On a warm September morning, the Monday after my first 50-mile MS walk, I hobbled on swollen and blistered feet into the office of my daughter’s therapist. I thought I was coming to this appointment for the obligatory “your mother is the root of all your problems” visit that was so common in those days. While I sat in a flowered wing-backed chair that, in my memory, still looks like something that would be found in a common room of a nursing home, I listened to the therapist and my daughter hem and haw, dancing with words, neither wanting to tell me the crux of my visit. When the words, the unfamiliar, foreign, and unbelievable truth was spoken, I was speechless. Speechless. Not speechless like when someone tells you that their neighbor is sleeping with their spouse, or your kid is caught passing a vodka bottle around on a school trip, or even when your partner says something hurtful in a fight. I mean, actual speechlessness. Unable to form a word. I was unable to do anything other than open my mouth to say something but simple move my mouth and jaw in a fashion very similar to a fish gulping for air. Air only. No words. Speechless, people. Me. And if you know anything about me, that alone should render fright from deep in your bones, yo.
She did not say I am a heroin addict. She said she was shooting up heroin. Shooting up. That was her words. What she said first was, I don’t want to tell you. So, I said, are you pregnant? In my naiveite, I thought that was the worst that could happen. Her boyfriend at the time, and it is kind of me to call him anything other than fuckstick or dickwad or some other pejorative, was something short of great. I’m sure you can tell. I did not love him. I truly thought that was going to be the worst thing she could say. I was so fucking wrong. So, I was the dickwad in this story. At any rate, she laughed and said no, not pregnant. I believe I said something like than how bad can it be, or whatever it is we can deal with it. I am shooting up heroin. Ya…. no. I was not prepared for that. In typical Melanie fashion I went into fix-it mode which also means feel-nothing mode. I had zero reaction. I didn’t yell, or scream, or scold, or cry, or fall to the ground to curl into fetal position and beg for a Xanax drip (p.s. knowing what I know now, I def should have done that) but instead said so what do we do now? That’s what I said. For real. I looked at the therapist and simply asked where do we go from here? If you have been following this blog for any amount of time, you know what happened here. If not, go back to the beginning and have yourself a good read.
For those that have been reading this blog, for those that have suffered with me, and beside me and with their own loved one, I am not going to drag us back into the quagmire. Today is not about the past. Today is about celebration. The last moments of active addiction were three years ago. Three years ago, JoDee realized she was a reason to live. She had enough. She wanted to join her family and her friends in life, and she did it. It was not an easy transition. For me or her. She was learning to know her place at home, with brothers that were, well if I am being kind, reluctant to trust anything she said or did. To have a mother that literally watched her every movement as though she was made of dynamite and may explode killing everything in her path at any moment. To have very few clean and sober friends that she hadn’t fucked over, or stole from, or blew off so many times they were not going to talk to her ever again. To not having a job. To have to sleep in a guest room in my house on an air mattress that had a hole in it so she was on the floor by sunrise, and whose mother kept saying she wouldn’t buy a bed until I knew she was staying. But she stayed. I mean, eventually she moved out, and then moved with her boyfriend, and then back home, but we will get to that. Relax, let’s enjoy this timeline.
The timeline. The last three years have been very, very interesting. It has been a roller coaster of moments and feelings. The first six months were particularly hard for me. I wanted to trust her, but I also wanted to punch her face in until it looked like something in a Tarantino movie. Sometimes I wanted to spend all my time with her, other times I felt if I saw her face one more time, I would vomit battery acid on it. I wish I could say I was exaggerating. I am not. Eventually things became regular and normal, but life is tricky. It doesn’t play by the rules. Let us review:
About three months after JoDee came home, Voldemort the II (VII going forward) and I had a planned trip to Punta Canna with some friends. Things happened right before, during and after that should have let me know my marriage was over but I did not see it. I think that had I not felt so grateful to VII for helping me during the most difficult part of my life to that point, I probably would have seen it. But loyalty is blind, people. Less than a year from that, and thanks to the insistence by my middle child, I decided to hire a professional to help me see what I couldn’t. The details are not even worth the time it would take to type them, but it became clear that VII was not at all who I thought he was, and the divorce began. During this time, JoDee became pregnant. To say I was not pleased about this would be an understatement of the year. Only Steen, aka Melanie’s biggest confidant, could tell you the level of that displeasure. Over time, I came to realize that this was a blessing and not a curse.
Meanwhile, my faith in life was restored. I was at this point where I felt as though every time things were going well; something shits on it. JoDee clean, VII dirty. But so many things happened at the same time. My granddaughter is literally the best thing that every happened to me. If you aren’t a grandparent yet, listen up. You think you love your kids, until you have grandkids and then you realize your kids are dead to you. I have enjoyed having her live with me every day. She has peed on my bed, thrown up on my face, colored on my wall behind my work desk, and jumped on my lap in the middle of client video calls, but I do not care. Hearing her feet pound down the hall from her room to my room is priceless. I am in love! In many ways.
I was distraught at the idea that I was getting divorced. Again. I mean, this is humiliating. I remember when my Dad retired, I gave a speech, more of a roast, that poked fun at the number of ex-wives he had and now, I have exceeded him in ex-husbands. That’s awesome. I was fully prepared to write off relationships for the near future, happily, and just be me. I have no problem being single. I was looking forward to it. And then something happened. Something that was supposed to be just a fling, turned into a thing. I was separated, he is good company, similar sense of humor, very patient and kind, and good, you know, connection, if catch my meaning. But the worse the divorce got, and it was very contentious, the more supportive he was, and the more I saw him for something other than a fling. He will tell you from the rip he knew we were meant to be together, and he will also tell you that I fought that tooth and nail, and basically told him to scram more than once. However, I couldn’t deny the puzzle piece. He fit in the puzzle of our family. The kids liked him. A lot. Even my very hard to please middle child, Jay J. He doesn’t like anybody! Brynnlee LOVES him, refers to him as Sweets (as in Sweet T, T for Tony) which is adorable. And I learned that relationships are not supposed to be so much work. Yes, they are hard, and yes both parties must put energy into them. But all my previous relationships were work, right from the start. Communication, patience, and loyalty on both sides is something that was missing previously. I didn’t realize relationships do not need to have screaming fights, or days of silent treatment, or well he did this, so I am doing that behavior. It has been truly a breath of fresh air. And you know you are meant to be with someone when you can quarantine with them for 6 months and not kill each other dead. In all truthfulness, it took me a long time to see what he saw and believe what he believed. It didn’t happen overnight. It was a process. It was vacations in the mountains where we both were afraid of black bears killing us because we bought fried chicken. Keep in mind it was 4 steps from car to door. It was heated debates about who was right or wrong on 90-Day fiancé, and finally when I lost my job. I thought that was a nightmare. I was freaking out because I support a lot of people. And I was in the middle of a divorce that was proving to be extremely costly and making most of resources frozen. My thoughts were the following:
- Great. I am too old to sell my ass for pennies on the street, so that’s out.
- It is the middle of a pandemic, so I am going to have to live on unemployment.
- I hate eating box mac and cheese but that is what we will be living on again. Fan-fucking-tastic.
I will not go into the specifics, but I was also very angry because I felt that someone, I was very loyalty too, threw me under the bus to save themself. I felt played. I kept thinking; I really do not want to go work for another corporation. I loved the company I worked for, until I didn’t. It was like having the best sex of your life and finding out later the person gave you the clap. I kept going over and over my next move, aloud and frequently to T. During one of my very relentless musing sessions (I would call them, he would probably say whining), I pounder why I did not just go out on my own to see what happened. He simply told me to think it out, put it to paper, see if it makes sense. I never imagined how much sense it would make! So, on this day, May 1st, I am celebrating 3 years of JoDee’s sobriety, and T’s best friend’s wedding, in Cape Coral on a beautiful beach with so much to be thankful for. A very successful business, more successful than I ever could have imagined, a true, faithful, loyal, and hot AF partner, and a daughter who fought her way from hell into a world with friends, and babies, and friend groups. Sometimes walking through the fire leads to utopia.