I was born in 1960. In 2013 on an otherwise fine Saturday morning, my son and daughter in law who were living with my wife and I at the time asked us both to come inside and sit down – they had something to tell us. Now – we knew they were starting a family so neither of us knew what this could be about. We sat down in our family room – our cottage is small so this is a grand name for a very small space – and our son began to tell us of his addiction to heroin.
He spoke for a while about his pain, about his concealment, about our denial and his anger..so much anger toward us. I couldn’t focus because my head was doing that hot, rapid beating..as if my heart was suddenly in there under my brain pounding it to shit.I looked at my wife and her face was ashen – her heart broken and tears streaming down her face. Our son was telling us he was dying as far as I knew. Heroin has a lousy record when it comes to survival and we both had personal experience with friends or people we knew whom it had consumed. Everything I thought I knew about my son, my family, my leadership, all of it was completely wrong..inverted..upended.
It didn’t make sense. I had tried to be a good dad. I had been a hard worker but avoided salaried positions that would keep me away from home. I had volunteered to help coach his little league team and the hockey team. We played, we talked, we were close. His mom kept him active during the summer with swimming and art classes when he was younger and we both stressed the importance of communication…but things did change. There was a separation between us at the usual age and I chocked it up to that. Typical adolescent separation and the shift from parental to peer influence. No Big Deal.
But there were signs that were clear in hindsight that something was amiss. That what was happening was excessive and unhealthy. I told myself it was normal for a young man to drink too much at times – or get into a fight once in a while…but he related other situations that I just couldn’t process properly. I was in denial. My son isn’t violent. My son isn’t depressed. This shit will sort itself out. Where did that kind of thinking – that Non Thinking – come from..?
This was the source of his anger, his disappointment in me. I wasn’t present for him when these changes were taking place. I missed loud cues and overt pleas for help. I wasn’t ‘manning my post’ as his mentor, protector, and father. I was AWOL to him.
So – what does a person do the next day after a revelation like this? or fuck that – the next five minutes after a revelation like that? Heroin dad..for quite some time, dad… years, dad. H E R O I N….dad.
ok – lets rewind a bit then –