“Mom, My Future Seems So Bleak”: Feeling the Heartbreak

My son. He is trying to hard to get his life back. If he weren’t trying so hard, maybe then I could detach – let go just a little bit more than I’ve already trained myself to do.

But it’s heartbreaking. For me, sure – but mostly for him.

The trouble with regaining some sanity (or sobriety, for addicts) is that your vision, when examining your life, clears. That, unfortunately, can hurt like hell.

I can feel why, sometimes, it may feel easier to just fall down the rabbit hole of non-treatment and go back to a problem that’s more familiar: getting out of the hospital.

Square One (or two, or three), when you’ve climbed so far ahead of it in the past, is really a  hard spot to land back on. Ouch.

The trouble with regaining some sanity (or sobriety, for addicts) is that your vision, when examining your life, clears. That, unfortunately, can hurt like hell.

That’s part of why a fresh obstacle to Ben’s renewed recovery journey (after the Covid-19 fall) is now: getting clean. He has returned to smoking pot – never a good sign – which brings all the usual “side effects”: lies, denial, the illusion of accomplishment, poor decisions, loss of money, lack of motivation.


Road to recovery…Far from Clear

The first signs were during a home visit – halfway through a fantastic visit, after Ben “took a walk to Starbucks”, he returned home completely stoned. And denying it. I took him back home and told him he could lose his placement in the group home, and also I would not be allowing him to visit until the truth – and a plan of action – came through.

One day later, a very contrite Ben called to apologize, in tears, and ready to tell the truth and “get clean”…and he did – for 35 whole days. He even went to meetings, and shared for the first time ever.  Yeah, maybe “it’s only pot”, but for Ben it spells disaster.

Then…a relapse. He  took 2 hits from “some girl on the street corner” (after refusing once, but then he caved) because “I thought it wouldn’t really make me seem stoned, and it might make me feel better about my life.”

Another call from his Group Home.

Another frantic message of denial from Ben

He can lose his housing. He lost his home visit. I feel stuck in a cycle of Groundhog Day-like repetition.

I gave Ben a day to come clean with the truth – and he did. We talked for over an hour. He is so angry with himself.  He regrets giving in to temptation. He says all the right things…but he has said them before.

Still – what breaks me apart are two things: his voice, cracking with tears and emotion (rare for those suffering with schizophrenia), and his statement:

Mom, My future just feels so bleak.”

Oh. My.

He has lost everything he works for years to build – his work, his car, his friends, his sanity, his place in our home — and months of his life. Unemployment is a huge blow – I’ve been there, and so has my husband, and maybe so have you – but imagine going through it when you’ve also “woken up” from the longest hospital stay of your life, to find that your world has fallen apart.

And now – some steps we’ve all agreed to, to provide more purpose and structure. Yes, he wants to work again someday – that waiter job was everything to him (but can he work? with hands trembling from Haldol? we shall see) – but for now, all I can do is remind him that:

  • he has rebuilt his life before, and can do it again
  • there are people who want to help
  • Getting too cocky, and thinking you can get sober alone, seldom works for him – and is often a  sign of danger.
  • We love him
  • For now, it is good to sign up for some activities offered to him, even if they fall short of the full-time work he used to have.

Here’s where we are. Ben is in a group home. He is rebuilding again after a 5 1/2 month hospitalization.

The Four Pillars, our present day version in this new Recovery Journey:

Treatment: Haldol by injection (different medication for Ben than the one he’d done so well on – in my eyes – before, but he swears he “likes it better”.

Plus Side: Injection form much easier to manage (time-release)

Minus side: I am seeing tremors (could become permanent). Ben hides these, and denies their existence.

Structure: Some. Group Home meetings, and now some “Anonymous” meetings. He needs much more structure. Don’t we all. He fills his time taking long walks, but his life is too aimless (considering pre-Covid he worked full-time)

Purpose: He was stripped of it when Covid cost him his job. Purposelessness sucks.

Community/Love: Well, he still has us, his family. But now it’s weekend visits, and only if he is clean and sober. He has lost the right to visit us more than once – along with my trust.

So – we move ahead. With new steps. One day at a time.

2 days clean/sober, and he has also learned some things. Hopefully they will stick.



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