I bring my daughter to a counselor awhile back, and we all talk together, and the counselor says, “It sounds like she’s exhibiting normal teen behavior. She just wants to be treated like a normal teen.” I say, “Her two older siblings both exhibited what I thought was ‘normal teen behavior’ — they both tried heroin and one is an addict. How am I supposed to have a clue about what is ‘normal’?” The counselor paused. She looked at me and nodded.
Technology alone has made my kids’ teen years very different from mine. But let’s think about it. Some level of isolation is normal for a teen. Moodiness, wanting to sleep late, wanting a lot of time with friends, becoming more private, less social with family … all “normal teen behavior.”
Honestly, at some point I knew my boys’ behaviors had breached the “normal” boundary. But I didn’t know when it happened. It snuck up on me. I don’t want that to happen with my daughter.
I’m moving her across the country to be near my family. Four weeks from now we hit the road. She wants this. She cried out for this. Her dad is furious. He says I’m ending his relationship with her. I said he had fifteen years to create a relationship with her. I’m trying to give her a couple of “normal teenage years” before it’s too late. It’s the best choice I see right now. And that’s all I can do — make the best choice that I see right now.
A fellow Blogger, whose sister struggles with opiate addiction, recently reflected on her own history of drug use. It got me thinking. I feel so far removed from those days, having walked that long road home a long time ago.
I didn’t use the hard drugs, I tend to say. Truth is, I didn’t use them very often. And I never touched a needle, never smoked crack, never went near heroine. But that doesn’t make me better than anyone who has.
I drank, heavily, almost every night. And I smoked pot as early as 7:30AM on the ferry ride to Manhattan…on lunch break…on the ferry home…and again that night. Here and there I tried other drugs as well, mostly in those college years.
Here’s the best timeline, as far as my memory will take me:
- Had my first drink at a friend’s Sweet 16 pary. I was almost 17 at the time. I didn’t get heavy into drinking for awhile.
- Started smoking pot and drinking more heavily the summer after I graduated high school. Toward the end of that summer, I was the victim of a violent crime, and that pushed me over the edge, I think, from occasional use of marijuana and alcohol, to regular abuse — as ways to block the pain.
- I was introduced to “Magic Mushrooms” — hallucinogenics — in freshman year of college.
- Summer after that: speed, hash, and cocaine.
- Second year of college brought acid … LSD. This was the 70s. It’s what we had. I found it interesting, but scary, and only tried it three times total.
I didn’t use any of these drugs frequently, and my experimentation lasted only a few years, total. I was too afraid — and rightly so. I felt like I was already on the edge of sanity in those years and had no desire to push myself beyond that point. The alcohol was the hardest to kick, many, many years later. Now, I have one or two drinks once or twice a week. Sometimes less. Never more.
The difference between me and my addict son? Maybe a chromosome? Some random difference in brain chemistry? I’m sorry he is an addict. I’m sorry he has such a long road home. I found my way. I try to have faith that he’ll find his.
I really have so much to update and will not do that at this time. It’s 6AM and I need to shower and go to work.
I will tell you that I have been feeling guilty lately because I’m moving forward with my life and spend less and less time in “mother of addict” mode. Does this mean I’m denying reality? Don’t know. Dan’s been in jail for months now. I saw him Friday and he looks good. I cried when I saw him. He cried too…well, almost. I saw tears in his eyes.
Anyway, I had been feeling guilty about not visiting him enough, about actually going forward with the move (five weeks), about not trying to help him define his next step, etc. And then in church yesterday, we saw this U2 video. It settled my heart a bit. Perhaps it will serve you as well. God Bless!