I didn’t. I had no idea. My daughter lived under my roof, along with her drug-dealing boyfriend, day in and day out and I had no idea. How did I not know? I thought, I was a good mother. I thought I paid attention to my kids. I thought I knew what was happening in my own house. I didn’t know. I didn’t know when she was nodding off in front of me. I didn’t know when she stopped coming out of her room. I didn’t know when she was pasty white, terribly thin, and nasty to everyone. I didn’t know.
In September of 2013 my daughter, JoDee, asked me to go with her to an appointment at her therapist. I should have known then. I asked her if she was pregnant. She laughed and said no. When we showed up for the appointment, immediately, JoDee began crying. I should have known then. Her therapist, a thin, kind woman with a very calming voice, asked JoDee to tell me “what was happening”. JoDee shook her head no and replied that she couldn’t’ say it. So, without much hesitation, the therapist, with her calm, now seemingly patronizing voice, told me that my beautiful, athletic, smart daughter was a heroin addict. Oh, and there is more. She shoots up. I didn’t know.
That was the beginning. Or the end. Or the end of the beginning. Or the beginning to the end. It was the end of the daughter I knew. As I sat in that over-sized, arm chair with the floral pattern that looked like it belonged in a nursing home waiting room, I realized my daughter was gone, and in her place was a junkie. Good-bye to the girl I put on the bus on her first day of kindergarten. Good-bye to the girl that I held all night after she had her tonsils out. Good-bye was the girl I watched sing in her school concert, win award after trophy after medal in gymnastics, and taught how to drive. Sitting on the couch in front of me crying and refusing to look in my direction, morphed a lying, stealing, self-loathing, hating, sickly woman whom I did not know.
That was the beginning of our new normal. Our new normal was my boys spending time taking care of themselves because I was at the hospital for another relapse/over-dose. It became my cell phone being basically stuck up my ass for fear of missing a call when she was missing and on the run. It became checking pupils, searching rooms, alienating from friends so not having to tell them about my failure as a parent. It became my personal vengeance to have her drug dealer boyfriend arrested. And enjoying it when it happened. It became let down after let down when she relapsed after months and months of clean time. It was relishing the joy of the times when she was clean, and working and going to school.
The most tangible thing that changed, that day in the therapist office, is fear. It climbed on my back and stayed there. It is tangible. It is present. It never lets me rest, or forget it is there. I see it when I drive. It sleeps in between AC and me, right next to the cat. It rides with me to work. It whispers in my ear. It reminds me I can never let go of my biggest fear.
The biggest fear is that my beautiful daughter won’t be able to fight off the junkie, and I will bury her.