I wake up thinking about my son. As I’m floating up, out of deep sleep into the twilight of wakefulness, I feel a moment of panic, like when you lose a toddler in a store. It’s visceral, I feel it in my chest and my gut – a nebulous awareness that he’s not safe.
Thoughts of him cross my mind at least once every day and with it the stab of anxiety. I’m trying to live an emotionally healthy life, despite his choices, but he and his addiction are slowly trying to kill me.
He’s angry at the world – homeless, jobless, no car, broke – and he believes it’s everyone’s fault but his own. He left the sober house, that we were paying for, and missed his intake date when he could have returned.
After refusing to go back to the sober house, he calls daily wanting food, a hotel room, money and to complain about our neglect. We told him that he must figure his situation out, since he chose it. But that doesn’t stop his calls and texts. We tried blocking his phone number, but at the current count he has seventeen, and just keeps adding new ones – whatever it takes to make sure we are aware of how much pain our neglect has caused. His resentment is malignant.
His greatest scorn is reserved for me. I’m the mother who doesn’t love him enough to take his calls. Somehow his dad gets a pass, I guess men aren’t supposed to be as loving and forgiving as moms. He also has serious issues with women. He’s been twisted in knots by girlfriends, and his ex-wife ‘abandoned’ him. There are also issues with his birth mother because she ‘didn’t want him’.
Although we’ve had him since he was four weeks old, he resents being adopted, but I guess he’s not alone. Studies show that adoptees are overrepresented among those with Substance Abuse disorder.
So, to say he has issues with women is an understatement. Given that, it’s not surprising that when he talks to me his anger rachets up several notches. Today he called and I answered because I’m hoping to convince him to return to the sober house again.
I’ve been listening to him complaints about being homeless for twenty minutes, when I interrupt, “Welcome House gives you food, a bed, wi-fi, meetings, a bus pass, a job – everything you need.”
“You’re obsessed with Welcome House.”
“I’m obsessed with getting you to a safe place where you don’t have to be miserable.”
“Buying me a car, co-signing on an apartment, giving me a loan or letting me move home would do the same thing.”
We’ve done all these things before, too many times. The results have been disastrous. “That’s not an option, but we will pay for Welcome House.”
“I’m NEVER going back to Welcome House because YOU want me to.”
“So, you’ll destroy yourself, just to hurt me?” Can he make it any harder?
“Yes!” He’s adamant and petulant, but quickly switches to the victim. “What kind of mother won’t answer her son’s calls.”
“If you had a friend who called you every day asking for money, or attacking you, you’d stop taking the calls too. “
My thirty-three-year-old son goes silent. After a few moments he begins to sob. “I would never let my child be homeless or hungry. Never!”
Your killing me son. No matter how angry and abusive he gets I can’t stop my mother’s heart from reacting.
“That’s why we want you to go to Welcome House. You’d be safe and fed, have a place to sleep and the support you need. We want you there because we want you to be safe and we love you.” I stress the last three words, trying to get through to him.
I hear a sob, then another, then…Silence…
“Son, are you there?”
He’s hung up.
Buying him meals and hotel rooms, just makes it easier to stay on the streets. I can’t help with that, and I won’t spend hours every day arguing about it. But, he’s hurting, so, I try to call him back, but he won’t answer.
My mind swirls in circles, worry, fear, frustration, anger… My stomach and head join the party and I feel sick. My brain won’t be quiet.
I argue with myself: He creates impossible situations – by his choices, then blames us.
Logic responds: They are his choices. He has free will.
He refuses real help, then tells us we don’t love him when we won’t rescue him.
You can’t enable him. It will only prolong the suffering.
How can I convince him I love him?coping
He may die if he keeps this up…
You can’t control him, so yes, he may die.
How can I live with myself if he dies?
The same way anyone handles death, it will hurt, but you can’t protect him from himself.
It’s so hard and I’m so tired of it.
Detach with love.
But it’s a disease.
Addiction is not a choice, but recovery is.
But I want to help him!
He must learn to manage his disease. Help him when he chooses recovery.
He needs support.
You can’t force him, you’ve tried, so many times. He’s an adult.
It’s killing me.
Take care of yourself. You can only control you.
It is so hard.
Do what you can live with.
I can’t live with this torture every day.
If nothing changes, nothing changes. You can’t keep rescuing.
It hurts to think about it.
Change your thoughts. You are giving him freedom to find his way.
It’s really tough
You’re stronger than you think.
I need to stop thinking about it.
Detach. Stop ruminating, do something constructive.
I’ll walk the dogs, weed the flowers, start dinner.
You’ll be okay.
I’ll be okay.