It was a very good day. T got off probation today, after a year. At court, he made a cute little speech about the power of addiction and how he's working his 12 step program. The judge, who knows us very well after the drama of the last year and has seen T through treatment, relapse, arrest, etc., was touched and thrilled, and he doesn't tend toward either. He called T up to the bench and held his hand and told him it was good to see him looking so well, and wished him luck and dismissed everything and sent him on his way.
After court, T wanted to go right back to the treatment house where he's living, didn't even want to "cheat" long enough to get a much-needed haircut, which I would have indulged. On the way back, we discussed post-treatment sober living (better known as a "halfway house") and he asked us to help him find a place. We called several and found a house just blocks from where he is now, where he can continue the groups he's been participating in. It's a community of young African American men, with a semi-structured 12-step approach, random drug testing, a curfew, and it's close to the community college where T wants to start taking classes. It has a computer, a hot tub in the back yard, clean, comfortable bedrooms and the men take turns cooking for each other. It sounds fun, like a college frat house without the beer and the mess. It's close to home, so we can visit often, and he can earn overnight passes.
For now, for as long as it lasts, it's a sweet and fortuitous transition. I'm grateful for the opportunity to help introduce him to semi-independent living, in a situation where he's supported and amongst peers in his struggles with substance abuse, and where he's still close to home and can get lots of love from us. I'm grateful, also, that circumstances came together so that we could communicate in a loving way that if you're abusing drugs and doing all that comes with it, you can't live at home - but you do have options, and we'll support you in pursuing them. Sober living is a good answer for him - he may need to return to such a place someday, and I want him to get familiar with the network of support that's out there. Last winter during his extended relapse, I could see that part of his shame and horror came from having little sense of his options - he couldn't see a way out. I hope from now on, if he needs it, he'll have a direct sense of where to go and what to do to get back on track.
It was interesting to see the way he approached the prospect of sober living when it came up. He preferred to return home, but we all agreed that he wasn't ready yet, and that the interim step of a semi-structured group situation would likely help him. The goal we set is sober living until he gets a job and enrolls in at least one college class, sets a schedule for himself, and then he can transition home. But when his counselor told him what sober living would cost per month, T was tentative in proposing it. He seemed horrified by the idea that we'd need to pay for it. "It could cost five hundred dollars a month!" he said, aghast. (It costs more than that, and it's a stretch to make it work, but we regard it the same way we'd regard paying for college.) I suggested that he think about the fact that he is precious and loved, and try stating his case in a way that reflects that point of view. (We ask him to restate this way a lot, because he has little practice asking for what he needs.) He paused for a moment, then said very theatrically, "I was wondering, if you would be able to pay for sober living because you love me!" "Yes!" we said, "We'd be happy to pay for sober living, because we love you!"
The lessons he's learning now are more valuable than any college could provide. If all that happens in the next few months is that he gets through the post-treatment period with the support of a few new friends who help him find ways to fill his time and resolve stress without running amok, that would be a great blessing.
He's a lovely person when he's sober - deep, loving, somber, wise, a little nervous. As always, he manages to seem both much older and much younger than his chronological age, and being his parent requires meeting him in both places at once.