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Archive for the month “February, 2019”

Losing Dylan: Thursday

The next day I received a text from Bird about 11:00 am.

                           Hi Jess, Can I ask you a question?

“Of course,” I responded without thinking.

And then it occurred to me that this text message was nothing like any I had ever received from Bird in the past. For one, Bird rarely, if ever calls me by my name. She would never ask me if she could ask a question, because for her, asking a question signifies weakness. And third, Bird has never used a friendly tone in any of her communications with me.

Would you be willing to let Ian stay with me until we can sort this mess out?

I knew instantly who the text messages were from. They had Dylan written all over them. And I knew exactly what he and Bird were doing but I played dumb so that I could let them bury themselves a bit further.

“I don’t understand” I texted back.

I could visualize Bird grabbing the phone from Dylan. He had probably convinced her to let him text me and it wasn’t going as planned. The next text had an entirely different tone and was clearly from Bird.

I just heard from Dylan. He won’t tell me where he is unless I can promise him I can pick him up and he can stay with me. He’s willing to do outpatient care but he does not want to be put back in rehab. 

Was this suddenly a hostage situation? Let’s see…Bird and Dylan were asking me to agree to not put Dylan back into treatment and hand him back over to Bird. And in exchange, I would get to know where my son was! I was obviously in some kind of parallel universe of Bird and Dylan’s making. Still, I was relieved to know that Dylan was safe.

Bird kept texting me wanting explicit permission to pick Dylan up but refused to reveal his location. I wasn’t complying. The texts kept coming.

He said he ran because the director told him he couldn’t call me. He said she told him that everything had to go through you. He lost his lifeline and bolted. He wants me to take him home tonight so he can shower….rest….and deal with everything tomorrow.

His lifeline?” I recoiled at her use of the word. Suddenly the only person on earth that could help Dylan was Bird? Who exactly was I? Just the person who gave birth to Dylan and cared for him for the last 15 years. Apparently I had just been incidental to the process. My vagina begs to differ.

I called the police and gave them the address where Bird was staying. The officer called me back an hour later to tell me that no one had been there. I called Dylan’s substance abuse counselor and told her what was going on. She told me she had some time if I wanted to come in and discuss what to do next. I took her up on it.

We met and talked. I can’t recall now what was said. By the time we were done it was dark and rainy. I drove home and had just set my keys on the counter when the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number but given the situation I answered anyway.

A woman’s voice came out of the speaker that I didn’t recognize. She asked for me by my full name. For a second I thought I had been caught by a bill collector.

“This is Carla Liez. I’m an attorney representing Bird. We are filing for temporary emergency custody of Dylan. There is a hearing tomorrow at 11, and you are invited to attend”.

Oh, I’m invited to attend?”, I said, my blood boiling. “I guess you must not look into your cases before you take them on. Did you know Bird has lived in a trailer she pulls behind her truck for most of her adult life? Did you know she is attempting to interfere with him getting medically indicated treatment?!!”

Her voice was annoyingly non-reactive. “You are invited to attend the hearing tomorrow, at 11 o’clock.”

“Oh, I’ll be there,” I said emphatically, and hung up.



Losing Dylan: the escape

Dylan was admitted to rehab on a Monday. That night Bird texted me, worried. She said Dylan had called and told her the rehab facility was horrible. The cook hadn’t shown up for dinner and they had to make themselves sandwiches. Bird told me Dylan was afraid, because many of the other kids in the facility were wearing ankle monitoring bracelets and tattoos.

I had much more faith in Dylan being able to navigate rehab than Bird did. Dylan made friends wherever he went. I suspected Dylan was embellishing the story trying to get Bird to rescue him. But I was also worried. I hadn’t met the other kids there. I wondered if I should have looked into other rehabs.

Tuesday at 4pm I received a call from the director of the facility. Dylan was gone. He’d taken off running when they went outside to play basketball. They had called the police to report him as a runaway. The director told me that all we could do now was wait.

I hadn’t anticipated this, although I probably should have. On some level I must have because it was indeed my worst fear. I called Bird to tell her the news. She was angry. “I knew this was going to happen!” she said before hanging up.

Soon after it started pouring down rain. I imagined Dylan out in the streets somewhere without cover. In all of Dylan’s 15 years I had never felt so desperate and powerless. I called the police and told them where I thought he might be. Surely he would go to his favorite hangout, the place where he got his drugs. The police called me back a short time later. The officer’s voice on the other end said he was at Dylan’s hangout.

“There is no one here that fits his description, Ma’am” he said matter of factly.

Later that evening I drove to his hangout myself. I talked to some of the people there. They all said they knew Dylan, and were surprised to learn he was only 15. No one had seen him for several days. Bird and I were texting back and forth, asking each other if there was any news. Finally it seemed there was nothing left to do except to go to bed.

I slept uneasily and woke to a text from Bird asking me if I had heard anything. There was nothing. Bird texted that she was driving around “blindly” looking for him. It was Wednesday and I spent the day in a state of despair, immobilized. Had I caused this situation by putting Dylan in treatment? I tried to push away the thought that I might never see Dylan again. Suddenly having Dylan home safe, even on drugs, seemed preferable to not knowing where he was.

Dylan was set to appear in juvenile court that Friday, but his probation officer needed to serve him the summons. Bird had the P.O.’s name and number. I wanted to call him to alert him to the situation. I texted Bird three separate times asking her for the information. Each time she responded with a vague response and would not give me the number. It was extremely frustrating. Finally I called Dylan’s substance abuse counselor and she gave me the number.

Dylan’s P.O. told me he couldn’t speak to Bird without my consent because she did not have a legal connection to Dylan. He agreed to meet with me that day at 3 to discuss Dylan’s situation. Because Bird had withheld the information from me, I decided not to invite her to the meeting. She called me right before the appointment and I told her where I was.

I told her if she was not going to cooperate with me, I wasn’t going to include her. She was livid. I held the phone away from my ear when she began raising her voice. “You don’t understand, Jess! This is much more difficult for me because you are the one who has all the control.”

I didn’t care about control at that moment. I wanted Ian safe and back in treatment. Bird had been pulling this kind of shit with me for years, making me prod for answers to simple questions about Dylan.

I began to notice a pattern that occurred over and over again with Bird and Dylan. One or both of them would do something that would be considered bizarre or out of line in any “normal” setting. Take for instance, Bird withholding the P.O’s number from me. If I then made a choice in response, for instance, not inviting Bird to the meeting, one or both of them would get angry at me. Individually or together they would blame me for the entire incident, acting as if their actions had no effect whatsoever on the outcome. It’s like how Bird was supplying Dylan with weed, and simultaneously blaming me as the reason Dylan was using weed.

The P.O. told me that unless we could find Dylan, he wouldn’t be able to serve him. Without serving him, the court would have no power to remand Dylan back to treatment. Things were looking bleak. Time was moving very slowly. I wondered how long this could go on for. It felt like torture.

I began to feel suspicious of Bird. Was she hiding Dylan from me? She had stopped texting or calling me for information about where Dylan might be. I knew that if she didn’t know where Dylan was, she would be frantic. It seemed odd. And then it occurred to me. Bird had Dylan’s phone, the center of his universe. Or… did she still have his phone? Had she possibly slipped it to him during the admission process?

I texted her.

I was thinking this would be a good time to look at his phone to see who he was communicating with most recently

                                 Forgot I had it. I have to charge it

I would do that asap

                                 What’s his pin



My suspicion grew. Your child is missing and you forget that you have his phone? I thought on this for a while, until later that evening. All of the recent communication between Bird and I had been via text. I needed the truth. At about 8pm I called Bird.

It sounded like she was at a gas station or something. I asked her what she was doing. “Oh, I just got done going to a meeting,” she said, nonchalant. Her voice had that softness it gets sometimes. “Maybe she was going to Alanon?” I silently hoped.

“Oh”. I said, awkward. “I just, um wanted to say, or ask…If you knew where Dylan was, you wouldn’t hide it from me, would you?”

“Oh, no. No, I would never do that to you,” Bird replied reassuringly.

Losing Dylan: the intake

Dylan, Bird and I were sitting in the intake office of the adolescent drug treatment program. The intake counselor was asking me questions about the admission when Bird interrupted. She asked the intake counselor, “Does Dylan have to be here?”

The intake counselor told Bird that they couldn’t hold anyone against their will. She seemed confused. In front of her were two female parents and Dylan, who was hissing and spitting like a feral cat. One parent wanted to admit Dylan and the other was trying to take him home. She hesitated and then said, “Maybe we should go talk alone for a few minutes?” nodding to Bird and I.

“Be careful,” Dylan admonished the intake counselor. “Jess is very manipulative,” he said, calling me by my first name.

The three of us went upstairs to an empty counselors office. I sat and said nothing while Bird went on about how she didn’t think Dylan needed treatment, it was only marijuana, etc. Bird wanted to know what Dylan’s rights were. I suggested we call Dylan’s substance abuse counselor, who I hoped would be able to set Bird straight. Luckily we were able to get through to her. The intake person put her on speakerphone. She told Bird everything I had already told her. He needed inpatient treatment. If he refused, when he appeared in court the following week, he would likely be sent back to treatment. Bird never takes my word on anything. But she seemed to finally be getting it that there was no way out of this.

We went back downstairs and Bird explained the situation to Dylan, again. Since it was coming from her he seemed to accept it. I started filling out the paperwork, which was at least 1/2 inch thick. Bird had not brought any of Dylan’s things, apparently assuming she would be taking him back to her trailer.

As I sat filling out the paperwork Dylan would occasionally erupt in anger, calling me expletives. He told the staff I was a drug addict, not him. He told the staff I had been giving him drugs. He told me over and over again how much he hated me, and that everything that was happening was my fault. It was clear that Bird and Dylan were in agreement that I had engineered this treatment experience as some kind of punishment for Dylan.

The admission process took at least a couple of hours. I said nothing to the verbal attacks that Dylan continued to throw at me. I was embarrassed by Dylan’s behavior, both towards me and the treatment staff. By now he had hurled expletives at all of them as well.

Once Dylan understood that there was no escape, he put his cigarettes and lighter on the intake counselor’s desk. Before she could take them, Bird reached her hand out and grabbed them, curling her long fingers around them as she slipped them inside of her coat pocket. As she did so she said, “Dylan!”, as if to correct him for wasting something valuable.

They gave us a tour. Bird kept making disparaging side comments to me about the place. She didn’t like the rules. She didn’t think Dylan should be subjected to the rules. The treatment center was an apartment building that had been converted into a rehab facility. As we walked through, I thought of myself when I was Dylan’s age. I didn’t think it sounded too bad to be housed with twenty co-ed kids who were fellow drug users. I also thought of my own treatment experience, which happened when I was 21.

It was finally time for us to go. Dylan was crying and clinging to Bird, still pleading with her to get him out of there. He hugged her and told her he loved her. He turned to me and said, “I hope you burn in hell, Jess.”

The big solid door of the facility closed behind us. Looking up I saw there were tears in Bird’s eyes. “I feel like we are locking him up and throwing away the key!” she said.

I tried to reassure her that we were doing the right thing. I reminded her that every professional we had spoken to had agreed that this was the right thing. He was safe and in fact, he wasn’t locked up.

Because my relationship with Bird had been strained for many years prior, we hadn’t touched in several years. Impulsively, I hugged her. “It’s going to be OK,” I said. “We will get through this together”.

That night I went home and I remember thinking that if I died that night, I would die happy. I felt like we had just done the most important thing in the world for Dylan. I honestly couldn’t believe we had pulled it off. Finally, there was a chance for him to find himself again.

I had no way of knowing that things were about to get worse, much worse than I had ever anticipated.


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