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Undependable

When you have a child that suffers from depression and addiction, there are many times you have to drop everything and react to a crisis.

I tried to anticipate things but what ended up happening was never something I planned for. I’m not blaming Charles. Not everything that happened was his fault. And given pathetic resources, we were left to manage something we had no expertise in.

From changing his placement at a therapeutic boarding school because a counselor was accused of sexual misconduct, to a rolling stop that turned into a police assault to when we found out he was addicted.

That’s just a sample of many crises over the years

There were countless others.

What was tough is that it made me “undependable.” At the very least, it was stressful hiding my ugly, chaotic life that no one wanted to be exposed to although there were snoopy types who made our family crises part of the ‘hood gossip.

That was the least of my worries

The only time this hurt was when we had to have Charles kidnapped out of his bed and taken away to a wilderness program. Emotionally, it was devastating. I expected him to be angry but what was hard was his look of feeling betrayed. It killed us. And having someone call around and announce it and humiliate my child at an emotionally vulnerable time was heartbreaking.

As I’ve said before, no one supports you when your child suffers from mental illness or addiction.

Things often got canceled like vacations, appointments, lunches, workouts, girlfriend time. Deadlines got missed. All of which was unlike me. Every time I committed to something, I worried that some disaster would strike.

I absolutely know that on the day he died on that last phone call, I was emotionally wrung out after two hours of talking with him. I had to be somewhere. I didn’t want to go. The weather was miserable. I really wanted to curl up into a ball, make some calls, do some research on some of the things he said. But I decided I needed to get out of the house and think.

I was damned if I was going to not show up for yet another event

I had time right? What was the emergency? For once, I wanted to think about it.

That guilt of being undependable won despite alarm bells sounding off. Even on the way there, I thought, “I need to call him back.” “Should I call him back?” But no. I didn’t want to be late and bogged down in yet another marathon call that made no sense.

I didn’t want to be undependable.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

8 thoughts on “Undependable”

  1. Keep on sharing your experiences. It helps us out here struggling with the same things. You are a blessing.

  2. My stomach flips reading this post. Knees weak. Buckling. My child is alive, and I am grateful and blessed. Otherwise…carbon copy. Absolute same.,same. Same. I pray for you and I remember Charles. I am grateful to have met him. I am still stopping anything and running to crisis, although there have been improvements. I continue to admire your strength and I am so blessed and grateful to be able to read your words. Sending love and prayers for bus all. Ox

  3. I’m sorry for all you’ve gone through. I had no idea about any of what was happening in your life at the time. I now know on a small scale how it feels to always be waiting by the phone to see if it’s been a good day or if I’m going to have to leave work suddenly. Virtual hugs for you!

  4. Through your family’s tragedy and unimaginable pain, you’ve helped and educated many, including me. Now I’d like to repay what you’ve done for me and ask you please not to judge yourself. You did the absolute best you could. You love your children and put them first, even now. Grief is a long and twisted road, and I’ve not been in your shoes. Looking back and questioning is part of the journey. But please never doubt for one minute that you did anything less than the best you could. I didn’t get to meet Charles, but have no doubt he’s the one having all of us seeing new love through the many hearts all around. He’s telling us to focus on love, and it’s OK for you to love yourself.

  5. Oh Anne Moss–this really speaks to me. We also had the wilderness camp “kidnapping” experience. The look on Mark’s face was also one of betrayal and sadness. We questioned whether or not we were doing the right thing. I will never forget the look on his face of pure defeat. We were at a friend’s birthday party the night before Mark died (in fact, he most likely died that same night). He called me during the party and, while I listened to him, I wasn’t truly present in the conversation. I will never forgot that. I hope he has forgiven me.

    1. I know Kathy. We just can’t know which of those “heart attack” calls are the real deal. And you and I both know there were many of them and we have but so much capacity.

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