BRATTLEBORO — The phone rings and, under normal circumstances, you think, “I wonder who this might be.” You glance at the number on your phone's display, and your heart either begins to race or it sinks because you just know it's not going to be a hi-Mom- how-are-you-today kind of conversation.
Do I answer the call? Do I pretend the phone isn't ringing? I can easily decline by pushing a button on my phone, or I can reluctantly answer, “Hello, Son.”
Thus begins another walk into the certain chaos of his life.
I've written letters and commentary in this publication over many years, the general topic being family and the devastation that addiction to the illegal-substance, choices that one brings inside the doors of a normal-appearing home on a quiet street in our small town.
My experience is vast. I have been able to counsel, if you will, families who have found their way to our local Nar-Anon Family Group meeting. They have a child or a spouse or even a good friend who have lost their ability to stay away from illegal substances.
This, in fact, has been a role I've been proud to serve in this community.
However, a recent event placed me at the top of my tolerance pinnacle, and I'm struggling myself. Struggling to hold onto the hope I have spoken of to others all these years: that our loved ones would seek help from the black hole of their helpless existence.
Alas, how now?
* * *
The COVID-19 virus pandemic has caused human suffering and tragedy. We read about it, we see the numbers on TV, and we listen to the broadcasts on the radio.
We're lucky. As of this writing, our family has not contracted the virus, and we are grateful to be spared. We are reminded of what the practice of caution will allow: safety with unimpaired health.
Addiction to illegal substances also remains rampant, casting its very wide, deep net of spiny tentacles in every direction, snagging the most unsuspecting into its web.
My son didn't choose this lifestyle. Not one person of whom I am aware would ever have made the devastating choice to “use” so long ago, had they only known of and believed the often-fatal consequences.
The phone rings.
Why does my heart beat into overtime?
* * *
I'll say this.
Is that helplessness in the face of your loved one, who now likely appears as an outer shell of that sweet baby boy, wrapped in a gentle blue blanket, whom you lovingly birthed and carried down the hospital steps to begin your lives together?
Is the hell you now reside in - right along with thatbaby boy - your reward for having lovingly birthed and cared for your loved one, who with cautious eyes watched as he picked himself up, over and over and over again: learning to walk, sliding into first base in a Little League game, and roughhousing with high school friends in the backyard?
Yes, it is.
And then, he could no longer pick himself up unassisted.
Memories constantly flood my conscious mind. Addiction is here to stay for now. Will its horrors ever go away?
I'll try to stay strong and hope for healing - hope for not just a better future for my son, but for this family as well.