Saturday, August 5, 2017

You Are Not Alone

Startled out of sleep by a loud noise, I sat up in bed, my heart pounding. A persistent knocking at my front door had thoughts racing through my head. Everyone was home asleep. Who could be knocking in the middle of the night? What's going on? I climbed out of bed and crept toward the stairs where I peeked around the corner, trying to glimpse who was outside my front door so late at night. Through the window I saw a police officer standing there. A million scenarios that would elicit a visit from a police officer in the wee hours flipped through my mind. None of them were good. Adrenaline coursed through my veins as I quickly grabbed a robe and descended the stairs, dread pounding through me with every step.

"Ms. Meehan?" the officer asked.

"Yes," I answered hesitantly.

"We have Jackson." He quickly added, "Don't worry, he's okay; he isn't hurt or anything. But we need you to come get him." 

Wait what? My sleep-fogged brain tried to process what he was saying. They have Jackson? But Jackson's in his room asleep. 

"He and another boy were caught at the park in possession of marijuana."

My brain still hadn't caught up to what he was saying, but I was sure he was making a mistake. My son doesn't do drugs. My son is in bed sleeping. Isn't he?

In a daze, I retreated to my room, threw on some clothes and met the police officer back outside. I hopped in my car and followed him to the park where I found my son sitting on the curb in the parking lot. I honestly don't remember what I said to him or what he said to me. Everything is a bit of a blur. I recall the police officers telling me that Jackson was completely respectful and compliant, and I remember thinking - So what? He's supposed to be respectful and cooperative. That doesn't change the fact that he has drugs. And I didn't even know he had sneaked out of the house.

The police officers didn't arrest him. They issued a civil citation instead. I remember thinking that Jackson was lucky to be given this chance. The officers explained that Jackson would need to complete some tasks like community service and drug tests, and if he successfully completed each job assigned to him, and didn't get in any other trouble for anything else then this infraction wouldn't go on his record. 

This happened almost 2 years ago. Not coincidentally, it was about the same time I stopped blogging. Jackson is incarcerated right now. For the third time since then. And I'm done being silent about it. There's such a stigma attached to addiction. You can't talk about it without being judged. Strangers form opinions without understanding the problem. Well-meaning friends say insensitive things. Acquaintances feign concern simply to get the latest gossip. I wanted to avoid all of that as much as possible.

BUT for every person who says something ignorant because they don't understand, there's someone else out there going through the same thing, and thinking they're all alone. Addiction is isolating. It shouldn't be. You're not alone. I know how much addiction sucks. I know how much if affects not only the addict, but everyone around him. I know how addiction looks to an outsider who believes - All he has to do is stop. It's as simple as that. I know how as a parent of someone struggling with addiction you are consumed by guilt, uncertainty, anger, helplessness, compassion, and frustration. I know how it feels to be at war with yourself about how far to go in helping your child. I know what it's like to build up walls and the need to detach for your own self-preservation. I know what it's like to beat yourself up with What ifs - What if I hadn't gotten divorced? What if I hadn't moved? I know what it's like to field ignorant comments from people. I know what it's like to cry through Al-Anon meetings. I know what it's like to pretend like everything's okay while inside your heart is shattering, and I know what it's like to shove all your emotions down deep so you can appear strong for your other kids. I know what it's like to wonder where your kid is, if he's still sleeping outside somewhere, if he's alive. I know what it's like to see him being taken away in an ambulance, barely coherent because of an overdose. I know what it's like to be threatened by him while he's under the influence. I know what it's like to see him being lead into a courtroom, dressed in a jumpsuit stamped with Orange County Corrections, his hands cuffed and chained around his waist.

And I know I don't want to be silent about it anymore. Because if I'm going through this and feeling isolated, I know there are others out there dealing with the same struggles and feeling the same way. And you are NOT alone.





41 comments:

Polli Culver said...

Massive hugs to you, and to your family. You will get through this, because you are strong. Jackson may change his path one day, or he may not. That is his choice. All you can do is love him and be faithful to your own choices, beliefs and morals.
Thank you for speaking out. You will help so many people by being open about this experience xxx

Nikki T said...

Thank you for sharing. Sending continued strength for all of you.

Anonymous said...

Oh Dawn, thank you so much for sharing. I have one in a little trouble right now now, and I can barely sleep at night worrying that it will turn into a lot of trouble. I hope Jackson can one day find his way out of this.

Keekee said...

Wow! I have been no experience in what you are going through, so I will not pretend to know how you feel. Please know that there are many that care for you and your family. We are rooting for you, you and your kids will be in my thoughts and prayers. Xoxox

Mystii said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you're going through this Dawn but I'm really happy that you aren't being quiet any longer. You ARE NOT ALONE! I know I won't be the only one to post this.

Sue D. said...

Bless your heart, Dawn. I can hardly believe all the hardships you have gone through. I am totally in tears here for you and your family. You are such a strong person and I pray that God will give you all you need to get through this tough circumstance, and will be with your son that he can find his way out of his addiction. Praying that all those who feel like they have to have anything in their lives to survive, other than God, will have the strength to kick it to the curb. God bless you all. ♥

Welcome to said...

Dawn, I just want to say thank you for your courage to share. Sending you strength and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Dawn, you are such a strong person and wonderful Mom. No you are not alone, and take strength in the Lord.

Pamela Koehler said...

I too know what it is like, and my heart aches for you and Jackson. We moved to Florida when my son was starting 6th grade. It was awful. He went from a small Catholic school where there were less than 20 kids in his class to a huge middle school that had over 699 kids. As we went through everything with him people kept saying "you'll look back on this time in a few years and wonder how you made it." They all said he'd be fine by the time he turned 21. Nope, but he is okay now at 41. He works at the treatment center that saved his iife. He lives in a small cottage on the property. There were a few years when I didn't know where he was, but now he calls me once a week. One thing I try to remember is that it is not my fault. Of my kids he's the only one who had addiction problems. I know I was not the perfect parent and try not to think of my mistakes but on the love I show them all every day. It does get better, but not on anyone's schedule. Just hang in there. I pray for my son everyday, and will add Jackson.

ShellyMerrill said...

I just want to apoligiz e Of I have ever said anything insensitive. I do understand the way addition affects a family. My niece and her father are addicts. It's so difficult. I can't imagine how hard it is as a parent with a child suffering from addiction. However there is no judgement here. Screw people who make it a stigma. This is happening all over the world. You are a great mother and you did nothing wrong. Please don't wonder about the what it's. I know how amazing you are and this happens to people that come from some of the best homes, not only the homes where they are less fortunate. You are a WONDERFUL mother and a true inspiration to me as a mother.

Katherine O'Brien, MA CCPS said...

Dawn,

I'm sorry to hear of Jackson's struggles. How heart wrenching! While none of mine are struggling with addiction (so far), I completely connect with you about the silence, isolation, and useless and, often hurtful, comments of others. For us, it's mental health issues - PTSD, anxiety, depression. I can't begin to count all the times I've been judged because we don't have company, my kids don't do this or that, etc. I, too, have spent nights up wondering where one of the kids is, if he was ok, etc. I could go on, but you know. I just wanted you to know that you are NOT alone. Thanks for letting us love you, just as you are, with the blessings and challenges you have.

Jacque Ruch said...

Grateful member of Alanon. Hugs to you.

Liz@thisfullhouse said...

Sending you much love, and offering an ear...shoulder...virtual hugs...and any and all the support I can give you from here. My husband has lost family members to addiction (and their children are struggling with the same addictions), gawd but I hate that you and your family are going through this. Please know that you are in my thoughts, and you are one of the strongest women I know (stop laughing) and...bare minimum...sharing your story helps other families know they are not alone, and neither are you :(

TRousseau said...

Dawn, I have followed your blog since the early days. What I always loved most about it was your honesty. You told life like it was and made me laugh until I cried. What I remember most is when you opened up about your ex-husband's alcoholism. It hit close to home since my now ex-husband is also an alcoholic. No one understands addiction unless you experience it first hand. I grew up around addiction and watched it follow to the next generation. My niece died of a heroin overdose 3 years ago at the age of 36 and left behind a 9 year old daughter. Recently, I had my niece, who I adopted and raised involuntarily committed because she is a heroin addict. I did it to save her life, yet she hates me. I fear she will go back to that life yet pray she won't. Both of her parents were addicts. Addiction affects everyone. I pray for Jackson and your family and thank you for sharing this. You are correct, you are not alone.

Angel The Alien said...

I come from a long line of people who struggle with addiction. Luckily, I seem to have avoided it, but I have watched plenty of others go through hell on earth, including their family members. Don't have much to say in terms of comfort for you, except, my thoughts are with you and Jackson. Everything I Can think of to say sounds stupid, so just... take care of yourself and don't give up hope!

Keli said...

As a fellow Al-Anon member, I understand what it is like to love someone who is an addict. I will pray for serenity for you and your family.

Christina said...

Same boat for the past 3 years with my oldest but the only thing that made her change her ways was having her birth control fail, if her daughter was not here today she also would not be. I also needed to read this blog post because I felt so alone.

Vanessa said...

I've been a quiet reader since the Pokemon card explosion, but I want to comment now to send hugs and empathy. I wondered why the posting had gotten so light but I figured you'd tell us in your own time. I'm sorry you and Jackson are going through this battle, and I hope you'll both come out the other side of it. I wish you continued strength, and I wish peace and healing for him. Here's hoping he finds his way back soon.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like my life for the past 4 years. Things have been a little better the last year after coming home from 7 months of intensive treatment. He has still relapsed a few times and ended up kicked out of school because of it. So...you definitely are not alone! While it does help to know that I am not alone, it also breaks my heart because I would never wish this on anyone.

S. Meyer said...

Thank you for your incredibly brave post!! You and your whole family are in my continued prayers!!

Unknown said...

Oh, Dawn, so brave of you to put words to what many have gone through. My thoughts AND prayers are with you and your family and your son. Ronna Snyder, author, Hot Flashes from Heaven.

Shellie said...

I'm a puddle right now - thank you for reminding me I'm not alone. All I can do is give virtual hugs and pray for you and your kids to be given the strength and comfort you need every day. Sadly, I have gone through some different yet very similar experiences firsthand, and then at work in the courts I see it EVERY day- you are so very much NOT ALONE. I really don't think many families these days can entirely escape having at least one loved one addicted to something or struggling with other mental health issues. Pretty much I say amen to what Pamela Koehler up there commented- she knows what she's talking about. My mantra is pretty much "today is not forever" and my hope is in Christ. I believe in His ability to help us all change and turn all things into something good no matter how long it takes or what turns it takes. It's the long part that is sucky to live through. He's got our backs in the meantime. Hugs and more hugs 🤗 Prayers and more prayers.

Mel G said...

Hugs Dawn, thank you for sharing. Now you know that YOU are not alone xx

Unknown said...

I am in recovery, and have been clean for 56 months. Reading your post made me cry, and ache for you and your kids and Jackson. Keep doing your best, and praying, and know that you are NOT to blame. I know how guilt can eat at you but addiction is about the person not things that someone else did or did not do. The divorce, the move, the blog, etc. did NOT cause this to happen. I'm praying for all of you, because I know God can bring you all through, and bring healing and wholeness to you and your family. Thank you for being brave enough to share, and don't let rude/ignorant/insensitive people hurt you.

Dawn said...

Oh Dawn, you are so brave for sharing this. Hugs to you! I hope Jackson recovers fully and experience all the good things life has to offer. He's still young. I bet he has a lot to look forward to. You are right. Addiction does not only affect the person but also the people around him, all the more his family. I cried because I thought of this exact scenario happening to my son. I'm the type of person who usually give unsolicited advise to parents with teens like myself. Even on issues I don't even have any experience of. Even though my teens are not into drugs, I can relate on guilt feelings when they made a bad decision thinking if I had done anything wrong to cause it. Hang in there. I wish you love and courage to go through this. Thank you.

If this can help any parent of teenagers, then please read this- http://www.parentingmonkey.com/teenager-drug-awareness

Vanessa T said...

Sending you *hugs*, and prayers for you and your boy. <3

Cindy said...

Thank you for sharing your story. My former son-in-law was addicted to heroin and was getting more violent. My daughter went through so much before she decided to separate and divorce him. I've been hearing on the news lately how drug addiction is becoming worse in this nation. I will pray for Jackson and your entire family.

Barny said...

Fucking fuck fuck fuck.
Everything I try to write sounds like condescending bullshit and that's the last thing I want.
You don't deserve this crap and in no way are you to blame for any of it, if and when he decides it's time to get clean I know you will be there for him.

Anonymous said...

On the day I read this blog I had just watched a documentary where a Catholic priest from Spain said, in summary, that those who peril in silence suffer more hardship then those who tell of their suffering because it is in the telling that we can begin to heal. I pray that now that you are finding your voice you will also find your path to healing as well. You are not alone.

Teresa George said...

Dawn, I'm sorry you and your family are going through this. I, too, got a knock on the door in the middle of the night to find a police officer with my son, March, 2016. Same scenario, he was with friends at a park on the edge of a school, right near the "Drug Free Zone" sign - which turned this into a felony. His friends supplied the pot, but my son was holding it at the time. My town allows for Diversion for first time offenders, which my son completed. If he keeps his record clean until he turns 18 in November, it won't go on his record. It's a miracle his record is still clean, because he's still using it.

To add insult to injury, 10 days after his arrest, my son attempted suicide. It was more of a call for help than a legitimate attempt, but it scares the bejeebers out of you regardless. Turns out he'd been masking anxiety and depression for years. He was self-medicating with the pot. In spite of a year and a half of treatment, including Diversion, 3 hospitalizations, therapy (group and individual), psychotropic medications, and the support of the whole family, my son is still self-medicating.

My significant other is a medical marijuana patient due to pain from a broken back. We live together. His medical was in a lock box, it stays in his home office, and he never uses it in front of my son. My son has been caught twice breaking into the lock box. The first time, we didn't think he'd been successful, but found out later that he was. The second time we knew he was successful (caught redhanded), and bought a safe instead. Just in the past 2 weeks, a package come to the house for my son - who does not have a job right now, or a way to order stuff without me doing it for him (we thought). I opened the package because the label said "unlocking tools" - it was a cheap set of lock picks. You can guess why.

You're right, the more we remain silent about addiction and mental health issues, the harder it is for society to face them. I have been honest with friends about my son's issues, but it still makes me feel like a bad mother. I'm exhausted from constantly watching, constantly worrying about the next shoe waiting to drop. My son started his senior year of high school today, and all I can think is "Nine months - I just have to get him (and me) through the next nine months". Hang in there - YOU are not alone. I wish the best for you, for Jackson, and for your whole family.

Anonymous said...

Dawn, you are not alone. The more you talk about it, you realize someone in every family has an addiction to drugs, alcohol etc. I will keep you in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I missed you so much when you stopped blogging, and was so thrilled when you resumed. I was guessing hard times and rejoiced that something let you out the other end of the tunnel. Ditto to so many comments above. Thanks for finding your laughter again and sharing it with us, but more than that, thank you for letting us cry with you at last.

Raynore said...

I am so proud of you for speaking out with the truth. We, as parents want to cover it up, sugarcoat it, and sweep it under the rug. But we can't. Life happens. The choices our children make are just that, their choices.

I pray you have peace now that you have unbundled your heart. I also pray for your son.

My husband and I are closely involved with Teen Challenge here in Louisiana and have seen such restoration through God's Grace. We did not send a child there, but do have two sons who would benefit from it.

In all that you do please remind yourself that you did not cause this. I pray you find strength and peace.May God bless you.

Korinthia Klein said...

Thank you for posting, Dawn. I'm so sorry your family is suffering with this. Keeping you in my thoughts and wishing all of you the best.

Paula said...

Dawn,

Thank you so much for sharing. I know that couldn't have been easy for you. I have been through some of what you're going through.

Our son was in and out of trouble for years. It finally came to a head after a wreck and a call from the ER. He went to rehab (at age 19). It was an extended stay in another state. After 9 (long, agonizing) months, he came home clean and sober. I am so happy to say he's been clean for 4 years. I also realize that that could change at any time. I know you've probably heard this from Al-Anon (which was a lifesaver for me), but I have learned to be happy and hopefully, will continue to, whether the alcoholic or addict is using or not.

Take care of yourself. And know that so many people are praying for you and your family. And also know that you have probably touched and helped more people than you will know.

Diana said...

Thank you for sharing, Dawn. I have one adult son with severe depression and a teen daughter who just started cutting. Whoever said the young years were the hardest was WRONG. Older kids have so much bigger problems. I always thought they would grow up and parenting would be done, I never thought it would keep on going and get harder! Prayers and blessings to you and your family.

Purple Quilter Queen said...

Thanks for sharing this Dawn. I'm so sorry your family is going through this. Massive hugs and prayers for you guys. Stay strong!
Jennifer

Anonymous said...

Thank you for speaking out. More of us should do so. I have been through much of what you've experienced with my own child several years ago. I have sat in the hospital with my child after an overdose. I have visited my child in jail. I have walked the floor many nights not knowing where my child was. Thankfully, those days are behind us but I live with the knowledge that my child will always be an addict (although a recovering one). I believe addiction can't be cured, only managed - one day at a time. I was finally able to see that if my love could have stopped my child from using drugs then it would have done so. I realized that I had done everything I knew to do with the knowledge and resources I had available. It wasn't enough. My child is now a parent to 4 children and I pray none of them go down that same road. YOU are not alone.

Anonymous said...

Dawn-

Wishing you and your family all the best.


Rachel S. said...

Thank you for sharing, Dawn. I wondered why you had stopped blogging regularly. I feel similarly about mental illness--no one wants to talk about it, and then people are shocked when they find out because they "had no idea anything was wrong." You are an amazing mom, teacher & friend, and your courage is inspiring more people than you'll know.

Kristin said...

I am so, terribly sorry, Dawn. It makes me so sad to see that you and your family are dealing with the heartbreaking and challenging reality of having a family member who is an addict. I hope that Jackson will find his way to sobriety. And I hope that you are finding support and solace in Al-Anon.

You are so right to speak out. Too many people keep it a secret. I'm so glad you are telling your story, but still heartbroken that this has happened.

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