Under the Bridge

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 Feel like I’ve cracked like an egg. I’m not sure how or if I can patch the crack before all my snotty eggy essence runs out to be washed away like so much phlegm on the shower floor. I know 2019 is going to be make or break for me because I don’t see things be tenable as is much longer. Not that they’ve been tenable for a long time already, but that’s a different story for a different day.

Or maybe never at all.

 

December 9, 2018

 

Today is my twenty-third anniversary. Not my wedding anniversary, that’s September 18, this is the anniversary of when Karen and I started dating. I know it’s sappy, but it’s actually more important to me than any of the other milestones in our relationship.

Today should’ve been a good day, but it wasn’t.

As I write this, it’s been a long and horrible night for the family. I'm not going to talk about it until after I get some sleep, I've been up for about 24 hours. But I will talk about it. After all, that's how I process stress and pain. But as soon as I get the kid off to school, I'm going to crash hard... unless we get more bad news.

 

 

December 10, 2018

 

Alright, I've slept, and I feel clear headed enough to talk about what happened last night. None of this is pretty or funny, so if you prefer the sarcastic political and social me, please feel free to ignore this post. I truly understand.

We good?

Ok, here it is.

As many of you know from my personal writing, but many of you may not, my middle son has a severe substance abuse problem. He's done drugs in one form or another since he was a kid, but three or four years ago he started doing meth, and his habit went from bad, but manageable, to life destroying.

A brief history.

In the last three plus years, he has been arrested for meth manufacturing and distribution. Lost his place to live. Overdosed multiple times each resulting in schizophrenic symptoms that have worsened exponentially. Has become increasingly paranoid and violent, been arrested for attacking his wife (who is also an addict and has divorced him). Ruined his relationship with the entire family (multiple family members have called the police on him and have had him trespassed from their homes. And finally has done multiple increasing stints in county lockup and state prison.

Yesterday he upped his game.

Back in January, he was sentenced to a year in prison for attacking police officers while high off his ass. He did well enough in prison to be released to a halfway house in June. He got a job and by all appearances had been keeping his nose clean. Yesterday he pumped himself with meth (no I have no idea where he got it, I do not speak with him anymore) and had his worse reaction ever. He went to the roof of the building, took his clothes off, burned them (and himself in the process), and stabbed himself repeatedly with a sharp object. This went on for four hours with him threatening to jump and accusing the people at the halfway house of trying to kill him. Eventually, the police talked him down. They took him to the hospital, and we were informed.

We went to the hospital.

He was under sedation, on a ventilator, stitched up, and suffering from extreme hypothermia. He was scheduled to have surgery to repair his neck from the stab wounds in the middle of the night. Once we were sure he was stable, we went home. He went in for surgery at 2:30 am and finished at 5:30 am. He'll be on the ventilator for a few days THEN he will be on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. After that, I assume he'll be going back to prison.

I wish I could say any of this surprised me.

Now, some people are going to want to say some version of, "Why Josh, why do you want to air your family’s dirty laundry?"

First, I don't recall asking for your opinion. Second, if I've learned anything in the decades of dealing with my son's mental and emotional problems, it's that keeping it bottled up only makes it worse. I'm a firm believer that if you just get it all out there into the bright light of day, there's a cleansing and healing effect.

I'll most likely turn this all into an essay, but I needed to write it down and fix it my mind to start processing it.

 

 

December 18, 2018

 

I’ve spent a week turning this situation over in my mind. I’ve attacked it from every angle I could conceive, and I’ve come to a dark and disturbing conclusion. I’m not even sure I want to talk about the conclusions I’ve reached but as I’ve said ad nausea over the years, speak the truth and shame the devil.

Here it goes.

Deep breath.

I can do this.

I think I’ve allowed my middle son to ruin my life to a disturbing degree and part of me hates him for that.

Now before you start screaming that I control whether my life is ruined and stamping your feet in faux indignation just take a chill pill. I know how selfish that conclusion is, and I am more ashamed of it than you are mad about it.

Why do I feel that way?

When I was growing up, I made almost all my determinations and decisions base don if it would anger someone. Whether it was my mom, my dad, and especially my first stepmom, their reaction would always be my first consideration before I took any action. That changed when I was seventeen, and I was accused of fleeing from a car accident.

I’ve told this story in length in the past, so I’ll give you the short version here.

I got off work from my job at McDonald's, this was December of 1993 for context, and I was driving to the bank to deposit my paycheck. A minivan pulled out in front of me and swerved barely avoiding a collision. I laid on the horn and flipped the unseen driver off. And that, in my opinion at least, was a big mistake. I am pretty sure the horn and flying bird angered the driver off enough to want revenge.

The next day I got home from work, and my father was pissed. The police had called, and they wanted to see me at the station. When we arrived at the police, the officer said the woman driving the minivan said I hit her and that she was forced to stop hard. Also, she was pregnant and went to the hospital just to be sure she was ok. I smelled the bullshit immediately, give me some credit at least for that, and I called it out. I was going at least forty miles per hour when we supposedly collided yet neither vehicle had damage. The police gave me a warning never to flee an accident scene, and that was it.

Things were different when we got home.

My stepmother spent two hours attacking me. I don’t remember all of it but when we were done my car, which I paid for one hundred percent, was taken until my eighteenth birthday and I was made to call the woman in the van and apologize. I’m not proud I admit during the entire conversation with that smug, self-righteous woman I cried like a prison bitch.

How does that story relate to my life with my middle son?

After that, I was determined never to allow another person’s reaction to unduly influence my decision-making process. And for two years I stuck, more or less, to that decision. Yes, sometimes I wavered, but for the most part, I removed whether or not a person would be angered with me as a primary concern.

Then I met my middle son.

I love him. I need that said from the start. Even after all of the awful things, he’s done, and I‘ve allowed to happen over the years I still love the kid. If he magically reverted to his former self, even though his old self had a metric fuck-ton of issues that desperately needed addressing, I’d be willing to let go of a lot of the anger I have. But this is the real world and not a story from a hack fiction writer. In the real world, you rarely get a do-over.

So why do I know in my heart of hearts I’ve allowed this now thirty-year-old man to ruin my life?

Because twenty-three years ago I started considering his reactions to everything.

It started almost from day one. If my son had been born into a family with money or even real health insurance he would’ve been in therapy and probably medicated from a very early age. When he was a teenager, and we actually had good coverage, he was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, ADHD, and at the time were told he probably had a learning disability, but he wouldn’t take the test seriously, and thus they were unable to diagnose him accurately.

I’ve told the story of my son before. The violence, the anger, the disobedience for the sake of defiance, the run-ins with the law, the being suspended and expelled over and over again, the stealing, the lying, the drug use, and everything else I can’t remember or refuse to admit. He is chaos personified in a young man with a million dollar smile. But he could, and I hope still can be, a kind and giving a person. In other words, he is not another creation from that hack writer’s imagination. He’s a fully formed fleshed out and complicated human being. And from the moment I met him, I started making course corrections based on his reactions.

That boils, and ghouls is my fault and not his.

Because of those corrections, I could never really enjoy my life. I always wondered what chaos he’d bring when his mother an I were not around, and trust me he ALWAYS created havoc when others were having fun, and he wasn’t involved. I can’t think of a single instance when we were on a trip, out to eat, seeing a movie, or some other fun adult activity where it wasn’t interrupted by him.

I’ve hated him for that.

I’ve hated him for making my other son’s and my daughters miserable. He takes advantage of them over and over again because he knows they want to help him because they are good people and they love him.

I’ve hated him for what he’s done to my in-laws when they were alive and to his great-grandparents to this day. Like his siblings, he’s used and manipulated them for years.

I hate him for what he’s done to my marriage. The stress he’s put on it. The time he’s stolen from my wife and me to this very day. The money he’s wasted. The trust he’s wreaked.

But most of all I hate him for what he’s done to his mother. The stress he’s put her through. The many times he’s wantonly broken her heart. The lies he’s told her over and over again. The way he’s used her love of him and the guilt she feels over the way his biological father treated him to manipulate her.

Now he sits in a hospital, being evaluated while on a psychiatric hold, and I’ve reached a decision. I want him out of my life. I will never be happy while the creature who lives in my little boys’ skin still lives. Like I said before, if the old him, the good him, came back I would welcome him with open arms. But I think that boy, the boy I love with all of my heart and soul, died a long time ago.

I want this thing gone.

 

 

- Josh (12/19/2018)

 

Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books (www.palladiumbooks.com) and Third Eye Games (www.thirdeyegames.net) before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press (www.gwspress.com). I also work for Fat Goblin Games (www.fatgoblingames.com). In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!