Amy Tompkins Albanese


A memory from 2 years ago popped up on my timeline this morning. We’d been invited to Palm Desert for a long weekend by clients of my husband. It was always difficult for me to enjoy these trips -what if this was the weekend that something tragic happened to Michael? What if the cops came to the house or tried to call? I considered leaving my cell phone number taped to the front door. I worried myself sick over how we’d politely excuse ourselves if we had to leave, (because surely we couldn’t tell them our son was a drug addict, could we?), and how would I break the news to my husband who’s “head was in the sand” and endure the drive back home.

Michael chose this weekend to lie to his best friend/partner in crime. “E”, who momentarily grew a conscience and decided to send me a series of texts defending himself from what he was sure, was wrongful incrimination, “I know it looks like I stole all those checks, but it’s not how it seems…….” What?? Holy shit…. what?? I knew that I brought every last check with me hidden in my luggage. How did he get in the house? Getting ready to meet our friends for breakfast, “E” fills me in on those checks that come in the mail from the credit card company – you know the ones – inviting you to pay off other debts using their “convenient and complimentary” checks. I quietly checked the credit card on my phone app and sure enough the account was about to be maxed out – checks were hitting as I
watched. To make matters worse, this was my husband’s business card. Reading the texts while walking across the street to meet our friends cheerfully waiting on the other side, I seriously considered throwing myself in front of a car.

Shaking like a leaf, holding back tears, stomach in knots, I excused myself and called the credit card company to report it lost. I said nothing about the checks. I was still protecting my son. I lied to my husband and told him the card was compromised and they were sending him a new one. No worries. Cover it up….protect…lie. I was texting Michael under the table to tell him he’s busted…. the checks won’t work…. the account has been closed…. no response. I’m so
angry, scared and sad- and I have to sit there and smile, carry on polite conversation and actually try to get food down.

I text “E” – frantic – Where is Michael? Tell him to respond to me ASAP. “E” said he’s probably still trying to get my car back. OMG. I’m going to faint. Smiling, taking a bite of my omelet and gushing over how adorable our host’s grandson looks in his soccer uniform…. I want to die right here and now.

Michael had not only gotten into the house but he took my car using a key that he’d long ago told me was lost and used it as collateral for a buy and to cover money he owed. I was so full of mixed emotions at that moment – knowing the panic Michael must be feeling; it broke my heart….protective mom mode. The anger and fear were making me physically ill. I excused myself once more and called Michael a dozen times. No response. And this went on all weekend.

Well, he did get the car back – this time. He traded our family heirloom- Sterling Silver flatware. It wasn’t pawned – no receipt to try to buy it back – it was traded on the street to a drug dealer. Michael survived the weekend and our hosts didn’t have a clue that anything was wrong. My husband found out about the checks and chose to believe Michael’s excuse that he had a gambling problem – much easier to believe than a heroin addiction which he was fully aware of but refused to acknowledge. He gave that problem to me – handle it – fix it. Whatever works. And me? I went on making excuses and enabling. Michael had already stolen much worse from me, so I let myself believe that the silver was just material stuff – my son’s life was all that mattered. His addiction was my addiction. It took another 11 months of attempted rehab, painful detoxes, and death defying binges before he was finally arrested and began his road to recovery. And today I look back on that Facebook memory with disgust…. look at Amy! She’s in Palm Desert! What a great life – all is right with the world! What a load of crap.