Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Hate To Say It, But ...

I think my previous post was prophetic. In it I spoke of how I have learned to count differently when it concerns our children who have special needs, and specifically how hours are a fairly accurate measure of success for them.

This morning, day two of our son Mike's release from jail, began responsibly on his part. He called me at about 7:30 AM to check in, to ask when we could meet (so that he could leave with me his duffle bag with new clothes; he doesn't want it "lost" or stolen). We agreed upon a time for him to call back, and we met at that time. I had work commitments all morning, so I agreed to meet up with him again at 12:30 this afternoon. We met at that time, ate lunch together, drove to an alternative learning center (school) where he got scheduled for the remaining pieces he needs for his GED and then we were about out of time. I needed to be back home by 2:00 PM, so I left him at the library (at his request). He asked when he should call me back. I told him sometime tonight after 7:00 PM. It is now 9:40 PM, and he has made no contact with me.

I have learned not to get very troubled about this behavior with Mike, since it has been occurring for at least the past seven years. When Mike was twelve or thirteen he would disappear for days, sometimes, with no word to us as to his whereabouts. It was his unpredictability then (and our inability to supervise or provide protection to him) that resulted in his numerous treatment center and secure facility stays, which he rues to this day as having "stolen my childhood." We, his parents, of course, are the culprits for this theft.

So, while I am not surprised by his erratic behavior tonight, it does forebode for me that Mike's time "out" will not be long, maybe hours, maybe days. Here's the scenario as I reconstruct it in my mind, as to how Mike thinks about this (if, in fact, it is a thinking process at all).

Yesterday he needed someone to meet him after he was released into the cold from jail. His dad was the most logical choice. His dad fed him, purchased clothing for him and a warm coat, paid for him to get an new state identification card, paid today for a new library card, and bought him lunch. He had a meeting with his parole officer today which he described as "sucky." When I asked why he said that he had to drink an untenable amount of water in order for him to undergo the UA testing required. His test, after nine months in jail and only one night out, was predictably clean. His next parole officer meeting is a couple of weeks out.

I suspect he has met up with old cronies once again, thinks he has time to drink or drug a bit before his next UA, and is beginning on that journey again tonight. Since he has the bare minimums of what he needs, he feels he is set for now and he has time to "recover."

So, for at least the first twenty-six hours (maybe thirty, if I'm really generous) Mike may have been completely compliant with the terms of his release. I am hoping that tomorrow might result in forty-eight hours, but I have to admit I am dubious. We'll see what happens, when he calls next and what "need" he has that I can fulfill.

Fortunately for my own sake I have learned to set emotional limits and financial limits. I can sleep well tonight knowing that I aided Mike's immediate needs in the real world, that he can't blame me for not having something warm to wear in the cold fall weather, and that he has food to eat that should keep him for a day or so. And I have no illusions that "this time is going to be different." If it turns out that it is, in fact, a change, I will be grateful and glad for Mike. And if it is no different than all the other times I will not blame myself, and probably not even Mike. This has become such an engrained pattern for him I'm not even so sure he can change things.

As my friends in the recovery world say, "It's one day at a time." I would change that slightly. "It's one minute at a time." While I don't know what's happening for Mike tonight, I have no control over it, nor over him, so I will not worry or become anxious. Once again, as he has taught me time and again over the past ten years, I will simply commit him into God's care, knowing that this is all I can do. And maybe that's enough.

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