My son, Adam, was my second child, born with a full head of brown hair and big blue eyes. We lived in Raleigh, NC, where the weather was beautiful. He was wild from the start, running and jumping as a toddler. His sister was 8 years older, and they tussled and laughed and laughed. My sister watched him while I worked and he was a whirlwind of activity, playing with balls and swimming in the pool with his cousins, laughing and enjoying life. He loved everyone, not afraid to hug and show affection to all. Everyone loved him.
I met his adopted father when he was 13 months and he took to him as he took to all, like glue. He was his mini-me. About 8 years after we were together I noticed some odd behavior and found out that his “father” was a crack addict. We endured a year of hell as my husband seemed to become more and more psychotic and then died of a brain hemorrhage when Adam was 10.
I found Al-Anon but Adam would have none of it. He refused help. He turned inward, his rage coming out at me more and more as he aged. He became violent. I tried therapists, Alateen, social workers and school guidance counselors, but nothing worked. He broke tv remotes, cell phones, punched holes in walls, broke dishes.His room became a biohazard.
He became extremely verbally abusive to me. By the time he was 18 he finally told me he was using heroin. I said let’s get help, He said he was fine. He could handle it. But his behavior escalated and it was clear he couldn’t do it on his own. That was the first time I went to the magistrate to have him picked up by the police and evaluated. By then I was convinced he had a mental illness. I have lost count of how many times I had him picked up, how many programs he went to, how many things he broke, how much money he stole from me and how much of my medication he stole. I try not to remember the taunts he said to me, the vile horrible things he said to hurt me. Many times I cried and cried but he went on and on. My family all but abandoned me. He was horrible to them, too.
His story is not a nice one. He tried a methadone clinic and I received some support from them but Adam could not keep a clean enough urine to get to a therapeutic level of methadone to help him. There were some calm periods when I would say, “I believe in you, Adam, I believe in you. I know you can do this. I love you.” But many times he lay on my floor crying, “Please, Mom, help me, help me, I can’t stand it, help me, help me.” And I helped him. I could not stand to see him cry and suffer. I prayed to God to ease his suffering. Last October he came into my room and uncharacteristically put his arms around me. He said, “I love you, Mom, do you believe me?” I said, “Yes I do, I love you, too.” He said, “I love you SO much.” “I love you SO much, too,” I said. He said, “I’m going to look for a sober house tomorrow ok?” I said, “ok and I love you,” and he went into his room. He didn’t come out the next day and on Sunday I called my sisters. We went in his room and he was on the floor, cold. I called 911. He was gone. Toxicology showed Fentanyl, Heroin and Gabapentin.
I forgive Adam and I forgive my husband, too. I realize they were doing the best they could. They would have done better if they could have. Unfortunately, the addiction treatment programs are not equipped to help dually diagnosed drug addicts for as long and as intensely as they need. Adam was a wonderful caring, compassionate, loving, intelligent person struck down at 27 by something neither of us understood. I don’t know if I can forgive myself for losing him. But I have to live with it. I hurt all the time.
Katherine T. Eatmon