By Cathy, 2016
Hello, my name is Cathy and I’m a 65 year old mother to Paul who is 44. When I married at age 18 in 1970 I was happy. After a year and a half I had an ectopic pregnancy and was told I may not have any children.
I was so delighted when I found out at the end of 1972 that I was pregnant, but had to be in hospital for the whole of my pregnancy so I could be monitored. Paul was born in 1973 – my little bundle of joy! This feeling was short lived as a couple of weeks later his dad left us. He had been having an affair whilst I was I hospital.
On my own with Paul was hard, but with the help of my family we coped.
When Paul was 4 years old we moved to Kirkintilloch for a better life. We settled there and Paul enjoyed going to school and met new friends.
I met my now husband Danny in 1983 and we moved in together. He was really good with Paul, but as Paul was growing up he became cheeky and would often tell Danny “you’re not my dad so don’t tell me what to do.”
We married in 1989, by now Paul was a 16 year old teenager and was quite rebellious, he was a punk rocker and was hanging around with a bad crowd.
His first dabble in drugs began around this time with cannabis. This really worried me, but there was no telling him – it was his choice was his answer!
This continued and he was staying out late and I was a bag of nerves with worry. It was causing rows with Danny and me.
In 1990 we moved to a bigger house in a nicer area. We were proud of what we had worked hard for and achieved. Paul was left at home in 1992 when Danny and I went on a much needed holiday. He promised that he would look after the house and we gave him a chance to prove himself responsible.
On our return we were met with a broken front door, a treasured picture which had belonged to Danny’s mum was damaged and the glass broken, this caused a big row also our neighbours said he had all sorts in partying.
Now almost 20 we told him that he should be settling down and have his own place. He continued hanging around with the same crowd. Since he left school he had several jobs but never lasted long. His last employment was in the nineties.
In 1999 my father was terminally ill with cancer. Paul got his own flat just before this and we done it up for him, it was lovely and only 2 minutes from us. He met a girl and seemed to be getting his act together. He was in love with her, she moved in so I felt able to take a step back. Some months later they got engaged but unfortunately it didn’t last.
His girlfriend left and went back home, Paul was devastated, his heart was broke. Just around this time my dad came to live his last two months with me and Danny. I became his carer. It was hard but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
My house never seemed empty with family visiting dad and I was too wrapped up looking after him that I had no idea how Paul’s drug use was doing, but the family all noticed. He was using heroin. His once lovely wee flat was now a drugs den – he was even growing cannabis! My brothers tried to talk to him but it was useless. My father passed in the November 1999 in my home, this really took its toll on me. I loved him so much.
It was New Year 2000 and I got a call from Paul begging me to go to his flat – he said he needed my help. When I got there I was shocked to find him in his bedroom, lying on the floor with a duvet wrapped around him. He was sitting close to the radiator, shivering and foaming at the mouth. He was having withdrawals.
And with no money to get heroin, he begged me for £10 and I refused.
He pleaded for help. I took him home to my house and said I would help. Danny was so angry. It was horrible watching him go through this.
The next morning he was worse and I managed to get him into A&E. He was seen by a doctor who gave him some medication and was told to go home. That night was awful until I couldn’t watch it anymore and I’m ashamed to admit that I went to a dealer and got him a £10 bag.
He promised he would get off it. But that never happened.
Now back in his own flat I was living on my nerves. I kept waiting for the knock on the door with the police to tell me he was dead. I became acrophobic and couldn’t face people or leave the house. Next thing we had dealers at our door demanding money, it was very scary.
His flat was broken into and he got a beating, he was a mess. A while after this I had been trying to contact him but never got an answer, I was out of my mind with worry.
I phoned round the hospitals looking for him, next I tried the police and found out that he was in Low Moss Prison, I broke my heart.
We kept up the rent payments on his flat, so that he would have somewhere to come back to. Also we cleaned up the place.
Once he was out of prison, he now had more friends he met whilst there. I didn’t know these people but he was spending a lot of time away from Kirkintilloch. I still continued to live behind closed doors, his behaviour really took a toll on me and my marriage was suffering.
So much went on that it’s hard to remember dates, years, etc.
Things that do stick in my mind are he used to ask me if I had tin foil because he was going to cook something – stupid me gave him is not knowing it was to put his heroin in to smoke.
Paul was scared from needles from a young age and to this day I honestly don’t think he has injected drugs. He had another several beatings but never owned up to that but by this time Danny and I knew it was from owing dealers money. Each time I was the one attending hospital with him. He has had his shoulder damaged and now has a metal plate in it. Only last year he claimed to have fallen downstairs. More lies and back to hospital with him, this time it was a broken elbow, more surgery and more pins in his body.
It was back in 2014 when I lost my mum and was really at my lowest, I even wished Paul dead so my worrying and acrophobia would stop – I wanted my life back.
I spoke to my GP around September 2014 and broke down. She gave me the name and telephone number of ‘Claire Wadsworth of Scottish Families’. I telephoned Claire and had a brief conversation, she asked me along to one of her family groups in Kirkintilloch, but because of my state of mind I knew I wouldn’t be able to go along.
Claire kindly agreed to come visit me at home. We had a good blether and I opened up to her. Danny was also present. It took me a few weeks to get myself along to Claire’s group, but Claire was there at the door waiting for me. I was introduced to the other ladies in the group and made to feel very welcome. I honestly don’t remember much about that first meeting!
I remember trying to talk but cried. The ladies were so lovely and understanding and from then I knew I wasn’t alone and had their support. Some of the things I heard were heart breaking and awful. It was then I thought ‘I need Scottish Families’ and from then I have found my guardian angel Claire. She is always there when I need to talk and provides a cuddle!
I heard about the ‘Recovery Life Café’ run by volunteers on the first Saturday of every month. Claire invited me along and I enjoyed it. It’s a safe place for those in recovery and their families where you have a great night of food, tea, coffee and entertainment and meet others who are experiencing similar problems. I tried to get Paul to come along but he wasn’t interested.
After a couple of months myself and Danny got involved with the cooking in the café. We also took part in the ‘Recovery Walk 2015’ in Glasgow. It was an amazing day.
I am so proud of what Scottish Families has given me. I’ve learnt to love myself and my life again. As far as Paul is my son and I love him unconditionally, I need my life!
Paul is on a methadone programme and at this present time he seems to be other than that sustaining a better lifestyle. I just hope and pray that he has now got his own life back. He is also settled with a partner and they seem happy.
For anyone reading this and struggling with similar problems through alcohol and drugs, please contact Scottish Families. I promise you will not regret it. I know I couldn’t be without their support and I will always attend the group and other things they organise. Danny and I have many new friends through this and we love attending the annual Recovery Walk and the Kiltwalk!
Thank you Claire and all at Scottish Families for helping me through the bad times, I couldn’t have done it without you. I am now in control of my life.