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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Positive and Grateful

OK, well life is hard, that we know. Life is challenging, oh yes it is! There are obstacles and barriers and sometimes everything seems to go wrong and nothing seems to go right. Some of us are in such a state very briefly in our lives and then we are back on track. For others, and yes myself included, it seems to be an ongoing struggle with one hardship after another.


Today I am thinking, enough with the problems, they are still there and they will be there tomorrow, but for now, enough already.

Let's focus on what is good and what is working and what is right. We all have things that we can be happy and grateful about, I am sure of it. Sometimes we have to look very hard before we see what is right before our eyes. I want everyone to think of three things they are grateful for, even if they are amidst ongoing issues and a slaughter of problems and turmoil.

My youngest daughter and I have been keeping a "Grateful Book" since mid January. Some nights I struggle to find three things that I am grateful for because it is more challenging to try to think of different reasons and not just put down the same stuff over and over again. My older daughter tried once and quickly gave up. According to her it made her more depressed to be faced with the challenge because it made her painfully aware that there was in fact nothing for her to be grateful for. Well, I am delighted that after a conversation with me and her her counsellor she is willing to have a go at writing downs things she is grateful for.


What am I grateful for? Well my list is varied and sometimes simplistic and sometimes more complex. Sometimes I am grateful that I provided a good meal for my daughters and myself. Sometimes I am grateful for things that give me joy in my life, such as music, food, friends, my sister, warmth etc. Sometimes I think I am grateful to have this blog (11, 480 views thank you everyone who is reading), I am grateful I am still sane and appreciate my ability to laugh, I am glad my son is alive, I am glad I am managing to maintain my health and that we have a home to live in with running water, heating and electricity. Of course I am grateful to be alive, but sometimes that is too much of a cliché because lets admit it, sometimes in our darkest days we are not actually grateful for that. I even come up with things like,  "I am grateful for my body and that I have all its parts and I can move with ease". There are things to be grateful for, yes there are, no matter how little or silly or superficial they may seem, we are definitely grateful for so many things and we must not loose sight of that.

Addiction is a horrendous disease that like no other disease, the person who is sick does not often want to be helped. Any other disease and we are running to the doctor and asking for help, for tests, for medication etc. I am suffering because my son is sick and his disease has left it's mark on the family. No one can give me a pill to cure it. No can can wave a magic wand and fix it all. As far as I know, no one has a time machine so that I can go back into time and change things for the better. What I can do is to stay positive and refocus my energies on making life better while realising that every day of my life has had an element of good in it.

So my son is not here living the life that I, as his mother, believe he should be living. That does not change the fact that I was and still am a very good mother. I gave so much love and nurture and good times to my son, and I know it is still inside him, somewhere.

I may not be living in the lap of luxury and instead experiencing great financial strains and worries, but I have never been homeless and I have always been able to feed my children and keep them safe and warm.

I may have had a very unhappy marriage and one that we probably both regret and, if honest, we would both admit that it was something that "just happened" and not as a result of a great love for each; however,  I know that at times in my life I have been loved and I have experienced love and passion, even if very briefly.

I may not have travelled as much and given my children all the holidays that I would have liked, but we do have some fantastic memories of some very good holidays and have been fortunate to see some beautiful places in the world.

I may not have created a successful career but I know that I am educated and have a good mind and a caring heart. I believe that I can turn this nightmare into a positive learning experience and reach out to others and offer support and empathy to other families out there who are torn apart from addiction. Also, I am sure that there is someone out there that will eventual be able to help my son when my son is ready..

I am VERY grateful for all of you who read my blog and comment and share your stories. I try to respond to all of you, but I am sometimes unable to as quickly as I would like. My blog means a lot to me not only because it is very cathartic for me and helps me express my situation and feelings in a safe environment, but it also gives me satisfaction that I believe it is doing some good. Also, as I have mentioned recently I started a Facebook Page offering support for families of addiction, and in just 3 weeks it has received 275 "likes". I am struck by how so many people need this support and really hope I can make a difference.

Thank you and remember to be grateful for something every day!


Thursday, 20 February 2014


Since it has been 10 weeks since my son left home and nothing has been touched in his chaotic room, I thought I would start making a dent.

Originally, my son was advised to start packing his things and sorting through them before he moved. The idea being that even if he did not have a place to move into by the deadline moving date and not able to take most of his belonging, he would leave his room with boxes to take later and boxes to leave and store. Needless to say, it did not happen that way!

My son thinks I have no right to go through his belongings and pack for him, I told him he has relinquished any such rights. He does not like having his privacy invaded. Well, neither did I when he repeatedly searched my room when I was out or went through my handbag and  purse or stole from my bank account. So I will, and can, sort out his room, it is my house.

OK, so I thought I was strong, I thought I told him a thing a two. Then came the moment I started and it was fine at first, but the more I cleared out, the harder it became.

I threw out two and a half large black rubbish bags of "stuff". Of course a lot of it was just that, rubbish, but some of it was "stuff" I don't think he needs any more. He will be very angry with me when he realises that I have been making my own judgement calls on what to keep and what not to keep. In all honesty though, I did not dispose of that much.

What a painful task, made all the more painful by my 9 year old coming and telling me what a great job I am doing, I rejected her enthusiasm because it was not a job I wanted to be doing. She climbed up onto my son's high bed and she had the cat with her. She was enjoying herself, while I was not.

Most times I can keep my tears at bay, until I need to speak, then the flood gates open. So when my older daughter came and asked my if I was ok, I said "This is hard, hard to see how my son got from this (holding up an old battered and much loved Dr Suess book) to this (holding up some drug paraphernalia)"....the tears started mid sentence, but then I got back to work and did not cry again.


The things I found, I knew about, but to see them again and in a different context was brutal. How do you internalise the change that takes place within your much beloved child? An unhealthy and painful change? A change you, as a mother,  are suppose to stop from happening or help them through it and get better?

Memories and flash backs, regrets and gratitude, pride and disgust, heartache and hope....just a few things that raced through me in a matter of seconds with each and every thing I picked up. There amongst the Dr Suess collection, the Legoland photos of us together, the letters and cards I have given him, the stones and crystals he collected, the souvenirs of our trips together, the books on so many different subjects.... were the lab equipment, piles and piles of chemical diagrams, empty bottles, debris from his opium poppies,  shopping lists, bongs, pipes, grinders, razor blades, my credit and bank card details, repeatedly placed in different parts of his room, diary type of scribbles of lists of what drug he took and when.....

Notebooks filled with chemical compounds :

  • Benzaldehyde
  • Benzoyl Cloride
  • HydroBromic Acid
  • AllylBenzene
  • Amphetamine
  • Metlylamine
  • NitroMethane
  • N-Acetyl-o-Toluidine
  • Nitrazepam
  • Methaqualone
  • Benzphetamine


Then there were the lists such as this "wishlist":

  • Hash
  • New Bong
  • New Vaporiser
  • 500-1000 gm Etizalam
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • JWH-210
  • Flubromazepam
  • Pyrolazepam
  • Phenazepam
  • Ketamine

That was one list! Not the typical list of a teenager. Also not the typical life of a "typical" drug user. My son sure did put his heart and soul into the drug chemistry of his drug taking!

On one page of many notebooks and loose pages, there I found something so sad, yet unsurprising to me. On one page he deviated from the cold and clinical aspect of his drug lifestyle. On one page he betrayed his true feeling.

                      "Sleeping by the river
                        Hoping it wont flood,
                        It will make you shiver
                        Like ice was your blood

                        Plastic bag on my head
                        Keeps out the rain,
                        Wishing I was dead
                        Because of this pain

                        Walking around town
                        Frown on my face,
                        I look at all the people
                        But they see right through me"

I threw away all the drugs I found (not much  was left behind) and the bongs and the pipes and papers and many lists and chemical note books. I threw away vial bottles and filters. I threw away a lot, yet not all. I am not done by any means, but I do think my son should come and do some packing for himself, or should he? This is something I am still struggling to decide.

Ironically, my son phoned me last night, on the day I spent so much time in his room. On a day that I was sad because I realised that it has been 12 days since I seen him last, the longest I have gone without seeing him. Only once in the interim have we spoken, and it was not pleasant.

Last night he called, and though I could tell he was under the influence of something and wanted to ramble on about nothingness, I could also tell he was lonely. I listened to an almost entirely one sided conversation, no arguing, for 40 minutes. I miss him and I love him. More than my feelings of love, sorrow and loss though is my feeling and hoping and wanting for his recovery. His recovery, and a new beginning for him to have a life worth living would be the best gift I, as his mother, could ever receive.



Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Feeling a Void

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.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Regaining Focus

If I had to describe my personality traits I would say that I was a thinker, a feeler and a lover. I think A LOT and I feel A LOT and when I love, I love A LOT!

Perhaps this is why it is so hard for me to move forward and let my son makes his own life decisions that are clearly dangerous decisions. We are not talking about a parent who is upset because instead of attending university her son has decided to be a brick layer or their child colouring their hair bright orange! We are talking about a mother's beloved son choosing drugs and alcohol and destruction over anything else.


Therefore, I think about the whys, I feel a lot of the hurt, but I still love him!

Anyone who has been reading my blog regularly or who knows me personally, knows that this has been a roller coaster of a journey. I have been all over the show. One thing that has remained constant is my love for my son. Along with that has been my thinking about drugs and mental health and trying to learn and understand as much as I possibly can at that moment in time. Throughout this journey I have felt, very intensely, many emotions.

My son and I are a lot alike in this respect. I know that deep down inside he loves me more than anyone so far in his life. I know that he feels a variety of emotions very intensely and that he has a magnificent brain that is capable of deep and complicated thoughts. The key difference being that my son tries to avoid  most of his feelings and thoughts and that is his main "reason" for turning to drugs and that is why he enjoys them. Yes, it makes him feel better, it masks the pain, but it also dulls his thoughts and feelings until he has to take some more drugs. I feel like he is running away from his demons and himself to avoid the answers and thus chooses to self medicate. I, on the other hand, seem to chase my demons and myself in contemplating how we got here and how we can get the hell out of this dark place we have been stuck in for so long. Ironically, we are again a lot alike, in that neither of us is truly happy with life, this I know.

I have been having a very emotional time these last 2 months, more so than usual. Maybe I have lost my direction at times because of the high level of intense feelings and anxieties. I had to make the decision to have my son leave (with or without a place or a plan) to safeguard my daughters, particularly my older daughter whose thoughts of suicide were increasing. I had to cope with the Christmas holiday season without on of my children here with me in the family home with no satisfaction that he was somewhere nice he wanted to be, but that he was homeless, in a night shelter to sleep. I had to get use to my son being a homeless addict, homelessness which came from me not being able to neglect the needs of my daughters to live in a safe environment any longer, during the "magical" family oriented holiday season. After the New Year I tried to start making a new beginning for my daughters and myself at home while hoping that my son could also start making a new beginning by addressing his problems and maybe getting some help. We also started the New Year with my son being re interviewed in the criminal investigation into the possible drug manufacturing case against him. Still not knowing what the charge will be the New Year started off quite ambiguously.Then came my daughter's birthday and the horrible prank phone calls and not knowing where my son was for about 36 hours. Then, there was last Friday, my son's 19th birthday, the first with no family celebration. All these difficult emotional times had brought me back to a dark place, but now I am regaining some strength and trying to climb out of the darkness and appreciate the love and light that I do have in my life.

We still have obstacles and I am still in the process of recovery while my son is no where near ready for recovery, which in turn makes my recovery more challenging. Of course this also means it makes it more of a challenge to help my daughters recover, if I am struggling with my own and trying hard to believe and hope in my son's future recovery.

I am just a humble woman, trying my best to understand and help myself, my children and others out there suffering from the impact of addiction.


Friday, 7 February 2014

Birthday Blues

My son's birthday has hit me harder than I thought. I want to work through all the emotions I am having but it is too difficult.

My son did call me today and we did meet. It was nothing special and we did not have the time to do anything much but argue. He wanted money from me to get his guitar out of the pawnshop. He was not satisfied with the gifts I gave. He was not touched by my gesture of backing him his favourite cake.

We did not hug. We did not kiss each other hello or good bye. We never exchanged any comments containing the words "love", such as "I love you". We did not share anything nice. It hurt. I heard a lot from him I did not want to hear. In the end, as I was giving him a lift, he got out of my car while I was still in the road, he slammed the door with incredible force and anger and then he gave me the middle finger while walking away. That will remain my memory now for quite some time.

Last year my son turned 18 and he was using a lot of drugs, treating me and his sisters very aggressively, stealing from me, partaking in illegal activities in my home. Yet we managed some "normal" times.  I did not make a great celebration of his momentous 18 birthday. In fact I did not even buy him a gift. I did take him out for dinner with his sisters. I was very sad and frustrated during the time, now, however, I am mortified how much worse things are after a year's time. Each year I keep feeling this and I am so terrified what will be in another year's time.

I seem to have lost my strength and I no longer believe that this is all due to the "evils" of drugs. It is because of me.  I have failed him. I could not give him what he needed, I could not protect him from the emotional pain his father enforced on him. I could not provide a nicer environment and a larger support network to somehow compensate for the lack of fatherly love.  I did not push getting help in the very days because I was arrogant or naive enough to believe that my love will cure all. I enabled him too long when his behaviour did finally become uncontrollable. I made him homeless which is where he met these people who are now his core support system who are encouraging drink and drugs. Today after feeling so alone and so hurt, I realise....I have no one to blame but myself and I have let my baby down.

I am a blubbering wreck at the moment and I do not think I can take this much longer. At this moment in time I feel like I wish someone could perform a lobotomy on me because I am too weak to do any more, I can not bear any more pain and disappointment and worry. All I want is to be emotionless.

I adored that boy so much. I had such pride and faith and belief in him, as he did in me. I could not take enough photos of him to record every beautiful moment.

I am sorry this is not much of a post, it is not informative or interesting. It is a very sad post of a woman alone who has lost her son to drugs and through it all never stopped believing she will someday get that son back. I think the woman is losing the battle and is getting very tired.

I do not have the strength to get out all the photos, scan them and record my beautiful, fun, loving and spirited little boy growing up...but here are few of my memories I want to share.

All photos copy write of Susan Mansfield.