California, USA
August 10
When I figure it out I'll add it, one blog at a time. I illustrated "Travel Tales I Couldn't Put in the Guidebooks" written by Lea Lane. You can get it at Amazon and on Kindle!


BuffyW's Links

APRIL 26, 2010 11:07AM

A Son Writes Home...

Rate: 42 Flag
Letter from Mike


My son and I just celebrated his 43rd birthday one Sunday not long ago...he in a state prison, me in the prison state of my heart.  It was a bittersweet day for me, for him I can’t imagine, though being incarcerated on any day must not be a picnic, much less your birthday.


Last Friday I received a letter from him.  I picked it up from my mailbox and let the anticipation of hearing from him build.  (Often I’ll tear open an intriguing mail before I start up the mountain, two miles can seem like an eternity.)  


He was sentenced to five years in March.  Multiple felonies all having to do with drugs.  I doubt very much if he would be serving prison time for just using...no, he was selling it to support his habit.  This is disgusting to me.  It isn’t bad enough he has affected his life, and those of the people who care about him, he has been the one responsible for other families’ nightmares.  He doesn't even see it.


As I drove I contemplated all of this.  He’d gone to prison just three days after I took him to lunch...and two days before I became so ill last month.  He had called me from the county jail facility about a week into his incarceration.  Though I was so very sick, I accepted the collect phone call.  He had sounded upbeat telling me (as I coughed and struggled to catch my breath) that he would be leaving the local facility in a few days and would not be able to call for at least a month.  I told him he had gotten a state tax refund, “What shall I do with it?” I asked.  He told me to give it to a “friend” of his to bring it to him.  I complied.  


So now I was sitting in my bedroom slicing through the envelope with a red letter opener full of ...that’s just it, my hopes of having a relationship with him were dashed already, having been through 23 years of his drug use and self-centered behavior.  


With a mixture of love and equal parts dread I took the single sheet of school style paper out of the envelope and began to read his words to me.



I hope you are well.  I haven’t heard from you since my last letter before I left the county.  I'm not sick anymore, well maybe heartsick.   I never got another letter from you son, sorry.


I am now at ______.  I never even knew such a place existed.

That makes two of us.  Things are okay here.  I’m working in the kitchen to help pass the time.  How nice.  Don’t know my release date until I see a counselor whenever that is.  As it sits I have less than 29 months to go.  So I will keep you up to date.  I’m sure the time will just fly by son.  By my calculations it would mean somewhere around October of 2012.  I’ll mark my calendar.


Happy Early Mother’s Day.  I know I know I know I’m here when I should be out taking you to Brunch somewhere.  Oh, why would you think that?  I don’t remember even one Mother’s Day  brunch with you.  It’s okay son, usually you don’t even acknowledge the day.  I'm grateful you even remember.  But like you said we are right where we are supposed to be.  I did say it, someone told me this in my last eight months of struggle with the pain of losing my husband and you (again) within days of each other.  For the first time in my life  I started reading the Bible New Testament and Psalms.  Oh really.  I think I have a couple of your letters telling me that same lie  thing when you spent two years at a live-in rehab.   I also am jarred by the familiarity of those same words echoing from a thick, black stinky phone held to my ears ten years ago when I sat across from you in the county jail...a thick glass partition separating us.  Well, maybe this time eh?  Knowledge is the key to life so if there are any classes that I can attend I will surely sign up.  Such wisdom now.


Okay now for the serious stuff.  I take a deep breath.  Everything up to this point had been what...not serious?  The State refund check that was sent to me...well the prison sent it back to the state for some reason.  Oh my...let me think why they might do that.  Oh yes, it could be because you owe the State Superior Court thousands and thousands of dollars which they keep trying to collect from you through my address and phone number.  Oh whew, that $168 will get them out of my hair for sure.  I guess they can’t cash it or some other reason I am not sure.  So, to save any more delays or problems like that in the future...cause I will be getting my Federal Tax Refund check resent cause they had to deduct $58.00 that I owed.  Oh.  Good, you are looking towards the future. So a check should be coming to your house for about $1,600.   I’ll keep an eye out for that for sure son.  Please Do not  send the check to me here.  Could you either 1) Hold on to it for me 2) See if the bank would ISSUE A MONEY ORDER then send the money order in my name to me or 3) Cash and send the money through JPAY.com or just cash it and hold the money until I get out. Hm-m-m-m so many choices you have given me.  Still trying to manage life while incarcerated I see.  I guess it isn’t easy.  Well, you didn’t happen to mention how I would go about cashing a check made out to you.  How do I do that son?  Give me another multiple choice okay?  I'll hop right on this.


Thank you mom and once again I’m sorry I am not there to help you....But I will use this time to help myself.  A mother couldn’t hope for more than this.  I miss you and the dogs. I am not in paradise.  WHAT?  Prison isn’t paradise.  Go figure.


I don’t need any money.  That’s why you spend time telling me what to do with your tax refund check I suppose.  They feed me okay and supply basic needs.  More than some of us get.  But if you could send stamps, envelopes and stationary I could write more often.  Sure thing, I’ll hop right on that.  I guess your many friends haven’t.  Any questions about what you can and cannot send VISIT CDCR.com.  Oh yes, the website I visited and on page 443 found a confusing list of what and from where I can buy this stuff.  My head is about to explode.


Love you always...I love you too son, gotta go figure out how to make your life easier, will write soon!

















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Wow, Buffy. I can't imagine life in your shoes. Hugs and support. I sincerely hope that this time is what works for your son. From one mom to another.
at this point, either he truly figures out his destruction, or he never will. I ache when I read your pain. I wish I could say everything between your son and you will work out. What I will say is, I wish you a peace every parent hopes for. Much love...
Oh dear. I resonate with this, having just had a talk with my son about his upcoming court date. *sigh* It's hard. And I do selfishly wish at times that only THEY had to deal with the repercussions. Oops, guess that's the definition of MOM is... best to you.
gah. i can't imagine dealing with this, a person so different you can't relate at all and it's your ... son? protect yourself, sheila. if that sounds harsh, it isn't meant to be. you just don't deserve this.
Oh Sheila. What can we say? Such a tragedy. Have you PMed jimmymac, who has gone through this sort of sorrow? You are a wise woman who has experienced the highs and lows of life. xoxo
Buffy I am sorry. It has only been a month or so. He has at least 29 to go. He may learn a lot of negative in prison but will have some time for reflection.
You sound appropriately cynical. Must be tough on you.
Sending all my best to you . . . and prayers that he will "get it" this time.
The word "bittersweet" comes to mind. As I hold onto the hope that my 42 year old alcoholic, 2 year unemployed daughter in law makes something of the job she just secured in Fresno. Her second bankruptcy is almost complete, and hopefully sending her 12 year old daughter off to the grandparents for the summer will allow her to get her life in order.

All we can do is love them where they're at, and attend to our needs.
I don't even know how to comment on this. I am so angry at your son, I'd like to slap him. He is so completely blind to the devastating effects of his behavior on your life. HIs addiction has frozen his psyche in time: he is still a teenager. No one exists but him and his needs.
Based on what I've heard, most parents barely survive the ten year span of adolescence that their kids go through. But the parents of addicts are forced to endure that stage for endless decades.
I hope you have an Al-Anon meeting nearby. "You didn't cause it, You can't cure it" but you can save Buffy. She deserves all your love and support today and every day.
Heck, if I lived near you, I'd take you to Brunch. A very expensive one.
What you have been through over the last few months it astounds me that you are still standing, let alone looking as fabulous as you do in your picture!

I really hope you can carry on being so strong. x
Damn. I'm sorry, Sheila.
Gd keep you and him.
Gorgeous writing.
This is one of those times there just are no words. God Bless YOU.
I'm so sorry for the heartbreak your son is causing you. You're right, he doesn't get it, he has absolutely no idea about the far-reaching consequences of his actions -- including the effects on you. In this ignorance he manages to keep his focus wholly upon himself and his own needs, and again you're right. This is probably where you both need to be.

The check worries me. It's a lot of money for a person to have in jail -- and it's a lot of money for an addict to have immediately after 29 months of forced sobriety. (Me, I'd send it directly to the State Superior Court and tell my son that repaying one's debts is what grownups do. But -- that's me. You need to do what's right for you. )

Sending you hugs. (R)
Oh Buffy.....my stomach ached as I read this post...and I feel like crying....for you and for your son....and for my own son. I could truly imagine receiving that letter from my own son. It is gut wrenching. My son is 22 and is still living at home with us. So far, he's been staying out of trouble, but drinks too much. He's holding down a full time job...thank goodness....but I keep wondering when the next time will be....you know....the next piece of bad news. My heart goes out to you. I hear your bitterness. I am not bitter right now, but wonder if I'll be so when my son is your son's age.
You are one incredibly strong woman.
You already know this: you can't change your son's life, only he can do it. I hope he starts to take steps toward turning his life in the right direction.
Froggy--Thank you very much. Hugs are always appreciated.
Chuck--You are a sweetheart. Thank you.
Mypsyche--I’m sorry you are having to go through this stuff with your son. My best to you...wish I had some wisdom to share.
femme--I have protected myself as best I can, thank you. No parent deserves this pain.
Lea--No, I haven’t spoken with Jimmymac since his last posting about his daughter. He knows though, all too well the ups and downs we go through. Thanks for your support.
Dorinda--Yes, I know you are right. Thanks for your support as always.
John--Cynical...yes I am where this matter is concerned. Thanks.
Owl--You are a sweetheart, thank you.
plantlover--I hope things turn out better for your daughter in law...it is a difficult road to travel for them, and us. I can’t imagine having a grandchild to worry about also. Hugs to you.
Big Fat Trauma Queen--Thank you. I don’t blame myself, have not since we went into therapy and Al-Anon meetings so long ago.
Kirsty--Thanks for your concern. I will be okay, after all of these years I still have hope and now a healthy dash of cynicism to get me through.
Unbreakable--Yep, damn. Thanks my friend.
Jane--Life sure is hard, but we do the best we can. Thanks so much.
Jonathan--Thank you and it is nice to have a new reader too!
Fay--Thank you.
Eileen--Sadly, I know all too well the money is not going to help him in prison. If it comes I’ll be doing the right thing with it to be sure. He won’t like it, but hey, it is all about personal responsibility...I have it.
Patricia--I sincerely hope it never has to go this far for you and your son. I’m not so much bitter as incredulous at his...well, lack of vision about life. He seems to think substances can make the pain of life disappear. He should know by now. Hugs to you.
Cartouche--wish it would rub on on him.
littlewillie--I do. I have not given up hope, but it is hanging by mere threads now. Thank you.
I understand completely your anger and cynicism here. It is absolutely justified.

Still, I'm left wondering if there was anything your son could have written that might have softened your response.

I mean before you opened that letter, what words did you hope to see?

And please do NOT think I'm being critical or taking issue with you.

I'll be devastated if you feel I'm out of line.
What a window into the soul. You have spoken for all of us - The rage and sense of loss. I know you know. I know you know. We are all sisters and brothers when we suffer. My heart cries
Buffy, I read this, and then read it again and once more, just to be sure. I had to deal with something somewhat similar, and I recognize the tone and, I think, the intent of the letter.

I'm not going to give any advice, because nothing I could say would make a damned bit of difference or help you in any way. The path I chose to take isn't necessarily the right one, only the one that got me through it, if not virgo intacta, then at least more or less sanely.

I wish you peace, my friend.
this hurts to read.

hugs and cup full of warmth.

truly don't know what else to say...but i'm sorry...
Aw damn, hon this is about as sad a letter as I have ever read. I say sad because it is obvious he has learned absolutely nothing in all that has happened. Sad because you are sucked into the perfect storm which he has caused by his poor choices. I can't tell you how sorry I am right now.

I like your technique of interweaving his letter with your subtextual response, it becomes an ironic dialogue, adding context, history, illuminating pain, hope against hope, showing your armor as well as its chinks

be well
I'm so sorry. I cannot imagine going through something like this.
Take care of yourself, Shelia. I can't imagine all you've been through lately. Peace to you friend.
I'm sorry about your son Buffy. Having been in the drug culture, I can tell you angels don't hang around with them. I never went to jail, mostly a user, but I know plenty of guys who have gotten jail house religion. It usually lasts about as long as the sentence. I do really hope he turns his life around. You are too good a person to have all this come down on you, and I know it's hard. I wish you nothing but the best!
I have so many issues with why he went to prison and should he be in prison, but I will keep that to myself. Much love to you, Sheila, I cannot imagine how it feels.
I hope you find time to do something really nice for yourself today. When we don't receive love from the normal sources, we have to make sure to give it to ourselves.

Sending hugs.
I wish I didn't get this for the reason I do. xo
I am so sorry. I know the hope, just please, that hope. I am glad you have this crazy place to cypher through all this. I hope the letters change with time served, to true love and asking of forgiveness.
I will keep you both in my prayers.
There is always hope. Always.
Much love to you, beautiful strong woman.
Oh, my. It truly sucks, don't it?

JimmyMc is right. Take care of you. YOU deserve it.
There are no words Sheila... Sending compassionate peaceful thoughts, and best of Mothers Day wishes!
I'm thinking of what Cartouche wrote yesterday that we think we know each other but we don't know Jack. This is a powerful post. You are so amazing Becky that to have a son in jail, which could happen to any of us, just blows my mind. I like the way you wrote this, his words, your thoughts. I will send all good vibes your way. I think you sound pretty sanguine here. I'm sure you'll get comments from the many here who have problem children/adults. I hope that makes you feel less alone. Becky! You of all people, god never would have guessed. But I am completely on yr side. r
Buffy, I am sending you love. From one mother to another. I cannot imagine your pain but I wish I could make it disappear.
Buffy! This hurts my heart to read. My only child is a son and I can only imagine through fearful squinty eyes what it must be like to be in your shoes. There but for the grace of God go I. I'm so sorry.
To everyone who has commented since I tried to keep up...thank you for your wishes and prayers etc. I want you to know I still have hopes and dreams for my son, but sometimes if I don’t acknowledge my own pain in the moment, I feel like I will burst. I don’t take your comments to be hurtful when you express your thoughts and questioning. Thanks again, it really helps to express myself here and sort out my feelings, about many things. And you taking the time to comment is very much appreciated.
I am so sorry for you and your son. We all want them to turn out well, but these stinkin' drugs are destroying lives.

Hugs and consoling!
Buffy, I didn't know you had this sorrow in your life. I am so sorry. My heart is aching big time right now for you. I HATE ADDICTION...hate it, hate it, hate it...hate the way it sucks people dry, robs them of their potential, their beauty...none of us are powerless over them, but for some it's disastrously difficult and heartbreaking for the families. Big hug to you today.
Buffy ... We've been friends long enough for me to have heard all the many times he's drifted down the wrong path, the times he says he's making a come back, and the times he has disappointed ... nay, hurt ... you one more time. Enough!

In your responses, you say this: ~"I want you to know I still have hopes and dreams for my son, but sometimes if I don’t acknowledge my own pain in the moment, I feel like I will burst."~

Sweetie, they can no longer be *your* hopes. They MUST be his. And they can NOT include you in the solution. He ... alone or with professional help he seeks on his own ... must find the answer. And when he tells you that he is, you MUST NOT buy in, just wish him well and tell him he is on his own; to come see you when he has reached his peak.

Of course, you love him; he can know that ... but you, Shiela, have always struggled with tough love. You wnat him to succeed so much, you are willing to give in too early. The result: He is in trouble again, and he drags you with him. ENOUGH! You are at a time when you need to point your life upward. You can NEVER ever let him drag you down again.! You have given ENOUGH!

Your friend, Rod xoxox
I feel like I'm reading someone else's mail, which I guess I am. Thanks for this little insight into a very difficult situation. A friend of mine passed through the California prison system years ago for similar "crimes". It's a very difficult experience. Best wishes. r.
I have a couple of things I want to say. My first thought was "Man, it looks like your son puts the "dys" in "dysfunctional." But I can't think of a word for you at all. I already thought you showed super-human patience, resilience, and humanity in relation to your husband's death. But I have a hard time even coming up with an adjective for you in relation to your additional burden of such a maturity-challenged son. Maybe I'll just have to stay with my admiration for your "superhuman humanity." Best, Ric
Indeed-what can be said, that likely hasn't been said, thought or felt deeply, already?. I can only imagine, that it's really difficult to NOT be bitter at this point. Without trust, there is so little-yet, his reality seems so disconnected-as if he can just carry on as usual: situation 'normal'. There are no words...Went through similar with my brother, and there are some things that neither time nor trust can truly repair. *Sigh. I feel for you. ~R
At least you are no longer fooled by manipulations... it is not a natural instinct for a mother to let go and I wish you the wisdom to know where that motherly balance is for you and your child...
Tough stuff. Take care, HB
I can't imagine the pain of having a son like this. A special kind of hell. I think that you are a strong person, and that you cope with it well. I'm sure it is still hard though. Bless you, and I hope that someday this will improve.
Sheila, on second reading I think you are wise to practise
"tough love". You do not sound devasted at all; you do sound like you've compartmentalized and expect nothing much from him until he shows up as someone mature. I am sure it was a long journey to get to this place, caring & not, listening & dubious. rated again
Buffy..I am sorry to feel, with you, a Mother's pain. It is very good for you to vent and we will listen, hoping that maybe one word, from someone, can take away some pain. Thinking of you, and alwys here to hear you.
Late to this one. Very moving; be cautious (as others have said).