Our family’s new normal

When there’s a junkie in your family, everyday brings a new variation of the new normal.

Lately it’s that he doesn’t sit down when he’s visiting. He stands around or moves about in the apartment. Pacing. Restless. And he always leaves his coat on.

Another new normal is that things go missing. He’ll borrow my phone, make a call from in the bathroom, and not return the phone. Later when I need to recharge my phone, I realize he didn’t give it back.

Hey, you have my phone, can you give it back?

I already gave it back to you.

No, I never got it back. You had it last, where did you put it?

He’s 6-ft 4 and often places things on the tops of shelves out of visibility, like last week when I found his journal on my popcorn popper tucked away on a high shelf that I need a stool to access. He’s dismissive to me.

I already told you I gave it back right away. I made my call and gave it back to you.

He just stays sitting there, arms crossed. He likes to get me into a fluster so I can’t think straight. For years this strategy worked for him. But now that he no longer lives with me and lately I’ve joined a support group, I have more time to reflect. I’ve also realized how many in our group share similar experiences. Almost like the addicts conspire together, somehow. I’m clueing in to his tactics. Understanding his odd new behaviours. And I’m learning to use ‘I’ statements. I stand my ground trying to stay calm.

I know I lent you my phone. I know I didn’t get it back. At the very least, I would appreciate if I could get some help to look for it.

He stays sitting. He says he hasn’t seen the phone. That he’s tired. Wants a cat-nap before leaving. Needs some quiet time. And, can he borrow some cash for the bus.

I feel that you have misplaced my phone, please help me find it.

Then I’m searching all around him, among the chaos of stuff strewn everywhere that is now my home’s new normal since my youngest moved back in, squeezed into my tiny apartment.

Then suddenly, surprise surprise, he finds it under his chair.
Just as I reach for it, it starts vibrating – call coming in.
He grabs the phone, turns it off lickety-split, tosses it to me and heads for the door.

Gotta go, may have found some work for tomorrow. Job starts early. Bye.

He quickly goes out the door. I’m turning my phone back on when there’s another call coming in. It’s 11:30 at night, none of my friends would call this late. I take the call. Hello? The caller hangs up.

Private number is displayed.

I’m puzzled. What was that all about? No time to sort it out, I’ve got to get to bed. Busy day tomorrow. I plug in my charger. Thoughts are niggling at the back of my mind. Then I notice all the laundry coins are gone, at least $10. Just then my younger son says…

Hey mom, did you borrow some money from my wallet?

Suddenly it’s all clear. The evening’s events gel. All the pieces fall into place.

Older son ‘finds’ coins laying around. Takes brother’s wallet. Add in the $5 bus money and… CASHOLA!

He makes call to dealer on my phone. Awaits dealer’s return call. Bingo… he’s gone!

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