Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Writing Prompt: The Word: Pack

What He's Had...and What He's Lost

He's a beautiful man really. Girls stop us in local restaurants to ask for his phone number. He is never at a loss for female companionship. He even treats them well...for as long as they meet his needs, at least. He has had everything. Beautiful wife. Newly built home. Good job. Benefits. New truck. Family. Friends. Parties. Alcohol. Meth. Adderol. Drug-induced schizophrenia. He has lost everything.

So he comes to us. It's hard for him, I know, to ask a thing that makes him feel less of a man – to take him in and feed him, all the while him with nothing to give. At first it's beautiful. We hadn't seen him in a year, not aware of his dive down the rabbit hole of addiction. So we welcomed the chance to get to know him again. He loves good conversation. He's funny and has just enough swagger that you're proud to be around him. He's confused a lot...can never find his keys, his bills, his cigarettes, wonders if he's in Utah and talks constantly about one conspiracy or another. He's not really a rule follower, which is a little frustrating, but we try to look past it in our love for him and our desire to foster a relationship strong enough to help him back on his feet.

He lets the dog run loose, even though he's been told that the dog bites and must be leashed. He throws cigarette butts, not in the receptacle provided, but all over the yard where our visiting teachers, friends and family walk to the door. He triples the food bill, sneaks alcohol into his room, leaves all the lights on and doesn't clean up after himself ever. He picks up and pockets what he'd like to have whether it's his or not. He always tells us he loves us and gives us hugs. He gets himself applied to college with no prompting, talks about finding a job. He runs out of gas 100 miles away at 2:30 a.m. And wants us to rescue him. He's a subtle bully, poking at the wounded places in us all but not enough to leave bruises.

We become nervous wrecks. It feels like when you are the parent of a lot of kids and your brain is attuned to every little noise and nuance and your brain never gets a minute to rest, only with a dangerous element not present with toddlers.

I find his black body hair in my bed sheets where he lay to shave his chest while we were at work. I find his knife stabbed into the ledge above my sink at my eye level, and again in my bedroom door frame. He thinks its funny or denies it or sulks. It's always someone else, he says. He scrawls his name across his brother's motorcycle in permanent marker. He drinks all day and starts throwing tantrums when we get home. One evening he kicks out his windshield, his side window, rips out his headrests and shatters CD's across the yard. He tries to tear his door off, but proceeds only in bending the hinges till the door stays open a foot. I warn him to stop. He tells me to shut up. He tells his brother he's “going to end him”.

I call 911 – 14 days after his arrival. He is arrested and as he looks up he sees me watching. "I love you," I mouth. "I love you too," he mouths back. "It's okay, it's okay," he is assuring me he understands what I've had to do. I feel hope.
He doesn't call us. Calls other family and refers to us as “those people” with a venomous tone. We go to court, bring him home and the cycle starts again. He is on his best behavior. When we were in foster care, we always called that the honeymoon period, that fragment of time it takes a child to get the feel of the place and dare to act out.

His honeymoon period ends when I refuse to give him another penny he hasn't earned somehow, he is ticked off. He abandons a job I set up for him and goes to Ruby's to drink and drug all day. “He will not do such menial work. He's worth $30 dollars an hour”,  he rants. The most he's made is $14.25 an hour. He threatens my job with his behavior. It is all so disrespectful that I'm done. Done doing the same things and expecting a different result. I take a new tack.

I pack everything he has, all purchased by us as he brought only the clothes on his back. I place it by the door and wait for him to walk in and see it. I dread the discussion that will follow.

It breaks my heart. I lay in bed and worry most of the night. At 3 a.m., we see his stuff is gone. We don't know where he is or what he'll do. He needs help we are not allowed to or capable of giving. He is a coward. And a threat.

And yet he is our son. Our bright, beautiful, funny, black-haired boy.

He is our son, but for now at least, he doesn't want to be. He has gone to the enemy who are too dumb to know they are being conned.

It breaks our hearts, drains our energy, occupies most of our thoughts. How does God do it when his children rebel? I can't imagine. I just know I can't bear it.

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