Friday, March 21, 2008

One Year of Sobriety

One year ago today I wrote this post... (the most comments I have ever gotten on a single post might I add!! :-) For the first time in five years I woke up alone in our house and was not concerned in the slightest about where Jake was. I knew he was safe, I knew he was alive, and I knew that he was sober. (Or at least getting there)

That day, one year ago, was the first day of the rest of our lives. Since then things have not always been easy. There have been moments of anger, frustration and pain but NOTHING... and I do mean NOTHING trumps the feeling I get when I see my little boy get SOO excited to see Jake. Without this experience I have no doubt that to Zack, Jake would be just a fleeting memory.

Before Jake was committed he missed 90% of Zack's days. He went to work, he went out and partied, there was a week in there where he didn't come home at all. I remember quite vividly when he was firt committed and he said to me I don't want to be gone a long time because I don't want to miss Zack. All I could think was, "You weren't here to see him anyway." But what ended up coming out of my mouth was if you don't get your act together you will miss much more than just a couple of months.

In the end, we all know what happened. He went away to treatment, and then back to the hospital (the same one, coincidentally that thinks we owe them $5,000.. OUCH... but worth every penny in the end), and then away to a different treatment center. Jake was gone for a total of five months and when he got back he set about doing his 90 in 90. (Where they go to 90 meetings in 90 days). He succeeded, only missing a couple of meetings, and now has a sponsor and regularly goes to at least 3 meetings a week.

Him and I will be in the program for the rest of our lives but it is a small, small price to pay for what we have gained. Moments like last night when I called him and he was trying so hard not to laugh as Zack was taking his hammer (thank you Aunt Kimmy for the hammer) and smashing his Apple Jacks on the coffee table. All I could hear was giggle, No.. Zackary... don't do that... giggle. (Jake was laughing... not Zack... Zack was just beating away)

And at that moment, all I could think about was if we had never done this, if we had never gone through all of this he would have missed that moment. He wouldn't have been there to wipe cake off his face at his first birthday party, or to kiss his owie when he took a header into the coffee table last month. He wouldn't have been there to see the huge smile on his face when he walks through the door at daycare. All of that, we owe to this process and to his continued strength and drive to stay sober.

Jake, I love you more today than I ever thought possible. I love the man you are and the father you have become. I wish you nothing but success in your continued sobriety. We will be here for you, rooting you on, now and forever.

Heather & Zackary

P.S. At lunch today I must venture out and procure myself a purple pony. Because when one promises someone a purple pony if they make it to one year of sobriety, a purple pony they must produce. Imagine how excited he will be when I get him something really cool... like a fishing trip!! :-)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

One Year Ago - Day 3

**These are not getting any easier to write. Sorry it has taken me so long to get this one up today but this was by far the hardest day**

One year ago I woke up with what felt like a huge rock in the pit of my stomach. I had already talked to Molly on the phone the night before and she had agreed to meet me at the courthouse at 9:00. At 8:30 I called the phone number and someone answered. As it turns out they opened at 8:00 and he said the earlier we could come in the better.

It was 8:50 when we walked into that tiny little room off of a dark hallway in the courthouse. That was the first time I met Danny. Danny is the man who believed in me and Molly enough to go to bat for us with the judge.

When you look into committing someone what they tell you is that you need two people, the wife/husband (if there is one) and another relative. You go to the courthouse, you sign some papers, and they pick up this person and haul them away. If only it were that easy.

The real process involves filling out lots and lots of paperwork. You have to explain why you think this person is a danger to themselves or to others. You have to write out specific incidents when you saw them using or when they talked about using to you. No second hand knowledge is allowed. As a side note, I imagine for someone who's spouse only drinks at home this would be very hard to accomplish as addicts are usually pretty good at hiding their addiction from people on the outside.

Anyway, after we filled out all of the paperwork Danny came down and talked with Molly and me. He asked me some of the most difficult questions I've ever had to answer. Such as, how do I know that you are not really a drug addict yourself and are you going to divorce your husband? I didn't know at that point. I was so mad and so scared so I just told him the only thing I knew. Not at this moment, I just want to get him help before he dies.

"Before he dies..." even now that phrase makes me tear up as I type this. Because that was what I was SURE was going to happen to Jake. I didn't see it ending any other way. The addiciton had him so tightly in its grip that it was never letting go. Without some serious intervention I just knew that the only way he was getting out of it was in a coffin.

Apparently Danny was satisfied with my answers because he had us wait in the hallway while he went and talked to the judge. That 15 minutes in the hallway was what seemed like the longest 15 minutes of my life. While I was there waiting I called people. It was on this day, at this hour that I realized that I have the most amazing friends and family a person could ever ask for and that they were there all along if I only would have reached out to them. Everyone I called was so supportive and offered to help me in any way possible. No one judged me or looked down upon me. They just offered out a helping hand.

15 minutes later and 2 1/2 hours after we entered the court house we had the signed documents of committal and our instructions on what to do when we found him. I had given them two houses that he was known to hang out at but as it turns out when they are looking for someone on a committal order they can only knock on the door of a private residence and ask if they are inside. They can not go in without permission and obviously the people he was with would not give permission.

So we had to wait and try to get him out into the open. I went back to work that day and tried desperately to get him to answer the phone with no luck. The only word I got from him all day was a text message that will FOREVER be burned into my brain. "I love you, I'm going to make things better, I will call you later."

Looking back, knowing where he was and who he was with, that message hurts me. All I can think is how deep he must have been in his addiction to write something like that and then go right back into the thick of things.

That afternoon Molly and her friends drove around looking for him, as did our friends Shane and Jess. No one had any luck. Shane and Jess had just gone home when we got the tip that "broke the case wide open" as Shane aka Big Dog Bounty Hunter refers to it. A friend of a friend told Jake's mom that he was staying in a hotel with the word Red in the name. There are only two in our area.

So, Shane and Jess jumped back in their vehicle and headed out again. No luck. I was on my way home when I got "the call." They had found his vehicle out side the second hotel. He was not alone. My heart sank. It still sinks today when I think about it. I went through all of this time, energy, worry, heart ache to save a man who wasn't even worried about me and his child, who was instead holed up in a hotel room with a prostitute doing GOD knows what!!

At that point I just wanted to march down the hallway and kick the door in myself. We wouldn't need the police to escort him out of there, we would need them to keep me from KILLING him. However, in the end, I realized that he was sick. He was not in his right mind and that even if we didn't stay together he deserved a shot at a normal life. So I waited at the end of the frontage road with my friends for the police to arrive.

Since it was not private property they could go in and get him whether he invited them in or not. First problem solved. I showed them a picture and they headed out to get him. I stayed behind. I couldn't watch them pull him out. I couldn't stand there and watch the shell of a man that I loved get hauled a way. A man who was just an illusion of his former self.

As it turns out, it was a good thing I wasn't there. Those who saw him said he was a messed up wreck. The police who pulled him out said he was as high as they have ever seen anyone. My husband was not in that room that night and I didn't need to see them pull his body out.

From there it all sort of blurs together. I remember the emotion as vividly as I did then but the events are all mushed together. Somehow Jake's jeep got to our house, I'm pretty sure Jess got a contact high from driving it there. Somehow I made it to my parents to pickup and hug my son and cry as I held him. Somehow the two of us made it home to our completely empty house to sit in a rocking chair and rock for hours as I promised him that I would make everything alright. That I did the only thing I knew how to do to keep him safe and that no matter what I would ALWAYS be there for him to keep him safe.


**This song REALLY spoke to me. It makes me think of how dark Jake's life was and the place he was in and angels really did come and take him from his dark, cold hotel room to his new life. They were just angels without wings**

Spend all your time waiting for that second chance
For the break that will make it ok
There's always some reason to feel not good enough
And it's hard at the end of the day

I need some distraction, oh beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins
They may be empty and weightless and maybe I'll find some peace tonight

In the arms of an Angel
fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room,
and the endlessness that you fear

You are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of an Angel;
may you find some comfort here

So tired of the straight line, and everywhere you turn
There's vultures and thieves at your back
The storm keeps on twisting, you keep on building the lies
That you make up for all that you lack

It don't make no difference, escaping one last time
It's easier to believe
In this sweet madness, oh this glorious sadness
That brings me to my knees

In the arms of an Angel far away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
In the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

You're in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

-Sarah McLachlan

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

One Year Ago - Day 2

One year ago I got up early: Ok... who are we kidding here? I'm pretty sure that at this point I was not sleeping at all. What with the fact that I had a small child who was up at least once a night and the fact that I had just called the police on my husband. Nope... not much time for sleeping.

Honestly, I do not remember whether we spent the night at our house or at my Father-In-Laws house. I know during all of this I was there one night, maybe two... but they all sort of blur together. Either way at this point my main focus was on Zack. He had a doctors appointment to get his shots so I had the morning (or at least a couple hours of it) off.

I remember waiting in the doctors office thinking to myself do I ask them about a blood test? In the end I didn't. I don't know if it would have changed anything or not. After his shots I was too terrified to take him to daycare. There was some part of me that just knew if Jake found out about the police he would come and take him. (He told me later that was the furthest thing from his mind and he never would have taken him but at the time I couldn't take that chance.)

In the end, I called him in to daycare and ended up taking him back to my FIL's house for the day. I remember them telling me they would lock the doors and that he would be fine. They would call me if Jake showed up and not to worry. They would not let him take him. Yet still, I sat on the edge of my seat all day waiting for the phone to ring.

Deep breaths. In and out... just writing this makes it feel like there is a 50 lb weight on my chest. I have never in my life been so afraid. I just wanted to go to him and hold him close but I knew that I was now his sole source of income and support so I had to be at work.

Finally 5:00 came and I ran for the door. The first person I spoke to on my way home was the lawyer. I wanted to know how to protect my son. She told me the only way to do that was to get a protective order, which would be for me and Zack or I would need to call child protective services. Neither option seemed good for me at the time. The protective order, while it would protect Zack, would also keep me from speaking to Jake and if I couldn't speak to him then it would me MUCH harder to have him committed. And child protective services, well... I'm sure you can guess why I didn't want to call them.

After I got off the phone with the lawyer I talked to Jake. I don't know if he called me or I called him but I remember exactly what intersection I was sitting at Euclid and Hubbell when I told him that if he didn't check himself in before the next day that decision could be taken away from him.

He told me he was with a friend. A friend I didn't know. He told me that he would check himself in, he just needed a little time. A little more time to come down some. I told him I wasn't sure how much more time I could give him. I remember like it was yesterday telling him that it wouldn't take much to find him. If he was using his phone, no matter where he was, I could find him.

That was it. That was the last time I ever spoke to him high. I tried to call him a few more times but he turned his phone off. I ended up going home and getting clothes for Zack and then staying at my father-in-law's. Sometime in the middle of the night when neither one of us was sleeping I packed up my child and went home.

I knew that I couldn't wait any longer and that the next day I would have to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. I wanted to be home, in familiar surroundings for one last night before everything in my world turned upside down.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

One Year Ago

**I'm going to write this in a series of four days so from now through Friday there should be something new for you to read every day. However, I can't guarantee that if you are close to this story you won't need Kleenex.**

One year ago today I woke up early.

I had to work on Sunday and Jake was supposed to watch Zack. Never before has he ever taken him anywhere or done anything with him to make me think that Zack would EVER be in any danger.

For Jake drugs have always been a night time thing and so I have never really worried about him during the day. Sunday he decided to break that streak.

Sunday morning before I left Jake and I had the standard conversation. Do not even THINK about taking your son anywhere where he could be in danger. Stay home, call me if you need anything, I'll be back by noon.

To which all of it was answered, "You know I would NEVER do anything to put Zack in danger. I love my son."Sometime around 8:00 on Sunday morning Jake stopped answering his phone and my heart SANK!! Panic ensued but I tried to stay calm. Finally about 8:45 he answered again and he was at home because I could hear the dogs in the background. He told me he had just run up to Wal-mart and he was back.

I asked how Zack was doing and he told me that he had changed him into a cute outfit (which he NEVER does) and that he was doing just fine.By 11:00 I just had a feeling I needed to go home and so off I went.

I knew something was wrong immediately. I opened the door and heard a rumbling upstairs. Then Jake came running down the stairs and immediately went to the couch and grabbed something up and put it in his pocket. I could tell right away that he had done some drug. I could see it in his eyes and the way he talked to me.I immediately told him he needed to leave and he did.

For the rest of my life I will NEVER forget the way he looked that day or the way I felt that day. I will never forget the feeling when I opened that door and for a split second there was no noise and I thought for sure my baby was dead.

After Zack was born I never really bonded with him the way I should have. I was so caught up in all of the things that addiction does to you that I couldn't really see who he was or what a gift he was. In that split second that it was quiet before Jake came running down the stairs I knew that I had fallen head over heals in love with my child and I would never forgive myself if something happened to him.

I was lucky. Jake left when I asked him to and he didn't come back two hours later when I begged him to. (I told you the family members of addicts are very sick people) After Jake left Zack began to scream. He did that for two hours during which time I called Jake to ask him to come back and help me. He did not. I will forever be grateful that he stayed away.

As I later learned from DHS when and addict does drugs they seep out of their skin. When they hold babies the drugs go into the babies system and the essentially give the baby a "contact high." When babies get contact highs they scream. A LOT. Without knowing it I had let someone expose my precious child to something harmful.

The last step for me was when I called his dad after he didn't come home. While on the phone his dad mentioned that Jake had wanted him to buy something from him. I don't remember what right now but what I do remember is where. Jake was on the East Side that Sunday morning. On the East Side With. My. Baby....

It was at that point that the final light bulb went off and I called the police and then his family to talk about signing commitment papers. One year ago I was scared and alone and starting on a journey that would forever change all of our lives.