So, hmmm. I don’t even know where to begin. Life has a funny way of making decisions for you, whether you like it or not. I am outraged that JoDee left treatment. I am furious that she didn’t call me when she left, until the next day. I cannot believe a year ago she was on the run in Arizona and now, I am faced with that again. I am grateful that she called someone who is clean, doing the right thing, and he was able to make sure she was safe. But now what? I know I ask that a lot but this process is all about the unknown. I don’t know what to do. Does anyone? If someone knows something I don’t, feel free to educate me.
JoDee claims treatment is not for her. She claims she knows what she needs to do to stay clean and she needs to be on her own. On her own to her means, I help her with rent to get into a sober house (it’s actually a 2/3rds house or a ¾’s house or some other fraction), buy her some groceries which was really just water and some snacks until I go grocery shopping this weekend, and then back off. Back Off. I have to step back and allow the girl who has really not made a lot of great choices in the last few years, sink or swim. In essence, that is what all parents have to do at some point with their children. But in my case, it really means life or death. JoDee knows her immune system cannot support years or decades worth of active drug use. She has been told by many healthcares professional that she is at a greater risk of death than the average person. As soon as she sticks that needle in her arm, she immediately starts brewing infections of different calibers so if an overdose doesn’t do it, and infection will. Again, this is not a might, it is a will. A definitive. It is impossibly scary, frightening, to think that I have to let go. Let her make the right or wrong choice. Even though I know the wrong choice could be so costly, there is no greater penalty than life ending.
Fear has taken me over. I feel as though there is an actual person inside my chest, holding my heart. Squeezing it. It’s not frightening like BOO, or scary like I-nearly-hit-that-kid-on-the-bike, or when you forget to complete a report for work. It is a level of scary that only a parent watching a child slowly kill themselves can understand. But the cruel joke is, it may be for not. She may be really on the right road. She is actively looking for a job. She has gone to meetings, walked to the store, seen friends with good recovery time. She borrowed my laptop (by borrow, I mean I will never get it back) to be able to fill out on-line applications and track her banking. All really great stuff. That does not ease Fear. Fear is paralyzing. I don’t want to talk to anyone about it or about anything really, I don’t want to leave my house, but the walls feel like they are closing in. I don’t want to go to work, but I am afraid to stay home. I wake up in the middle of the night with agonizing chest pain, sweating, panicked. I wake up AC telling him to take me to the hospital, I’m dying. I know it. When I stand up and start moving, I realize, it’s a panic attack. I don’t even know why I’m panicking. Anxiety is flowing through my veins along with my blood and oxygen. It is part of my DNA now and I’m not sure I could expel it now if I wanted too. I don’t want to because I fear if I don’t have Fear that means there is nothing left to be afraid of. Nuts.
What I find so frustrating is the not knowing. I mean, isn’t that the definition of anxiety? Anticipation of what might happen? I feel like every day I am bracing myself for the worst possible outcome. I am terrified to let myself fantasize that it might work out. I feel like I am mourning the loss, and I do mean the loss i.e., the death of JoDee. Addiction for the family is this completely surreal, unrealistic, uncontrollable roller coaster ride. Just when I think the roller coaster might stop, and I can safely get off, it takes off again whipping me around the corners, ascending these high peaks, rolling over the top plunging me into what I am certain is a fiery hell only to stabilize again. And, all of these may never happen. She may not die before me or from heroin. Don’t get me wrong, that is my ultimate dream. My ultimate euphoria, however, I won’t know how it ends, unless it’s tragic. I will spend every day steeling myself against a world that may crash around me, afraid to enjoy it for Fear might swipe it away, and in the end I may die, myself, not knowing the end. If JoDee dies, I have spent years mourning and suffering only to have to re-start the suffering to the enth degree all over again. And I don’t care what anyone says, you never get over it. Anyone who watches a child sick with any disease, and then loses them, will tell you that. There is no way someday I magically wake up and say, Oh ya, I’m fine. Life is great. No way. I imagine when people say are you doing alright, you appease them, tell them what they want to hear so they aren’t burdened with your sadness by saying “I’m fine”. But the truth is, my daughter isn’t dead, she is alive and I am still suffering and even now I say “I’m fine” because I know that is what they want to hear. And to some degree, I feel selfish. Like I should appreciate that it isn’t worse, somehow. There are families that have suffered in the way I fear I will. I sound like a complainer, ungrateful for the amazing miracles that have kept JoDee alive thus far. But I’m not ungrateful, I’m so, so grateful. So instead, I hide my pain, and tuck it away so only Denial, Fear, Reality, Guilt and Suppression can see it. If, thirty years from now, when I am 69 (assuming I live that long and the MS society comes up with some magic drug that allows me to have quality of life) JoDee is happy and living large and clean, I will be thankful that I spent the years worrying. It will be worth it. And I will die peacefully, with love and joy in my heart. But the opposite might be true. I might die having suffered, and suffer again with the loss of her that will leave me empty. I might still die with joy in my heart at the thought of being reunited with my daughter, and being able to see her dancing in the light of heaven, fresh flowers in hair, angel kisses on her forehead. But until I see the end, one way or the other, I am stuck in purgatory, and as sad as it sounds, its a place I am happy to stay for the rest of my life, as long as it means she lives.