Dry Drunk

It was Christmas time.

My newest grandson had been born two days after Christ’s birthday, and the grand-kids were still interested in all the new toys they had gotten from Santa. My husband and I decided to stop by after dinner to see our little one. When I called my daughter, she told me that my son and his family were visiting too. I braced myself.

I had spent too many years in the pit of deception and havoc. It had taken a toll on my health, my mind, and my soul. I could feel the damage every time I spoke to my son’s wife when I asked how he was doing, shrinking before I heard the answer. But I had to ask. It was my duty to ask. All I wanted to hear her say was, “He’s doing great!” That is the only answer I wanted to hear. All other answers forced my chest to tighten and my heart to break a little more. I was in constant preparation for the sky to fall even though I didn’t know how skies fell.

This time, my son had been sober for three weeks. At least, that was the report his wife gave me when I asked how he was doing. As I held my grandson, I waited for my son to appear. I was in angst, privately reeling from the recent revelation that my son had decided that my life and my words were useless to him.

Our conversations had become one-sided. Me, talking about whatever a mom talks about, and him telling me while I was in mid-sentence that he really didn’t “give a —-” about whatever or whomever. His words were sharp and unexpected.

At first, I sank from the embarrassment of his blatant disrespect. His wife sat there in silence, like a mute, as I tried to readjust myself from the knife that he had so cunningly slid into my chest. Honestly, I really didn’t know how to react. This was unfamiliar territory. I wondered if I had gotten too close or were the drugs taking over his mind or had he always been mentally unstable. I was left with my own disillusioned self to wonder what was happening.

One night, I stood my ground. I told him that he should watch his words for one day I would die, and he would be asking forgiveness to the air. It was a bold move on my part as the fear of his death was constant. I was hesitant to even utter the words fearful that they would manifest by my own doing. For him though, it was a “how dare you” moment. He was the sufferer, the addict. This was all about him. I was just the mom.

Then, they spent Christmas Eve with us. My son was distant while his wife overcompensated for his nonchalance.  I already knew in my heart that he and I were heading down the path of no return though I had tried convinced myself that I was in this for the long haul, and I could take whatever he dished out. I thought no mother walks away from her child, especially when death is knocking on his door every hour of every day.

I knew, from far too many NA and AA meetings, that my son was suffering from what addicts call “dry drunk” syndrome. A term used in recovery when the addict is no longer using but continues to exhibit behaviors that are associated with active addiction. My son’s refusal to seek peer-to-peer recovery only made matters worse.

Through his blind eyes, I was the reason he couldn’t actively use. I was keeping him from doing what he wanted, and the only way to get back at me was to hurt me. Sounds like a spoiled child, doesn’t it? It is a hard spot to be in, let me just say that. Hate is fierce and blame seeps into the subconscious whether wanted or not.

Though, on this particular night, he was going to show himself to me. He had decided he was going to do exactly what he wanted, and what he wanted was to get high. So he did. He slipped outside for a little pot smoking.

When I finally asked his wife where he was she told me he had gone to smoke to take the edge off. Though, just three weeks prior, he had gone back to heroin after a test run of medicinal pot. I was dumbfounded by her acceptance and lack of strength to combat him. Here we all were, together, to rejoice in the birth of new life, and he was desecrating it with his addiction. I was enraged.

It was at that moment I realized I had to let go. I knew I had to leave immediately or I was going to smack him to the ground with not only my hands but my words. Mothers have the uncanny ability to break their children if they want to and I knew that it was going to be him before me. So I handed my precious grandson to his mother, kissed the rest of my sober family and walked out the door.

On the way home my husband told me my son had hidden behind the bushes so I would not see him. Adult or not, hate or not. What does that say about a mother’s presence? A  lot. Thirty-three years old and still hiding behind bushes.

I finally had the one thing I had forgotten I possessed all along, validation. So no matter what he does or where he goes, my words do and have mattered. I will always matter to him. Heroin can take the child from the mother but it can never take the mother from the child. So I will wait because I am always watching him…and he knows it.


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