I haven’t written much here about my son, for good reason – his story is his to tell – but the events of yesterday negate any further silence. Buckle up, this will be a long one.
H (sometimes referred to as The Beast or TB) has been living in The Big City, on his own for just over five years now. Getting him out of the house and motivated to live his own life was not easy and maybe I’ll toss in a bit of that story as events develop, but leave he eventually did, off to live his Dream Life with his best buddy, B, away from all the rules and regulations life at home entailed.
Life seemed to be going well for him for awhile – he had a good job, an apartment he shared with B and B’s fiance, M, and the bills were paid on time. The Family gave him cash at the Holidays but he refused any and all assistance, keeping up a cheerful demeanor and insisting that he was doing Just Fine.
B and M moved out, got married, had a baby and that’s where I think things started to fall apart.
Last year about this time H lost his job. He said it was because he was late to work and someone else had to open the restaurant for him. While I don’t have the facts, I believe he was drunk or hung over and that’s the real reason he was fired. What matters is that he was hiding his drinking and The Family helped him with bills while he looked for a new job. We didn’t give him much because he swore he was on top of things and didn’t want our help.
We thought everything was fine, and maybe it was. He and I have been close in the past, but our schedules have been opposite for awhile and we haven’t talked as much as we should have. I should have been a more involved Mama, but he was adamant that he was a grown-up and was just fine on his own. Life was peachy. Life was good. His job wasn’t the greatest but he had money and clothes and didn’t need me to stop by for a visit. Red, Flags, I know, but ya gotta let a baby bird fly, right?
On Thanksgiving I went by his place to pick him up to go to dinner with The Family. We had texted the night before and he said that he’d worked a 14-hour graveyard shift and might be sleeping when I got there. I rang the bell, called his phone and knocked for half an hour before giving up. I texted him (his voicemail box was not set up yet) to call me when he woke up and that was that. I was irritated, but he sleeps soundly and maybe he just wasn’t up to dinner. This was 11:00 AM.
He finally called at 5:00 PM and sounded like shit. Claimed he was sick, very sick. I asked how much he’d drank and he laughed me off and wouldn’t give a straight answer. Not being able to verify his story, I lectured him about staying hydrated and to call his Mom once in awhile and rang off.
Cut to yesterday afternoon. He called me, sounding very unlike himself. Said he didn’t tell me he loved me enough and he really wanted to call just to say, “I love you.” Said he’d called Grandma, too, and alarm bells began ringing in my head.
I was at work and the connection was bad, so I headed outside to see if the reception was any better. H talks very fast and quietly so it’s hard to understand him even in person but I got the gist. As I was talking to him Mom started calling me, so I knew this was something serious.
H started to ramble and say that he hates his life and doesn’t know what to do and apologizing over and over for “everything he’s put me through,” admitting that he’d lost his job, on and on, pretty incoherent and I finally just asked if I should come up there and get him, bring him back to stay with me for awhile for a change of scenery.
That stopped the conversation entirely.
“You’d do that?” he asked.
“Of course – I’m your Mom! I’ll leave right after work. Will you be okay until then?”
We chatted for a few more minutes and I became more worried. He sounded very unlike himself, crying and, well, suicidal. He was so moved that I would drive up and get him. I was debating calling 911 to get someone over there but he seemed to calm down a bit when I promised I would come.
I told him I was on my way, hung up and dialed Mom. She was packing a bag but reluctant to drive to The Big City in the dark. I told her I was on my way and would call when I got eyes on the situation.
The car was full of stuff so I had to make a quick stop by the Studio where I told Awana what was going on and Sabu and I hit the road.
As I was stopped at a red light I checked my text messages and saw – “I’ll leave the door open in case i cant get to it.”
WTF?!?!?!? Almost lost my shit right there. Tried to call B to see if he’d go check on H, but the number I have is no good. Texted back – “K. On the way.” Hoping he’d see it and not do anything rash.
The entire ride my mind was flipping over the possible scenarios and what I should do in each case. I was really hoping I wouldn’t be dealing with a body. Or a situation that would require a hospital stay. I was loaded for bear in any case.
I bounded up the stairs, rang the bell and waited about five seconds before trying the door. Locked. I knocked and heard footsteps inside. The door cracked open and a handsome, bearded and bespectacled face peered out. I’d found myself a genuine Hipster! WTF he was doing in my son’s apartment was not readily apparent, but I had no time to think about it.
“I’m looking for H,” I said, pushing my way forward.
He had the gall to block my way and say, “I don’t think he’s here right now.”
“I’m his Mom and he better be here,” and I pushed my way inside.
Taking a deep breath, I knocked and then opened his bedroom door. It was pitch black inside, the only sound a very faint wheezing. My heart was in my throat, I can tell you! I reached for a light switch, but there was none. I couldn’t see a thing but my Mama taught me to be prepared, so I whipped a flashlight out of my pocket and shined it around the room while calling his name.
He was passed out in an office chair, head back, headphones on. He was very hard to rouse, finally coming to a groggy consciousness and looking around himself like he wasn’t sure where he was. I was worried he was going to need a trip to the hospital but he soon came to enough to realize that his Mom was standing in the middle of the wreak that is his room.
Beer cans piled three feet deep on the floor and stacked on every horizontal surface. Cigarette butts spilled everywhere. Food wrappers tangled into mounds of filthy, stinking clothes and who knows what else. One hole in a wall, the closet door off its tracks, the bed a greasy, nasty mess. Every surface coated with a sticky residue that turns my stomach just to recall.
He began to cry and apologize profusely, standing on unsteady legs, swaying and telling me that I shouldn’t be in his room – it was too awful for me to see. I asked him to step out into the living room where there was light so I could see his face and he kept turning in circles, telling me I shouldn’t be in there.
Sigh. It was so very sad. He started thanking me for coming for him, that he didn’t deserve such a sacrifice and so on – the typical things drunks say when they know they’ve fucked up and can’t bear the thought of themselves any longer. Sadly, I know this place all too well – his father is an alcoholic and drug addict. This is all deja vu for me.
I told him to pack a bag, that I wanted to talk to his roommate for a minute. Poor Brian! He was obviously not prepared to face an upset Mom on this night. I quizzed him, trying to get a handle on how long H might have been like this, how often it happened, etc. but Brian has not spent much time with H – their schedules are opposite and they aren’t friends; he found the place through the manager’s office and had only been there a couple of months. Was, in fact, planning to move back to California in a couple of weeks. I got his number and promised to send some cash ASAP to be sure the rent and bills are taken care of. He was a nice guy, understanding, or faking it very well.
Somehow I got H to pack a bag with the things he HAD to have, bundled his blankets into a paper bag and got him downstairs in one piece. He seemed to be waking up, but he was not in good shape.
The ride down the freeway terrified him. Living in The Big City, he rarely rides in a car, preferring to walk or ride his bike. The alcohol-fueled paranoia only made the trip more bizarre for him and it was hard to get him to talk about anything else.
By the end of the ride he was sounding more normal and I was in full on Mama Bear mode. He WILL be attending AA meetings. He WILL disclose his financial situation. I WILL be taking him back to clean his room and there will be no arguing about it. I WILL be making a key so I can get into his apartment in future if he doesn’t answer the door. He WILL be in better contact with The Family in future.
The smell of stale booze was so strong I insisted he take a shower and put on come clothes I had stashed in the closet. We set off immediately for the laun-dro-mat because there was no way any of his nasty things were going to be inside my trailer!
He was still pretty out of it, but talking like a human being, so we had a long conversation about drinking and alcoholism and his genetic predisposition for being an alcoholic and drug addict. I did everything but take a hammer to his head and he admitted that he has a problem and totally fucked up.
He thinks the drinking is mostly situational – when he and B get together they drink, but he also drinks when he’s alone. Riiiiiigggggghhhht. Sounds like classic alcoholic justification and I said so.
Anyway. He’s here with me for the time being. I have to work today, so I left instructions for him to eat whatever he thought he could hold down and drink as much lemongrass tea or water as he could. I called at lunch time, hoping he was asleep (he didn’t sleep at all last night) and had a little chat. He doesn’t want to go to an AA meeting alone but there isn’t an open meeting tonight, so tomorrow it is.
I just hope this change in his routine will get him back on the straight and narrow and enable him to get a grip on his life. If I can swing it, I want him to see a doctor and have some blood tests to make sure there isn’t anything serious wrong with him and to see a counselor of some sort – he said some very disturbing things about not feeling like himself and “freaking out” about his life.
I’m just thankful I was able to dash up to get him – if I was still with the narc it would have been impossible.
Stay tuned for the rest of the story…