Saturday, July 20, 2013

the glutton

These are the words trapped in my head. I don't need anyone to do anything about them. I just need to get them out where I can see them. I need to do it here where fewer people - but still some people - can read them. Here there is plausible deniability. Here there is veiled anonymity.

Bacon is sizzling on the stove. I can smell it from where I am in the living room. I need to go check on it. Turn it. Keep it golden, never black. I am torn between the gagging feeling in my throat that indicates words that need to come out, and knowing the bacon needs turning.

I will turn the bacon. Drain it on paper towel. Fry an egg in its dripping. I have already sliced canteloupe to have with them. I tell myself that is balanced. I will drink lemon water with it. I  tell myself it's a diuretic. It will help hide my shame.

I have eaten almost all day. Not non-stop, but not stopped for long. I was going to stop at 4. Do a purge - epsom salts and lemon juice and olive oil. But my gut already hurt, and I didn't have the courage. My gut no longer hurts. But I don't purge - I eat more.

I have been alone all day. My Man was gone long before I woke up this morning. I don't know where The Little One is - he hasn't been home for days. I tried texting friends, but no one was available. I tried making plans via Facebook, but nothing developed. I had a day to do anything - go to the beach, read, explore, adventure, take steps to move from this life I am surviving to one I could love. I ate. I shopped for food, and bought food, and ate.

I know a woman who cuts herself. Although she is ashamed of the action, she takes great pride in the beauty of her tiny perfect parallel cuts. I have seen them. They are beautiful. I gorge myself, and feel shame both for the action and for the restult. I wish I could hide my hulking, pallid, distorted body.

I don't want to be naked in front of My Man. I hate when he looks at my body with hunger. I feel ill when I imagine how it feels to touch the oozing softness of my belly. I sleep on my stomach to make it smaller, at least for the night. For those hours, if sleep comes, my bloated abdomen is under control. I get dressed in the dark. I don't look in the mirror until I am clothed.

I am now typing and eating and editing. This is not a cry for help. I don't want to read a book you read. I know I need to talk to someone. I just want the words out of my head. I want to not be alone. And with every bite, I am building my castle walls.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

shades and spectres all around

On Sunday morning the first thing I read after a lovely and too-infrequent sleep in was of the untimely and sad death of Cory Monteith. No, I didn't know him. Yes, he's 'just a celebrity' whose performances I enjoyed. He's also the 'nephew' (in the most modern sense) of someone I value and respect, a local boy, a son, and an uncle. And he was the place I'd hung my hope.

As the mother of an addict, I know deep in my bones that the only options for my son's escape from addiction are death and recovery. And 'knowing' Cory's back story, knowing his struggles as a teenager, his bout of homelessness, his history of addiction, and his story of overcoming, hearing about what a gentle soul he was, his creativity, his humanity, his compassion. Hearing his willingness to re-visit rehab this spring to continue moving forward in his life, I pinned my hoped for The Oldest on him. If he could make it, The Oldest could. The Oldest could overcome adversity and addiction. The Oldest could steal a joyful life out of the jaws of addiction and death.

And then I woke up Sunday morning. And Cory was dead. Still, I clung to a thin and desperate thread - maybe it wasn't drugs that killed him. Maybe his heart gave out for other reasons - maybe I could still believe that drugs are beatable. Today a preliminary autopsy report says that Cory died with both heroin and alcohol in his system.

I never met Cory Monteith. And, today it hurts to look at pictures of him. To see how charming, how well and whole and healthy someone can look even while addiction steals them away. I can't imagine how his mother, who just last month lost her long-time partner and Cory's step-dad, will survive this hit.

Today The Oldest texted me that his 31 year-old cousin had a massive heart attack last night and is being kept alive by machines. The same age as Cory; a fit, hard-working husband and father of two young sons, who has "worked and partied" too hard for too long, according to my son.

It is hard, most days, not to see death everywhere. Too often, lately, it seems that drugs are death's mistress, seductively enthralling young men to their deaths. It's more than a mother should have to take. My heart tonight is with Cory's mom and with my former sister-in-law. I fear for us all.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

fight or flight

The Little One ... I've been expecting his death since before he was conceived. Since his sister failed to thrive and was vacuumed out of  my body at 16 weeks. Since he was hospitalized at 3 weeks old and wasted away until a doctor realized what surgery he needed.

He took his parents' divorce harder than any of the rest is us. Begged me to go back - to love his Dad again. His big brother tried to tell him this was better for everyone. That the little one didn't remember how unhappy we'd all been.

Not remembering and remembering too much - they are opposite sides of the same pain for my hungry ghost sons. Remembering wrongly how good or bad life was and comparing 'now' to an imagined then that may not ever have been.

Driving to get him again today - another  unscheduled and yet somewhere inside of me expected rescue mission - I let the feelings roll through and over me. Fatigue. Resignation. Dread. Relief.

Mostly fatigue. I don't want this fight anymore. I wish for some other champion to help slay his dragons.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

a quiet haunting

It's been almost a year since I wrote here. Life has been - my sons have done what they do. They have come, and gone, and come again, and gone again. At this point in time they are both away for the summer working out of this dead-for-them town with little to offer young men besides addiction and depression. They will be back. Life keeps going on.

And in some quiet still moments, our shared pasts haunt me. The questions. The blank spaces. The 'neverminds' of The Oldest. The 'don't worry about it' of The Little One.

I was reminded tonight that there is still much to share - much for me to write. And so, I'll get on with that. Not here, most likely. But in some other form. Not just for our own healing, but for those who find their own way forward through our words.

Monday, July 30, 2012

the widening gyre

The Second Coming
W.B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Well. That was a week. After three weeks of peace and life being about life while The Oldest was out of town, he texted me last Monday. "Mom, I need help." It's my deepest hope and my deepest fear in three words. I asked if he meant it. If he was really ready. I asked what he needed: "I just need a hug." "I'll go anywhere and talk to anybody you say." I flew him home the next day. 

Even driving in from the airport though, I knew this wasn't what it seemed like. I knew that once again I had believed what I wanted to. That we'd thrown our house into turmoil to no avail. That we'd brought home someone who wasn't ready for a home. I mentioned a treatment centre. He said "treatment for what?" When I said addiction, he said that's not what he needed help with. 

Up and down. Round and round. Five days of promises and changes and "just talking to my friends helps." By friends he means weed and alcohol and ... who knows. 

Trying to be clear without nagging, I remind him of his promise again and again - Anywhere. Anyone. Those were the words he'd said.

But clearly I just don't understand. 

So today when the addictions counselor he'd agreed to see called me to let me know he'd stood her up again, I knew I had to draw a line in the sand and stand behind it. Luckily, I had an appointment with my counselor right after that phone call, and he gave me some great ways to look at this, some affirming perspective. Some key phrases. There's no good news here, but it also doesn't have to be a total failure - he asked. I responded. That small dance is it's own win. 

When My Man and I got home tonight, The Oldest was waiting in the hammock. We all walked in together, made a little small talk - me rehearsing over and over in my head how to tell him this would be his last night here until he gets help - when out of the blue The Oldest said "I'm going to sleep at Buddy's. I'm just grabbing my stuff." I offered a ride. I asked what was up. He has work, steady work, staring early tomorrow. Buddy's house is more convenient. 

But he was too quiet. The whole ride to Buddy's he was quiet. And you never know with The Oldest what the quiet means - anger? Sadness? Guilt? Did he know I was about to kick him out? He hugged me. And thanked me. And said he'd see me soon. 

I didn't get to deliver my carefully rehearsed speech. But I know this isn't the end. Maybe there will be no end. All I'm left with is a widening gyre. And some rough beast, slouching towards bedlam. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

happy, with a side of skepticism

The Little One has been living with My Man and I for three weeks now, and doing an amazing job after a disappointing 'return home and start over' roll in the game of life. He's enrolled in finishing his grade 12, pre-registered for college (final acceptance depends on summer school grades), has a full-time job already at a place he likes. He's ticking along. We've adjusted to always wearing pants in the house and having a pet again. Oh, and he's off his prescription meds and still stable mentally - sleeping well, clear headed, eating good meals, setting long-term goals, etc. Smoking weed, but stable. The other day he told me he's looking forward to starting college in the fall so he can 'have some intelligent conversations and make some friends he doesn't have to be stoned to be around.' Good goal, son. Good goal.

The Oldest has been stable for a while. I don't ask a whole lot about how much he's using. It goes up and down, I suppose, and yet he's living in a great apartment, showing up for work, paying off debts, working out regularly, meeting new people, planning some travel. He visits and gardens and takes an interest in our lives. He's even reconnected with his dad and managed to visit him and have a good time.

Things are ticking along. Not unlike a bomb, those the wary amongst us who've been here before. I emailed friends and family an update the other day and one response said 'keep an eye out for The Little One - people with depression tend to get worse when things go well.' Sigh.

After dinner last night, The Oldest gave me a heart-felt thank you speech for always doing my best, never giving up on them, keeping my faith and love for them while letting them find their own way, etc.

And I thought (but managed not to say) 'why does this sound so much like his suicide note from last year?' He did follow it up with saying he's feeling good about himself and life. I told him that I'm very proud of how he's pulled himself together the last couple months, and that I'm still eager for him to restore his relationship with his grandparents. He shrugged - not because it doesn't matter, but because he doesn't think sorry is enough and doesn't know what else there is.

Things are good. And I'm grateful. And I wonder what it will take to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I read in the paper today about a new group starting in town for family members of people with mental health and addiction issues. I might just have to keep an eye out for that. I think I might now someone they could help.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

when alive isn't enough

I friend of mine has just completed 6 months of the most horrifying experience I can imagine - at New Years her 6 year old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumour. They went through several weeks at Sick Kids hospital in Toronto, biopsy & tests & displacement & separation from their teenage daughter at home, then back home for months of chemo, tests, disruption, side-effects, radiation, and more tests and more side-effects.

There are permanent changes to her daughter's brain - personality, learning, eye sight, endocrine system, etc. And it will be years and years before they know the full extent of the changes. And yet, they survived. At least the initial intense battles. The family is drained, and they survived.

But my friend posted today on Facebook, 'Is it awful that 'alive' is not enough some days? ...' I wish I didn't get it, but I so so do. When first The Oldest and then The Little One tried to die last year, I bargained and pleaded and made deals with God and with them - just stay alive. We can work with anything else.

And then, the rest happened. The Little One's mental illnesses. The Oldest's addictions and stealing from his grandparents.

They are alive. And actually doing relatively well. The Little One has had what he considers a set back lately, and has moved back home to return to school. He sees it as a set-back; I see it as a really great choice that will set him up for the future.

But really, things are not better. They are not dealt with. And maybe it will be years, or a lifetime, before we ever really feel okay again. Before The Oldest sees that making amends with his family is better than whatever he's protecting in himself. Before we really know what The Little One's brain needs to make life simpler for him.

Alive is enough, and we can work with everything else. Except on the days when it's not. And then ... then we have to look to others to get us through. And I think that's okay too.