Today, I “should” be taking my son to rehab.
Today I “would” be thanking the lawyers, judges, and all jail personnel for their combined efforts of treating my son like a person who is unwell instead of like a dime store criminal.
Today, I “could” be exhaling a huge mega sigh of relief, that my son is on his way to true recovery.
We “should” be walking in the door with a hastily packed suitcase (by me) with everything he needs to begin his new re-set on life after 2 1/2 weeks in jail.
This was/IS his second time behind bars this year; and #6 overall. Yup, all those old jokes and sarcastic jail comments & jokes about our kids or others are not so funny anymore. And my son would have been the first to say them.
A circus performer was pulled over by a police officer for speeding. As the officer was writing the ticket, she noticed several machetes in the car. “What are those for?” she asked suspiciously. “I’m a juggler,” the man replied. “I use those in my act.” “Well, show me,” the officer demanded. So he got out the machetes and started juggling them, first three, then more, finally seven at one time, overhand, underhand, behind the back, putting on a dazzling show and amazing the officer. Another car passed by. The driver did a double take, and said, “My God. I’ve got to give up drinking! Look at the test they’re giving now
It takes more than juggling, for a person with substance use disorder to NOT go to jail these days. They must prove that they are completely responsible and model citizens, according to society’s standards. I may be exaggerating a bit, but this morning, as I drug myself into work with the usual gnawing fear, of wondering if my son made it through the night; I find myself wondering: “why is my son in jail again? And being treated like a criminal-no less!”
It sounds like a no-brainer, I know; Until you’ve been there.
But here we were, facing years- yes, years- in prison; for possession. Possession of a substance that he used, in order to feed the cravings of his disease. I know, I know, that said substance is illegal. I get it, I do.
But I also know that there is no other disease, in which people can’t manage; that gets treated like this.
My son had a hearing yesterday, in which we thought he was signing a plea deal, after which, we thought we would scadoodle right on up to the rehab I had been communicating with for 6 months.
Since the plea wasn’t signed at the hearing, we couldn’t request to be released to rehab. So back he went into “the slammer”.
A few days, I posted on Facebook a rude email the lawyer had written me asking me if I support my son breaking the law.
I was pretty upset about the demeaning and condescending tone of it, so I didn’t even respond. Besides, it’s seriously a stupid question. Of course, there were comments on my Facebook page after I posted it, asking the same thing. “Well, do You? Don’t you think your son deserves to pay the consequences of breaking the law”? My emotional tank was on empty from receiving the email, so I didn’t feel the need to argue with someone who obviously has zero sympathy for prisoners who were addicted.
No, I don’t condone ANY illegal activity. No, my son isn’t a victim of a disease that leaves him unable to know right from wrong. But I do know that the desperation and progressive nature of the disease, leaves them unable to care when the lines are crossed.
I also know that shaming and blaming and the current punishment system don’t seem to work.
After my sons first arrest, he got on the family thread and said, “Im so sorry for embarrassing you. This is awful”. Not one person said one thing to him except me: “we just want you better, son”
He went on to have 4 more arrests until this week, the culmination of all the charges and sentencing to ensue. 😭
If shaming and blaming worked my son would NEVER have allowed himself to be arrested again.
If punishment worked, my son would have quit his disease, the minute the judge, lawyers and cops berated him the first time for not controlling his behavior.
If inflicting more trauma & pressure worked on a traumatized brain who KNOWS it has failed in every single area of life- business, fatherhood, husband hood, financially and societal standards such as housing and occupation; then giving more fines or more jail time where they can’t possibly earn the money to pay the fines, would make someone magically become responsible at that exact moment.
It all takes time. Time in the proper environment of healing. Connection, nutrition, and mental support to heal all those pathways in the brain that have suffered into unhealthy thoughts and habits.
I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have any answers. I just do the best I can each day maneuvering through the prickly jungle of addiction and all its tentacles it reaches.
As for today, I am extremely grateful my son is relatively safe. The unit he was moved to today is a bit scary, but not scarier than what he was doing while out.
Despite my ambivalence for the success of long-term incarceration; I Thank my God every day for the possibilities this short-term jail “visit” can provide.