Totally Out of Control
Life moved along in a sort of status quo for a few years. My job was okay, my kids were okay. If I had to place an order to the importance of things, I would have to confess that I was most important and my kids were next in line. I was very self-centered, always analyzing things to see how they would affect me, what I wanted, what I needed. It’s not that I didn’t love my kids, it’s that I loved myself more.
I left my job at the end of 1999 and started working for an agency in Philadelphia. I met a man from the internet and he became the focus of an unhealthy, obsessive love. I kidded myself into believing he was just a friend with benefits, but I really fell in love with him. The problem was he didn’t fall in love with me. This relationship was pretty close to being the same as my marriage had been, except this man was never physically abusive. Looking back, I realize I was the one with the problem, not him.
It was around this time that my older son began to rebel in a huge way. He became more emotionally disturbed than ever before. He was willful, defiant, and argumentative. He was convinced he was right about everything and everybody else was wrong. He got into major trouble in school. He was expelled from school after he wrote a “story” wishing his high school science teacher was dead. He ended up in juvenile detention for making a death threat. I believed this punishment was extreme, but given the timing of the story somewhat understandable (it was around the time of the Columbine school shootings). I thought he would have been better helped by the mental health system. Had I known then what I know now, I would have demanded psychiatric help.
I was so stressed out over these events, I began to drink again everyday. I tried to lean on my friend for support, but he was inaccessible to me for the most part. My life slowly began to fall apart. I was missing work frequently, not paying my debts, not being responsible at all. My older son’s problems got worse by the day. He started using drugs regularly. I didn’t know he was using drugs. I continued to live in denial. I tried to carry on as if nothing was wrong.
Robert would leave our house at night, wander around the city all night long and sleep all day. He was in such trouble and I had no clue what to do. He refused to be treated by a therapist and, ironically, was old enough at 15 to refuse treatment!
The days of just getting drunk on the weekend escalated to getting drunk everyday at home. I went from drinking beer to drinking vodka to drinking rum. I kidded myself into thinking I was being more responsible because at least I wasn’t drinking and driving anymore. I was so lost.
When my older son was 17, he had a complete breakdown. He got into a fight with his father. They had a very tenuous relationship. My son couldn’t deal with the hypocrisy of his dad’s life. His father would say one thing but do another, tell his son not to use drugs and use them himself, pass judgment on his son’s behavior, but not see the same behavior in himself. My son finally snapped and went into an uncontrollable fit of rage. He came home spouting off unintelligible ramblings. He said he was being watched by I don’t even remember who. He was paranoid and delusional and It scared me half to death. If I hadn’t acted quickly, he might have killed his father.
I found myself calling the police again, but this time I was prepared. I told them my son needed to be hospitalized. I wanted to have him committed. He actually calmed down somewhat at the hospital and agreed to voluntary commitment. I went home totally drained, had some alcohol, and went to bed. Several hours later, the hospital called to tell me my son had escaped. It seemed like this nightmare would never end.
Two days passed before my son came home, still psychotic. During those two days, I spoke to him on the phone. I listened to him rant and rave about life. I thought maybe he was going to die that weekend.
When he finally came home, I didn’t want to let him in. I knew he was capable of murder at this point because he was so out of control. My younger son was with me and we were very scared. I ended up letting him into the house and, as I expected, he really lost control of his behavior, but he turned his rage on himself. He stood 2 inches from me and bashed himself over the head with his skateboard. I finally managed to get the phone and as I dialed 911, he ran out of the house. I locked the doors and waited. He actually came back again, crying, begging me to let him in. All I could do was cry as the police led him away to the hospital again. This time he was involuntarily committed because he was a danger to himself and to others.
This is when I learned about all the drug use. I was devastated. I blamed myself for being blind and not stopping him. He spent a week in a psychiatric hospital. He was so angry. I worried he would never speak to me again. As the days went by, the anger finally subsided. He realized how close he came to doing something really bad, however, he wouldn’t or couldn’t admit he had a drug problem.
I tried to be a better mother to him after these events. He was so hard to talk to. We seemed to fight all the time. I just wanted to stop fighting. I wanted to divorce myself from my own flesh and blood, but how could I? What kind of mother would abandon her own child? I felt horrible for even having those thoughts. Years earlier, when he came back to live with me again after a year with my mom, I made a promise to him. I promised him I would never send him away again.
In the mean time, my younger son Galen suddenly developed very intense symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s understandable, given the amount of stress he had to face everyday. He was just 12 years old and this served as more proof of the terrible job I had done as a mom, more reason for me to hate myself and stay drunk as much as possible. Our family hung on by just a thread.
As my older son’s 18th birthday approached, he got into trouble again, that time for spitting into the face of a police officer. By the grace of God, he was sent to a 3 month forestry camp where he had to get his GED and he was challenged to change. It was the best thing that ever happened to him and was the turning point that brought him back from the brink of self-destruction. I was so relieved.
During all these incidents, I realized my medication wasn’t working anymore. I went and had the medications changed and readjusted. Things got better for about a minute, but I was still getting drunk everyday.
When things were finally getting back to “normal”, I didn’t want to drink anymore, but I just couldn’t bring myself to stop. I was still living in denial, not paying my bills, not caring about any of my responsibilities. I pretty much gave up on life because I figured life had given up on me.