A letter from a drug addict-your child

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by antsmom, Feb 7, 2010.

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  1. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    I’m your Qualifier
    I want to introduce myself to you; I’m your qualifier and the reason you’re here. You believe just because you gave me life and raised me that you know me…but you really don’t. I’d like to use this time to introduce the real me to you so maybe you can gain a better understanding of why I am the way I am, why I do the things I do and why I’ve done some of the things I’ve done. I don’t know if I was born an addict but I do know the first time I got high and addict was born.

    First of all you have to accept the fact that I think differently than you do. Some of this will make sense to you and some of this will sound like excuses that you’ve heard before, but just know that the ones that sound like excuses are based on my fact, my perspective and the knowledge and experience of the people who are trying to help me get clean. These are people I have placed my trust and faith in because all they want from me is to succeed in my endeavor to stay clean for another day. You have you own goals for me like going to college, getting a job, getting married and finally having kids so you can have grandkids and can show all of your friends their pictures. See these are your goals for me and not necessarily my goals for myself.

    Let me try to explain how I see things. See, you think I have a drug problem but I don’t; I have a living problem. You think I use drugs but the reality is that the drugs use me. Drugs are for those of us that can't handle reality, and reality is for people like you that can't handle their drugs. To me Reality is a nice place to visit but I really don’t like living there. I live in constant fear of letting you down; of not living up to your expectations. I put off doing things out of fear and you call me a procrastinator, but procrastination is just a 5 syllable word for fear.
    Drugs make me feel alive and normal, but they also make me paranoid, incoherent and both destructive and pathetically and relentlessly self-destructive. Then I would do unconscionable things in order to feel normal and alive again. Drugs gave me wings and then slowly took away my sky. I looked to drugs for courage and they made me a coward. You say that I had always been a sensitive, perceptive, joyful and exceptionally bright child, but on drugs I became unrecognizable. You should try looking in the mirror and not knowing the reflection looking back at you. I long for the day I am able to look in the mirror and be OK with the person I see looking back.

    Like all kids, when I was really young I used to think there was a monster in my closet and under my bed and you would come into my room and reassure me that there wasn’t one by opening the closet and looking under the bed. Now that I am older you can’t convince me of that anymore and it’s not your job to. But since I found drugs I’ve come to the realization that there is a monster; but it’s not in my closet or under the bed but inside of me, and that if I can’t learn to ignore it, it will destroy me.

    When I first started getting high it was pleasurable for awhile; I had finally experienced nirvana, and then the euphoria wore off and I began to see the ugly side of my using and I experienced hell. I found the higher the drugs got me the lower they brought me. After awhile I faced 2 choices, either I could suffer the pain of withdrawal or take more drugs. I did the withdrawal thing more times than you’ll ever know and it’s not pleasurable at all; in fact it’s just the opposite. If you remember there were times where I said I couldn’t go to school or work because I had the flu, but more times than not it was because I was going through withdrawal. I guess the best way to describe withdrawal is insuperable depression and acute anxiety -- a drawn-out agony. Some of the times I choose withdrawal because I didn’t want to use anymore, that I hated who I had become, but
    for the most part it was because I didn’t have a choice in the matter…I had run out of drugs. You would think that after experiencing the emotional and physical pain of withdrawal that I would never let myself go through that again…right? See that’s how you see it, but to me it just became a part of my using and a consequence I was willing to pay. You may call that insanity…I call that life.

    I’ve been to enough meetings to know the readings by heart and one of the phrases that jumps out at me every time I hear it, is: “when we use drugs we are slowly committing suicide”. I never thought of it that way but now I totally understand what it means…but still I use. I’m sure you remember the show Mash; it was pretty popular when you were growing up. The theme song is actually titled “suicide is painless” and in its context, I’m sure it’s true. But the slow suicide of my using is not painless in the least; I feel the pain and can see the flame of my life getting fainter every time I use.

    All those times you yelled at me for my using you gave me exactly what I needed to feed my addiction. You thought you were doing it out of love but you were actually justifying to me what my mind had convinced me I was a long time ago. I look at myself as a failure; as a complete waste of space. There is a line from a song called Southern Cross and this line defines my past and it goes: “I never failed to fail because it’s the easiest thing to do”. When you yell and scream you just confirm to me that I am a failure and after awhile it becomes common place; not to mention expected. Its one thing if I think of myself as a loser or failure but to know that’s how you see me as well makes it easier for my mind to convince me to use. My basic problem is that I flee from those who want me and I pursue my rejecters.
    There are a few things you can do if you really want to help me. I know by telling you these things I’m actually cutting off my main money source…you. I will never stop using as long as you keep giving me money or supporting me. I can only stop using when I hit my bottom and only I can put down the shovel and quit digging. When you bail me out, buy me a car, pay for my rent or give me money you aren’t helping me at all; you are only handing me the shovel again and telling me to keep digging. You keep letting me come back home to live because you think you’re helping me out but if your honest, you’ll realize that you are doing it for purely selfish reasons. When you know I’m in the room next door you sleep better. The last thing I’ll confess to you is the real reason I steal from you. I steal from you because I’m counting on you not calling the cops on me. I count on you not wanting me to go to jail; to have a criminal record. I steal from you because you keep letting me move back home.

    You make the mistake of thinking that recovery is simply a matter of not drinking or using drugs. And you consider a relapse a sign of complete failure and long periods of abstinence a complete success. But these perceptions are too simplistic. My life is anything but simple and I’m not just talking about my using drugs. The way my mind works, nothing is as easy as just doing it because my mind tries to convince me not to do it. It doesn’t matter how simple of a task it is…even unloading the dishwasher is a mind struggle for me. My mind also loves to make every little thing that goes wrong a major crisis. Let me try to explain this in as simple terms as I possibly can. Let’s say we both go outside in the morning and our cars don’t start. You go in and call a mechanic and I go in and call suicide prevention. I’m what they call a W.C.S person; which stands for worst case scenario. They say a mind is a terrible thing to waste; well my mind is a terrible thing to listen to. Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be…mine won’t let me be happy. My mind
    keeps reminding me that there is only 18 inches between a halo and a noose.

    Relapse isn’t a requirement but it does happen to quite a few addicts. The hard truth is that if there were 50 addicts in their 1st meeting together, more of us will be dead in 5 years that will have 5 years clean. The last time I relapsed it was because the bottom fell out faster than I could lower my standards. It’s really difficult to solve a problem with the same mind that created it and God knows I’ve created a lot of problems for myself...and for you. I hope some day you will realize that I am not a bad person trying to get good; I’m a sick person trying to get well. I suffer from the disease of addiction. If you believe this you won’t be so critical of me. For a critic is just a person who goes onto the battlefield after the battle has been fought and shoots the survivors. Believe me when I say this; I don’t want to be an addict as much as you wish you weren’t a parent of one.
  2. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    just to clarify, I did not write that letter. I got it from a mom whose child is in prison due to drugs. I feel it is important to remind us all not to enable. Please read and then re-read the part in bold letters.
  3. judi

    judi Active Member

    Janet - I have thought of you and Anthony often. How are things going? I come here occasionally to lurk. Few of the parents with younger kids realize the true consequences of our kids' behavior, so I stay on the PE board. I hope life has settled down for you all. Know you are still in my thoughts and prayers.

    We haven't seen or heard from our son for almost two years. Don't have a clue where he is or what he's doing. Very stressful and then not so stressful. I won't move or change our phone numbers just in case and I know you know what I mean.

    Please take care.
  4. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    I also have fond memories of you, thank you for the prayers and thoughts! Back at ya! When I got this letter from a friend, I felt it important to post it in its' entirety here on this forum.

    Life is *normal* I have to say with a wink. Whatever normal is! My sons both have jobs that suit them, my grandson is 6 and in parochial all day kindergarten, taking ice skating lessons, living with his dad (ant/tony) a few miles from me. boyfriend is wonderful and after 6 yrs with him now, folks are looking for me to marry him. Still, I feel not ready to marry again, but if I did...he would be the one.

    Judi, I understand how you feel about your son. They choose their lives and we must have boundaries, and choose how much of our life can be consumed by their choices. The 3 Cs: we did not cause it, cannot control it, and cannot cure it. It is up to them. Your son knows where YOU are. When he grows a brain, he will contact you! ((((HUGS))))
  5. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Thanks Janet. I needed that post today. It confirms that my thoughts and actions in the past few days were on target. May I borrow it to share with some friends not on the board?
    And I've missed your wisdom and guidance so over the last few years. I'm glad life is going well---as well as life can go...God bless you and yours.
    (used to be katmom)
  6. judi

    judi Active Member

    Wow Janet - your grandson is 6 years old!!!! Whew where does the time fly? difficult children son is now 3 and difficult child has no involvement except he pays child support when he's working. He doesn't see him - not because his x won't let him either.

    We have chosen to remain a big part of our grandson's life so that he knows how much we love him. We are very blessed that our son's x lets us have our grandson almost weekend.
  7. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    please share it with anyone you want, I find it to be a real eye opener that relieves a lot of the guilt parents feel when they must be firm. We all want to help our kids, and must learn more about the way they are wired so differently from what we think. It has been a long journey, hasn't it? I joined this forum originally over ten years ago!

    I too was glad I stayed involved in my grandson's life even when his own parents didn't. His mom gave custody of him to me when my son was in prison. When my son got out over a year ago, he wanted to be a real father to his own son and does very well. I am only on duty to pick him up when the school bus comes or watch him when there is a snow day (like today) til his dad gets home from work. My grandson's mom rarely sees him and still has her own DUI issues, but she loved him enough to recognize that she could not be what he needed. I am grateful for that.
  8. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Thank you... I am printing it for husband, and also for Onyxx to read. She was reading a book last night called "Crank", in which the heroine describes her addiction as a "monster". She said it really made sense to her. (!)
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Hey Stranger! How nice to get an update on you all. It's just terrific that Ant has made such progress. Did you sell your house like you planned? How are you boyfriend's kid adapting to the long term relationship? ;) As usual I am full of questions!

    The text you posted is, in my humble opinion, excellent. Certain parts of it validated some of the interactions that take place with easy child/difficult child and make me sad for all of us. It's a long hard road and it's reassuring to hear from one who finally found the light at the end of the tunnel. Your friend, DDD
  10. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    Hi ya, DDD!! I well remember our long talk when I went to Florida during that big windy time down there! To answer the questions:
    I never planned to sell my house...lol I always say they will take my dead lil old body out of here one day wearing a gramma sweater like they did when my grandma died and she was in her house. You might be thinking of boyfriend's house. He did sell it almost two years ago, it was too big for us to bother keeping.

    If you remember boyfriend has two daughters: one very lovable, happy and friendly, and one very very hard to handle.
    The happy one actually moved closer to us and we are delighted to spend time with her and her wonderful fiancee. The other chose to move out to L.A. two years ago after quitting two different jobs, breaking off from her friends etc, and only comes home once a year. This last Christmas she came and stayed 3 weeks. She tried to push buttons, but failed. Her father met with her the last morning she was here and advised her to start seeing a therapist/psychologist/somebody out there to address her issues. I did have her over for several dinners and made cookies with her one night. She is very unhappy about her entire life, is nonsocial, and works alone out of her home to avoid interaction with anyone. I was so proud of boyfriend for how he handled her problems. She is finally recognizing she needs help and is willing to go for it. Her mother remarried and she slept there but spent each evening with us til bed time.

    Ant still has impulsivity, and can be obstinate and angry, but he complies. But I have to say he knows I will *poof* disappear from his life if he is not respectful. There are days we do not speak, but that is ok too. ;)He has a lovely gal he is engaged to and faithful to!!! I will be her Godmother when she finishes classes and is baptised at Easter. I am proud of him. Today he got his income tax refund and I rode him around as he paid off so many obligations, and also went to a lawyer and he paid for further proceedings for legal custody of his son. He has had sole physical custody of him for a year, but is now going thru the courts to cement things.

    I do not give him a dime but I do give him a ride if he needs one. This past year he paid a good chunk of his fines and has "only" two remaining counties to pay. That will take a good while. He lost his license til he is 42 from the 4 DUIs. I know it has been an uphill climb for him but I have to say he got better the more I removed the safety net of me being there for him. I did not want to one day wake up and have a 35 yr old man-of-an-Ant sitting in my livingroom bossing me.

    Nice to "talk" with old friends!
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2010
  11. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    Dear Janet ,
    thanks for posting. You and your family , the boys, boyfriend, Ant and Kaleb are very much in my thoughts so it so special that you are posting, and connecting.

    I pop in here and now sharing the 'CPS - collaborative problem solving approach - CPS

    The point which struck me in the letter was more about the effects of ' conditional loving ' , criticism , not being good enough has on kids. Parents might not beat their kids but the not being able to accept them and love them for whom they are , unconditional love , may be worse. It is not that we do find many behaviors unacceptable and we will tell them so , but in our efforts to help them help themselves deal with their issues we are not going to reject them or humiliate them.

    When a kid feels this , any help from parents is just seen as as ego-centric and controlling or not a real concern for the child the help is not appreciated and will just enable existing problems.

    Kids sometimes do need our help , but we need to give it with our goals in mind for them to help them become independent , responsible and caring individuals

    here is some advice I benefit from to help be calm and creative , maybe Ant could benefit

    1 Try do things yourself , don't rely on others , don't have expectations from others
    2 Don't try to fight reality , accept the reality - this liberates one emotionally and provides a platform to be creative in our respones rather than just reacting
    4 Ask questions - don't tell , the basis for communication is the ability to ask questions
    5 try and problem solve with others in a collaborative way - look and address both your and the others concerns before looking at solutions. Once we know the concerns , we can look for mutually satisfying solutions
    6 When we are reflective and try to be super respectful we can really conncet with people and open them up to our needs as well
    7 Boundaries - your big thing - as Byron Katie says - there is my business, your business and God's business - keep to your business

    I am pretty busy at the moment dd2 is getting married in 3 weeks .
    I will try and PM

    warmest regards
  12. MrsMcNear50

    MrsMcNear50 New Member


    What a nice surprise to find your post this morning. I have thought about you, Tony and Caleb over the past few years, hoping life was better for you all. Glad to hear that it is. Can't believe that Caleb is 6. I'm sure he's a joy.

    Life with Sweet Betsy hasn't changed much. Right now, she is homeless, jobless, pennyless, carless and hasn't a plan to change anytime soon. I just keep hearing, I have to make mistakes to grow up. Sigh. Lincoln is with his dad in N. Carolina, I haven't seen him in 6 months and miss him terribly. I long for the day when I can post a success story.

    Happy that you are all doing well and glad to see you back here. Your advice and support got me through many a tough day...I've missed you.


  13. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    Hi there Allan! So nice as well to hear from you. I totally agree on the CPS approach. A big thing that helped me from the drug addict letter is that I recognized that I had expectations for my children on how they were going to live their lives: be happily married, be college educated, etc etc. I never took into consideration that they just might have another path than the one that would make "my" dreams come true.

    So I learned to accept that curing someone is not my job, and is totally out of my realm of expertise. What I could do, was choose how I wanted MY life to be, how much chaos would I tolerate, how could I turn the reins over to my children to live their life as they chose? I do not do for them what they can do for themselves. My goal is a peacefilled home, so I cannot let anyone live here without that same mindset. I speak differently to my son and I tell him that I know he will find the answers himself. I tell him that he is smart enough to figure this out, I remind him that one day I will not be here.

    One big turning point was when I told him he can live how he chooses, even if that means prison, but I can choose also how much I will get involved with his life. We are no longer joined at the hip with him making moves and then me panicking or criticizing. I simply might say that I wish he had made a different choice, but I hope things work out for him. No conflict. If he tries to re-engage the old reactive me, I simply tell him that perhaps it is best if we two do not speak for a day or so. No anger, just flat. He is invited and invites me to dinners at one another's homes. We both share a deep love for Kaleb and that is a nice common area.

    How wonderful that dd2 is getting married soon! I am sure you will do a good job of giving her away to her new husband. I hope he is someone that you can trust with this treasure of yours.

    Take care!
  14. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    HI Julie!!,
    I too think of you and fondly remember that lovely photo you sent me of Lincoln! I hope his dad is doing a good job with him. Is his dad open to having you visit with him now and then?
    I know it is hard for you to not rescue Betsy. Letting her make this life of hers is against what you want for her. If only....she would realize how much you could help her. Instead this is her life and her choice. Once they are adults we cannot tell them what to do anymore.

    Kaleb's mother is homeless a lot, pennyless and is presently staying with someone while she is under house arrest and wearing a leg monitor for her latest DUI. I truly tried to mother her, help her get a good start, and help her with Kaleb. One day she simply called and told me she was giving Kaleb to me, and off she went. (once my son got out of prison, he took over Kaleb and is doing great with him.) She chooses this life. She has had so many jobs, homes, phone numbers, boyfriends, abortions, and fresh starts. She is a beautiful person with something miss-wired. She doesnt even ask to see kaleb's school papers, maybe every 6 or 8 weeks- she asks to see him but takes him with her to her mom's to stay overnight. She lets her mom cook for them and then returns him. She knows she cannot be alone with him as she wants to sleep, go out to bars at night, cannot even think to feed him a meal. She has lost her driver's license.

    So maybe our success stories are different than our dreams. I wanted my grandkids to grow up in stable homes, with both parents loving them and caring for them. I wanted my son to go to college, get a great job, stay a virgin til he met the woman who would be a life partner, build a fine home, yada yada...

    So now I find it a success that my grandson survived his early years at all! I find it a success that I am able to firmly say my son can never live with me again...AND he can be homeless if that is what his life leads to...AND I will only lend a hand to him when he is helping himself.

    My son may very well be impulsive enough to fall thru the cracks again. It is never really over, but I am at peace knowing I did all I could all those past years. I know my faith is stronger, the things I went through can help me help others. I would not wish this life on anyone. I know I was given a very challenging child to raise, and although it nearly killed me, here I am. Even if his actions lead him to death one day, I will know I did not shirk from the responsibilty of being his mother, even when being his mother meant throwing him to the curb rather than enabling him.

    You too are a survivor, a good mom to a most difficult child. Your Sweet Betsy may or may not choose to conform, but you can know you did all you could. It is up to her to life her life as she pleases. I have met several moms whose kids overdosed in spite of them being stellar parents. Moms and dads with kids in prison. One particularly sad story is of a boy who finally got out of prison after many years, his mom was waiting there to help him with his new life. He said he was meeting a friend for the night...he ended up in a motel room alone, and overdosed and died. he had only been out a couple days.

    We can only control ourselves. (((((HUGS))))) dear Julie!
  15. Estherfromjerusalem

    Estherfromjerusalem Well-Known Member


    So good to "see" you again, and to read about your life, and how Ant seems to be doing so well. And Kaleb, already 6 years old, learning how to ice skate. Lovely!

    I never am on this forum, because thank Heavens drugs is not one of my difficult child's problems. I am always grateful for that. Matlem phoned me and told me you had posted, so I specially came over to this forum to "visit" with you!!!

    I hope you are keeping well. I'm happy that you are still with your boyfriend and that things are good together.

    Wishing you and all the family everything good.

    Love, Esther
  16. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    oh my, that Matlem! lol Esther, it is also wonderful to see you as well!! I remember our emails and talks about the book of Esther. In fact, boyfriend bought me tickets to go to the musical "Esther" first week of March! It is one of my favorite books!

    Ant/Tony is doing well, but he and I are presently estranged, my choice. That is ok. I think he grows most in times when I am out of his life. I chose to back off at this point and that makes him angry. He needs a growth spurt and I am trying to force it. he would like me more involved with kaleb and I do love to be with him. However, Tony needs to learn that I am not the parent, and he must not use me up. So that means I cannot see kaleb for a bit while Tony learns to be there even more for his own son. Less of me, more of him. I think I must PM you as well....!! I have to say as I have heard "parenting is not for the faint of heart!"
  17. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Ants Mom so good to hear from you! I so remember you, and miss your insight. You are such an example of a warrior mom. I love your insight that you knew you had to back off from Tony because it makes him grow. Wow, how powerful. I hope you will continue to share your wisdom with us.
  18. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    Hi back at ya! It is good also to hear from precious friends! I have to say that there were many many times I have not felt like a warrior mom. (Thank God for boyfriend being here for me throught the darkest hours. )

    I am still learning daily as my son grows older. Tony has been out of prison over a year now. He did step up to taking over Kaleb, but he was relying on me too much as well- even more so since I have been off work. I was getting kaleb off the bus daily, bringing him here, feeding him dinner; and Tony had asked me to also bathe him and bring him home at 8 PM once or twice. I love being with Kaleb, I love having him to dinner, I love him getting a bath here and tucking into pjs....but... I am not co-parent, I am gramma. In the past week, he asked me to sign his son up for first grade, when I said that is something he should do, he told me "maybe you can't handle being a grandmother". You know, that hit me to the bone. I smelt manipulation of my emotion. After all, I have been the only stable influence in Kaleb's life since birth. When Tony fears the next step, he gets anxious and tries to get me to intervene for him. He tries to push buttons to see if the old enabling, fretful mother he knew will emerge.

    Prison made him even less trusting of people, and he does not feel comfortable in school settings, possibly because he did not make it through school the *regular* way. He does the homework with Kaleb and packs his lunch, etc., but he is uncomfortable in social settings. I put kaleb thru preschool because his mother gave him to me and took off while Tony was in prison. I signed Kaleb up for kindergarten because of the same. I am not the parent, and if Tony wants to be a single dad, then he must be there in every aspect for his son.

    Because he told me that maybe I could not handle being a grandmother after all I have done, I have decided he is right :evilgrin: . After much prayer I let him know I would not be getting kaleb off the school bus, would not watch him on days off school, and we are to act as if I am working and not available so that he can set up an alternate sitter. After all, I am laid off for now, but will probably get bored and be back at work in the summer (?) I need to cut the apron strings further. I knew in advance this might mean he would keep Kaleb from me for a time, but I am willing to take that chance if it would mean Tony learning that this is his job, not mine.

    Tony is pouting and asked me to not contact him again ever. That is ok. If his anger at me makes him step up and be all that his son needs as if I were dead....then I have succeeded. I know Kaleb knows my phone number and I can go see him on Fridays at morning Mass for the school. I know this will not last forever. My job is to remove more of the safety net and let him be the independent adult he can be. Of course, I am always here for Kaleb til I die, but for now, I am laying low.
  19. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Hi, Janet. It is wonderful to see you!

    I have often thought of you and wondered how you and Tony were doing.

    I'm glad you've found peace.
  20. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    Hi Shari, I am happy to see you as well. I have to say peace is elusive but we all have the power to choose what we will allow in our lives and what we will not let disturb our peace. I obviously still have deep feelings for this forum or I would not pop in now and then. I spent 8 yrs here I think. Life is a learning process, isn't it?
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