I met with my son in town for a cup of coffee today. He was 45 minutes late, but at least he was not intoxicated!
My fear was always that if my son was ever homeless he would be exposed to more undesirable "things". I really never looked beyond the fear that he would turn to heroin and may accidentally overdose.
Funny, I did not think about the other "things" he would be exposed to. I suppose I feared the threat of heroin and possible overdose because I assumed my son would be scared and hurt and turn to heroin as a comforting way to deal with his fear. I did not think that my son would just fine being homeless. He would like the people he was coming into contact with. He would listen to their tricks and think it is worth a go.
Oh how naive of me!
It is a provable statistic that crime and drug addiction has a high correlation, therefore why am I surprised that my son would turn to petty crime to support his habit? He has already broke the law in so many more complex ways. As I sat with him and he spoke of things, I was embarrassed that we may be overheard, I had a feeling of detachment as well as shame.
Under the pretense of wanting to see me and just sit and have a chat, it became clear there was more to it. He has no money. Will I give him enough money to tie him over till he gets his next benefit payment. "No, I am sorry I can't, you will have to ask someone else." "Dad has just given me £50 for Christmas and wont give me any more, and my friends won't give me money."
I will not give him any more. I helped him out with nearly £100 the first few days after moving out. His most loyal friend will not give him money because he has also learned that he would only be enabling him. His father has not helped for months and our son knows that Dad is not a resource for him to tap into. My son receives benefits now, paid into his bank account each fortnight. I will help him budget that money, as I offered, but I will no longer do anything that is in any way enabling his addiction.
So ok then, he will have to start stealing "bigger stuff". Ahem, excuse me, "bigger stuff"? Well he has stolen a thermal head scarf, some ear phone cushions, AND, and I did not want to know any more. He told me of how one of the guys at the shelter told him how he steals wine, even though he doesn't like wine, it is the easiest to steal. He also found out that some chemists do not dispose of medicines properly and sometimes if you poke around their bins you can find some pills. Also around the University campus is also a good place to find blister packs of prescription drugs laying about. A homeless woman also steals from donations that are left outside Oxford and other charity shops. STOP. I do not want to hear any more.
I am listening to this is a small cafe with no other customers and the owner is sitting at the table right behind my son, he is not even trying to speak quietly. He talks about how the codeine syrup he bought yesterday broke when he dropped it. Then he says, that though upset, he was ok because he knew he had the codeine he extracted from some co-codamol he bought and that was back at the room. Upon returning he picked it up and spilled 2/3rds of it. Also his prescription for Atarax (hydroxyzine hydrochloride) is almost gone even though he had a new prescription filled on Jan 31st, 4 days ago. If the doctor intended him to be taking as many as he is, obviously he would have given him a larger prescription!
He wants some money, because he is starving?! Hmm, funny how are you buying codeine and such? The homeless shelter only gives him one meal a day. Funny, a few days ago my son told me how he is eating so much better!
Can we not just talk? No, at home everything revolved around drugs. Outside, everything revolves around drugs. Our relationship will not change until my son faces up to his addiction. I know that, now I need to wait for my son to come to that conclusion as well.
As we left the cafe, my son asked for a lift to a corner shop near my house even though he said he was meeting a friend near where the cafe is soon. Why? To buy a can of cheap cider. Oh I guess he is not entirely penniless. OK, upon getting into my car he pokes around the little place where I put change and keep my trolley pound, anything he can find to take. There is nothing because I have learned to live with absolutely nothing left laying about would be potentially useful to my son.
His plan for the rest of the afternoon? Buy a can of cheap, strong cider. Go to the chemist and look behind the shop in their bins for any discarded medications. Go to maybe a few more chemists that he has heard from the other homeless people are relaxed about disposing of drugs. Try to remember to meet his friend. Go back to where the shelter is and possibly pop into the off license opposite and try to steal a bottle of wine. Get taken back to his accommodation and consume what he has successful obtained. Lovely skills son!
On the bright side, I am discovering that I am becoming stronger and stronger and letting go of the guilt and feelings of responsibility of my son's addiction. Never in a million years would I have been able to envision this situation 6 months ago. I have actually told and watched my son leave my home. He has become homeless. He is asking for "help" and I am saying no. I have turned him away in the cold night when he appears at my door unannounced intoxicated. I have told him to leave my house during a visit over the emotional and lonely holiday period because he broke the rules and lied. I have managed to do this all without tears, well, without too many tears, without breaking. I have managed to smile and laugh and go out and feel happy with other people guilt free. I will keep contact with my son, I will continue to advise him and love him, but I will no longer let his choices destroy 4 lives. I accept that my choices were not the best and in some ways my choices contributed to his unhappiness, but it was his choice, not mine, to use drugs to buffer his sadness or dissatisfaction with life. I am here to help, along with others, when he is ready.
Actually, my son may be learning new "skills" at the moment that I am not proud of, (but again it is his choice), but I am learning new skills as well on how to be stronger and happier and still remain supportive. I am showing my daughters that life does not only go on, but it can get better. In the end I hope that one choice my son will make, is the choice to seek help and the choice to start on the road to recovery. I also hope that when that day comes and he is enjoying more sober and enlightened days, he will look back and see who was there for him and see how much we have all grown.