letting each other go

Archive for the ‘Consequences’ Category

What Happened

Posted by Leo G on March 15, 2009

Bup's childhood best friend.

Bup's childhood best friend.

I’ve been putting off writing this post, but I finally realized that it just might help exorcise the dull ache in my chest to tell the story and write out the feelings that go along with it. A lot of people have been wondering if I am okay. I am, if by “okay” you mean functioning. I can work, walk the dog, eat, sleep, and do my job. I can even pour myself into my job in a way that seems to be working. The people I work for have been appreciating the extra effort and my openness, which feels good.

I don’t really know where to begin. Bup and I have been living alone in an apartment since he returned from “Observation and Assessment” last summer. At first things were much, much better. He was motivated and cooperative and even grateful. But little by little, as always happens, that wore off. There were new underage drinking charges. There was a party held in our home on a weekend when I was out of town for a very important interview that almost ended in eviction and cost me the job. (I had to deal with my son’s arrest and was understandably distracted. I did the best I could, and I think I did well–but it wasn’t my best and I understood when they said, “You have a lot to offer, but we went in another direction.”

Oh, and the other thing that really hurt was that I explained to my son exactly how much the job possibility meant to me. I extracted a promise from him that he would be on his best behavior. His response, “Look, I know it’s important to you. I would never do anything to mess that up.” That was less than 24 hours before he had the party. A party with alcohol, pot, loud music, screaming, kids passed out, kids getting sick, and something that ended with at least two holes in the walls.

Then the disappearances started again. “I’ll be home at 9 pm” became out all night without even a call to let me know he was okay. “Going down to the workout room to lift weights” became going missing for 36 hours. And so on. Everything was a lie. I knew if I let him out of my sight I probably wouldn’t see him for hours or even days. My anxiety was through the roof and I was spending tons of energy trying to manage him.

The only really good thing about the party weekend was that I picked up the book Beautiful Boy by David Sheff in the airport and read it on the way home. It is an amazing book. Painfully and beautifully honest in a way that broke through the isolation and the shame that kept me from reaching out for help or even writing here. As I read, I realized that compassion came easy when it was someone else’s son. And I realized that I needed to extend some of that compassion to myself. The book also explained a little about Alanon and introduced me to the “3 C’s”:

You didn’t cause it.
You can’t control it.
You can’t cure it.

Believe me, I’ve me clinging to that. Because the most painful thing about this disease is the terror that it’s my fault. That if only I’d loved him more, raised him better, been more of a disciplinarian, built up his self-esteem more, seen the signs earlier, sent him to private school, not paid for a lawyer, paid for a better lawyer, gotten divorced sooner, not gotten divorced, never moved away from California, not been the kind of person I am, talked more about drugs, talked less about drugs, been more open, never told him about my own experimentation…

sigh. You get the picture.

I carry all that and more around in my head and heart, along with the voice that screams at me, “How can you possibly have kicked him out? He’s barely eighteen! He hasn’t finished high school! He’s never held a job! He doesn’t have any money! He’s going to die and it’s all your fault…”

But I know too that I can’t live any longer with the lies and the insanity. Another few months and I wouldn’t have been able to do my job. I was getting lost–used up–eaten alive by the constant crisis. The band of pain in my chest was getting scarier by the moment. My heart seemed to be actually, physically breaking.

Not that the heartbreak has stopped. But the constant need to try to control this disease and prevent it from taking my son from me–that battle is over. I can’t control it. I was fighting and fighting and fighting a battle in which I could make no progress whatsoever. If my son is going to survive, he is going to have to fight for his own life. Even though I would gladly give my life to save his, I can’t. The only one who can save his life is him.

Have I given up on him? No, not in any way. I’ve given up on me and my attempts to control his behavior, his cravings, the consequences. I’ve given up on reasoning with an irrational disease. I’ve given up trying to get him to see the pain he is causing or the self-destructive spiral he’s riding. I’ve given up trying to be his “Higher Power” and am instead, trying to truly let him go–giving him to his own Higher Power, hoping that there is someone who can keep him safe, guide him, break through his denial, bring him healing.

It is not easy. I don’t have an easy faith in a personal God who involves himself in our lives. My faith is complicated and my sense of God as the “Spirit of Love” or “Beautiful Mystery” does not inspire the same confidence as I see in my friends with more traditional beliefs. But I realized that I don’t know how to let him go if I think I’m just letting him fall into the abyss and be lost in the void. I need to believe there is something or someone who will keep trying–who will compassionately draw him toward health. I need to believe in a Love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

When I named this blog “letting each other go” I never imagined it would mean kicking him out of my home. I never imagined that I’d be worried that he was sleeping in the cold. I never imagined that I would know that my actions make it impossible for him to graduate from his high school. I never imagined that I would refuse to give him money when he complains of having no food. (I gave him more than sixty dollars the day he moved out. It was gone in less than 48 hours.) I never imagined I would be the kind of dad who kicks his son out the day before he turned eighteen.

I didn’t want to be this dad. But my son has taught me that this is the only way. I don’t get a gradual, incremental letting go. I don’t get a slowly emptying nest. I don’t get the bittersweet joy of leaving him at his first day of college. Instead, it is my responsibility to do what I have come to know is best for my son. And that means getting out of his way, allowing him to face the consequences of his choices. And if I’m lucky, watching him eventually take credit for his successes.

And in the meantime, I wait. And continue to practice letting go.


Posted in addiction, Consequences, Coping, Downs, parenting | 2 Comments »

Quiet Summer Coming to an End

Posted by Leo G on August 7, 2008

This is the last weekend before things change again. Bup’s hearing is the 14th. We’ll learn on Monday what the Observation and Assessment program’s recommendations will be. He’s done really well there, but I can’t tell whether it was real or just a 54 day exercises in extreme self-control. And I don’t know what they will think or say. I know they see the anger under the surface, but they also see that his behavior was entirely appropriate. We’ll see…

Sometimes when I visit, our conversations are easy and it seems like he’s made good progress. But as the time gets close and he gets more scared, he’s more defensive and argumentative. He goes around and around about how unfair it is that he’s lost his whole summer. Some days it feels like he’s convinced he is the victim in all this. But other times he has good insight. I know what he really wants is a completely clean slate.

He’s not going to get it. Not from the state, not from me. He has forgiveness, but there is a difference between forgiveness and pretending nothing ever happened. Plenty happened and to be a good parent–and to be safe–I have to remember and learn. And the consequences of his behaviors will remain: probation, possibly other interventions. He’s still fighting that, which is what really worries me.

Posted in Consequences, Coping | 1 Comment »

As the Court Turns…

Posted by Leo G on June 26, 2008

Okay, this blog is feeling a little bit like a serial novel about the trials and tribulations of a juvenile delinquent. But somehow, it helps to write about it.

Today was the hearing for the incidents of last weekend. There were a lot of charges, but he plead down to three: one count of assault, one count of interfering with an emergency communication, and one count of possession of alcohol as a minor. The rest were dropped. All are class “B” misdemeanors, resulting in community service hours. He now owes the state about 190 hours.

But, the more important thing is that they held him until he can be placed in Observation and Assessment. There is approximately a two-week wait, which he’ll spend in detention. Then a forty-five day program in O & A. As is customary for youth remanded to this program, they placed him in Juvenile Justice Services custody. For the next sixty days or so, I do not have custody of my son. And during the time he is in O & A, I have to pay the state child support! Yes, even though I was his victim.

Losing custody of one’s child feels like the ultimate failure. Even though I think it’s true that he should not be at home right now. His apology in court was okay–until he strayed into justifying himself. He was clearly very angry at the outcome–I assume because he understands that he just lost at least his entire summer. I did hear his lawyer tell him to “Don’t just say the right things–DO the right things.”

I don’t imagine he’s quite ready to stop fighting and cooperate with the chances he is being given. Frankly, I think he got a huge break when the DA didn’t charge any of the counts as felonies. And the only Class A misdemeanor was the one they dropped. They keep giving him chances, but he just sees them as punishment.

He kept saying that he is frustrated because no one recognizes the changes he has made. That he did stop using and no one is giving him credit for that. The judge was smart. She said, “I don’t think that just because we keep enforcing the rules it means we are not happy with the progress you have made. But we can’t say to you, ‘Oh, okay, since you’re not using drugs, go ahead and drink.'” I hope he can hear that.

I guess all I know for sure is that he is relatively safe for the next 60 days.

Posted in Consequences, Coping, legal issues | 1 Comment »

Made it through the arraignment

Posted by Leo G on June 23, 2008

Bup was there only by video. Handcuffed. He didn’t sound sorry. He asked a couple of questions–one contesting the facts, one about what happens with summer school. In a sad way, it shows how naive he is. No, son, they are not going to let you out to finish your classes…

The judge had already decided to keep him in custody until the hearing on Thursday when she asked me, “Do you have anything to say about that?” I simply said, “It seems appropriate.” They set the court date for Thursday and assigned him a public defender.

The probation officer seems like a good one. He agrees that Bup needs serious treatment. Lock down. He suspects he was using either crack or meth. If not, then there is the possibility of mental health issues, probably caused by earlier use. He affirmed that “Healthy people do not attack their dad for turning off the cell phone.”

The good news is that he won’t be coming home for a while. Of course, that’s also the bad news. Five new charges for this. Some of them will be felonies. I lost the battle to do this in a more humane way. He has chosen the hard way. What he may not understand is that he just made it impossible for the court to let him come home. Because if he were to hurt me again, they would face liability issues.

The next question for me to face is do I visit him? I know I’m not ready yet. Maybe after the hearing on Thursday. Right now, I’m too angry, too tender, too hurt and confused. I don’t even know what to say to him. And I sure don’t want to hear anything from him except a sincere apology. And from the tone of this morning, I won’t be getting that soon.

In the meantime, this is an extremely busy week at work. That may be a good thing. After today, it will serve to keep my mind occupied.

Posted in Consequences, Coping, Downs, legal issues | 5 Comments »