I came downstairs and walked into the den and Charles was lying on the floor at weird angles. My heart panicked then dropped to the floor. I thought he was dead and immediately checked his pulse.
He was alive but had been so drunk he passed out on the floor. He was fifteen and had actually been angry with me about something it was his rebellious reaction to our argument. We had a conversation later and I told him that it did hurt me but “vindictive drinking” hurt him, too.
One night he came home walking in robotic, stiff movements and completely out of it. Robo tripping. There was the time on the roof naked and peeing in twenty two degree weather, glassy eyed and out of it. That was the time he mixed alcohol with his sleep meds and so far out of our universe I wondered if I’d ever see my real child again.
And the nodding off at dinner a few times, the inflated happiness that made my heart lurch with sadness because I knew he had been doing some hard drugs and it was more than just experimentation. Denial was my friend back then. If he was normal the next day, I’d talk myself into thinking it was just one time event because I didn’t want to face the truth right then. My mind wouldn’t let me Then the feeling of loss as I saw that I was losing him to drugs and his depression.
I wanted that happy little boy I remembered but had trouble divorcing that image and accepting that the funniest kid in school was depressed. I never got accustomed to seeing my child spaced out, high, dragged down by his depression, or in jail, his face screaming shame. I was helpless and it chipped away a piece of my heart every single time.
It was after those experiences I learned to check my judgement at the door. And although I find myself doing it because we all do, I remind myself that everyone has a story and on a day that someone doesn’t respond or even gets cross with me, it could be because their car broke down, or they got a cancer diagnosis. It’s not personal. And neither is your child’s behavior when they are not themselves. All we can do is love them and let them know. That is never the wrong thing to do. Ever.