His Addiction Was My Addiction – By Amy Tompkins Albanese

addicted son

A memory from 2 years ago popped up on my timeline this morning. We’d been invited to Palm Desert for a long weekend by clients of my husband. It was always difficult for me to enjoy these trips – what if this was the weekend that something tragic happened to Michael? What if the cops came to the house or tried to call? I considered leaving my cell phone number taped to the front door. I worried myself sick over how we’d politely excuse ourselves if we had to leave, (because we surely wouldn’t tell them our son was a drug addict, would we?), and how I’d break the news to my “head in the sand” husband, and endure the drive back home.

Michael chose this weekend to lie to his best friend/partner in crime. “E”, who momentarily grew a conscience, decided to send me a series of texts, defending himself from what he was sure was wrongful incrimination. “I know it looks like I stole all those checks, but it’s not how it seems…….” What? Holy shit…. what? I knew that I brought every last check with me hidden in my luggage. How did he get in the house? Getting ready to meet our friends for breakfast, “E” fills me in on those checks that come in the mail from the credit card company – you know the ones – inviting you to pay off other debts using their “convenient and complimentary” checks. I quietly checked the credit card on my phone app, and sure enough, the account was about to be maxed out – checks were hitting as I watched. To make matters worse, this was my husband’s business card. Reading the texts while walking across the street to meet our friends cheerfully waiting on the other side, I seriously considered throwing myself in front of a car.

Shaking like a leaf, holding back tears, stomach in knots, I excused myself and called the credit card company to report it lost. I said nothing about the checks. I was still protecting my son. I lied to my husband and told him the card was compromised and they were sending him a new one. No worries. Cover it up…protect…lie. I was texting Michael under the table to tell him he’s busted….the checks won’t work…the account has been closed….no response. I’m so angry, and scared, and sad, and have to sit there and smile, carry on polite conversation, and actually get food down.

I text “E” frantically. Where is Michael? Tell him to respond to me ASAP. “E” tells me that he’s cell-phone-690192_1280probably still trying to get my car back. OMG OMG OMG. I’m going to faint. Smiling, taking a bite of my omelet, and gushing over how adorable our hosts grandson looks in his soccer uniform….I want to die. Right here and now.

Michael had not only gotten into the house, but he took my car using a key that he’d long ago told me was lost, and used it as collateral for a buy and to cover money he owed. I was so full of mixed emotions at that moment – knowing the panic Michael must be feeling broke my heart….protective mom mode. The anger and fear were making me physically ill. I excused myself once more and called Michael a dozen times. No response. And this went on all weekend.

Well, he did get the car back – this time. He traded our family heirloom Sterling Silver flatware for it. It wasn’t pawned – no receipt to try to buy it back – it was traded on the street to a drug dealer. Gone. Michael survived the weekend. Our hosts didn’t have a clue that anything was wrong. My husband found out about the checks and chose to believe Michael’s bullshit excuse that he had a gambling problem – much easier to believe than a heroin addiction, which he was fully aware of but refused to acknowledge. He gave that problem to me – handle it – fix it. Whatever works, huh? And me? I went on making excuses, enabling, exhausted. Michael had already stolen much worse from me, (that’s an entirely different story), so I let myself believe that the silver was just material stuff – my son’s life was all that mattered.

His addiction was my addiction.

It took another 11 months of attempted rehab, painful detoxes, and death defying binges before he was finally arrested and began his road to recovery. And today I look back on that Facebook memory with disgust…. look at Amy! She’s in Palm Desert! What a great life – all is right with the world! What a load of crap.

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About Magnolia New Beginnings

Magnolia New Beginnings, Inc. is dedicated to advocating for those affected with the disease of addiction, creating educational opportunities to inform and raise awareness about substance abuse, and supporting addicts and their families in the process of seeking recovery, maintaining sobriety, and reaching their highest potential through a new beginning. Magnolia New Beginnings has no paid staff, no overhead aside from minor administrative costs such as postage, website etc.., which allows all donations to go to the intended purpose; raising awareness and helping to create new beginnings for those affected by the disease of addiction. We strive to create a united voice among advocacy groups in order to create change. Check out Magnolia on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/beforethepetalsfall/ and website http://www.magnolianewbeginnings.org/
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6 Comments

  1. Amy, thank you for an excruciatingly honest post. I often think that co-dependency with it’s resulting fear and constant anxiety must be just as bad a chemical dependency. Those of us who have lived through it can attest to that. It truly is being “held hostage”. Again thanks for such a good post.

  2. Great story about family recovery! I just set with clients yesterday (parents of a teen addict) and they asked me if they should go on a trip. They were of course fearful about what would happen while they are away. I told them that there is a sort of “universal rule of addiction” that tends to make things go crazy during holidays, special occasions, and family trips, but I still recommend they go away. You can not be held hostage by this thing. It will happen wether you are at home or not. Thanks for your story of courage! Amber Hollingsworth, Hope For Families Recovery Center

  3. Thank you for sharing this all-too-familiar story. How many times have I gone on business trips, to have my loved one stop answering the phone and not knowing what my home will look like when I return. How many times did I come home to find the apartment a mess, with empty booze bottles scattered about and my loved one passed out on the sofa. This is TRULY a family disease and we must all deal with it and hope and pray for recovery for all of us.

    Jackie S.

  4. Everything I read about addiction they call it a disease and usually most diseases has a Cure or treatment to help with the cravings, like a pill, a patch, certain foods, certain shakes etc… I wish there was a catch-all pill that will kill the craving for addictions, narcotics, codependency and things of the sort i understand that they are the 12 step program the meetings and of course ITR. I just leave listen to them program that they should be some type of medication to help as well

  5. This is the West sir.
    When the legend becomes fact,print the legend.
    The man who shot Liberty Valance
    Sometimes one who must carry the Truth alone.
    Suffering in silence.

  6. THank you for hour honesty. It could not have been easy to write this, but I hope it can be helpful for a family that is struggling with addiction. My family’s been in similar scenarios, only I was the one running around, getting in trouble, landing in hospitals and jails.

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