June 5, 2011.
Crawling on the filthy floor, dodging needles, old cigarette butts, and moldy fast food wrappers, I was on my hands and knees today looking for a tooth. An expensive tooth. Well, more accurately, an expensive dental crown that fell out of my son’s mouth a couple of days ago. If I could find it, the dentist said he could reattach it for a minimal fee. Of course, I’ve already paid the man a small fortune to restore my son’s beautiful smile after years of meth use. I’d like to see his smile, but I can’t find him. His apartment door wasn’t locked. I walked right in with only a slight hesitation at what I’d find. It was hotter than hell in there because the electricity had been shut off.
No air conditioning. No tooth. No son.
I couldn’t find the crown in the gloom and grit inside that hell hole. I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t just walk away. I never could. I’m addicted to my addict. I don’t want him to have a hole in his smile. He already has a hole in his soul and I can’t fix it. I’ve tried, many times. I can at least fix his smile, again, if I can only find his tooth and him.
I finally left with no tooth when it got too dark to see. I most certainly didn’t want to be in his apartment after dark. It was scary for me to be there in broad daylight.
As a child, my son was afraid of the dark. I’d turn his dinosaur lamp on, tuck him in bed at night, and read him a story out of one of his many Dr. Seuss books. When I’d finish the story, he’d hug me and remind me to leave the lamp on. I miss those hugs.
Today was my rock bottom. I’m going to stop enabling.
August 18, 2012 .
I looked out of place today in my outfit from the Chico’s half price rack, and my strappy sandals with the three-inch heels. I knew it and they knew it. The people who existed in the rent by the hour-day-week-month motel stared at me as I lurked in the shadows by the rusty stairs. I looked like someone’s middle-aged mother because I am someone’s middle-aged mother. I didn’t look like a person preparing to steal a car.
It’s my son’s car, but my name is on the title. I bought it and I pay the outrageously high insurance payments. I have my own set of keys. My son traded his keys to his meth dealer in exchange for his drug of choice with the understanding he’d get the car back in a week. That was a month ago.
I probably should’ve given more thought to my choice of footwear before deciding on a whim to take back what’s mine. If I’d been forced to run, it would have been impossible in my super cute sandals. I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t just walk away. I never could. I needed to drive away in the car that cost even more than my son’s teeth, but what if the car wouldn’t start? What if the dealer left his room before I could drive out of the parking lot? What if he had a gun?
I was still standing in the shadows when I saw a man with a shaved head walk out of a room, get in the car I bought, and drive away. It was too late. I probably should’ve called the cops, but how could I explain that I was trying to steal my own car. I couldn’t get the cops involved. That would’ve made the whole mess even messier. I wanted the dealer to assume his stolen car had been stolen.
I couldn’t do it, but I wanted to. I really, really wanted to, just like I really, really wanted to help my son when I got him that car to get him to the job I also got him. The job that didn’t last very long, just like all his other jobs.
Today was my rock bottom. I’m going to stop enabling.
October 11, 2012.
I worked in a cavernous space today full of people attending a business expo. I spent hours decorating the booth my employer rented for the expo. I was tired from standing, but I couldn’t sit down. I had to greet the attendees who wanted to know what my employer had to offer. I had to smile and chat and be enthusiastic even though I was exhausted, and my phone wouldn’t stop ringing.
When I was finally able to answer, it was Deborah. She’s the head of the drug rehab facility my son lives in, and she wasn’t calling just to chat. She was trying to tell me something bad, but I couldn’t hear her because there was a man standing in front of me asking what door prizes I was giving away. I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t just walk away. I had to do my job to keep my job. The job that supplies the insurance that helps pay my son’s rehab bill.
She was trying to tell me that my son had walked away from the facility. He had been missing for hours. They couldn’t find him. He had no money, no coat, no contacts. She thought he would return as soon as it got dark and cold. I thought I would go insane, but I calmly put my phone away and handed the man in front of me a free key chain. I wanted to throw it at him. I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to tell him my son was missing, and I couldn’t continue to stand on my aching feet and smile and be nice and talk to strangers when I had no idea where my son was or what he was doing. I wanted to tell the man holding the cheap plastic key chain that I didn’t know what to do. I never know what to do.
Today was my rock bottom. I’m going to stop enabling.
November 20, 2013.
I was in a facility surrounded by a bunch of men who had gathered to listen to my son tell his story of sobriety today. The metal chair I sat on was uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as the stares I was getting. I looked so incredibly out of place. You’d think I’d be used to that by now. You’d be wrong. I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t walk away because the door was locked. I’d driven hours to get to the locked facility for men who will soon be released. Men who have paid their debt to society.
My son has lived in locked places. My son has lived in drug rehab facilities. My son has lived in halfway houses. My son has lived on couches owned by friends who would inevitably kick him out when they realized they couldn’t save him from him. My son has lived in the car his drug dealer eventually abandoned.
I can’t count the nights I’ve gone to sleep not knowing exactly where my son was living. I can’t find words to describe what it feels like to go to bed with a full belly under a pile of blankets on a freezing cold night knowing that my son, who was afraid of the dark as a little boy, didn’t have a full belly or a pile of blankets or much chance of surviving the hell of addiction.
I thought if I cried enough or spent enough or worried enough or pleaded enough he would stop doing drugs. Eventually, he did stop, but not because of my tears or the money and worry and words I wasted over a dozen years. He said he stopped because he was ready to stop.
When he stopped, I stopped. I SHOULD HAVE NEVER STARTED. My son says the same thing: HE SHOULD HAVE NEVER STARTED.
As he finished telling his story in front of the packed room, he looked at me and grinned that beautiful, expensive smile that still has a hole in it. I grinned back with tears in my eyes. The crowd began to clap. He walked over to me and hugged me. I never wanted to let go, but I’d learned the hard way that I had to.
Today was a beautiful day. He and I have lots of beautiful days to look forward to.
Each week I like to share stories of recovery, in hopes of inspiring those who are struggling and losing hope. There is no such thing as a lost cause, and the stories in this series are proof of that. Keep hope alive.
I have written a book about my own dark journey through addiction and out the other side. It’s available on Amazon HERE.
If you’d like to submit your own story, check out the guidelines for submission HERE.
beautiful, thank you so much for sharing.
You are welcome. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to share.
Very emotionally stirring for me. I can imagine this being my mothers diary when I was puttinf her through similar stuff and at the same time I pray that this isn’t my future diary entries. I have a 17 yr old and a 14 yr old and I am terrified of that happening with them. Just know that it doesnt mattwr how well you raise them or how much you love them..our children have their own battles and are going to make their own choices. If they turn to drugs,it doesn’t mean we were bad parents. I had great parents and was raised very religious with both parents in the home and I still made wrong choices. Thank you for your bravery in sharing.
You are so right about it not being about bad parenting. I’ll confess that before my family entered hell, I just assumed that addicts probably had lousy childhoods with bad parents. That’s the case for some addicts, but certainly not all. I never fail to see the irony in my once haughty attitude and very wrong assumptions about addicts/parenting.
Oh my word. You are telling my story. My son is an addict, and I lived for years doing the same things as you. I told myself many times that I would not enable him anymore, and yet I couldn’t stop.
I completely understand.
Oh wow. That was so powerful!
Thank you for sharing your story & the stories of others. My husband was an alcoholic and tried for years to overcome it. He unfortunately lost his battle on 12/19/17, leaving me a 43-year-old widow with 5 kids between the ages of 4 and 16. The disease of addiction has ruined so many lives and families, yet it is rarely talked about. I want my kids to remember their daddy for the man he was before the addiction took him over, and I will do my best to let the bad memories fade and let only good memories remain.
I’m am so happy you were able to save your son. My “rock bottom” was at my sons funeral. Hope you and son have many years together. Thank you for sharing your story.
I am so sorry for your loss. That was and still is my nightmare. My precious boy is sober, but his life is far from perfect. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer nine months ago. Ironically, it was only a few days after being declared free of Hep C by his doctor. I was on cloud nine until I got the phone call about the cancer. He has been through surgery and is now in remission. I pray he stays cancer free and will not need further surgery or chemo.
Im the addict in my life and the only person who i believe could be more miserable than me is mom. Because im also a mom and i cant even begin to imagine my baby going through what i have. Thank you so much for sharing. This is powerful.
God bless you and your mom.
This was worded incredibly. What a raw, heart breaking depiction of how addiction affects your parents ?????? Thank you so much for sharing! It touched me and I’m forever thankful for my sobriety and my heart breaks for any parent or loved one that has to suffer alongside their addict.
You are welcome. My heart also breaks for any person who has a loved one still trapped in the downward spiral of addiction. I never gave up hope; although, there were times I thought I’d go insane. Sometimes, these stories do have happy endings. My son is still sober after almost five years. I pray daily that he stays that way.
Hi Danna, it was nice to read your stories. You have beautifully described your emotions in simple words. I really appreciate you for sharing your life moments with us. It takes courage to tell one’s real story to the people you don’t know, and you have shared the things in a wonderful way. Thanks for sharing this.
You are welcome. I’m so happy to be able to share.
What is disgusting?