April 27, 2010

My Life Story (short version)

This is my story. I have this on my profile under "Act I and Act II" but thought I would share it again with those that may not have caught it the first go around some time back.

I was raised in pure chaos. A life long friend of mine once told me that my family reminded her of the Adams family on Acid. My mom had 6 kids, 5 with one husband and then me with my dad at the age of 42 (she must have had a little screw loose:) My father was an alcoholic as was my mom's previous husband. My mom was a binge drinker and there were many physical altercations between my mother and father when I was younger. My dad was full Canadian and came to the US and taught himself to speak English (too bad he stopped teaching me French at age 2). He was a Chef and he and my mother opened three successful restaurants at different times. Each time he would sell them somehow behind my mom's back, take the money to Reno, gamble it all and fly back to Montreal. This happened at least twice that I remember leaving my mother often with no car or money. We would then have to apply for welfare and my mother would find work in the restaurant industry. She often walked back and forth to work, but always found work and worked hard...when she wasn't on a binge. I remember wishing on falling stars when I was young, blowing three kisses and wishing my mom wouldn't drink that night and thought it worked. She didn't start drinking alcohol until the age of 38 when a doctor told her to sip wine for her stress. Wow, little did he know what that would lead to! She was the type of drinker that could go months without a drop and then go on a week binge with complete blackouts at the end of the night. Sometimes she would only go a couple of weeks in between, no steady pattern so nothing was even remotely predictable. She would often buy soda and chips, cookies, etc., and I always knew that was her payoff for us because she was gonna drink her bottle of Seagram's straight from the bottle with a water chaser until she passed out. She was a MEAN drunk, awful with the tongue. When she was sober she was the sweetest woman on earth, many referred to her as Mrs. Clause:)

My father was in and out of my life until the age of 15 when he was dying from cirrhosis of the liver. The doctor told him he would recover completely if he just wouldn't touch alcohol again. Dad was a beer drinker (case a day sometimes). You couldn't tell when he was drunk because he stayed that way all day. It was not a sloppy obvious drunk, just a regular guy who drank lots of beer to the outside eye. He chose to leave the hospital, get on a plane to Montreal and died two weeks later in his homeland. I remember crying very little, didn't even go to the hospital as I was by then dating a 21 year old drug addict. My mom and dad both tried calling the cops to stop my relationship with this older man child but to no avail. Back then if a girl was willing or they didn't catch you in the act, nothing they could do...sure wish it would have been different it would have saved me years of heartache.

Growing up with my half-siblings was a huge chaos fest. My oldest brother was 26 years older than I and then on down. I have 4 nieces and nephews that are at least 6-10 years older than me. My oldest brother died of alcohol at age 59. He was clean for at least 15 years, had a good job, lived on a river and fished daily (his passion). He relapsed, lost everything and died several years later after much struggle.

My second oldest brother died 4 days before he got out of prison for stealing a car when he was drunk (they said heart attack, but mom always swore he was offed). This about killed my mom and the entire family. His name was Larry and he was born with mental and physical disabilities. He was a sweet soul and very funny, but again an alcoholic.

My next brother, Joe, has used every drug and drink possibly known by mankind. I once saw him melt down Actifed and shoot it in his arm. He has been beaten almost to death, lived in and out of prison for years, had two strokes, homeless for years and is now in a shared living home that provides him assistance. He once stole all our living room furniture for heroin. He is doing better than he has in many years but at a huge cost to his health and mind. He did well for about 12 years raising his twin boys and other son until he relapsed.

My sister died in February of this year after being diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer only 6 months before. She also struggled with drug addiction and alcohol. She gave her son up for adoption to his paternal grandpa and his wife when he was 6 and never got over it. She has two girls that now each have a child but always had a strained relationship with them. She was often abused by men and drunk a lot of the time. She moved from California to Washington, met a nice man and married. She was on prescription pills (way too many including morphine) for fybromyalga when she was diagnosed. We threw a fund raiser and got her and her husband moved into a small house where we live in California. It was the worst death I have ever witnessed nor care to.

My last sibling, brother Dan, is the one I have brought up in my posts often. He has never lived on his own, is bipolar and that went undiagnosed for years. We all thought his actions (talking to himself or traffic, anger outbursts, sleeping jags, etc.) were from drugs. His preferred drug is Meth and I have been told by his psychiatrist that he uses that because it actually calms him and the disease for short periods. That is why they call it self-medicating sometimes. But he is truly an addict and is institutionalized from being thrown in prison for violating parole for using. That is what he has spent the majority of his time in prison for. Such a shame the mentally ill have to be shoved in prison when they aren't hurting anyone but themselves.

There was a lot of fighting and verbal abuse. I became the "fixer" of the family, calling in sick for my mom's work at age 10 when she was drunk, getting in the car with her driving drunk (and in wrong lane) thinking if I was with her she would be safe, always trying to make things go smooth so she wouldn't want to drink, etc. It was a lonely life for me at such a young age and I made a lot of fun of myself and made jokes to try and help me get through. I didn't have any self-esteem and still struggle with that to this day.

My mom enabled my other brothers (never the girls) so bad. Mom always taught us it was Christian to help others, even to the point of giving them the shirt off your back. She often took in stray friends that were on the streets, fed them, gave them shelter. I always admired her for the love she showed to everyone that came her way, but now see that sometimes she could have shown it less and in a different way.

I did drugs in my youth. I smoked pot from the age of 14 until I was 18 years old. I did Meth on a steady basis (daily almost) for two years, maybe three when I was in my early 20s. I had severe panic disorder and was agoraphobic. I had situational attacks in the stores, etc. I wouldn't go back to those stores out of panic. I became pretty much home bound and still using Meth!!! My ex (my son's dad) said we were going to stop using as he was supplying it all. I stopped, he didn't.

I started going to junior college and got my AA degree as a legal secretary so I could try and support my son. I built my own home, and neighborhood, through the CHIP program for lower income families and it was a nice little home. I finally was able to move out of my mom's home when I was 26 years old. I lived with her until then for financial reasons for both her and I. By then my son was 6 years old. At age 5, his father and I split up, or I guess I should say I kicked his father out. He was a full blown Meth user along with other drugs including opiates. He stalked me for over two years. I always felt that my son should have his father in his life (probably because mine wasn't around much). This was a mistake of a young girl who tried her best at the time and I forgive myself now for it, but it took a long time. My son had necrosis of the hip at age 4/5 and had to wear a brace that made him walk funny. All the kids teased him and I tried to protect him, even putting him in play therapy hoping that would help him. He overcame it and can walk fine and has no pain. Shriner's are a blessing on a side note!!

Act II

Well here is the second installment on my story. Again, not sure what the length of this post will be but apologize for any rambling that may occur.

My son and I lived alone in our new little house that I helped build for several years. He was six when we moved in and his father started stalking me about that time. I was always torn, felt like his father should be there for him, even though he had told me if he couldn't have me, he didn't want his son in his life either. Just the thought of that makes me ill to this day. So basically for two solid years my ex would make calls to my house, leaving messages calling me awful names, telling me he had AIDS and that would mean I did also, etc. He would drive by my house and follow my movements in town...for two years. Meanwhile, he showed little love for our son who was still wearing the brace for his hip problem and struggling with all the adjustments; me working, school, his father not giving a shit, living in a new house alone with me, etc.

About this time, I got a job as a legal secretary and needed daycare. My mom usually watched my son but she had gone back to working also and was not able to do it. I turned to his other grandparents on the paternal side. This was a HUGE mistake but I had no crystal ball to foresee that. His grandfather got him involved in sports and took him to all his practices, etc. He was a pretty solid influence, but the grandmother and his father were not. His grandmother over the years would do his homework for him without my knowledge. She would pack him enough lunch for two people, enough to where the teacher called me to tell her to stop it. I spoke with her about it but she ignored it, so I started making his lunch, but she still sent one with him also. They spoke very evil of me to my son, which of course I thought there would be some of that, but not the degree I would find out about years later after the damage had been done. I tried very hard to never say negative things about my ex to my son, taking the high road I thought.

I met my husband when my son was around eight. He was a single father and owned a local business. He was loving, supportive, nurturing, all the things I was so unfamiliar with in my previous relationships with men. I actually resisted him at first, finding it all too "boring". I am so glad I hung in there, don't know what I would do without that man in my life, he was a pure Godsend. We were married five years after meeting and finally moved in together then. Our boys were close in age, mine being three years younger than my step-son. They got along pretty well and to this day stay very close.

When my son was about 13 years old is when the trouble really started. I suspected that he was having some problems as his grades were faltering and his general energy level was just different. I suspected he was smoking pot along with my step-son. I made them both go to some drug and alcohol meetings and we drug tested them on a regular basis. They did pretty well for a bit of time. My son got into trouble at age 15 for selling pot and having opiates on him at school (his grandma gave him vicoden for headaches). He received three year's probation and was put in a special school for 6 months that dealt with drug issues, etc. Around the age of 17 my son was drinking heavily and had left my home for his grandparents/father's house. His father still lived at home with his parents, never lived on his own. After a short while, my son was working and paying rent for an apartment that we owned for about 9 months, but still drinking very heavily. He passed his probation and moved to another town about 40 minutes away with friends. This is when his usage became severe. He started using Oxy, steroids, coke, etc. His father and grandparents enabled him. He ended up getting two DUI's and to this day still owes fines on this and does not have a license.

He moved back to town around the age of 20. He lived with his Dad and grandma (grandpa had moved out). They were both getting MANY prescription pain pills and allowing him to sell some of them so they could have extra money. Of course I had no idea any of this was going on at the time, no clue. His grandmother overdosed in April of 06 and his father followed one month to the day in May. My son was living at the house with them, had found his grandmother and his father. He also lost his dog about the same time. I would go over to that house (his grandfather let him live there after the deaths) and he would be so high that I couldn't even get him awake sometimes. He has driven himself or someone taken him to the hospital at least 5 times that I know of and given charcoal. I have watched this on at least 4 of the 5 times. No mother should ever have to experience that kind of scene, so painful and you feel so useless.

This all went on for awhile as I had my head in the sand a bit, didn't know what to do so just pretended it wasn't happening, it was just too painful. My husband and I took my son to our doctor and got all the meds to detox him, took time off from work and took him out of town. This didn't work. Sent him to Rehab but he relapsed as soon as he got to town. He lived with his grandfather after rehab for a bit, but stole some checks from him. His grandfather turned him in to the police and he ran to the Bay Area. Shortly after he came back to town and couch surfed for a few months. When I did see him or hear from him, he was always just loaded.

During this time my mom had become ill. I had always been afraid of my mom's death, probably because she was an "older"mom while I was growing up. She ended up moving in with my husband and I in 2006 and lived with us for a couple of years until her death in November 07. My mom was the backbone of our extended family. She had stopped drinking many years before and was a very loving person. She had a great bond with the Lord and her faith in God was so strong it was amazing to see. When she passed it devastated me and the rest of the family. Within six months my sister was diagnosed with Stage IV stomach cancer and after moving her back here from Washington with her husband, she passed in February 09. My son stole some of her morphine from her house about 2 weeks before she died. I prayed to God for an intervention for him as I knew he was going to kill himself. Ten minutes after my prayer I received a call from an officer that he had been arrested. Power of prayer...answered in many forms.

My son was released in May of 09. My brother was also released at the same time. My son came home to live with us and is still doing so. My brother has had our assistance also. My son's behavior has been much improved from three years ago, BUT I know he is not really working a program. Sure, he passes his probation drug tests because he brings in some product that makes that happen. To date he has asked his probation officer to get into the State funded rehab because he failed a drug test and was going to be violated for a second time. He entered on 4/23/10 for 60 days. No matter what his motives for getting there, I am hopeful that he will at the very least add more to his recovery foundation and hopefully will keep building on that. It is his journey and I must let go. I know I have a ways to go to find my peace in this life, but have had more peace due to my boundaries, etc. in the past few months. This blog has been a huge help to me and all the bloggers who read my blog and comment. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me to grow, giving me support and just helping me feel stronger when I need it. I hope you all have a better feel for who I am and what I am about. Also a feel for my son and his story. We all have a story and as important as it is to tell it, it is also important not to stay stuck in it. I hope with each day I get closer to getting off the hamster wheel of co-dependency.

Renee

4 comments:

Sherry said...

I've read your Acts, but you included some additional history here. You've been through a lot!! I really enjoy reading your posts - you're very down to earth and a loving person!

Barbara said...

Thanks for re-sharing. Hard to read some of it, you've had some very difficult life challenges. I agree with Sherry about you - you are very down to earth and loving! I think sometimes the people who've been through the most are the most compassionate to others.

Syd said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate your honest sharing.

I have learned that when I share my story to others I not only share what I was like but what happened and what I'm like now. I look for the solutions and stop being focused on the problems. That is what working a program of recovery has done.

Heather's Mom said...

I hadn't read these the first time around (???) so I am glad you re-posted them. And thanks for sharing, and the honesty in your writing.
God bless.