Holidays, what do they bring to mind for you? Fun, adventure, relaxation, indulgence, escapism....unfortunately holidays (vacations) can also be stressful. Sometimes I wonder if all the stress is worth it. Stress in preparing/planning/financing, then the stress of being there and trying to make sure everyone is happy while in a new location; then the stress of coming home to stacked up mail made up of mostly bills, suitcases full of dirty laundry, an empty pocket book as well as an empty fridge! Dealing with that gloomy feeling and sadness of coming back to reality, then, surprisingly your holiday seems to be in the far away past.
Life with an addict makes holidays even more stressful. The last time I was on a holiday with my son was two years ago. I remember being so stressed before hand and doubting whether or not I should take him with us, but on the other hand I did not trust him enough to leave him at home alone. I knew that his behaviour back then was vile and he was taking a lot of drugs. I also knew that we would stay with my elderly aunt and he may not act in a respectable manner as a visitor in her home. I also knew that there was so much animosity between my children that the holiday will more than likely be filled with arguments.
Two years ago I actually had the opportunity to have two holidays during the 6 weeks summer break. We were going to visit my aunt in Budapest, attend a music festival (Sziget Festival) which we have been to before and love. We were going to then go to the Lake Balaton resort area of Hungary with my aunt, who was funding all of our expenses while in Hungary. After returning home we would have a couple of days to get reorganised and then we would be off to the French Alp (Grenoble) to visit an old flame who I had not seen in nearly 20 years. A few days in the city and then a few days up in Alpes d'Huez.
After much conversation, arguments, promises and deals made, I agreed to allow my son to come on both holidays, so I bought tickets for all 4 of us as well as getting large enough accommodation in France so that my son could have his privacy and the girls and I could have ours.
Of course after everything was booked and it was too late to the change the vacationing number from 4 people to 3, my son started to discuss and prepare and devise a scheme on how he will take drugs with him without getting caught! He took his stash of benzos, and legal highs and home made tinctures as well as ordering his poppy heads to be sent to my aunt's house in Budapest!!!! I realised I had made a big mistake.
The majority of our time spent in Hungary was riddled with arguments, my son being up most of the night, making a fuss about making his "tea" and sleeping most of the day making the rest of us wait for him and then having to wait some more while he prepared and drank his "tea", the excessive shouting and swearing, begging for money so he can buy alcohol and treating my poor old aunt which such disrespect that at the end of the holiday as we said our good byes at the airport, my aunt was barely on speaking terms with my son and she said she did not want to see him again until he is "better". My son was very resentful and thought she was out of order. My son kept having a go at me because he could not understand what we were all so upset about! Unfortunately, there are many, many stories that I could tell that would illustrate the horrendous holiday we had. However, one incident in particular comes to mind though. At the music festival, after a day of music I was going to buy my daughters a snack (they were both hungry) before my youngest daughter was to be picked up by my aunt, so I could longer to stay to enjoy the later evening bands with my older daughter and my son. As we waited in line to buy some food, my son who was VERY intoxicated on opium and alcohol came and started harassing me for money for more drinks. By this time I was already angry with him for his behaviour that day, so I had walked away from him with my daughters because I told him I did not want to have anything to do with him in such a vile state. He was so aggressive from the intoxication, he was so abusive to me that I was not only embarrassed, but also scared. We were indeed creating a scene. To create a scene at a music festival with lots of people and so much going on and so much noise, is really saying something! I noticed my daughters, the younger one was VERY scared as well as tired and hungry. My older daughter was very angry and hated that my son always had to steal my attention and "ruin" things for her and for us all. The situation got so intense that the people around use started to look very worried and finally some brave woman came over to "protect" me and asked if I wanted someone to get this man away from me. You can imagine the look on her face and other on lookers as I said to her in between gasps of air (because I was crying so much), "He is my son!". She hugged me and stayed with me until the situation calmed down and my son had moved on.
On the last night of the festival, the closing head-liner was "The Killers", one of my daughter's favourite bands. Despite having told my son again on that night to please leave us alone, he kept coming to me demanding more money for drink! I wanted him to get away because the concert had started and my daughter was getting increasingly perturbed as her brother kept getting "in our face". In the end I ended up grabbing his drink and throwing it on him! I could not believe I did that and I was very distressed. I was angry at him. He left because after having him shout about what I had done, and my daughter was missing her band's performance, I caved in and gave him money to buy himself another drink just to get rid of him! Can you imagine what that feels like for a mother? Especially a mother who has always adored her son? Later I caught a glimpse of my son, who after getting a drink came back to the same area my daughter and I were standing and watching the concert. My son was smiling and dancing around. He looked happy, he looked like he use to, he made me feel so sorry for him! I wanted to cry, in fact my eyes are welling up just visualizing it now as I write these words. I wanted him to be happy and with friends and dancing and enjoying himself as a "normal" teenager. Instead, I saw my son who was off his face on opium and alcohol but lost in the music, no longer angry or abusive, I was no longer anger or hurt, my heart went out to him!
When we arrived back in England I decided that I did not want to go through all of this again while in France. I wanted a wonderful time. I wanted a real holiday, away from the stress and the abuse and worry and sadness. I wanted to have a romantic and fun and enjoyable reunion of the last man I had loved. I stood my ground and broke the news to my son. Yes, I wasted a lot of money, coach fare to Paris, train fare to Grenoble, two separate hotels which were bigger now than needed to be.....and I was not to have foreseen all the money I was to spend while I was away on my son! Luckily I decided to sell my grandmother's thick, beautiful 18 carat necklace for £400 in case I needed more money than I had while in France. We ended up going to Paris together and then parted ways (after way too much nonsense) as he went to a festival and we went on to our destination. His plans went horribly wrong because he was drinking opium all day and evening and lost his way back to his hotel, lost his wallet, lost his passport ect. While I was trying to enjoy Grenoble (which I did very much, but it was not the lovesfest I had hoped it to be) I was constantly being called by my son, I was paying extra night upon extra night at his hotel at 99 Euros per night, I kept sending money into his account via internet banking for food, and topping up his phone for him etc until he managed to get home! Even then I had to send him money because his father was not prepared to take him grocery shopping!
Needless to say, France was not the ideal holiday either. My daughter's and I had no money to eat while in the Alps, my card being declined in French! I had to ask my friends and family to wire ME money! All this because I spent that £400 to help my son. So not only did my romantic dreams not come true, not only did I spend way too much money, but my son seemed to still somehow able to control my life and I did not relax or escape nearly as much as I would have liked to!
So here we are, two years on, some dreadful things have happened in those two years: arguments, police call outs for domestic "violence", me turning in chemicals to a drug's clinic, huge overreaction of what was called "chemical spill", my son's arrest for drug production and possession, the drug clinic's chaos on national news, the police invading our home and having to be evacuated, our story all over the newspapers several times, police reports, witness statements, court dates, my daughter's self harming as a result of all this, her many appointments and also group "therapy", social services getting involved, children in need meetings, more arguments and emotional/verbal abuse, my daughter's suicidal ideation, concerns for her safety, Family Solutions involvement, meetings and appointments, telling my son that he needed to move out, my son being homeless, my son in homeless shelters, more problems due to his drugs, my son becoming involved with the "wrong" people now that he was being exposed to people, numerous calls from the emergency room, my son's alcohol withdrawal grand mal seizure, my daughter's intense hatred for her brother, my youngest daughter's confusion whether she should like or dislike her brother, my son's psychotic breakdown and 10 day stay in the mental hospital, numbers problems with his supported housing, money problems for us, loneliness, alienation, debt collectors at my door, no support from their father.....Jesus Christ, this list is quite long, isn't it???? I think a break is well and truly in order for us all;however, given the current situation and difficulties I can only offer a break for me and my daughters!!!
So I bit the bullet and decided, who cares if I can not afford a holiday? When will I ever be able to afford anything? I have no more gold to sell, the last was sold when I had to entertain our German exchange, and then as sad as it sounds, I had to sell some small items, just to be able to entertain a friend at home! I went completely right brain here and booked flights with all my housekeeping money. Guess what? I booked one way tickets because I could not afford return flights and I could have afforded return coach travel but they were all sold out! So I am hoping my aunt will help me and we can buy some coach tickets for our journey back home! Also, this is how completely desperate I am to get the hell away from here for a while, I booked our flight despite the fact that my passport that has been sent away to be renewed has not been returned yet!!!! Here we are, 4 days before our flight, no passport, no money, no ride to the airport (though my friend has offered to order a taxi and pay for it),,,,ha ha ha...I am crazy! So, talk about pre holiday stress!
I had to break the news to my son because he needs to appear before the judge for a review on August 18 and I wont be here to support him and help him. Well, the onslaught of criticisms I received and the guilt trip he put me on, not to mention that he certainly knows how to push all the right buttons, was incredible. It did not help that I could see on his eyes that he was high on Etizolam, which he admitted to taking, but corrected me that he is not high, but he is relaxed! I was told how irresponsible I am being, how he needs a break much more than I do because he is the victim in all this, all this that I had caused and created because I did not listen! His life is destroyed and mine is so much better, therefore I should be taking him or giving him a holiday. I am selfish! I felt my blood start to boil, my arms shacking, my head pounding and my heart racing. I was reminded that this was the way I use to live, feeling like that most of the time. Days after that encounter I received phone calls from my son that he needs money etc. He told me that he was so disgusted after our conversation about my impending holiday, he thought me so despicable that he was so upset, he "had to" drink a lot and take the rest of his Etizolam. Now he is feeling ill and fearful for his life because he felt as if he was going to have another seizure due to lack of sufficient alcohol, which he now needs because he took all his etizolam, because he was so upset by me, that I owe it to him to give him money for alcohol....and if I do not, if he dies it will ALL be on my shoulders! I stood my ground, though I felt all the physical affects his behaviour was having on me. However, 4 days of phone calls and txts, I sent him money!
I am sure while on holiday my aunt will want to discuss all my problems. I am sure I will be worried about money and the standard phrase will be, "I don't have money for that". I am sure that my son will try his best to guilt trip me across the miles. I am sure that I will feel the void of not having someone with me to have someone as my equal to talk to, drink with, dance with, laugh with. I am sure I will be worrying about what will await us when we get home. Stress on holiday!
When we arrive home, I will have unpaid bills, I will have to start getting ready for the new school term which means new uniforms, shoes, P.E. kits, dance wear, train passes, ballet fees AND I will also be having a German exchange student coming Sept 28th. I will have the awkwardness of meeting up with my son and probably being put through the same nonsense as before. I will no doubt, being the romantic sentimental fool that I am, be feeling quite sad that there is no one waiting for us, no one expecting us, no one to be with when we come home.
So guess what? I AM TAKING MY DAUGHTERS ON HOLIDAY! Woowhoo! Do you know what? It will create stress, but I do not really give a damn right now. I want to be in the sun, listen to awesome music at an amazing festival! I want to laugh and dance and act stupid with my daughters! I want to see my aunt because you never know when it will be for the last time. I want to eat food that I can only eat in Hungary. I want to escape for a while.
Holidays, like life are far from perfect and comes with their ups and downs, but I am going to forget my troubles the best I can while I am away and have as much fun as I can and I will just deal with all the stress when I come home, as I do all the time anyway for stress is part of my life.
I hope my son will make his probation appointments, his DRR (drug rehabilitation requirement) appointments, his court appointment, while all the time staying alive and safe. He is going to be 20 years old in 6 months, it is time he starts stepping up and learning a bit about taking responsibility for himself. I am not to blame for what happened over the last few years of his life, in fact I do not believe in pointing blame at anyone. It happened and we all had our roles to play, and we should all take an active role in healing, recovery and moving forward.