Sunday, April 22, 2012

Saying No

Well, joke is on me, two posts ago, because of course, as astute and experienced parent readers of this blog may have guessed, T has no intention of transitioning to independent living, and instead spent a good part of our first visit at his treatment facility lobbying me to let him move home after his 30 day "blackout" period is up. The goal in his program, as in all 12-step programs, is to go from 30 day treatment to a sober living home (also known as a "halfway house" in common parlance), and gradually transition from there back to one's community. T, of course, would like to skip that second part, returning home asap.

And that's not happening.

I find it extremely difficult to say no to him. I mean, I have said no plenty of times - taking away his keys, his phone, his ride privileges. But when it comes to the big NO ("No, you may not live at home unless/until you get sober and make progress on your recovery") I am a textbook case, straight out of an Al Anon character study. The same deep compassion that guides me in most things as his parent makes me foolish when it comes to his addiction. What's more, I'm selfish. I WANT him home. I LOVE being his parent. Even when it sucks, I work harder and it and derive more satisfaction from it than most anything else. Except that it's not good for him, not good for me, and not good for Tim to indulge that sentimental wish to have him back under our roof. I am not nearly enough to meet his needs right now. To allow him home and expect a positive outcome would be vanity at best. And at his age, as I told him today, he is naturally eager to be independent, and to frustrate that ambition only leads to problems.

But it is HARD to say no. What parent wants to tell a beseeching child that he can't come home? He could be forty years old and I'd still feel this way. Although I ought to have expected it, I was also taken aback by his plea, mostly because he has been so unreachable for the past few months. When he's in the grip of his compulsive drug-seeking, he becomes so remote. I forgot what it's like when he badly wants something that he needs for me to provide. It's quite a siren song.

We may allow him home, but we'll do so only if he spends some time in transition in a sober living home, and only if he either gets a job or enrolls in school. Period. If he complies with those conditions, we'll put a timeframe on it, and after the adjustment period is up, we'll require him to pay rent. We'll put his "rent" into a savings account that we'll give back to him for a deposit on his own place when he's ready. We decided all that tonight, and it came easily, because it's really the only option.

Addiction is a tricky, tricky thing. I am humbled every day by how easily its manipulative logic can fool me...and also by the skill and patient wisdom of people who work with addicts in the day-to-day.

Speaking of which, T is doing well. I like this place. I feared that in an adult facility, he would be exposed to more dangerous habits than his own. But as we sort of expected, he appears to be doing better amongst adults. They baby him, and he understands them, with the aged wisdom he acquired during what was supposed to be his childhood.

His program is full of people about my age. Some have recently been homeless. Others are apart from their spouses and children while they try to conquer addiction. Nearly all of them have legal problems. In this setting, T sees the consequences of addiction more clearly. Also, he is with women (not in his living quarters, but in his 12 step meetings), of about the age that his birth mom was when he was born, drug-addicted. He is a very female-identified guy, and I've always said that he'd do best if he could live in a house full of a dozen middle-aged mothers. He's gotten kind of close in rehab.

Last summer, when he first entered treatment, he was in a teen facility, sex-segregated. He did well at first, then took to fighting and tantrums. I asked him today if there have been any fights in the facility since he's been there. He scoffed - no, no fights. Not even close. "There are no teenagers here," he said, by way of explanation. LOL.


GB's Mom said...

It sounds like he has a good shot. Praying!

Anonymous said...

I know for sure that saying no to an addict is tough. Add on that it's your son--the very one whose had a piece of your heart since the day you met him. You have my support Friend. I'm in the trenches with you.

Semi-feral Mama said...

My senior year in high school I fell in love (like only an 18-yr-old can) with an addict - also a high school senior. He went to drug treatment the first time that spring. We were together a couple more years and I found out he was using again. He went back into treatment (I guess he would have been 20 at the time). He has been sober ever since. Most of his life since that time has been wonderful, however there have also been some really, really tough times. Through it all - more than 25 years - he has stayed sober.
He and I are still friends.
I know T can do it. Hang in there.

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