I promise I will never swear again, if you let her live. I promise I will never be catty, judg-y or nasty, if she can stay clean today, tomorrow, for a month, forever. I promise I will eat better, volunteer more, be gentle, kind, give mouth to mouth to the next squirrel I hit, not take the nickel candy from Market Basket without dropping in the required nickel, stand on my head and juggle balls of fire, apologize for every wrong I have ever committed (though, admittedly, I knew that might not be possible but it was worth the try) if we can see another day. I promise. I promise. I promise.
That doesn’t work.
It will never work.
But that doesn’t stop me from trying.
The following are examples of my stupidity, nativity, and otherwise pathetic-ness:
- When I first found out JoDee was an addict, I got angry, and told her to stop being ridiculous and dramatic. I am certain she found that helpful.
- I believed if I kept someone with her 24/7 and accompanied her to every NA meeting, if I occupied her every minute, she would just forget she wanted to use drugs. This might be one of my most embarrassing admissions. Dumb ass.
- JoDee came home from detox and immediately started locking herself in the bathroom for 30-45 minutes at a time. I believed she just needed space. When she came out of the bathroom on jelly legs, eye’s at half-mast, nodding off. I believed her when she said she was dope sick.
- I was then shocked when I found her over-dosing in her room. Intelligence at it’s finest.
- I took all electronics away from her believing that would stop this “nonsense” but as AC has pointed out, JoDee could get on the internet with a microwave if it meant getting high.
- And in fact, JoDee managed to reach out to her drug-runner via Facebook from her little brothers IPOD. Of course, this also helped me get her runner arrested, which has been a high point in my life recently.
- Beating your child with the Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text actually does not work in an effort to get her to a meeting. Though admittedly, she does say that it scared the shit out of her since I rarely get violent, with my kids at least.
- That after a length of clean time, the wearing of long-sleeves must be because she is cold.
- That ignoring all of the above would make this go away, and we would have our lives back.
- I believed that tough love was really what people say when they have begun to hate their children. BIGGEST MISTAKE OF ALL.
Tough Love is exactly what it sounds like, TOUGH LOVE. It means that you love your child enough to do what is absolutely impossible as a parent. My first experience with tough love was when JoDee had been released from the hospital after her over-dose at the locked unit. She was trying to get drugs, she couldn’t get into any other programs because insurance said no more (and the intake person at the hospital “didn’t believe” JoDee’s willingness which is a conversation for another day) and I had no choice but to take her home, detox her cold-turkey for the first time, and get her to a meeting. She was angry, sick, and otherwise unreasonable- imagine that, an addict unreasonable! This is the point in our story that even Reality got scared. Anger jumped out from behind the couch that JoDee was sitting on, and gleefully watched me grab the Basic Text and slam it shut an inch from her nose. I grabbed her by the sweatshirt and dragged her out of the house and into the car. Quietly, AC followed behind, with Reality, Fear and Anger all in tow. Anger is larger than life, constantly moving, it comes fast and leaves just as quickly but can leave a lot of damage in its wake.
The next time I experienced tough love, was when JoDee had jumped a wall to escape a rehab in Phoenix, AZ. It was an unseasonably warm day in early November. JoDee had been in rehab for exactly 30 days. It was Saturday. AC was mowing the lawn in an effort to pick up leaves, the girls were wondering around the house doing what kids do, the boys were in their rooms playing XBOX/PS3. I noticed my cell phone had a missed call. While I was listening to the voicemail, it rang again. The Changing Lives Center was calling me on a Saturday? That can’t be good. I answered the phone and Mimi, the case manager, asked me if I had heard from JoDee. When I told her I hadn’t she informed me that JoDee had jumped a wall with two other girls, both known crystal Meth users, and was gone. This began the three worst weeks of my life. Not hearing from her, not knowing where she is, was hell. Reality and Fear and Denial all played a part. Fear reminded me she could be dead or in jail. I called hospitals and police stations every day, twice a day. Reality reminded me she was definitely using, so I moved all the money from her bank account into mine so she wouldn’t have access to it. In the end, she finally called looking for money, from a blocked number. She claimed to still be clean but liked Arizona and wanted to stay. She only needed money for food and some personal items so couldn’t I just give her a little money? Denial stepped in, and I agreed. Denial helped me believe her. Denial’s gently presences let me process the odds of clean vs using, lying vs truth, without judging me for my struggle. I told her to call me back in a little bit so I could figure out how to get her money (I had cancelled her Debt Card). As I hung up the phone, I felt the dreaded stare from Reality. Daring me to give her the money. Daring me to ignore what I knew was true. Could I really leave my child stranded a zillion miles away with no money? How would she eat? Where would she sleep? What if she was being taken advantage of? What if she was selling her body? Her soul? What if she uses the money to use, over-dose and die? I would have given her the money that killed her?
Reality followed me around the house, nagging me. I locked myself in the bathroom and kneel down on the rug next to the bathtub, crying and begging for some clarity of mind. Begging and bargaining for a miracle. Pleading for a different outcome. Pounding my hands on the floor trying to get the attention of some divine intervention, until my hands were numb. But all the begging, pleading, bargaining was not going to change anything. AC fought his way into the bathroom and forced me to my feet. He looked me in the eye and said you know what you have to do, be strong. Over his shoulder, squeezed in the corner, was Reality, looking menacing and mean, but clear-headed, something I wasn’t.
When JoDee called back, I refused to give her money. I told her I would only get her a plane ticket home. I told her she could not go back to the center to get her belongings because shew would sell them (and I had already had my Uncle who lived close by, pick them up). I told her not to call me back until she was ready to come home. Even though she called from a blocked number, even though it felt like abandoning my daughter, and turned my heart into stone, and my soul limped in pain, I hung up on her. AC started to tell me what a good job I did even though it was hard. I yelled at him to shut up, shut the fuck up. I watched Denial disappear through my kitchen door. I walked into my room, and crawled in bed fully dressed, and laying right next to me was Despair.