Six Days, Seven Nights – This is Not Vacation!

A blog update from Midwestern Mama, who is ready for a vacation of her own!

The headline of this blog post reads like a vacation promo – imagine six days, seven nights, somewhere in paradise. Sounds good to me, and it sounds good to our son, too, who has been using our home somewhat like a luxury hotel these days.

Our “hotel” features a comfy queen-size bed with clean sheets and a variety of pillow types; a private bathroom and a large-gallon hot water heater that provides long showers; a refrigerator, freezer and pantry full of food and beverages; on-site laundry; and entertainment – free wi-fi, use of an ipad, video games, a library of books, and even a dog to play with. It’s within walking distance of tennis courts and an extensive network of bike trails and parks. You could say it’s one of those all-inclusive resorts.

It’s all this and more, even if it’s just a typical middle-class, suburban house. However, did I mention that staying here comes with non-enabling rules? Three rules: 1) Don’t bring drugs or paraphernalia into the house. 2) Keep family hours – after all, there are other guests here who have jobs, school and sports schedules. 3) If you’re not going to be coming home, let the proprietors (aka Mom and Dad) know before 10 p.m.

Sure there are a few other things like put your dishes in the dishwasher, don’t leave clothes and towels on the bathroom floor, etc. but that’s ordinary, easy stuff. And, there are a few harder hitting things like don’t steal and you can’t be home alone, which is why only “approved” members of the establishment have house keys, garage door openers and key-pad codes.

Since relapsing and becoming homeless, jobless, penniless – again – we have opened the family home again as a way of giving our son respite from his drug-using lifestyle and all the stresses, dangers and sadness that it brings. We’ve wanted to demonstrate kindness and understanding because we are good and loving people, but also because our son is so broken that we hope it conveys and prompts positive possibilities.  Goodness knows the other parenting options didn’t do much either.  (Might be because we have influence but not power – the AlAnon in me speaking forth.)

We want to build not break his already compromised self esteem, self worth and self confidence. What we don’t want is to be spies watching his every move or cops who catch him breaking the rules (let alone the laws). And we definitely don’t want to be enforcers who evict him – we know it might be the right thing to do and, unfortunately, we know it might be the inevitable thing – at least for this leg of the journey.

As mentioned, over the past few months, we’ve re-opened the house to our son and as noted in the post “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t,” his stays are intermittent. A few days, then gone. A few days, then back.

Most recently, he returned on a Thursday evening. By Tuesday, we could tell the stay was coming to an end. It was one of the longer, positive stays, and seemingly one that was sober. We even had some potentially positive conversations about “next steps.”

Then he spent the night out, but came back the next morning and stayed the night – even went to dinner with us, but was clearly high. He went to bed at 9 p.m. Then Thursday around 11 a.m., he said he was going one place, but clearly didn’t and never called/texted or returned and he didn’t respond to our outreach.

Clearly, the stay had come to an end. Until today, now he’s back, sound asleep – likely for 12 -16 hours.  Beyond that, who knows.

This coming and going at the “guest’s” will must stop. It’s driving us nuts, even if we do understand the impact of drugs on why this is happening. This coming and going is not serving our son well let alone the rest of the family.

When he’s awake, lucid and somewhat receptive, we must insist that his stay includes some meaningful actions on his part. He must have something semi-productive to do each day (work, volunteer, therapy or treatment – or a combination). He must have accountability and commitment.

It’s no longer vacation, it’s everyday life. The “six days, seven nights” is coming to an end. We hope he’ll come back, even give us positive reviews on Yelp! (I say that with tongue in cheek, of course) We hope he’ll choose the extended-stay option. We’ll never give up, but we’ll never compromise the other guests who stay here, too.

 Midwestern Mama


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