The Elephant In My Living Room
I periodically scanned the news and checked the satellite images, waiting for Hurricane Patricia. It was much easier for me to focus on the dangers of the hurricane than to pay attention to the elephant stomping around my living room.
My friends aided and abetted in my avoidance, unknowingly, of course. At six in the morning Nancie and Lani called me from Etzatlan near Guadalajara. “No, I’m in no danger in Mazatlan. In fact, if Patricia follows her projected path, you are likely to see more wind and rain than we do.”
All day I assured friends that I was safe; that, no, I didn’t need to evacuate to a bunker, that, yes, I had food and water; that we in Mazatlan were basking in sunshine and the mildest breeze.
While bouncing between the telephone and the internet, I cleaned house frenetically. My activity made no sense. If wind from the skirts of the hurricane reached us, I would have the whole job to do over the following day. But never mind. I was my own tornado whooshing through my little casa cleaning everything; a deep cleaning, a thorough cleaning, and, I determined to be finished by noon.
I was insane. Such a thorough wash-down generally takes me three days. I wielded rags and broom and mop as if I were killing snakes in a pit. From the outside, it looks like I’m trying to kill myself. From my inside, I’m trying to create order so I don’t have to face the disorder.
By this time I’ve forged my shoulders and neck into immovable, yet painful, iron bars. Hours of personal counseling have taught me this means is something I am pretending not to know. And it has nothing to do with Hurricane Patricia. Yeah, I’ll look at it later.
In a conversation with my older daughter, I mention all the above, the pain and frenzy and I don’t know what is bothering me. “And by the way, tomorrow is your ‘little’ brother’s birthday.” “Yes, Mom, that’s your answer.” That’s what I get for having a daughter with half an alphabet behind her name in counseling, specializing in trauma. “Oh.”
The thing is, I have wanted to write about my son for several weeks. Sweeping around the elephant was easier. Until it wasn’t. Avoiding the hurt was easier. Until it wasn’t. This is my son who had it made; wife, daughter, house, job, all on the upswing. Until one day, about three years ago, he chose to ride through the desert on a horse with no name.
Almost immediately he pushed me out of his life. But this is my son. He is in my life, no matter what. I was terribly hurt. After several months of his stories and lies, during which time he lost everything, we in the family realized he had become addicted to heroin. Seemingly addicted from his first usage. It happens. Why? Why? Why? A useless question with no answer. My son is an addict.
In January he landed in jail, again; this time, jail with a difference. A miniscule amount of sales tax had been set aside to provide drug and alcohol treatment for inmates, an entire program with after-care plans. Fortunately for my son, this long-term enforced sobriety seems to be chipping away at his defenses. What will happen once he is released? That is entirely up to him, isn’t it? The recovery rate for heroin addiction is 3%. There is no cure.
My story, my son, my elephant is neither rare nor unusual. Today I woke up and knew it was time for me to write about him. I love my son. I hope he makes it.
HDN: Looking out my back door
October 29, 2015