When our son’s outdate loomed closer I knew that we needed to make a plan to help him to start a new life. He had finished a substance abuse program in prison. He did it mainly to take time off of his sentence. Whatever the reason at least he did learn some information. He had years of Alateen as well as going to many AA functions after I entered Alanon and AA. He went begrudgingly as well as his brother and sister. Their grandfather, their father’s father also was in AA and if it weren’t for his help, I don’t know how we would have ever survived.
He helped take care of the kids while I worked. He helped when I had no where else to turn. I know that he was trying to make up for his failures as a parent with his own sons. Whatever the reason he was a Godsend to my kids and me. They loved him and trusted him.
Unfortunately he passed away about 10 years ago and never was able to see his grandson get sober. I told him, my son that his grandfather would be so very proud of him. It is not common for kids to get sober when they are teenage. Life usually has to beat us down quite a bit before we are ready to give it up and get sober. Many of us never do.
My son’s caseworker thanked me profusely for calling him back when it came time for placement for him. I was surprised because it would seem to me that that is what you are supposed to do. He said that most people don’t call back. No wonder so many can’t make it on the outside. I don’t blame all of them. I think that when you see your loved ones, and sadly not all of them are loved, return over and over again, you give up. Many of them are violent and their families are afraid of them. Whatever the reason, I knew that we wanted to help our son when he said that he wanted to change his life.
He said that his life was halfway over. He wanted to stay sober and to help other people. He was beaten down and ready to change. I called a couple of halfway houses, and as God would have it, an AA friend told me about a halfway house that he went to in Monticello, Indiana. This was a miracle in itself because the first one that I checked was full up. I was desperate. I knew that he could not make it in this area with the temptation and old friends that would drag him down. He needed to make a slow transition and have extensive drug and alcohol treatment.
We called Beth Snyder and she said that she would take him. She wanted him to come directly there. She didn’t want him to even come home for Thanksgiving. We were disappointed but a little relieved.
We arrived in Pendleton at the correctional facility. (It always galls me to write the name on envelopes. There is nothing correctional or rehabilitative about prisons.) He was brought into the visitor’s room and it was bittersweet. I was so happy to get him out of there, and yet it was so sad to see the visitor’s pain knowing that their loved ones weren’t going home. It was also hard to see how vulnerable and scared he was to be released.
He had not lost his sense of humor and was thrilled to walk out with us. He was grateful for his new clothes and was able to bond with his brother who is 20 years younger than he is. His brother had a completely different lifestyle and parents than he did. Both my husband and I have been in recovery for 30 years. I cannot express the gratitude that I have for the AA and Alanon programs.
I cannot express the feelings that I had when we watched him eat a cheeseburger and French fries in a real restaurant, no more turkey bologna or vile prison food. We took him to get his first new pair of shoes in years. He was so happy and proud to have new clothes. He wanted his little brother to approve of the clothes instead of us old people who know nothing about style. We laughed with him over his jokes and humor.
We finally arrived at the Lighthouse Halfway House in Monticello. We were all nervous and a little afraid. After just getting him out it was going to be bittersweet, leaving him there and going home without him. We all knew that it was the right thing to do. We met the house manager and had a tour of the place. It was an old house that reminded me of the house that my father-in-law used to live in. It was homey and comfortable. The rules were really reasonable. I was going to be hard to say good-bye. He looked at me and said, “Mom, this is where I need to be.”
I could still see that brave little face of that young 5 year old boy that went to school on his first day. I was proud of him and knew that this time he was going to make it. I believe he will put as much passion and effort in recovery that he did in destroying his life in the past.
I know that this is going to turn into part three. So I will continue this article tomorrow.