Ties that Bind

Robert Smith
Tell us about your (or your loved one's) recovery journey. What has been the most rewarding part?

My son's addiction has crushed me to my bones. I have been remade, a stronger healthier person through my Faith. Hope never ends.

Do you have a message for the Shatterproof community?

For the Loved Ones: Take care of yourself. There's no helping another until you're healthy. Nothing you can do will fix your loved one's addiction. It's a choice they have to make and only they can do the work. Never Give up. As long as there is life, there is Hope. Only light can fight the darkness, stay positive.

Ties that Bind:
Dull thumps, a fuzzy weird kind of state, the room around is in a blurry sleep induced haze, not dark, yet faint, an echo. I know this place; it’s an old apartment we lived in almost 18 years ago. Quiet, tiny voices reverberate around the room, voices of innocent happiness. Wandering around the small two bedroom apartment of years past, following the small voice, I peer around the corner of a doorway. The small room is much the same as the small apartment we lived in for several years. The room is decked out in Pocahontas and Ranger baseballs, it is shared by siblings they look to be ages three and five. Cassidy and Jordan are sitting on the floor in the middle of what can only be described as a hurricane of child like toys and chaos. “Jordan, listen, you are going to be at Grandpa’s, take this stuffed animal, put it under your pillow, when you sleep, I will keep this truck, it will be like we are together always.” In the corner is a packed bag, it must be almost time for one of the many respites as a single parent that I had come to depend on for my basic sanity. It’s funny, no, not really, the mess we adults make of our lives and the associated collateral damage to the special people who through no fault of their own ended up in our charge. Early marriage, lies, cheating, and immaturity often end in broken hearts and lives. I am not sure but circumstance may have made Cassidy and Jordan closer, in a special way, a pure survival way. They depended on each other at this point. It is a deep, “us against them” existence. Primal.
Again dull thumps on my shoulder, I look up, Cassidy is standing over me as I sleep on the living room couch. “Dad, Jordan is sick again.” “Ok, I will get up and check on him,” I reply back as she stumbles back to her room in the darkness. I sleep on the couch these days, it helps me keep a watch on the doors in the house and make sure everyone, and by everyone I mean Jordan is in for the night, somewhat safe. Cassidy’s room backs up against the bathroom used for her and her brother. Through no fault of her own, she has become the proverbial “canary in the coal mine”. It is a responsibility no 18-year-old girl should be charged with. I hear it now, a guttural sound, the sound of someone who is sick. Vomit. The noise is coming from the bathroom and I instantly know, Jordan is “sick” again.
I am terrified, not for the reasons of sane parents, who would worry about food poisoning or the stomach flu or some other ailment. We have been through this before, many times before, with my young son of 15 years. In the recent past, after a couple days of nausea and vomiting, we rushed my son to the emergency room. CAT scans, Doppler Echo, Lab draws, other test were being rushed. Intravenous medication and hydration are started. Strange looks start appearing from disappearing doctors and nurses. “Do you know what kind of drugs your son has been taking?” the E.R. Doctors asks. It’s written in my bones, what everyone else new, yet I refused to believe, is confirmed. My son is detoxing from opioids. I am instantly plunged into darkness.
Slowly opening the bathroom door, Jordan is lying on the floor. He is curled up in what is now the familiar ball, cold, clammy, in a fierce agony of aching pain. “Jordan, are you ok?” fully knowing that he is far from ok and has not been for some time. “Yeah Dad, go back to bed, I am ok”. “I love you Jordan, you have to stop doing this to your self.” “I know Dad, I love you too, I will be ok, I got this.” Dope Sick.
A simple truth, this was just the beginning of a journey into an abyss of drugs, darkness, and destruction. Relationships would be shattered, hope would be lost, and desperation would rule our family for years to come. Sisters pull back out of self-survival, from the pain of watching one that they love from destructing. Brothers, addicted, withdraw out of shame and hopelessness, trying to spare, at least some they care about from the pain of watching a slow death. Are the ties that bind still attached? Are they broken forever? I am not sure, only time will reveal the answer to this. I do know, in my children, these ties are deep and strong, so maybe, just maybe, if Jordan finds his way back out of the darkness, the relationships we once had can be restored.