When Charles first started abusing drugs, we didn’t talk about it. My frustration and fear and fear were the dominant emotions.
Was it drugs or was it mental illness? We did find out eventually that it was mental illness first and the initial drug use was a result of his wanting to feel better, or more normal. Getting to the root of the problem was an enormously difficult process.
I did talk to people I trusted.
I didn’t talk about it to everyone, though. And one time I talked to the wrong person and it somehow wound its way back to Charles and he got very upset. I was ashamed, then. He had trusted that I wouldn’t throw him under the bus.
I craved to talk about it. Yet, I couldn’t.
I wanted to protect my child from the harsh judgment of others. I knew others knew, passed judgement and gossiped about our struggles but that was the least of my worries. It was the lack of support, not the shame and gossip, that I suffered from. That was unbearable.
What I hated was how the criticism hurt Charles. I had no idea the depth of his self loathing and lack of self confidence at the time. He was so adored and so popular. Why couldn’t he see that? His talent of free styling on demand amazed his friends. His empathy for others endeared them.
He was too ashamed of his depression to talk about it. And he felt the same about heroin addiction. He was so ashamed of suicidal thoughts, he could not bring himself to tell me on that last two hours of phone calls. He chose to kill himself instead.
He might have died by suicide but it was shame that killed my son.
He didn’t get that from me. He got that from within himself and it was validated by the world around him.
That’s why shame no longer lives here. I am done with it.