Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states
To my surprise and delight, Vinnie’s Mom E. Mailed me about the article that was published here at Mental Help Net. After her daughter read the article she alerted her mother, Ivana, who then contacted me. She asked that her E. Mail to me be published so that, along with the television program and the article, people could learn more about ADHD, addiction and how to avoid the tragedy that has torn their family apart so very much.
The original program can be found on the A&E channel and should be ON Demand if you get cable TV.
“It is me, Vinnie’s Mom.”
“My daughter Michelle found your blog and forwarded it to me. A lot of what you said is true, but the show also failed to mention a lot of things, mostly because of time I’m sure and probably to get their point across. They can probably do a whole series just on our family.
Therapists are Standing By to Treat Your Depression, Anxiety or Other Mental Health Needs
Explore Your Options Today
I do want to point out to you (and I am not making excuses for myself or for Vinnie) but he was asked to leave the program for non participation in the group counseling. Vinnie fought that program from day one. Maybe out of fear, maybe for his thirst to have drugs. It is very hard for Vinnie to open up and share all of his feelings and NO, I did not fly him home FIRST CLASS like the show depicted. The director of the program called to me let me know Vinnie was being discharged. He was in the middle of Palm Springs, CA with not a dollar in his pocket. All he had was a phone card. I begged with him to return to the program, but I’m not sure if it was his pride or his freedom, but he said he could not return. So yes, I told him to go to the nearest airport and I would get him a plane ticket home. But believe me, it was not first class. But that doesn’t matter, I broke my word and flew him home. I could not stand to see him on the streets of Hartford, where he knows people and could probably find a place to stay, but in CA he knew no one. So as his mother, yes, I flew him home.
There is so much more to our family background. Not only was Vinnie physically and mentally abused by his father, but so was I. Most people his dad comes in contact with are verbally abused. But his father is not the evil person depicted. He is sad, pathetic and ignorant. He wants to keep us under his thumb so he would always have the upper hand. I know he loves his children. Does he know how to express his love? No, he feels his part as a husband and father was to go to work and make sure we had the things needed, food and shelter and “toys”. What we needed was a husband and father. Not a race car driver who cared about spending all of his spare time with his cars.
Vinnie was hyper and out of control from the time he was an infant. When he was born, and for the first few months, all he did was eat and sleep. Then the naps became farther apart and he did not want to be restricted. He would cry to get out of his play pen, He loved playing in his “Johnny Jump Up” the little swing that hangs from the door frame where he can jump and jump. At eight months he was running and has not stopped since. Both myself and my ex husband would loose patience with Vinnie, We didn’t know what to do and no one had any answers for us. My ex husband would say, “Leave him alone, he’s a boy” Others would say, “Oh he has so much ginger” and so on and so on. He was uncontrollable in school and labeled the bad kid. Back then, in order for the school to help, they told me they had to label him as a behavioral problem so he could get into the smaller special classes. But Vinnie was NEVER a bad kid. He was hyper. He would never hurt anyone or do anything bad to anyone. The school’s solution – RITALIN!!!!! My ex was against it. I fought with him. Told him the school insisted we put him on the medication. They did psychological testing on Vinnie and diagnosed him with ADHD.
He just wore me out. And I thought Ritalin was going to be the “magic pill”. But it wasn’t. Vinnie said it just made him feel dopey. Maybe my ex didn’t want to admit he had a child who had a problem – “No, not my child”
Maybe if we ignore it, it will go away, maybe he will outgrow it.
My children are all affected from my divorce. There was so much trauma in our home. No my ex was not 100% of the blame, I am to blame also. And yes, that is where most of my guilt comes from. Why did I stay, why did I leave my children with an abusive man? Why, why, why!!! But Vinnie also wanted to stay with his dad. So I agreed, I had no control on Vinnie, He never listened to me, but he had a fear with his dad, and so again, I thought it would be best. Again, another mistake.
But I cannot change the past. When Vinnie was 16 up until he turned 18 I lived in Florida. When I came back, Vinnie came to live with me. I had no control over him then either, He would not follow the rules I set forth, and so again, he went to live with his dad. He began using drugs, stealing, etc, etc.
A year later he came to live with me again. Now at this point, I met a man whom I am now married to. This is when I first found out Vinnie was smoking crack. Again, I sent him to live with his dad. Vinnie would do good, then relapse. This went on for a few years. He decided to move to FL to get away from everyone. He went to live with his aunt and uncle there (his dad’s sister) and was doing well. Working, not sure if he was doing any coke, but I know he was still smoking marijuana. And he stayed there for 8 months. Decided to come back to CT, lasted about 1 month, started smoking crack and left again for FL. This time he lived with his other aunt for a short time, then moved in with one of his friends and his parents. Again started doing heavy coke. Lasted there 4-6 months and he came back to CT. At this point, he was not allowed to live in our home, I bought him a 1 bedroom condo. After 4 months of heavy crack use, he decided to leave again for FL. Each time he would go to FL, I would tell him, Face your problems here, get help, stop running. Anyways, he left. Rented an apartment from his uncle, met a girl and within 8 months married her. To this day, they are still married. But in June, she left him and went back home to FL.
Also, within all this time period, I tried desperately to get Vinnie into a program, a treatment, but he would not go. At the time I was a secretary in the Emergency Room. He would call me to tell me he wanted to kill himself. I would convince him to come in to talk to someone. In the mean time, I would go and tell the psych clinician he was suicidal and needed a program. When he would arrive, he would tell them he was fine and I was lying so they would discharge him. I would plead with them, but since he was not a minor and he was not in harm, they would discharge him. FRUSTRATION!!!!! Most recently when I had him go to the hospital – because he told me he wanted to be admitted for his depression and addiction – he was sent to ADRC – a drug and rehab facility. Not what Vinnie or I wanted. I truly feel he needs more. But again I was told “He had not attempted suicide and his problem is his drug addiction” I wanted to scream. Does he actually have to try to kill himself, What if he succeeds!!!!!!!!!!!! So Vinnie went to the treatment, stayed for about 5 days and left and has been living in my home ever since. Is he still using drugs? Yes. Is it a struggle for him, Yes it is, everyday.
Do I enable Vinnie? Yes. Why? Out of guilt and also I would rather give him the money so he doesn’t have to go steal it from someone and get into more trouble. Should I let him suffer his own consequences? Yes, I know I should, but my heart will not let that happen? Am I bad for Vinnie, yes and no. He knows I love him unconditionally which is why he takes advantage of things with me. But yes, I am hurting him so much also. Sometimes I ask myself, If I was strong enough to do the tough love in the beginning, would things have escalated this far?? Probably not. Or Probably so. Would Vinnie be better or would he be in jail or even worse, dead. I do not want to bury any of my children.
In the interview, they asked me a question and my answer was, “Maybe if Vinnie was dead, it would be better.” Oh what an awful thing to think, never mind say to the world. It is not what I meant. What I meant was that he is so sad, so lost, so hurt, that I cannot get thru to him. Let him know life is worth living, things can get better – but to let him be in peace. Would I or anyone else in my family ever be in peace – definitely not. I love my children so much, that yes, I am loving Vinnie to death. I am scared everyday that my biggest fear is going to come true. I was told by the interventionist when I told her I did not know what to do anymore, her response was, no you are not the professional. We are sending him to a place where they are professionals and will know what to do. Well, guess what Dr Schwartz, the professionals could not get through to him either. Am I blaming them, no. Am I disappointed, YES. Again, I thought this intervention was going to be the end, that Vinnie would open up and accept this wonderful gift given to him and FINALLY get the help he so desperately needs.
Why I chose not to go to Betty Ford? Mostly out of fear ( my excuse which is true, lack of funds – plane, hotel, food). But then again, I asked myself, yeah I can go, but if Vinnie continues to do drugs and harm himself, how is that going to change things for me. I will still worry, still want to help him – so I don’t think any program is going to help me. I will always want to help my children.
OK, so after watching the show, and with the encouragement of my daughter and my friends, I thought, “What do I have to loose” I’ll give it a try. I’ll go – I’ll tell them how I feel. Will it make Vinnie stop using drugs by me going to the clinic? Most likely not. Vinnie has to stop using drugs because Vinnie wants to stop.
So today I made the call. I received a voice mail back from Mary, the director, States they will still honor the scholarship and to call her tomorrow morning.
So, let’s see what happens. My husband thinks its going to be a waste of time because he feels I will not follow through with what I learn. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t , but I will not go there with a closed mind.
Now regarding my youngest son – yeah the show depicted him to be heartless and non caring. Crying that he was spending his birthday there. Salvatore also has a wall up – can’t get hurt that way. But what he was saying that was cut out of the program was “Vinnie, today is my birthday and rather than celebrating, I am here with you, to support you. As a gift for my birthday, please go and get yourself some help” He was not feeling sorry for himself because he was there on his birthday..
As for calling his brother a loser, yes that is how he feels. That is what he hears everyday from DAD. Vinnie is no good, vinnie is a f’in moron, Vinnie is stupid, an embarrassment.
Dad is frustrated, embarrassed. But yes, he does love his son. Maybe this is his way of tough love now, but should we have treated Vinnie the way we did as a child – DEFINITELY NOT. Yes ignorance and stupidity on our part.
Dr Schwartz, I have always and still do tell Vinnie how smart he is, what a great person he is and to ignore what his dad says to him. I try to build up his self esteem and with one word, his dad knocks it all back down.
Well, enough said –
Keep Reading By Author Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.
Read In Order Of Posting