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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Breaking the Dysfunctional Family Cycle

As many who have read my past posts know, I am a divorced parent. A woman who lived in a relatively loveless marriage brought on by circumstances. Though we did have our moments when life seemed to be ok and even a little enjoyable, we had many more down times and as the years went on the bitterness and resentment  grew along with the level of dysfunction and emotional damage. As I have been dealing with the fallout of this "failed" marriage, I often think that I should have left years before because staying together for the kids or because you feel trapped or because the alternative seems to be worse doesn't work, and guess what? I think that children are extremely intuitive that they will sense a false marriage and be affected by that far more so than a "failed" marriage. They will not only grow up with a false reality that may make them question many things as adults, but they will also base their idea of relationships on a faulty and dysfunctional model, which will in turn make it more difficult to maintain healthy adult relationships in the future. As parents we think that our children will grow up in the false security of staying together for the kids type of marriage, and will be thankful and grateful when they are adults for sacrificing themselves for the children. Actually, that too is exactly the opposite type of role model we want for our children, someone who is false and untrue to themselves. In fact, I think that most children from such fake households will grow up and feel resentful at being lied to. 

           

                              

In this excerpt from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/30/divorce-children-parenting-conscious-uncoupling-gwyneth-paltrow-chris-martin   the author is correct in saying that "unhappy parents make for unhappy offspring" :  Dr Penelope Leach has been a passionate defender of babies and children since the 1970s. But she is no upholder of the idea that adults should stay together regardless of the measure of misery; unhappy parents make for unhappy offspring. "Divorce and separation is a safety valve for marriage and cohabitation," she tells me. "And society cannot do without one." So when the break occurs she advocates what she calls "mutual parenting". It doesn't have the slightly sexual, semi-spiritual, yogic-infused ring of "conscious decoupling" but it amounts to something similar, albeit with the celebrity varnish scraped away.

Another article in The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/24/divorce-bad-for-children-lets-not-fetishise-marriage-parents-children also states that parents who stayed together for the kids until they were a little older, actually did more harm to the children:  "Some of the most messed-up kids I have seen are precisely those of couples who waited until they went off to university to divorce. It meant that their entire childhood and adolescence had been a kind of lies."





I think I should have left my husband years before I did instead of remaining in the co dependant relationship and feeling as if I needed to be a martyr. If I had done so, I believe that our son would have been far less damaged and may not have had as much emotional pain that was one of the driving factors for his need to escape through drug use. My sister often says to me that if I did, I would not have had my other two children, who I could not imagine life without. However, I believe that I may have had more children with someone else after leaving and my children would not have been the same as the ones I have now, but I still would have had them. Not only is my son a drug addict but he is also very angry at me that I stayed with his father for so long. My son and my middle child both have very cynical views about relationships and neither say they ever want to have children (I know they are very young and their ideas may change as they grow). I also wonder how all the subtle messages that our children surely picked up on while my ex husband and I were together will affect their future relationships. My son has very skewed ideas of relationships i.e. you need a man of the house, children need strict discipline, men are aggressive, men make the decisions etc.. Though this was not what he necessarily saw while growing up, these are the unspoken ideas of his father and our son picked up on his father's true feelings.

My husband and I were very unhappy, but it was not a physically violent relationship and though he was very controlling and somewhat emotionally abusive to me, it was done in a very indirect way and his control was there without having to be "in your face". We did not yell and scream very often at each other, but the tension was always there and could be felt by others. My ex husband's actions and emotional numbness were also very powerful tools in his establishing power over us. He was very emotionally abusive to our son and those were the times when there was lots of shouting. When it came to our second child he wanted to destroy her wild spirit and lust for life by constantly telling her not to do the things she was doing and threatening her with punishments. My ex husband did not know how to communicate and would not be chatty with us, he reserved this for nights out with his male friends when his friendliness would come alive after a few drinks.

                                              

Our two older children have been very affected by the way they were raised in an unhappy marriage and most of the influences were due to subtle behaviours, unspoken words, decisions that were made, the lack of love and affection between their parents, tensions, frustrations, avoidance etc. It was not the stereotypically portrayed bad marriage, but it did consists of lies and guilt and feelings of obligations and sacrifices. All those unspoken feelings and emotions were picked up on fully by our little sponges, for that's what children are, sponges and intuitive sponges they are!

Some of these ideas I have that a FALSE marriage is much more detrimental to children are penned in the following article in a nice and concise manner:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/01/divorce-kids-_n_4862357.html

I can understand though how if the marriage is unhappy and false, with the idea of "staying together for the kids" but ALSO burdened with one partner having any mental, emotional or substance misuse issues, the guilt and the feelings of obligation to stay becomes so much stronger. My ex-husband was physically and emotionally abused as a child, My husband also had alcohol issues, I still believe him to be a "functioning" alcoholic. These elements create a profoundly strong co dependent relationship which makes it even more difficult to leave and clouds our judgement as to what is ultimately the best decision for the children.

                        

This link explains the "signs" of a co dependant marriage, and as co dependency is indeed a learnt behaviour, staying in a co dependant marriage has all the negative implication I have already discussed, but has the added ingredient of teaching your children to be in co dependant relationship! Who wants their kids to learn that? I don't and another reason why I wish I would have left earlier.

http://www.wikihow.com/Tell-if-You-Are-Codependent

We can not fix our partners, and I made the mistake of thinking I could fix my ex because I felt sorry for all he had been through and felt responsible to help him. Wake up, no one can do that!

Sometimes being true to our inner selves and recognising that bringing up children in a marriage devoid of love and passion and mutual respect will ultimately create more problems for them, is a very hard step to make. I think that it is because our society treats divorce in marriage, as divorce from the family. And though there are cases that once the couple is divorced, one parent becomes almost non existent in the children's lives, that is not what most parents want. This is because of the way we treat divorce and also because in trying to create stability in the child's life by keeping them with one parent while the other parent may have the children on the weekend or every other weekend. We should look at the option of shared custody more. The children would have regular contact and stability from BOTH parents and feel the love of both parents and be reassured that the marriage split was not because of the kids!

As this excerpt states:  "Research has determined that when children have experience of shared custody they have better relationships with both parents and are more satisfied with their lives. It’s also shown that even when there’s strong animosity between the parents, shared custody works well for the children."

Taken from:  http://www.separateddads.co.uk/sharedcustodyofyourchildren.html

And this article is interesting on how shared custody benefits society on a more political and financial level:  https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/michael-reed/why-does-no-one-talk-about-benefits-of-shared-custody

Joint custody seems to be the best option in which both parents still want to be involved with their children, of course when one parent is abusive or neglectful than that would not be in an option. It would also mean making changes and sacrifices in each parent's lives, but not at the negative cost as staying together, and rather would actually benefit the children most.

Well, all I know is that hindsight is always 20/20 and I can not do anything now except to be true to myself so that I influence my children in a way that will make them feel more able to be true to themselves in the future and hopefully stop the cycle of codependency and dysfunctional families!

                            

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Life....It's All Happening!

There are times in life when there is too much. Too much to think about, too much to deal with, too much to sort out, too much to figure out. There are also times when all of that needs to be ignored and we must pretend everything is ok, everything is manageable. Everything is "normal". I have been trying to pretend such a normal existence for the last 8 weeks while we hosted a 14 year old exchange student from Germany. I have dealt with many things, silently, I have become a bit lost in my thoughts and fell wayward from expressing myself through the written word. It now feels foreign and more challenging. Challenging to express all that has been locked inside of me, challenging to organise the events and thoughts and experiences of the past 2 months. Challenging to find the flow that I use to embrace as it helped heal and support me.


There has been hospitalizations and court dates for my son, as well as teenage sleepovers and children's ballet performances. There has been tears and laughter, love and loneliness, giggles and depression, drugs and alcohol, worry and comfort as well as hope and dread!

We have experienced my home slowly deteriorating with faulty showers, leaking roofs, draughty damp windows as well as a roof threatening to cave in and that particular room turning into a room decorated by a variety of mould! We have still managed to entertain and house a student while I fed her well and cared for her and befriended her. I had to deal with my son's deteriorating emotional health, threatened mental break down, the lack of support of the mental health team, resorting to more drugs and wanting to revert back to the near comatose drug induced state that he longs for, while still trying to maintain his probation requirements and keeping in line with his supported housing accommodation rules. On the latter two requirements, I have seen that too deteriorate and he is in breach of his parole and his accommodation is under threat of eviction.

I have tried to juggle money so that our student does not have to experience going without electricity or gas, and that she would eat and drink well and not live on rice for days on end as we have done, but at the same time I also tried to help my son so that he too would not go hungry, though many times I have to be strong and remind him he is an adult and he gets money that he needs to be able to manage.

As time went on though, my veil of pretence to be "normal", slowly started  to falter. As this happened and our student was trusted with more and more of our reality, the tears in her pretence also came out. She had self harmed a few times and was dealing with her own problems. She witnessed my daughter slipping back deeper and deeper into depression. Luckily, we all understood each other and we managed to listen and comfort each other and take solace in the fact that everyone has problems.





I have tried to be positive and embrace what is positive and for the most part I have done just that. I accept that what little time I have with the ones I love is important and I am grateful for that. I am grateful each time I speak to my son and that he is still alive and still lucid. I am grateful for the days that my middle daughter seems to be a little more cheerful and is not lethargic and anti social and depressed. I am grateful that my youngest daughter still embraces childhood and is in no hurry to grow up. I am grateful that a special man did remind me that I am desirable and also intellectually stimulating and that we have maintained our friendship of 2 years though we have become more complexly involved with each other over the last 6 months. I do not agree with his choices based on co dependency and guilt, but it is not my place to judge and instead I am happy for having known him at all. I am grateful that another man I care for has also resumed contact with me. I am grateful that at last all the negative damage my ex husband did to my psyche is starting to leave me. I hope that the more destructive emotional damage he caused our 2 older children will one day start to leave them as well and they too can start to believe in themselves as I have started to believe in myself. I am grateful that I have found enough confidence to become a member of The Children Society charity as a volunteer and I will put all the knowledge I have gained through the years of my son's drug use to some use.



I am trying to also put my story and my writing and my family's experience to some good use to others as well as helping my family with looking for ways to publish and earn money as well. I have been unsuccessful with the Huffington post, no response, but I will keep trying. The Fix would like to publish more posts from me, but not for monetary reward. However, if I write for The Fix, I can not publish the post on my blog for a month after their publication. Also if any of my readers would like to pass on my blog to anyone who might be interested or indeed even any publishers, please pass it on, and if you are so inclined to click ads on my blog, than I would be grateful. I need to provide a better lifestyle for my family and teach them that you should never give up and that you should never be ashamed to try!

I hope that my next post will be able to concentrate on one issue or go deeper into a topic, and that I will be able to return to a more regular and productive writing rhythm once again!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Time to Reflect

Recently I have been thinking of the ways families are damaged while witnessing and living in an addict. There is no doubt in my mind that we have been damaged and need our own recovery just as much as my son needs to find his own time to stop using and start recovering.

                                           

However, since "my drug abusing teenager" no longer lives with us in the family home, I decided to not only investigate on the damage, but to reflect back on how our lives have changed for the positive in the last 10 months.

Occasionally I have mentioned that while being with my son I have had thoughts about how glad I am that I do not need to see or hear certain things 24/7, but surely there has been other positive changes in our lives?

It is quite a challenge when all of a sudden you are allowed to live your life the way you want. You can not just flip a switch and start "living" your life because a negative contributing factor has been taken out of your home! I did feel some positives fairly quickly. A much quieter and calmer household was always going to be the case, and it was.

                                                

Before we could move on though we needed to actually get use to the idea that my son was no longer living at home. Also the initial transition period was made more difficult since he left home just before Christmas and that he was not going to be spending the holidays at home.

Once the first month or so was over, then I think that my daughters and I started to feel that the change had actually happened. We decided to have a meeting and talked about what sort of things we would like to see be reinstated in our normal routines, (such as meals taken at the table once again) to things we would like to try doing (more friends coming over).

So the first and easiest was indeed the simple pleasure of eating around the table again. Eating without fear and dread that an argument would soon ensue, eating at regular times and not while sat in front of the tv in the attempt to reduce tensions. The girls had fun creating weekly menus and having choices and looking forward to dinners again.

Also in an attempt to restore normality, my daughters were given daily chores which they initially "liked", but that did in fact help develop a feeling of unity and working together, which we had most definitely lost.

While my son was at home and over the years as his addiction grew and his behaviours worsened, our family felt more and more isolated. We no longer felt "safe" in having friends over, we were all anxious and often fearful at home so of course having visitors was not an option. Actually before we stopped having friends around, there were those unfortunate occasions in which we still did have friends over but then my son would snap and react badly and thus leave our visitors feeling very tense and awkward and unwelcome.

Having freedom along with a much happier atmosphere in the home has allowed us to invite the children's friends over more often which has been a very positive change in their lives. Actually at the moment my middle daughter is involved in a 2 month study exchange and we are currently hosting a German girl for 2 months before my daughter goes to Frankfurt for 2 months. This would have never ever been an option while my son was here. There would be no way to try have been able to "act" normal for that long of a time! The exchange program has been a good aspect of my children's education, but this time my daughter was specially chosen to do a special long term exchange based on her language ability and her maturity level. I am so proud of her and I am so relieved that we are now in a position to accept such an opportunity for her. We are now starting our third week of having this lovely young German girl living with us, and it has proven to be the best medicine for my middle daughter. She is happier and more active and more sociable now and I am so very happy to be witnessing this transformation within her. I can only hope the positive impact and change will last even when the exchange is over and she no longer has a live-in bestie to make life more cheerful.

                                                                                                                                                                                     
 
So the home is calmer and more relaxed and definitely has an improved atmosphere which has enabled us as a family to enjoy family meals together again (with every one's input to what meals we will have) as well as working together as a family unit with everyone's responsibilities and chores. This has allowed us to be in a happier place to renew friendships and start becoming more sociable again (even some overnight visitors, which could not have been possible in the chaotic and controlling atmosphere my son created while here).

It is also a great sense of freedom to me that I do not need to justify my whereabouts and be phoned regularly about where I am and when am I coming home. I can openly leave money laying about and no longer have to hide my bank card and be caught out when I pop to the shop and release that my card is still under my pillow! I can leave my phone on the table while I go upstairs or leave my computer open, no longer worrying that my son will access my accounts or do his own dealings on the internet. I can put my bottles of wine and spirits out without waking up to empty bottle or denying myself because of the fear it would "discovered". What a sense of relief and a sense of openness and honesty that has become part of my life once again!

I have also realised that due to all the problems that our family has had over the last few years regarding drug and alcohol and domestic issues, I have actually started becoming much more confident when it comes to meeting people and expressing myself and finding ways for myself to have an outlet. Thinking about it, the amount of people I have had to speak to, going to court, going to children in need meetings, joining a support group, attending appointments, etc has helped me tremendously. I am much more at ease when it comes to having to go out and do things and have my voice heard! How weird is that? All the amount of talking I have had to do, talking about our problems, has actually been quite empowering for me. I have slowly become more confident within myself and hopefully this is the beginning of also being able to gain control over my life and start to do more empowering things for myself and my children.

I have been on various training days, applying myself to different volunteering opportunities and going to parties, having a friend over from time to time and just being more of my true self has been very good for me, even if the transition is slow, I feel it is slow but steady.

I am back in control of my life and that is not only a big change abut a big responsibility as well, but mostly it is a hugely positive element in my life that I am still learning to embrace. My son did control use and me and now he can no longer control our every moment and my every decision. Of course since he is still in my life and he has called upon me several times for help, I am much more in control but sometimes I do find myself in situations in which he is edging his control back, but I am learning how to deal with those situations.

                                              

My youngest daughter seems to be slowly letting go of her confusion regarding her brother because she is starting to let go of her anger and frustrations. My middle daughter has deeper issues regarding the past and her brother, but I am hoping that slowly and steadily she too will start to feel empowered to create the life she wants and learn that it is ok to let go of her anger.

Once our lives become even more positive I hope to be able to reach a point where we may actually begin considering reintroducing my son into our lives so I do not need to juggle and separate my life and my children. How wonderful it will be if in a few years we can actually all eat a meal together in peace and because we are all wanting to to engage in each other's company and the relationships have grown more healthy as well as our own personal sense of well being.

Time is a wonderful healer and a wonderful teacher. We never know in advance though, how much time we will need to reach the point we are reaching for. Ten months is almost a year, and it can sound like a long time, but for us it has not been that long at all and so, though we are moving forward, we are still in need of time to learn and to change and to heal. I do not plan to go anywhere or leave this material existence just yet, so time I have, and I will keep utilizing the powerful healing properties of time!






Thursday, 9 October 2014

Compassion Fatigue

After my last post of post traumatic stress disorder, I started researching more. I came across this term used for professionals but it is something I felt I could definitely relate to, "Compassion Fatigue". It is a term giving to those professionals who suffer "emotional strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of a traumatic event".

According to Wikepedia it is described this way: "Compassion fatigue, also known as secondary traumatic stress (STS), is a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of compassion over time. It is common among individuals that work directly with trauma victims such as nurses, psychologists, and first responders. It was first diagnosed in nurses in the 1950s. Sufferers can exhibit several symptoms including hopelessness, a decrease in experiences of pleasure, constant stress and anxiety, sleeplessness or nightmares, and a pervasive negative attitude. This can have detrimental effects on individuals, both professionally and personally, including a decrease in productivity, the inability to focus, and the development of new feelings of incompetency and self-doubt.[1]
Journalism analysts argue that the media has caused widespread compassion fatigue in society by saturating newspapers and news shows with often de contextualized images and stories of tragedy and suffering. This has caused the public to become cynical, or become resistant to helping people who are suffering"
                                       
It got me thinking about how this might also happen in families dealing with long term stress or illness or addiction. Though I have found a few articles about addiction practitioners and compassion fatigue, I have not been able to find many that speak of a similar sort of disorder or burnout amongst family members. I am thinking that if you live with an addict and especially if there are others in the family home, such as children, there is bound to be trauma and in my particular situation I was in essence my son's caregiver and I also watched the trauma his addiction had not only to himself, but also on my daughters.

I was and am the caregiver of my family, my children. For us in particular, our circumstances of being a lone parent with no extended family, I was the sole caregiver even when outside agencies tried to be involved, everything was on me. So when I read the symptoms of  Compassion Fatigue, of course I could relate and I would imagine that many people living with an addict can also identify with:

  • Excessive blaming
  • Bottled up emotions
  • Isolation from others
  • Receives an unusual amount of complaints from others
  • Compulsive behaviours
  • Poor self care
  • Legal problems, indebtedness
  • Recurrence of nightmares or flashbacks
  • Chronic physical ailments such as stomach problems and recurrent colds
  • Sadness or apathy and no longer finding pleasure in activities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mentally and physically tired
  • Preoccupied 
  • In denial about problems 
These symptoms were taken from Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project http://www.compassionfatigue.org/pages/symptoms.html


I think that I could tick off most of those symptoms while my son lived here with me and his sisters in the family home, but there is still an element of it that I have not been able to move on from. Maybe it is because, even though the "stress" has been removed, the impact on us here and even the physical impact on the home itself, has not been fully recovered yet.

When I look at how to help yourself move forward from the effects of Compassion Fatigue, one of the most striking suggestions to me is "listen to others who are suffering". Perhaps this is the biggest tool we as humans have, to express and share our pain and experiences with others in order to not only gain insight for ourselves, but also to lessen the burden and most importantly to help others and give support, knowledge and understanding to others who may be feeling overwhelmed and isolated. This is when organisations with group support systems are very useful. If you do not have such support groups locally there are plenty on line support chat groups and even blogs and social media can help.

                                                 

As much as some might like to think that we are invisible or that we like living a life of solitude, the fact remains that part of being human is the need for other human interaction and companionship. We need to have validation from others. That is why our relationships are so important to us and when you live in a dysfunctional environment plagued by addiction it is very easy to lose sight of this and to become masters of illusion to everyone outside our home that everything is ok. We are sucked into the vortex of the disease, but we become so good at living double lives that we often believe everything to be fine and forget about our own needs.

Of course it has been several months that I am not the sole caregiver for my son, he is now his own caregiver, but that does not mean that you start feeling the benefits immediately even when the addict leaves your home. My son is still part of my life and I still witness the damage he is doing to himself even though on a far lesser scale now since I no longer witness it 24/7. I had to live with the fallout of the damage he helped create and also his addiction left us damaged. I do not think I am feeling all the symptoms of this so called compassion fatigue any longer, but I certainly think I did when my son lived at home.

Whether you are a professional or not, living with someone like an addict does take it's toll and we need to remember we are not to blame and that we deserve and need to look after ourselves as well! So as hard as it is people in the throes of trying to make their life seem normal and then dealing with all the manipulation and fear the addict puts on us, we have to try to find some way to help ourselves. Take time out for yourself, go for a walk, take a nap go to a support group, find something that works for you. I have learned that, and I have learned that we all deserve happiness and peace and that we can not control the addict we love and their choices; however,  we can make our own choices to live a happier and healthier life. It is not easy, that I know, after years of my son's growing addiction I finally made the choice that the rest of the family was suffering too much and I had to think of the future of my daughters. I made the choice to tell my son to move out, that was nearly 10 months ago, and we are still adjusting and dealing and suffering to some extent, but it is slowly getting better. I refuse to give up on him though, and I will try my best to maintain a healthier home while still supporting my son in any positive choices towards recovery that he may one day make on his own.


                                               

Monday, 29 September 2014

Trauma

My middle daughter has been suffering with stomachs and head aches and trouble falling asleep for a few years now, most probably brought on by the stresses at home with her brother. Though her brother has not lived at home now for 9 months and never comes to visit while my daughter is at home, she still suffers from these problems. Out of concern for her as well as validating to her that I am taking on board her complaints and not just brushing them off as "stress", we have seen the GP and have been referred to a paediatrician at the hospital. She had her appoint last week and the outcome was much as I suspected and much to her disappointment. The doctor's comments were mostly to do with her "low mood" and that since her complaints are general and vary from day to day that her tummy complaints are nothing "sinister". He referred to her "low mood" several times and told her to "relax".

                                            

How long after living with trauma for a young person in the midst of "normal" changes and stresses, take to recover? How, as her mother, can I facilitate her?

What is trauma and is that what she suffered during the difficult years she watched her brother abuse drugs, abuse me emotionally and financially, abuse her emotionally?

If I use the professional psychological definition of post traumatic stress disorder then I would say that my daughter has been and still is distressed from the trauma (i.e. a deeply distressing or disturbing experience).

PTSD, the professional definition is as follows (plese read the link):

https://www.estss.org/learn-about-trauma/dsm-iv-definition/

                                       



I think people associate PTSD or in fact the word trauma itself with some horrific and possible fatal event that a person has witnessed or lived through. In that case people may think that using the same terminology in association with emotionally distressing and ongoing experiences may be a bit melodramatic. I know that for myself I am guilty of such beliefs. I thought that it is ridiculous that my daughter may be experiencing such a disorder, but then I looked into the definition, symptoms as well as trying to think what her life as a young child through to early adolescence  was like. Then I realised that indeed, my daughter experienced a great deal to warrant such terms to describe her emotional state.

When you consider that the police had to be called out on a number of occasions for "domestic abuse", that there were "children in need" meetings done by social services; there were a number of different agencies working with us as a family, with my son, with my middle daughter and for me as well, there was a lot going on and there was serious behaviours that needed to be addressed. Looking back at the amount of verbal abusive and how many arguments went on into the wee hours of the morning and when there were no arguments at night upstairs we could hear my son tinkering in the back room with his chemicals, or just his general moving about and making noise when the rest of the world around in slept, no wonder my daughter developed sleeping issues.

                           
                                                 

I can continue looking back to see  how life at home with a drug addict. who was very aggressive one minute and other times would pass out in the middle of dinner, could be viewed as traumatic, especially for children. However, I do not need to look back, I need to look forward. I need to address how does she, and myself and also youngest daughter, come to terms with the past and deal with the issues so that life can continue in a healthier fashion moving towards emotional well being.

My flashbacks and memories of how things use to be are gradually fading. These do come flooding back when I am exposed to my son while intoxicated and then I do get extremely anxious with the heaviness in my chest from anxiety returning. My daughter will not talk to me about her feelings on the subject and is still very angry and when I do try to discuss it I only get her anger. I do not know how much the support worker she sees once a week manages to do because when I ask my daughter, she tells me that her sessions are suppose to be confidential and it would defeat the purpose of them if she told what is discussed!

 Maybe it is time that is needed, time heals most wounds, I do not believe that time heals all wounds though. With time and support and understanding, I hope my daughter will begin to move forward. My son does not understand why life with him was so chaotic and traumatic, but it was, it really was. This is why I have said before and will continue to say that we all carry our different emotional scars left by addiction and we all need to recover from our own pain and turn our negative behaviours into positive ones.  We all lived with the addiction and we must all try to live without it, it no longer defines us as a family, though it is still holding on strongly to my son. We all need to recover in our own ways, in our own time, and the hope is that one day we will all find the peace and understanding achieved through our insights and improved lives that we may function once more as a family, though I am aware that this may not be the case for a very long time.


                             

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Here We Go Again

So as I am trying to stop the codependent and enabling behaviour patterns in my relationships (especially with my son) I get a phone call 3:20 Thursday afternoon. It is of course was my son, no one else calls me except bill collectors! My son had a small accident and was phoning me from the office of his supported housing complex. I need to take him to the doctor, now. Well my son often loses track of time and others people's reality, so he did not consider that it was just the time his youngest sister gets out of school. Also I had finally, made an appointment for my other daughter and I to go to the dentist and she was meeting us there at 4:00. My answer was no, I can not drop everything and take you to the doctor. What is the matter anyway?

                                       

As it turns out he was pushing back the lip of a nearly opened tin can of potatoes, when somehow he managed to cut his right hand on the palm just under the thumb. I still don't know how he cut it exactly, because you would have to slip or fall on the can to get such a cut! Apparently the staff cleaned it up for him and bandaged it, but it was bleeding a lot and he was told he needs to see a doctor (by the staff of his accommodation). Well as bad as I felt, I could not put my daughters on hold, again, because of their brother. I informed my son that I have a few things to do and once I have finished I will go and get him and take him to the doctor. What else could I do? I had no idea how bad the cut was, but he was not alone and he would be ok. I am terrible at making appointments and after months of my daughter asking for a dental appointment, she finally had one, and if I cancelled because I put my son as the higher priority, then who knows when I would make another appointment?

When we were finished and I took the girls home, I went to collect my son, who was by then back up in his flat resting and waiting for me. Well, that is not all he was doing, that was perfectly clear as soon as I had laid eyes on him. Even he knew what he looked like because as soon as I saw him he apologised for the way he looked. He was sky high on opium! The poor boy could not help himself, the pain of the cut was just too much to withstand, so he made himself a nice little cocktail with some poppy pods he still had laying around his flat! Man, it has been a while since I had seen him like that, heard him talking so much and with a different affect. I did not like it and I certainly did not miss it.

As we talked to the receptionist at the doctor's office, it became more and more embarrassing to hear him go on and on. The poor woman could not understanding everything, I wondered if she could tell if he was high or thought that maybe he is "challenged" in some way!


We got in to see the nurse, which was very lucky because it was near closing time! When she asked what happened, my son started to talk about how he made half a can of potatoes last night and saved the other can for tonight.....I interrupted him to say he only needs to tell her how he cut it. My son snapped at me and told me he will tell the nurse the way he wants to tell her! Fine. Well unfortunately the nurse could only do so much and she sent us to the hospital to get it either stitched or glued because the cut was too deep!

                                      

So here we were, yet another trip to the hospital! I was sad for my son, but I also did not want to be in his company because he was talking so much, thanks to the opium, and I do not like seeing him high. I was in fact feeling quite anxious and could feel the pressure building up in my chest. When we arrived at the hospital, I asked  how long of a wait there will be and they estimated 2 and 1/2 hours. By this time it was nearly 7 pm and my daughters had been home for hours with no dinner. I had no choice but to leave him there on his own. He was stunned. I told him that he can call me from the hospital phone when he is done and I will come get him and take him home.

As with other experiences when I have went out to help my son, when I return home it is business as usual and I assume the role of mother to my daughters as if I was living a double life. No questions or discussion about their brother, nothing. Straight into the kitchen and I began to cook. We ate, watched TV, got my youngest ready for bed as per usual. Then the call come, he was ready to go.

I tucked my little girl into bed, told her what a very good girl she is for going to bed while I go get her brother from hospital. I assured her that I will not be long and I will come in and check on her as soon as I come home.

I told my older daughter that I will be back soon, unless I run out of gas, and if I do I will call he. We had had a very poor week with hardly a penny to get by on. I had been driving below my empty line all week and I was crossing everything possible NOT to run out of gas on each and every journey I made!

As I drove up to the hospital emergency room I could see my son, waiting outside for me. He was still high, because the good doctors gave him some codeine, that on top of the poppies he took earlier was doing a nice job of keeping the buzz going.

After a few moments in the car and after telling me how they glued his cut and bandaged his hand he started asking me to take him to the little liqueur store he frequents were he can get some strong cider for cheap. I was adamant that I would not "help" him and that I was taking him home. He was high enough and he had court in the morning so he just needed to go home and get a good night sleep. He agreed with that statement. however, he started to go into detail of why he needs the drink and that it was not for now, it was for tomorrow and that he can't help himself, he NEEDS it. I still would not take him to the store he wanted to go to and I continued driving him home.

                                        


What happened next was just unbelievable! As I made it clear that I was not stopping for drink, he opened the car door and put his feet out as if he wanted to stop my car Fred Flinstone style! All that was needed was some smoke coming off his shoes! I tried to stop but it was too late.  He jumped out of my moving car and thank goodness there were no other cars around or I would hate to think what might have happened. My son shouted that he was sorry but he NEEDS to do this! I shouted back at him, "That's it" I am finished with you! I will not come to court, I will not call, I am finished!"

I could not believe this was happening. Even worse is that I did not believe that my son "needed" the drink because he had opium, pills at home, pills from the ER, and who knows what else, so why did he need ONE can of cider??? It made no sense.

I came home, checked on my daughter, my other daughter commented on how quick that was, and I said, "Yes, because your brother jumped out of the car before I had a chance to take him home!" She was surprised and asked me to clarify that, but then that was it, no more discussion.

Then I sat with my laptop in the living room and watched a bit of TV with my daughter as if it were just any other evening, I heard some strange noises from the front of the house. I was afraid and did not know what to expect. When the noise settled down a bit I went to see the front door and saw that there was a note pushed through the letter box!
                             
                                       

The note was hardly legible. Basically it was an apology with lots of "I am sorry"'s and "I love you"'s and "you don't understand, I had to do it".  There was also the plead not to stop loving him and not to stop being there for him! I felt incredibly sad, and I am not proud to admit it, but I did not call him to tell him I loved him too.

I went to bed sad. Sad that I felt I had to keep to my promise that I was not going to have contact with my son after such behaviour. I felt sad that my double life at home does not allow me to talk openly about my fears, but then again it would not be appropriate to talk to children about the issues I face with my son. I felt sad that I was so alone in all this chaos and that my son would be just as alone in his chaos if I severed ties. I felt sad because I wished I could reach out to the only person I can openly discuss my life with, but then realised that we were not really friends any more and contact was becoming less and less frequent. I wanted to cry, instead I closed my eyes and escaped...until morning would wake me.