Every Parent's Nightmare

Written by fatherfrank  |  03. April 2003

Every parent's nightmare is a phone call in the middle of the night indicating your son or daughter is unconscious or in a hospital emergency room due to recklessness.
CJ is twenty-eight. Presently, he is a college student in a large lower Manhattan university. This very talented and gifted young man was born into privilege, but has wrestled with inner demons since the age of twelve.
By the age of sixteen, CJ was a raging alcoholic in denial. He went from one private school to the next. Finally, during his senior year he was thrown out for drugs and alcohol and entered his first of many rehabs. In between rehab number one and two, he graduated from high school.
His parents had divorced and had moved back to the South where they both originally came from. CJ graduated from a private boarding school in Northern New England. He decided to settle there.
At eighteen, he was not willing to be accountable or live by rules. He wanted to do his own thing. He had effectively learned how to manipulate his parents regarding money. Thus, he had a steady stream of cash to play with, and play he did. He used much of his generous monthly allowance to pay for a place to live. He worked a series of part time jobs for play money. When he fell short on cash, he dealt weed to his rich boarding school friends.
This vagabond lifestyle continued until his early twenties. After a new series of schools and a few near misses with law enforcement, CJ got back on track. He stayed south to be near his family, but still bounced from job to job. He went to meetings on a regular basis to support his sobriety, but never really entered recovery. He refused any mental health support and did not get a sponsor. His inner demons continued to rage.
At age twenty-seven he relapsed and almost killed himself. He ended up in a hospital almost near death because of his recklessness. His resilience and determination brought him around. He agreed to a therapeutic rehab. Finally, he agreed to begin facing his demons.
Three months later, CJ had made tremendous strides. He was ready for discharge. His treatment plan recommended a structured environment. CJ resisted, but then gave in. He agreed to a community residence program that would provide him with all the supports he needed and all the opportunities he desired.
The transition was not easy. CJ was twenty-eight and finally an acknowledged alcoholic. He also suffered from a bipolar disorder that he continued to resist treatment for. He did not want to be on medication. His mood swings became intolerable.
As part of his treatment plan, he was to attend meetings daily, talk to his sponsor daily and see a therapist weekly. He was in compliance with everything except he was battling his therapist around the issue of taking medication. He finally conceded and was taking an anti-depressant that gave him tremendous relief.
In January a dream came true. CJ was accepted into an art program at a major New York City university. With that gift filled opportunity came other self-imposed pressures that further challenged CJ and his journey.
Over the last number of weeks CJ was complaining about feeling agitated. He was being challenged to look at some of his inner demons that had been buried for years. As his therapist pressed him, CJ became more enraged. He masked his rage by distancing himself from everyone and further isolating himself.
On Tuesday night after his home group, he told a friend that he was meeting another friend for coffee. As he was walking to meet that friend, he stopped at a local pub to get cigarettes. Two hours later, he left very intoxicated and angry. He went home and smashed up the place where he lived, broke his finger and gashed his hand to the point where he needed five stitches.
A neighbor heard all the commotion and called the police. The police broke in on the chaos and had to subdue CJ. He was expressing homicidal and suicidal desires. They brought him to the local psychiatric hospital where he stayed under protest for observation (and until he sobered up).
The next morning he was very contrite and remorseful. He ultimately decided to return home. He recognized, in a more calm state of mind, that he needed to finally deal with his demons. Abstinence wasn't enough. He needed to enter real recovery and get on with his life.
Recently, I participated in the "Walk for Peace" in New York City. The day of the walk was magnificent. It was the first Saturday in spring. It was sunny and sixty degrees. Thousands of us walked. We sang, we chanted, some carried signs and we talked. I was amazed at the generations that were represented. The politics and ideologies were as varied as the people. However, we all had two things in common. We were against the war and wanted a quick resolution for peace and we wanted to show our support for the young men and women in the armed services.
Since War has begun our nation has been further polarized. It is not unpatriotic to be opposed to a war that one believes is unjust. Equally important is that opposition to war does not translate to a lack of support for our troops.
We are at war. I pray for an immediate peace, but first and foremost, every day I pray for the safe return and protection of all armed service men and women.

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