Christmas, soon it will be the beginning of a new year. A time to reflect on the past as well as new hope for the year ahead.
This time last year I would have never foreseen the the events that lay ahead. This is a pattern that has been my experience for the past 5 years or so. Each Christmas I find it hard to put on the show that all is well and we have good cheer in our lives and happiness lays ahead for a brighter new year. Each year there are new hardships and obstacles that were unexpected. Due to this, I no longer have faith that next year will be better, rather I dread the up coming year and what it holds for my children and I. This is the bitter truth, though I keep saying aloud that 2014 WILL be a better year, I do not think I believe it. Perhaps I am afraid to believe it will be better so that I will not be disappointed.
Christmas 2013 saw some kindness and joy, but it also saw an empty place at our table. This Christmas my first born is homeless. I made him homeless 10 days before Christmas. Trying to do what is best for my children is breaking my heart and my spirit. I could not imagine such a life for someone who is or use to be kind, loving, giving, fun, passionate, positive and care free. I imagined a life surrounded by happy and carefree children, blossoming, growing, curious and enthusiastic to explore all the wonders and magic of the world. Instead I have a homeless son addicted to drugs and a depressed teenage daughter who is contemplating suicide and a young child who has seen and heard and experienced things she should have never experienced. I am alone without parents to advice me or give their grandchildren the love they need. I have no partner to hold and love me and give me hope. My children and I have only each other.
So. My son is homeless. I had to tell him to leave because the professionals involved with my daughter were concerned with her safety. I was not allowed to leave her alone or travel on the train, and remove all dangerous items from my house. She had confessed a plan to her counselor that if things do not change soon she will take matters into her own hands. She had a plan on how she would kill herself and by when. She would not divulge to anyone how, but the time frame was that if things do not improve she will not be alive by Christmas.
I gave my son a week to find somewhere to live as he had claimed benefit and received a backdated claim of £600. Despite our efforts and the dedicated support and assistance from our Family Solutions worker, we could not find anywhere or anyone who would take him. He asked friends but because of his drug problem no one was willing to take the risk of having him in their home. Desperate times calls for desperate measures. My son bit the bullet (and popped some pills) and phoned his father. Well, I can not understand how I still allow myself to be surprised and disappointed in this man. Perhaps it is because I see the pain and disappointment in our children and I see the ramifications that his negligence causes and I am the one left to cope with the mess. So while the Family Solutions worker and I sat there trying to come up with a plan with my son as it became clear that he would not have a place to live, my son said he would buy a tent and live outside, wherever, however, he didn't really know, he just would. We suggested in trying it out for a night before he invests money in buying the camping equipment only to discover that he prefers to be indoors where it is warm and dry. On this proposal my son said he would call his father and ask if he could borrow his father's tent and sleeping bag to try it out. I heard some of the conversation from the next room, as did our family worker, and we were impressed and proud that my son was upfront and honest with his father. He explained what happened with the police and what chemicals he had and what he was doing with them. He explained that because of his behaviors the home environment is less than good and it is affecting his sisters. He also told of the concern for his sister and that she is talking of ending her life. That brought him to discuss how we have finally come to a date after months of speaking about his moving out, but he has no place to go as of yet. He very maturely asked his father that if he does not find a place by Dec 14, could he stay with his father temporarily while he continues to look for accommodation. He also disclosed to his father that if he finds no where he was thinking of camping out and moving around from field to field and thought maybe he could borrow his father's camping gear. This may come as no surprise to anyone here reading this, especially if you have read my previous posts, but somehow I was still surprised. My darling ex husband told his first born child that since he does not really know him and vice verse he does not think it would be a good idea, he has no idea how and if they would get along and that in his one bedroom flat there would not be enough room. However, he is OK to let his son borrow his tent and sleep outside in the winter, illegally as well, in parks or woods! What a message is this "man" giving to his son who has so many issues including a drug dependency!?
When the day and time came to collect the tent from his father, because his father could not be bothered to drop it to him, our son phoned that he was running late and could it be pushed back an hour. No was the answer he got because his father had to meet his girlfriend! Disgusting!
The worst thing is that when the family worker and social worker contacted my ex husband he played ignorant but stuck to his guns that he can not do anything to help!
As timed ticked on, unbeknownst to me, my son was spending his benefit money on alcohol, opium poppies (after not having had opium for 4-5 months), 500 benzo pills, legal highs, and 1 gram of Etizolam powder which alone cost £188! He also bought a few "normal" things like cds and had a night at the pub with his friends. The plan was that if he had nothing in place, the last resort was to stay in a cheap B&B. The B&B that was cheapest and closest was booked up and everything else was too expensive. I looked and looked and finally booked him a room, but then low and behold he confessed his spending spree and did not have enough money to pay for more than one night! So I paid for another night so that Saturday and Sunday he had a place, but his father refused to help and did not even contact his son to see where he went to! Monday he would be off to a homeless shelter in another city, about 30-40 minutes drive from our home.
He lasted 2 nights in the night shelter before he was kicked out because of drug supplying to others as well as his own drug taking. His room was searched while he was out and the police were called in to remove the drugs. When my son returned to the night shelter Wed evening his bagged were packed and he was sent on his way.
Surprisingly my son was not phased and found a friend (I have only met once) to stay with and managed to take the train to his friend. Apparently his friend's mother, who I do not know, agreed to let my son drugs and all stay will the new year. Things changed and a few days later he phoned me that he needs to leave Christmas Eve and he does not understand my cruelty and over reaction in my refusal to let him back home for "a few days". Then on Dec 22nd he phoned again that he needs to leave and can not stay anymore. I said I could not help, but then he said it was ok because his friend's mom is so very nice and good and they "bonded" so she put him up for a night in a hotel! The following day I organised him to go to our city's night shelter, though full, and ask for help. I also contacted our family worker and she made some phone calls to the shelter. I spent my afternoon, the last day of my sister's visit from America ad not getting my own things done, rather I picked him up and helped him get sorted out at the night shelter and convinced them to help him though at first they were turning him away.
While this was going on I was getting demanding txts from my ex that he wants to see his daughters to give them their present Monday. When I said they were spending the day with their aunt from the states, his only reaction was just, "then Tuesday!". I asked our daughter and she said it is her birthday and Christmas Eve and she wants to be at home. Rather then understanding this when I relayed her wishes to him, he started txting me that I do not seem to care that the girls get their presents or not!!! Seriously???? My only response to that was that there is a lot more at stake here than a Christmas gift and the biggest gift of all would be taking our son in and eliminating some stress and fear. His answer...."next sat, film and lunch!". Argh!!!! Coming from a school teacher off work during the holidays it is an even bigger ARGH!
In the 10 days that my son as not been living here, he came home unexpectedly one afternoon while we were out to help himself to a shower. That resulted in me taking his key away. On Christmas Eve he knocked on our door very intoxicated asking for a scarf, or some food, or to use the toilet...I would not let him in and I had to stay firm and refuse him. How heartbreaking. He calls me at 1 am, 2 am, off his face and wanting to chat. Next time we talk he tells me that people think I am being horrible for making him homeless and need a kick up my ass!
We agreed that he would come over for Christmas Day dinner but he would not be allowed in if he was intoxicated. My middle daughter refused to see him or to have dinner with him. He showed up 45 minutes late. He did not appear intoxicated but as I have become an expert, well almost, I knew he had a manageable amount of benzos so that he feels better without appearing under the influence. He was wet and muddy because he walked through the park and walked through puddles and slipped a few times. It was not a pleasant visit and I found myself on edge and very uncomfortable and suspicious. He made sarcastic comments about the gifts I had for him, yet praised the small yet useful gifts he received from the homeless shelter. He wanted to spend time in his room but I kept refusing that luxury. He did slip away to his room while I was cooking and come down to eat and I immediately knew what he had been up to!
Tears hidden, frustration apparent, depression trying to surface for all to see. Worry, dread, fear, shame, inadequacy. Not exactly the emotions one once at Christmas time and with the New Year approaching. All this and not mentioning that my son goes back for questioning by the police On Jan 2nd, the day after New Year's Day!
Oh I need a break! I need a change of scenery. I need to feel that there is more to life. These needs should be easier to fulfil than my need to know that ALL my children will surpass these hard times and make a life worth living. Sadly, even these simple needs seem hard to fulfil.