Saturday, June 10, 2006

My Son

Nearly ninety-five posts into this, and my fingers start to fail me. I wonder why, but I know the answer. The topics are getting harder which means that it is more important than ever that I try to write. I have a few thoughts in my mind that are dancing around each other – thoughts involving my son and issues of my own – but this post is for my son, Jim (as I will call him).

I am deeply grateful to all who have commented and e-mailed their support. On Thursday night he was told he would probably be discharged the next morning. My phone starts to ring – Ex has heard from Jim and he wants to come home that night. He is begging the nurse, begging his mom. I call to speak to the nurse who is concerned that he is so desperate to leave, especially when he is getting out the next morning. I speak with him. If he checks out against medical advice the program will be done with him and just for good measure there is a chance that the insurance company will revoke their authorization. All for twelve hours. Finally he backs down.

Friday morning I get up at dawn and head down to his hometown. More time away from work for the roller coaster that is my life. 9 AM and we call the facility: morning meetings until 10 AM. Time for the waiting. 10:30 AM the social worker calls. They are evaluating some more and will let us know. I have some time with my other son when he gets home from school; I hover around the house with Ex but there is only so much to say.

They call back – 4 PM. He is coming home tomorrow and will then enter a three day per week, three hour per day program for the next few weeks as they continue to monitor things.

Excellent – I have written a post and not addressed any non-timeline issues. My son is twenty. He was three when we divorced and has always been a troubled child. I hang on to a strange piece of paper. In second grade his teacher expressed concerns as to his behavior and I scribbled notes of a telephone conversation. I have saved it and over the years shared it with Ex as she defended his latest crisis as being yet another stand alone event. I remind her of it yesterday and she gets upset until I reach into my bag and start reading:
Smart little boy; problem is irrepressible in a non-amusing way; well informed but can’t control participation; needs greater sense of empathy and better self control…”

Ex gets quiet and admits it is scarily on target. Ex has spent twelve years explaining that the teacher always hated Jim. This, for the moment, has finally stopped her. Later on we are talking with my eighteen year old and I try a different approach. Without attribution I read him the same comments. His face lights up in a smile – yep, that’s my brother, right on target. I share the attribution and suddenly all the problems are my fault. If only I had not saved the paper, if only we had believed in Jim more. The only thing missing was clicking the ruby slippers.

I talked with Jim during the day – they have a phone in the facility – and suggested real therapy. Earlier the most recent therapist he blew off told us, as best she could considering confidentiality, of her concerns and feeling he would benefit from an intensive in-patient program. He is twenty and unless he tries to kill himself (unlikely being he has inherited his Dad’s narcissism) there is precious little we can do to put him in that setting. He does not want therapy. He even admits that maybe he has issues but sees no need to do the hard painful work of addressing them.

So in a few hours he will walk out of the facility having been detoxed. He will stay clean for a while – a day program with random drug testing will do that. But there is little joy in my heart at all this news. I have not been an alcoholic and never to an AA meeting, but I have to guess the ones who are successful, collectors of those nice pins, are the ones who have addressed the underlying issues.

Until my son is willing to do the heavy lifting, I feel like we are sitting on a time bomb. I accept that under these circumstances he will never fulfill his considerable potential and can even live with that. It is the fear of the phone call – a jail, a morgue. They say that God watches over children. I hope the Lord is liberal when it comes to age limits.


Brad said...

Your son is eerily similar to me. I know that is the last thing you wanted to read.

Tony said...

Hang in there. just be aroound to offer your son love and encouragement to stay with the program. but he ultimately has to recognize his flaws, accept them, be able to ask for help, and move on. simply don't give up on him!

A Troll At Sea said...


so sorry to hear of your sorrow. But some wise person once said that having children is giving hostages to fortune, and the more I think about it, the truer it seems.

I spend more time worrying what of myself that I would rather NOT pass on has been passed on, but that is another story.


Nate said...

We may not have ever met or spoken, but feel I have "met" you and have a decent idea (based on blogs and e-mails) of who you are.

If my son ends up like you - a responsible citizen in a stable relationship and with a green lawn - I will be thrilled.