When my son first left our family home, on my request, and became homeless it did not have a detrimental affect on our relationship. We spoke every day, sometimes several times a day. My son would often phone late in the evening and we would have a little chat that he would always end with, "Goodnight, I love you" just as he did at home.
When he was at home those words would sometimes infuriate me, he could have been shouting obscenities at me a few minutes earlier but still say them and, in fact, if I could not return the gesture with a heartfelt, "Goodnight, I love you too" that would often spark more arguing.
Now I miss those words, I miss them so very much!
On that occasion when my son was unaccounted for and some other homeless man had his phone and was making very hurtful "prank" phone calls to me, that evening seems to have been some turning point for my son. Since that night he no longer slept at the night shelter's winter provision hotel, but rather chose to stay with a woman in her 30's who apparently is the "girlfriend" of on of the other homeless men that my son met. This woman apparently does not like being alone and has at least a handful of different men, all homeless I believe, staying with her at random times. My son likes staying there, even now that he has finally his own place in a supported housing project because he says she is "brilliant".
Since then the contact has become more and more infrequent. His tone of voice, though often in the past has been less then respectful and usually quite unacceptable, has changed. He has changed. I miss him even more than ever. I do not miss the lack of him being around more than ever, I miss his essence more than ever. I feel he is truly not the person who was once my son and sometimes I wonder if he ever will be again.
Since he has chosen these "friends" his drinking has dramatically increased and he has also let it slip that he has went out to by this woman drugs, but apparently the legal highs that are so popular, but never the less powerful. She is also being treated for various medical conditions, so she may be sharing her prescription drugs. Also my son now has an address he can use if he chooses to order any more drugs off the internet, without fear or judgement. He is free to be an addict in her presence and with their friends and this is why she is so "brilliant".
The other day it dawned on me that all these years I said that I could not make my son homeless while he was an addict because that might lead to an overdose and then the guilt of his death would consume me, was not the only reason I hung on for so long. I realise, that of course that was a legitimate fear, it was not the main reason behind my hesitation. Now that he is no longer living under my roof, I have relinquished any influence or control I may or may not have had over him, but I was holding on to the slightest shred of hope that while he lived at home I could still influence him to seek help. There were less factors at home for him, no one at home encouraged his behaviour or accepted it but now he has found the right people to feed his addiction and his denial. Of course I know intellectually that I had no control or influence over him when he was at home, but emotionally I clung on to that hope. Yes, I can still influence him without his residing with me, but the problem seems to be that since he is no longer here our relationship is slipping deeper and deeper into nothingness. Perhaps this is because of his resentment, his trying to find his own way in the world, his choices etc or perhaps it is because that for years our relationship was based on his addiction and my enabling to some extent and all we shared was discussions and arguments over drugs and the power struggle of who is in control at home...that is all gone now. I would have liked to believe that the first 15 years of his life, before his drug taking drastically altered his personality, would have embedded such a strong foundation of love between us that once the daily arguments were removed and we both had time and space away from each other, that strong foundation would have proven it's strength.
Ironically the catalyst for having my son leave was my middle child's deterioration into depression and an increased worry of suicide, yet she does not seem to be that much better even though her brother has been gone for two months now. I see slight improvements of course, we are definitely more relaxed at home. We are enjoying dinner times, music and laugher so much more. Yet, I see the sadness is still within her. I see the flatness at times and the lack of motivation to do anything. Yet, surprisingly she is doing amazingly well at school, achieving high results and rewards. She has an amazing mind, and I hope that will benefit her and not hinder her, as my son's intelligence hindered him because he choose to focus his intelligence on the "wrong" things.
We do not speak of my son much at home, actually not at all unless I bring him up. I do not want my daughters to believe that a parent can just dismiss their own child and that we can act as if he never existed. Yes, there are problems and there has been a great deal of damage done, but despite that he is my son, he is their brother and we are still family and we should all have the desire to repair the family. I think this will be difficult and it will be more difficult to accept that perhaps his sisters do not want to repair their relationship and they may choose not to have him in their lives. I can not choose that, so this again will create conflict within the family.
When will it ever end? When will it ever be better? Even if my son chooses recovery, will that "fix" things like I have been hoping for so long? At this point I would say no, it would only be the first step towards "fixing" things.