After

After, of course, is even worse than before.

At least when he was here, we knew where he was. We knew he was safe.

Though it makes you feel angry when your son is doing drugs and drinking right in your house after you told him he’s not allowed to, it feels worse when you don’t know what he’s doing or if he’s safe.

Bunz doesn’t realize that we would help him so much if he would try to make his life better. We planned to give him money for his damage deposit on his new place, and help him get things he needs like dishes and furniture. I already had bought him a set of towels. We wanted him to succeed more than he wanted it himself.

The last threat he made, while he was trying to break into the house, was that we would have to “get an eviction notice” to get him out.

Instead of apologizing for everything that happened the night before, he decided to keep trying to bully us.

“Now you’re digging yourself into a hole you can’t get out of,” J said.

We had already changed our life significantly to accommodate him. Since he couldn’t be trusted home alone, we had to make sure one of us was always here. If we wanted to go to the lake, we had to let him know so he could find somewhere else to stay, and we only did it once because then we had to deal with his anger. J would wait until I got home to run to the store, even, and since I am almost always here during the day (except for travel), I got Friday watch duty because Bunz didn’t work Fridays.

J also changed his hours at work, so he could give Bunz rides everyday. We paid for his plane ticket back when he needed it, we paid him to do jobs around the house like sanding the deck and dismantling the old sandbox when he needed money. His aunt picked him up to do some landscaping to earn money and his grandparents tried repeatedly to connect with him and help him out. So many people want to see him succeed.

Usually we take a vacation in late June, when it’s warm enough to swim and before everyone descends upon the lake for the 4th of July. This year we left the day after Bunz left for SC, in early June, because we couldn’t leave him home a week otherwise, and we knew it was the only chance we’d get.

All of this we did because we wanted to give him a chance. We wanted to give him every opportunity to succeed. We didn’t do it begrudgingly, we did it knowing he needed an actual chance at getting his life straight.

Bunz was already running our life in that he needed constant looking after. We didn’t give him a house key, because it was agreed this was a short term situation and he was a temporary guest. We stayed up nights waiting for him to get home.

As I’ve mentioned before, my ex husband was an addict and and alcoholic. When things were going well, he’d start working again, and as soon as he had money in his pocket he started going downhill.

It began a little of the same with Bunz. He had money in his pocket to buy alcohol and drugs, and also to gamble.

Bunz is addicted to everything. He doesn’t just smoke cigarettes, he also vapes and chews. He doesn’t just smoke weed he also dabs and smokes god knows what else. He doesn’t just have his famous “two beers”, he prefers hard alcohol but will mix the two when he has them. He gambles online and at the casino and he plays xbox round the clock. He takes it with him when he goes to stay somewhere for even one night.

He told me about two trips to the casino, ending them with, “Don’t tell dad” because he doesn’t understand healthy boundaries. Of course I told dad, we’re all in this together.

He worked four ten hour days, and he began spending those three days off somewhere else each week- with his friends, the ones from high school, the ones that hung out with him back then when he never came home because he was running wild and told everyone that his parents kicked him out.

We didn’t like it, but we didn’t say anything because at least he was respecting us and not doing it at our house for those days.

In every way, our life was now centered around him and his every behavior and action. We accepted that we couldn’t control him, but we could control our own house. The fact that he tried to take control of that as well was why we moved him out so quickly.

In MN it’s law that if someone stays with you for 14 days they establish residency. It is then illegal for you to kick them out, or change the locks. You can call the police, but the police cannot do anything about it. You have to file a formal eviction notice with the courts.

We were aware of this law, because my sister is a social worker and she sees it all the time. Bunz is aware of the law, also, because he’s been evicted so many times. He moves every few months, and it always ends badly. He had a girlfriend for a while in SC who wanted to “help” him, and she educated him on the laws.

When he made that threat, he sealed his fate. He had officially moved in with us when he arrived back from SC with all his belongings. Before that he was a visitor and then he was gone for a few weeks. It had been six days when he made that threat, but that threat meant he wasn’t going to make it to fourteen. For everything we were willing to do, we were not willing to give up control of whether or not he was allowed in our house.

He was already breaking all the rules, though there weren’t that many, and they were all related to drugs and alcohol. We couldn’t have him breaking the rules and then refusing to leave, us becoming victims with no recourse, forced to live in our house with the craziness of a using addict with a bad temper.

The whole point was that he was supposed to be trying to get better. What he said with that threat was that he was going to do what he wanted and “there’s nothing you can do about it”.

He learned otherwise. We aren’t going to be bullied into submission, and we certainly aren’t going to give him control of our home and whether or not he is allowed to be there.

“If you don’t want to follow the rules,” I said to him a few days before the Really Bad Night, “then you need to find your own place. That’s why kids move out at eighteen, right? Cause they don’t want to follow their parents rules. You’re twenty six, Bunz. If you don’t like the rules, then move out. If you’re staying here, the rules are the rules. Those are your options.”

Now we don’t know where he is, he didn’t respond to my text and I don’t know if he’s ok. Maybe he’s on a binge. Maybe he’s on the verge of overdosing. Is he going to work? Is he sleeping or is he round the clock smoking and drinking? Will he be ok? Does he know we would still help him in an instant if he wants to live a better life?

Now, all we can do is pray. It’s hard to say if it’s better or worse, but there’s no mistaking the overwhelming sadness. We tried and failed. We gave him everything he needed to make a better life and he chose otherwise.

“My only son,” J sobbed, when we finished moving on Sunday. Every time the tears overtake J he tries to stop them. It was our choice to make Bunz leave, though it didn’t feel much like a choice, so J thinks he needs to be a strong, tough guy.

“What you need is a good crier movie,” I said, after we had moved all Bunz’s stuff out and the sadness began to settle.

We left the curtains closed and turned off all the lights so the house was like a cave. Pressed play on “Dead Poets Society”, the saddest movie we had in the house.

And we cried.

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