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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

15 Minutes of Fame

Andy Warhol said that in the future everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes. Do you now what, I have not been world famous, but we have had our share of local fame and I do not like it! We have been in the news AGAIN and I am quite disturbed how easily these so called "journalists" can twist facts until they are in fact spreading lies!

                           

This is all following my son's court hearing in which he pleaded guilty to the charges. So what sort of silliness appears in the papers? "Local teen pleads guilty to drug factory charges", and comparing him to the film "The Wolf of Wall Street"...yeah right!!!!

When a so called "friend" txted my son that he is in the news, my son was so upset and had no where else to turn but to me. He stopped by unexpectedly, much to the dismay of my daughters, but we managed to have a chat. The poor guy broke down in tears because he is tired of all this and just wanted it to all be over and done with. Yet, he is well aware that it will never really be since people have labelled him and singled him out in our community. He is also aware that in the future when looking for employment, when a Google check is made on him, these news items will continue to pop up.

So that was a few weeks ago and we had to wait for the next sentencing hearing and of course the next, and last, opportunity for the press to put our story in the local papers. What no one realises, by no one I mean the strangers reading the papers and the journalists themselves, is that the feelings the lies and misinformation evoke in my son (as in anyone in the same situation) is so upsetting that he had to make himself feel better. How does an addict make themselves feel better? Oh, yes, by taking more drugs! I understand why, to remove themselves from the outside world and to feel better and manage day to day existence. So we waited for sentencing and my son took what he could, drank what he could and tried to hide in his haze while he waited.

                                                                

My son was not in a good way.  I decided to take him to the parole office for his pre sentencing report appointment. Each time he was intoxicated so I made a point of telling him that I do not agree with his behaviour therefore I will not be supporting him in his appointment since I do not want it to appear that I condone his behaviour. This happened on the first occasion and then on the second occasion, he had no memory of the first, but again, I told him that I will be sitting in and supporting him, though he did want me to. The third occasion was a good few weeks later after sentencing when he had to attend a parole appoint, he sadly had no memory of ever being there, that was how intoxicated he was on the prior two visits. It is also a testimony how long term alcohol and drug use destroys the memory.

The day we have been waiting for since Oct 3rd finally came, the sentencing hearing on July 9. It took nine months of various turmoil and anxiety and stress and worry from his arrest to find out the punishment he would receive. Three different occasions of being in the local press, various levels of drug use, finally accepting that my son had to leave, my son's homelessness, hospitalization, moving to supported housing, fear of eviction, poverty,a roller coaster of emotions....so much happened within those nine months, and all the time the fear of the unknown future for my son loomed over our heads. It was a very difficult time, but we have survived and in some ways even progressed.

                                

Court, as usual, was a very long day. This day at court was the longest though, we were there from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm! No need to complain about that though, because we were so very fortunate to be heard in front an excellent judge. To make a very long story short, my son sat in the dock nodding off since he was self medicating throughout the day. We had the support of our Family Solutions worker and of course my son's solicitor, both very lovely women who are very good what they do. My son did not receive a custodial sentence, he has a 1 year community order (probation), 6 months DRR (drug rehabilitation requirement) and 100 hours of unpaid work as well as monthly reviews in front of the judge and the judge requested that he be the judge he sees as he would like to follow my son's progress.

The reporters were in the courtroom and one waited around outside the court house for us. My son this time did not run away from the reporter, he finally had his say, "I am glad it is all over". Yes we most certainly are, though it is not over, in some respects it is just starting as far as his recovery, the saga of the courtroom drama and the fear of the unknown of what will happen in court is finally over!

                                

We had a nice two page spread in the newspaper, and this time he was referred to as Breaking Bad Jr, this was the first article that had the sole purpose of sensationalising the evil local drug factory criminal mind of a local teenager! It was a reasonable in many respects, though there were a few "yeah right"moments when I read it!

This chapter has ended! Let us hope the next chapter will be more positive and less trying. My son made big mistakes, but as the judge clearly saw, he is not a criminal who is a danger to society, he is a young man with serious issues which need addressing with support and rehabilitation which will, hopefully, move him forward and remove the need to self medicate regardless of the consequences.

So we have had our moment of being infamous in my opinion, but maybe my son will still have his real 15 minutes of fame for an experience sparked by a positive event or contribution!


                                       
                                                           

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Friends

Friends, what is a true blue friend and why do we need them so much in our lives? I have been thinking about that saying "A friend in need, is a friend indeed" an awful lot lately. I have been pondering my friendships and lack of true friendship in many relationships these days. The dictionary defines the phrase "a friend in need is a friend indeed" as "a friend who helps you when you really need help is a true friend".   This makes me think a lot of the people we so loosely call friends and also what defines a friend in a cloudy addiction focused mind.

                                           


Not many of my friendships have survived all the trials and tribulations which have been  many in my life. People seem to come and go and few remain through thick and thin.There have been friends who I thought would be there forever, been through illness and even death with me, yet when I moved out of America, I never had that person as a friend, ever again. There have been friends told me how they have very little friends because they just don't "click" with many people, making me feel "special" that I was indeed their friend and I their's, yet did not share important things with me, such as planning a move, until one day they were gone. Friends who made me feel so misunderstood and stupid for putting up with as much as I put up with from my son. Friends who were quick to judge and alienate me when the ugly truth came out that my son was a drug addict. People who made it very clear that I am to blame because I allowed such behaviour in my home and what I need to do, the easiest and best thing to do, would be to change the locks and kick the bastard out!!!! Oh my God! Is that friendship?

When I reconnected with an old "friend" a couple of years ago and he asked me to visit him, I said yes of course without hesitation, though I had to pull a lot of strings to finance it! It just amazes me that a few times I have mentioned to this "friend" that I needed a couple of days to escape reality because all the stuff going on, it never transpired. I asked one last time very casually saying that while my daughter was in Germany it would be nice for him to pop over and visit me for a weekend...nope! I thought, "Really? Jeeze that is not a lot to ask...a little friendship, a little distraction, a little fun....." Funnily enough, I still care for him and would gladly spend time with him again, I have just learned my lesson that he is not the type of friend I wanted him to be.

                                             

A couple weeks ago my son and I were walking in town and I could hear footsteps behind us that were clearly a woman's, but I had no reason to turn around. As my son and I were about to cross the road and I looked behind us to see if the traffic was clear, I glanced at the woman who was close behind us, the only other person walking on that side of the road and I noticed it was a "friend" who we have known for about 10 years. Well that was awkward! I am sure being so close to us and having no one else on the pavement she would have recognised us yet she did not say hello? She works in social services and her husband as well, her husband whom only very recently I wrote to asking to write a letter as character reference for my son's sentencing hearing. She must have seen us! Anyway, our friendship has been on the decline for years since we are clearly not on the same social sanding as they are. We are not successful, with happy families as they are. As I said, that was a very awkward, and brief, encounter.

To be a friend is to be loyal, non judgemental, caring, understanding, to battle out the hard times and also have fun with and most important someone who accepts you for who you are and you can be as free and open and crazy as you like without having to put on a mask that society often demands from us, to be able to talk without editing your words and know that it is safe to do so! Is that too much to ask?

                                                

Today I think some people are living this very superficial life full of social media and devices which seem to be physically attached to them at all times, lending to the inability to have a long attention span and sit and talk and actively listen for long periods of time. People who have hundreds of friends on Facebook, hundreds of followers on Twitter and Tumbler and take photos of their meals at restaurants instead of using their intellect and descriptive language to discuss with their real friends what they are eating and why it is so amazing, rather than posting a pic and tens upon tens upon tens of "friends" liking it!

These lyrics from the placebo song, "Too Many Friends" are spot on:

I got too many friends
Too many people that I'll never meet
And I'll never be there for
I'll never be there for
'Cause I'll never be there

Too many friends
Too many people that I'll never meet
And I'll never be there for
I'll never be there for
'Cause I'll never be there

I am lucky I suppose that I have not had too many friends in my life, and in particular in my youth, who tried to stray me onto rocky roads. Of course I succumbed to peer pressure as a young teenager and drank, smoked, tried some drugs, skipped school, shoplifted, even got into a proper fight at school because my "friends" were pushing me (literally) into it, for which I got a 3 day exclusion. Funny now, looking back on it all. However, I never had the type of "friends" that my son now has. The friends that help him when the chips are down because they give him pills or take him shoplifting for alcohol. The nice friends who share their drugs and gave him a place to crash at times, but also stole from him and tried to assault him, which on occasion they were successful at. The good friends who tell him that his mother over reacted and was "out of order" when I told him he will have to move out. The friends who have got him in trouble time and time again. They, according to my son, are his only friends
.
                             


Unfortunately, it is the truth when I say that my son has not been too lucky in the friend's department. He has not been able to socialise for many years now because of his drug use, his school exclusion, his isolation, his heavier drug use and eventually his criminality and homelessness. There has been one very good friend however, who has never really judged him and has always been there for him. It is a shame that my son does not see that. He sees this young man as being a middle class boy with everything handed to him and getting an easy life, therefore how could he possible understand where he is coming from. So he avoids this friend and the distance has grown very large now indeed. My son thinks that anyone who is not in his circle of users or homeless people are trying to change him and that the "real friends" are his friends because they accept him for who and what he is. Isn't that ironic? That is just how I described friendship a moment ago, someone who is non judgemental and accepts you for who you are! Funny though, that when drugs are in the equation, reality gets twisted. The people who are trying to help my son, aka "change" him, are actually being non judgemental about all that has happened over the years and accept that he is not his real self when he is in a narcotic haze, but we truly accept him for the wonderful yet troubled young man he is. A troubled young man who his true friends want to see get better. The people my son thinks are his "friends" at the moment are just as troubled and in the same, if not bigger, haze, and they are incapable of seeing beyond how they can benefit from connections with certain people.

My son and I are very similar in some areas, one of these areas is  that we are both very sensitive, emotional and deep thinking, with high expectations of those people who we will let into our hearts. I think my son and I both need someone to love us, love us now when things are not so good and still be there to love us when things are getting better. I have never had that, I hope my kids will one day!

Another great song that comes to mind is "Around Town" by The Kooks:

But all I need is somewhere to lay
Somewhere to lay my hat up
I need someone to love in the middle of the day
I want someone to be, and someone to drive around town
I need someone to love when the chips are down
Love me when the chips are down
Will you love me when the chips are down?
Love me when the chips are down
Could you love me when the world is crashing all around?

I have had some very happy moments these last few weeks with a friend, and there is nothing better then spending time with a person who really "gets" you and then smiling ear to ear later when you think of them and the time you have spent together. It is uplifting and feeds the soul with hope that the world really is as amazing as I grew up believing! I want this more than anything for my son as well, he needs to see that all the wonderful things his crazy mom was telling him about life, love and people are actually true! I want him to see the beauty of living, the delight in loving and the excitement the world has to offer...and you only need one very special friend to help you experience that.

I get worried though, that when I think I found a special friend that brings me happiness, worried that life will twist it's paths and make things go down the complicated road of people's confusion of what really is the right and the wrong thing to do. We can not fix those people who are damaged and have tried to damage us, we can not make the negative realities disappear by trying to do the right thing, because sometimes in so doing so you succeed to do more harm than good. I believe that the best we can do for ourselves and for our children and those near and dear to us is to hold on to the thing that makes us happy when and if we are lucky enough to find it. I have had so people like that in my life, now that there is someone who makes me happy, I do not want to lose him. We need to embrace it and if we are ever so lucky to find a friend that is truly our friend and who will love us when the chips are down, but also brings us intense happiness, we should hold on to that no matter what because at the end of the day that is showing the beauty of the world to others, that is sending out such positive energy that that will imprint and influence our children and our friends and our family much more than trying to do the right thing with out the love and passion and devotion behind our actions. I lived in a negative and controlling relationship devoid of friendship within the relationship as well as outside the relationship for too long and I regret that it had such a negative toll on all of our children, I will never make that mistake again.

Thinking about all the people who have let me down over the years, friends and family alike, they do certainly out number those people who have been a friend and a true family member, but they have only highlighted to me what true friendship is and I am so happy to have experienced some wonderful displays of friendship and support over the years! Each time someone lets me down, I will try my best to no longer be negative and sad, I will take it as a reminder that it is those who are here for me, that they are indeed the ones who I should focus on. So many times people fade away because they are too busy with work or family or a new relationship, but then there are those friends who are just as busy but go out of their way to make an hour or two for you when you need it, or they need it,  or sometimes just for fun because it has been too long since we laughed together!

                                 

I hope that my children and I all find some wonderful people to share life with, I just hope they do not have to wait as long as I have been waiting and am still wanting! I sincerely hope that those of you who are reading this blog post have 1 or 2 good and special friends, because we do not need too many "friends", as most parents have told their children at some point, I am sure! Appreciate those who are close to you and have a lovely day in this amazingly beautiful world, even if it comes with so much hardship and sadness, look for the beauty!