*Part 1 of this essay was written almost exactly one year ago after a particularly bad episode in our family. I posted the essay on my personal blog and left it up for less than 12 hours, I also never shared it on social media so unless someone was subscribed directly to my blog they never read it.
Why did I do this?
The pain of what we were going through, and would continue to go through to this day, was too raw. In the wake of failing to share this essay (it is available in my 2016 essay collection but no one reads those, and I only publish them to make the record permanent in case I get cowardly and try to scrub myself from the internet) I shut down. I stopped writing, I quit my day job, and I shut down my company.
Do I blame not getting all of this out into the light for my failures last year?
The answer is complex and simple at the same time. The short answer is no, I made those decisions, and I have to live with them. I’m a grown ass man, and I know what I’m doing. The long answer is no… with a but. When I wrote the original essay I had a chance to clean out the bad feelings and try to get a handle on the situation, I didn’t and to quote one wiser than I;
“That is why you failed.”
So now, after another horrible 12 months for myself and those, I love I stop being afraid to speak my mind once more. Today I tell it all warts and all (with real names removed). I don’t ask for pity, I don’t ask for agreement, and I don’t ask for your allegiance. All I ask is that I am allowed to speak.
The Road So Far
I turned 40 years old this year, and I’ve been forced to ask one question.
Who am I?
In order of importance, I am a husband of 20 years, I am a father of 6, and I am a writer.
All other things, son, grandson, and brother, come afterward.
In the last year, I’ve seriously considered checking out and seeing what the next world offers.
What am I babbling about?
In the last year, 13 months, all of this has been rocked to the foundations and left me close to broken. Does that sound a little extreme and perhaps hyperbolic to you? I wouldn’t blame you if I were looking at my life from the outside I’d be feeling the same way. But bare with me I need to give you the backstory of the last year and then I think you’ll understand why I’ve been near suicide levels of depression for the first time in almost a decade.
Last September life was really good. I’d been working as a full-time writer/publisher since December. My youngest son graduated high school and was working full time. My middle daughter was working full time even though she showed no intention of moving out. My youngest child started kindergarten. My wife didn’t love her job, but she was content. And the rest of my children and their spouses/partners seemed to be living good lives.
Boy howdy was I wrong as wrong could be.
One day early in September, I woke to several messages from people on facebook and a voicemail from a family friend who didn’t want me or my wife to hear the news on TV or social media. The news we received that day was my middle son, and his wife were raided in the house we were letting them live in rent-free by the local state and federal authorities for the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine.
Yeah, that was a kick in the balls.
Okay, a little more backstory to frame the situation. I’ll try and keep it brief.
When I met my middle son for the first time, he was a sweet, funny, but a very angry and broken seven-year-old little boy. I’m not going to dive deep into his reasons for being that way but suffice it to say his Bio-Father was far from good, and he has had little to nothing positive to do with any of my older kids lives in the last 21 years. As the years went on things got worse. He was willful, defiant, duplicitous, and sometimes mean. He stole, lied, drank, abused drugs, and fomented chaos for his enjoyment. There were dozens of arrests and police run-ins with thousands spent on bail. Even after he married nothing got better, and by the spring of 2013, I was ready to leave him to his fate.
Then my mother in law got sick.
Over the next year, my son and his wife stepped up. They moved in with my mother in law and became her live-in 24/7 caretakers for almost a year until she died. I can say that I have never been so proud of my son as I was at that time. In those months I saw the man he could become. I almost wish I’d never seen that side of him because it makes everything that came after exponentially worse.
Long story short he burned it all down. Drugs, theft, lies, destruction of my mother-in-law’s house which we’d let them keep living in after she passed. The authorities raided the house, they were arrested, and the property my wife grew up in and inherited was seized.
But that boils and ghouls was only the beginning of the nightmare.
Eventually, my daughter-in-law was released, and she came to stay with us followed by my son when she and my wife bailed him out. They were and are meth junkies. There’s no other way to put it. All they care about is drugs, and they will say and do anything to get them. In the last year, there have been several more incarcerations for my son for possession and assaulting his wife which is something I never thought he’d do. She’s been in rehab several times, but always she goes back to the drugs. Every time they put my son in rehab, he made sure to get himself kicked out, or he just ran away.
Then there was the fighting. Yelling, screaming, throwing matches between the two of them that can shake the foundations of our home. The fights happen so regularly you can set a watch by them, and when amplified by the meth they are enough to scare the neighbors. When my son does meth, he reacts to par with schizophrenia. He is convinced there are people watching the house. He KNOWS his wife is suddenly a prostitute sleeping with every guy she sees. He sees secret messages in trash and junk mail, and he’s convinced there are secret apps on all our phones allowing his wife to cheat and that we’re helping her.
The worst was last spring.
The day after he punched his wife in the eye, she refused to press charges, as usual; he had the worst freak out ever. He tore our home apart looking for evidence; he destroyed cell phones, and he became violent charging around the house with a fake gun convinced the police were coming and he was going to go down in a hail of bullets. Ironically, in the end, I called 911 on my son, and they took him away. He did 90 days in county jail and came back. Since then it’s just been more of the same. More drugs, more fights, and more lies.
I’ve never felt like a bigger failure as a parent.
Not because I called the cops, I hate I had to do that, but it was the right thing to do. No, I feel like a failure because of my then six now seven-year-old daughter lives with this. If it weren’t for the fear, my wife has that without a place to live, he’d be dead within the week, I’d have tossed him the first time he came home high.
Now it’s one year later, and life is no longer bright and hopeful. Life has become a one day at a time slog not to end up crazy or dead. They contribute nothing to the household that even begins to approach what they take. We support two grown ass adults who eat our food, they use our resources and have destroyed the stored contents of out basement through their addiction and selfishness. We are broke, we’ve lost my wife’s childhood home, my business would be dead and gone if not for the herculean efforts of my friend and partner Jennifer Tovar (I love you, Jenn). I’ve had to work a series of menial and low paying secondary jobs to help keep the lights on and food on the table. My wife and my health have suffered, and every night when I go to be, I think some version of, “If tomorrow is bad I can just never wake up again” and it makes me feel a little better.
Please understand I am not blaming my wife for any of this. She is in an impossible position and doing the best she can to keep our child alive. This is real life, not a movie or a TV show where a little “Tough Love” fixes everything. I am the child of a narco addict mother and an alcoholic father, and I’ve seen it all from the other side of the counter. I watched my grandmother, who raised me, try and keep two of her children alive through their addictions. They are still alive, but the degree to which they are better is debatable at best.
So why am I writing this airing my dirty laundry?
In 2012 I started blogging (fuck I hate that word)/essaying about my life. It was a therapy exercise my doctor told me I needed to do if I was going ever to manage my depression and bipolar disorder. I burned bridges, I angered family, I lost friends, but in the end, I save my family and my life. This is just an extension of that project which never really ended.
And that’s it. That’s my life as it stands on October 21, 2016. I am miserable and have no clue what comes next. Wish I did. I’m not hunting for sympathy or throwing myself a pity party. I am simply explaining why I may have been less than myself over the last year. I am just trying to get the bad stuff once more out before the pressure builds, and the Overlooks boiler blows.
I’m just trying to survive.
End of the Line
I thought things couldn’t get worse. I was so very wrong.
In the spring of 2017, after two years of his insanity and her co-dependent bullshit, my daughter-in-law left my son for good. With a few hiccups they’ve been done for over half a year and as far as I can tell she’s made great strides in getting her life back together. I wish her well and hope that in the end, she finds some happiness and stability.
My son, on the other hand, has spiraled.
With his wife gone he’s turned his paranoia and anger toward the rest of the family. We’re all out to get him, were spying on him, I, in particular, am an enemy because I’ve turned everyone against him and it’s my fault everyone is angry with him and why he’s not allowed in the house. And why is he actually not allowed in the house and his siblings have had it with him?
Is it the money he’s scammed from everyone?
Is it his bullying “gangsta” persona?
Is it the violence to his wife?
Is it the wild screaming paranoid accusations?
Is it the lies?
Is it the crime?
Yes, it’s all of this, but the capper was about six weeks ago when he came at my wife's car with a brick, smashed in the window, and tried to force his way into the car because she wouldn’t listen to his rambling bullshit and give him twenty-five dollars. After that most of us were done except his mother (I understand that even if I don’t agree with it and I will continue to support her) and his middle sister.
Once he’d angered, used, and exhausted ALL of his “friends” my son turned to his little sister, who’d just got her own place, for help. My daughter has a huge heart to counter her potty mouth and bad attitude (both inherited from me), so of course, she said yes.
I tried to warn her, but much like her father my daughter had to learn on her own.
A weekend turned into a week which turned into a month which turned into him changing his mailing address to her house. After a particularly loud meth induced fight where her neighbors called the police he informed them, he lived there, and that she’d have to evict him. To make matters worse, she’s not allowed to have a roommate, so when she starts the eviction procedures her landlord will find out, and she’ll most likely be evicted herself. Then we reached Saturday my daughters 21st birthday.
Last night is the reason I'm writing this.
I guess it’d been going on for a few days, my son taking meth and getting crazier. In his meth-induced psychosis, he decided my daughter was working for a vast city-wide conspiracy out to kill him and that she was poisoning all the food and water in the house and had not drunk a drop in almost two days. He was wild. He was wrecking her house as he’d done to ours so many times I’d lost count and did it all while brandishing a claw hammer.
Enough is enough.
My wife extricated my daughter from the house and did her best to calm him down. Eventually after half a case of bottled water and my youngest son sitting all night with him (I tried to talk him out of it, but he was determined) my middle son passed out and had been sleeping ever since.
Where do we go now?
The police have been called so many times it’s almost funny. They can’t do anything unless they catch him in the commission of a crime. We can’t get restraining orders without the documentation that he’s a threat. He's made no direct threats to any of us and when the police show he snaps into his trained convict persona all “yes sir” and “no sir” until they leave.
That’s it. There's no happy ending to this. There's not even an ending. This is our life, and I think it will be until he gets real help, goes to prison, or dies.