Thanksgiving was over, JoDee was home. Now what? I mean, I had literally tried everything. Detox, home detox, baby sitting her, rehab and she continues down this ridiculous road to self-harm. There was no amount of near-death experiences, or threatening, or consequences was going to make JoDee aware that, A) she had a lot to live for and B) she was really playing with fire. Or for me realize that I can’t want it more than her.
The first night she was home, she didn’t even make it to her bed room. She collapsed on the couch, face down, in dirty, smelly clothes, shoes on, knocked out. I stood in the door way of the living room, watching her as the moon light made her hair look a strange hue of blue instead of black. It cast this strange shadow that gave a hallo-like reflection above her head. She was an angel, except that now she wasn’t. Now she was not the girl I used to know so I had to stop treating her like she was. I wanted her to be, but I also wanted to be independently wealthy, and wanting something doesn’t mean you get it. I feel like the discovery of your child being a heroin addict (and probably any kind of addict) is similar to the stages of grief when someone dies. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. I have gone through all those stages. And sometimes I go back to them- I was a long way from acceptance. As JoDee would relapse, run away, lie, I would vacillate between Denial, Anger and Depression. I learned very early that bargaining was worthless, not that any of the others were better, but I guess I was quick learner that there was no miracle going to happen. And in theory, it’s the 5 stages of Mourning. I was definitely mourning the loss of my daughter. But not just my daughter in the current, but my daughter of the future.
We all have an idea of what are kids are going to be. Of course, my daughter was going to go to college to do something she loved. She didn’t have to make a million dollars by 30, she just needed to take the time to love what she does, and take advantage of having a parent that supported whatever she wanted to do. Apparently that was taken out of context, I didn’t mean ANYTHING. Once her college career was going to the wayside, so did the rest of my “life” plans for her. I wanted her to be happy, find a life partner when she was ready, and have a family if she wanted, backpack across Europe if the spirit moved her. Anything besides wasting her life relapsing, recovering, relapsing and relapsing some more. It was also not just JoDee’s life I was mourning, but my own. Even the things I enjoyed doing lost their appeal. I would go through the motions of life, but no one was really living. We were posers in our own lives. Actors in our own fiction. And if we are being completely honest it wasn’t a story line anyone really wanted to watch. Even with Despair at arm’s length, it didn’t keep me from being depressed. It was depressing to see JoDee’s brutalized face. Her circles were so dark it was obscene. She had picked her face with such ferocity, some of the scabs would periodically start bleeding without even being touched. She was so thin, so thin, and so clearly malnourished. And she was oddly paranoid, and suffering from strange pain in her face. I later learned from our physician that these are wonderful side effects of smoking, or otherwise consuming, crystal meth. I mean, what do you even do when you hear that? Is there is a difference between a heroin addict and a crystal meth addict? Does it even matter? I guess I addiction is addiction, sort of like getting a shot, all hurt-some just hurt worse than others.
Now we needed to detox her from crystal meth, and it’s basically all the same though she had less screaming, skin-burning, pain and more facial pain. Her sinuses and teeth had moved in the 3 weeks she was out. 3 weeks and she had done that much damage? How in the world do people manage for years, or decades? It made me so sad, not just for her, but for everyone who was suffering from addiction. No one grows up to say I can’t wait to be an addict, and no one ever says when their child is born, I hope they suffer from addiction and spend many years, suffering, homeless, lying, steal and otherwise causing mayhem on society. Are our children, spouses, siblings, friends, lovers chosen? Or did they choose it? I know that addiction runs in my family, so why JoDee and not me? Is it a character flaw, a medical flaw? Can we find a cure? Those are all rhetorical stupid questions because the answer is, it doesn’t matter. Right now, at this moment, with JoDee using hot packs on her face and taking antibiotics because the scabs on her face were infected, it really doesn’t make a bit of difference why, because as Reality reminds me, it just is. We have to figure out our next steps. I don’t even know what they should be. After her being out on the street there was no way I was going to kick her out with nowhere to go. I know that may be what I should have done, but I couldn’t and I wouldn’t. I was lucky to have someone close to me who was 5 years into her daughter’s recovery. Her and her daughter came over to see JoDee and me that weekend. It was so helpful to know that there was someone who knew exactly how I felt, and what I might have to do and was supportive with no judgment at all. Every time JoDee has relapsed or been out shape in some way, I have had someone I could call; even if we don’t talk every day, I know I can call her and she is there for me and I am beyond grateful for that. Grateful doesn’t seem like a strong enough word.
But that’s the interesting thing about addiction, who helps and who runs. There have been times I have felt like hanging a sign on my front lawn that say “ADDICTION IS NOT CATCHY”. If you really want to know who your friends are, tell them your daughter is a heroin addict. I have had friends I have known my whole life that don’t talk to me anymore. I made friends that I will have for the rest of my life, no matter what. I also have friends that have stuck around, helped bring JoDee to programs when I had to work, offered to sit at the hospital with me, or just sit at my house knowing that I shouldn’t be alone no matter what. The friends that knew there were times I couldn’t answer the phone because I physically could not talk, didn’t have time, was to depressed, I am forever appreciative. Once your child says she is heroin addict, normal chit-chat about someone’s husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/roommate being a slob, not putting gas in the car, leaving underwear on the floor seems so completely trivial compared to my day-to-day struggles, right or wrong, I just couldn’t be bothered. I’m sure some distance themselves for fear that my child might rub off on theirs. I’m sure some just couldn’t understand or, honestly, were too selfish to try. I am certain that there are some that don’t want to associate with someone who so clearly must be a bad mother. Heroin does so much more than get someone high. It ruins the addicts’ life, physically and otherwise, and it systematically tears apart the lives of anyone within a 50 mile radius. Heroin is the grenade that dismantled my life, changed my friends, and nearly killed my daughter. And let’s face it, the story isn’t over yet, it still could.
I don’t miss those that I lost, friends that aren’t friends because they can’t be supportive, and I don’t judge them for their own personal weaknesses that made them run from me. I hope they never have to deal with a child in a situation like mine, and if they do, I hope they call me, because I will understand. The friends that have stood by me, JoDee and the rest of my clan, I hope I express to them the love and admiration I have for their support on a daily basis, and I pray that they will be with us celebrating each year when JoDee hits her yearly clean date. If all goes well, JoDee should celebrate one year clean on my 40th birthday, which is more than 9 months away, so we shall see. At the time of my typing this, JoDee has left treatment. I held my bottom line; complete treatment or don’t come home. She claims she is clean, that she is going to do this on her own. It’s hard to not let Despair take over again, but once again, exactly a year from last November, JoDee is own her own, living like a nomad, further from her family than ever. Helpless, anxious, sleepless, and with a heavy heart, I prepare for whatever comes next.