If I am being honest, with myself, and with you, I own some of JoDee’s addiction. I know what everyone says about addicts owning their actions, but that is only partially true. I know where I went wrong. I know how I let my daughter down. Hindsight really is 20/20, but there isn’t much I can do to change the past. I can admit it. I can feel guilty for it. I can make sure I don’t make the same mistakes with my other children, and I can tell you about it. Maybe someone learns from my mistakes.
To understand my mistakes, for me to tell you about them, is to start at the beginning. I graduated high school pregnant with JoDee. It’s a tough road, being a teen mother, but I would do it again without question. I always feared that JoDee would follow in my foot-steps. While she was in high school I badgered her about sex. I continuously made it clear she could talk to me, tell me, and ask me, anything. I wanted her to be able to live life, enjoy college, and not be tied down with responsibility to early. When she graduated high school, without getting pregnant, I was satisfied that I had done my job.
As soon as she graduated, she was hanging with friends, rarely coming home for longer than it took to shower, nap, eat and take off again. I was happy. It was the summer after she graduated, she was living free until she started college. I thought that was what post-high school, pre-college students were supposed to do. I had no idea that her then-boyfriend, whom I loved, had a brother who was a heroin dealer/runner that would introduce her to a disgusting way of life. I gave her all the freedom she wanted. She was practicing safe sex, so what could go wrong? Wow. What an idiot I was.
Not to mention, on top of the fact I already felt that she was responsible and no child of mine would ever be stupid enough to get mixed up with “that” sort of thing, I was going through a divorce. And not just a divorce, but I was in the middle of another situation, that I won’t get into to protect the privacy of others, that was painful and consuming. At any rate, I was clearly not paying attention to the things that were important. If I was 100% present, I may have noticed that in August of 2012, when she returned from a camping trip she was acting differently. If I wasn’t wrapped up in my own personal drama, drama that should have been insignificant compared to my daughter’s life, I may have noticed that she was staying out for days at a time and I was calling her to ask when she would be home. I may have noticed when she did come home, she would do it when I wasn’t home, and it would sometimes be 3, 4 or 5 days before I would see her for more than a minute or two at a time. If I hadn’t been so determined to have a settlement with my ex-husband that would include letting me buy out my house so I didn’t have to move again, I may have noticed that my daughter was spending more time with her boyfriend’s brother than with her boyfriend. There are many times that I lay in bed at night replaying this time in my life and I am angry and disappointed with myself. I’m embarrassed, and disgusted, of both my job as a parent and my own personal shortcomings. As a parent it’s my job to be an advocate for my children and instead I paved the road for someone to manipulate his way into our lives. My children deserved my full attention, and I was distracted. This is my fault.
I found out soon that JoDee broke up with her boyfriend of 3 years, to begin dating his brother. That should have been a clue how off the rail she was. Her ex-boyfriend called me many times telling me that his brother was bad news and JoDee was probably doing drugs. I thought he was a scorned boyfriend. I asked JoDee about it. I insisted she start coming home every night. And she did. With her new boyfriend, who admittedly I did not like as much as his brother. I told JoDee many times I thought the guy was a strange. But that’s the funny thing about parenting an adult child, even if they don’t seem like an adult, is you start to think you have to watch your boundaries. I kept thinking, she is over 18. She can move out, leave, and cut me from her life, so I have to tread carefully. BIG MISTAKE. If I can teach anyone anything, it’s that if you love your kids, if you want to guide them, you do it without hesitation, without fear of reprisal because anything less is a crime.
Our children, my children, deserve for me to be their parent whether they are 18 or 80. The lessons we teach our children will be forever. I did JoDee wrong by believing she needed me to be her friend, and not her mother. I was horrifically mistaken when I thought at 18 I had taught her everything she needed to know. I am so sorry that I made this terrible error. I had a giant lapse in judgment and by default my child suffered. Maybe I could have prevented her from going down this terrible path. Maybe I could have stopped it before it went too far. Maybe nothing would have changed. I really don’t know. All I know is I am her mother. I am Jay J and Jared’s mother. I am co-parenting AC children and I will never let any of the children down like this again. I have learned the hard way. Please, learn from my mistakes. Heed my warning and continue to parent your adult children as a parent, because anything less may be deadly.
5 thoughts on “Fault or Default”
OK. From one that’s been there, try to stop beating yourself up. Repeat the following when you notice you are getting mad at yourself again..”I didn’t cause it; I can’t control it and I can’t cure it.” I do.
LikeLiked by 1 person
As someone who has watched you raise your children for the last 11 years, I can see how you would feel this way. I do not think this has anything to do with you. Stop beating yourself up. When I met you, you were a single mom who lived and breathed for her kids! You never made a decision without considering the impact on your children. Yes, you were going through a rough time personally and may not have been paying as much attention, but you trusted. You trusted that your daughter would make the right decisions because you raised her to. I know that you will always blame yourself a little, but you are the only one who does.Love you!!!
While you should still have rules for adult children who are living in your home and supporting, once they walk out the door you have no control over whom they see or what they do. What more could you have done except offer her help for her addiction earlier than you had? She probably would not have admitted to having a problem with drugs at that time. It’s not your fault that she decided to try a highly addictive drug. Even if she was underage, you can’t be with them 24 hours a day, though you can give opinions about the people they are hanging out with and not welcome them in your home. I, too, wish I could bubble wrap my children. I, too, feel a nagging guilt about my son’s addiction, though looking back, it was a train wreck that was going to happen. I still discuss (lecture) ad nauseam about drugs to my other children, hoping that it will sink in. I think their brother is their greatest teacher of how drugs can wreck your life.
There is a large part of me that understands and accepts that I can’t be responsible for her addiction, but there is still a part of me that feels like if I was paying attention more, if I was present more, or if I talked about drugs more, that she would have thought before she acted. I think my other children have learned a huge lesson from JoDee, I just wish she has learnt the same lessons. I guess the thing that plays in my head more often than not is I knew not to do that when I was her age. We smoked pot and drank in high school, but when anyone I knew was doing really hard drugs, I might be there but I didn’t do them (I also had to curtail my partying at a young age because I had her) but what kept me from knowing not to do but not her? There was always something in the back of my mind that told me not to drink to much or do those drugs becuase I knew in my gut that I would end up in a bad, bad place. How come I knew that and she didn’t? Maybe she did and just didn’t care….
I understand. I was the same as you were…there was a line I did not cross with my drinking or experimenting when I was younger. I come from a long line of alcoholics and saw my brother not possess that same “off” button that I had. He and my father are in recovery. My children (all 5) were warned about the alcoholic history and spoken to extensively throughout their teens about drugs and alcohol. It did not stop my son, who became an alcoholic and addict by 19. It is not your fault – you didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. The hardest part about this journey is accepting that you can’t fix it, and trying best not to enable the addict. Only they can accept the help you offer and only if they have run out of all other options. It’s usually by cutting off all financial ties (shelter, food, phone, car, etc). Not easy, but necessary.