come home. He kept calling, kept telling us how we were letting him down and that it was our fault he was homeless and on the streets. He called us names, told us horrible stories of freezing, starving, hiding in garages… He kept saying we had completely screwed him over because we wouldn’t rescue him.
Every time he called we reminded him of the local Sober Living that he could go to. He told us at least 20 times that he would die first. I believe his exact words were, “I’d freeze to death under a bridge before I’ll go there.”
We said, “It’s your choice” and told him we were sorry that was the decision he was making and that we loved him. We only answered about one in three calls and texts. We never just told him no, we always offered him an alternative choice:
You can’t come here, but we can take you to the Sober House.
No, I can’t send you money for food, but I can send you the address of a food bank.
No, I won’t send you money for a room because your cold, but go to the nearest salvation army, pick out a coat and call me, I’ll pay them over the phone.
He turned down every offer. Our offers always required him to make some effort towards the solution. We knew we could not rescue him.
My husband and I cried, cussed and worked to support each other through this abrupt reversal of fortune. It threw us right back into the drama that we had been so thankful to leave behind. But we never gave in. We lovingly held on to our boundaries of no money, no rides, and no coming home – over and over and over again. He was incredibly persistent and manipulative and rude.
But, finally on Saturday he texted me:
“Mom, if you’ll let me come home and take a shower, wash my clothes and feed me a meal you can take me to the Sober House.”
I was shocked, after all the refusals. My husband and I talked and we agreed to this. I know my son is very concerned about appearing dirty and unkempt. I knew he would probably freeze before he’d show up in public dirty and dishelved. I knew why he needed to come home before he went to the Sober House. So we agreed. But told each other that we couldn’t let him manipulate us into anything else, if we allowed him to come home for this. We promised to hold each other accountable.
While he was waiting for my husband to pick him up, he began to text me about not trusting us, because once we had tried to get him committed. I assured him that we weren’t going to try to do anything to trick him, that we were happy he was going to the Sober House. But I also told him that he couldn’t trick us either. I told him:
“No arguing in this house. No passive aggressive bending the rules. You must wear a mask the whole time you are home. You must wear it correctly, covering your nose and mouth, since you have not been social distancing. There will be no arguing in this house or you will leave. You also cannot begin to negotiate for a new plan once you get here. The deal is you clean up, get fed and then we take you to the Sober House.”
He agreed to everything and to our complete surprise he did exactly as we asked.
No matter how awful he had been, it felt good to get him cleaned up, well fed, dressed warmly and rested up. It did my mother’s heart good.
We found out that he couldn’t check in till the next day, so he got a good night’s sleep too and then the next day, we deposited him at the Sober House without a fight – no whining, arguing or begging. It was such a huge relief.
When I happily told a family member what had happened, she said, “Well, I hope he finally figures things out. He needs to get his life together.”
I was sad that was her response. Because I was very happy -you see, we’ve learned not to think that far ahead. One day at a time. It was the best possible outcome for our weekend. He took a positive step and he is safe and warm. That’s enough for me to be ecstatic.
So to any moms struggling out there, I say, “Stay strong. Hold your boundaries with love and celebrate every small step in the right direction.”