A few years back, Jay J was probably 8 or 9, we were on a road trip in Colorado. After being in the car for several hours, the rest of us wanted to get out of the car to eat at Applebee’s. Jay J wanted Wendy’s. In traditional 9 year old behavior, he cried and began pouting and generally told me how bad life sucked that I was his mother. So, when we finally got seated at the restaurant, I told him if he couldn’t find anything to eat he liked, when we were done, I would take him to Wendy’s. And then a miracle happened. He saw the dessert menu. The Chocolate Moulten Meltdown was calling his name, and now he was on a mission. He wanted to get only that, of course I put the kibosh on that. Knowing he wouldn’t win that battle, he found something on the menu, a corndog and side salad, and ordered that. When his meal came, he picked the corn dog up by the stick, opened his mouth, shoved the whole thing inside, bit down and swallowed. He pulled that stick out clean like The Amazing Sword Swallower. And then he ordered his cake. Two bites in, he had chocolate on his nose, chin and all around his mouth, he looked up at me and said “Life just got perfect”.
After JoDee finished detoxing, which took much longer than I expected, we go into the routine of meetings, looking for work for her, me going to work, and preparing for the holidays. It was nice having her around, sort of. It wasn’t too long before she got a job. And she worked her tail off. She was working 40+ a week, and then going to meetings and hanging with friends. Things seemed to be getting better. Then she met a boy. Of course. They always meet a boy or a girl. And the boy himself was not a bad guy, though I was horrified to find out that he was considerably older than both had told me, but that is par for the course I guess with addicts. Lies seem better than truth, whether you clean or not. But the problem with not being honest is it is the beginning of a slippery slope. In my opinion, the relationship was too intense for two people trying to get clean. I personally think they both sort of derailed each other’s recovery processes. But for a while, it worked. They spent time together, I would not let her sleep out of the house, or let said boy sleep at the house. And she followed the rules. She basically came home when I told her, it was strange setting a curfew for my nearly 20 year old daughter, but I did and she listened so I didn’t question it too much.
Right after Christmas JoDee hit her 30 day mark. The day also coincided with AC and I breaking up (don’t worry, we get back together, we break up all the time, it’s not biggie!) But a routine started, JoDee was doing well, Jay J got a job, I hung out with Jared. Things seemed so ordinary, it was hard to believe were we came from a few short weeks before that. As we always do, AC and I got back together, and that meant the girls were back at the house, which I loved, I had really missed them. They spent time with JoDee and Jared, and we again, settled into a normal healthy routine. Kids fighting, me yelling to pick up clothes on the floor, get up for school. Normal, normal, normal.
JoDee’s birthday came and went, the girls birthday’s also in February came and went. It was normal. Until it wasn’t. Early march, I could see JoDee was getting worn down. She looked tired, she was biting her nails, she was complaining about a friend at work treating her badly. She felt like everyone at work knew she was an addict and was judging her for it. I have no idea if that friend really spread JoDee’s business, but I could tell JoDee was getting into a bad place. I have spoken about my friends in regards to addiction but for the young addict it’s even worse. Most think it is just a something to gossip about, even when their friends die or go to jail. The juvenile thinking doesn’t get any further than the needle in the vein and the premise that it’s a choice not a disease. And I get that some adolescences are more immature than others, but overall I’m pretty disgusted. Though in fairness, JoDee had to be difficult to be friends with, also. It is hard to parent her, I can’t imagine someone trying to be a friend to someone in active addiction. Recently one of JoDee’s friends from grade school, reached out to me to say that she feels like she sees addiction differently. And that makes me feel good. I mean that is what this blog is all about, right?
At any rate, I should have seen it coming. One of JoDee’s friend text me to say she was in a bad place, which I knew was a piece of her doing, and I confronted JoDee. But it was too late. When I got home from work, JoDee was leaving in my car, she said she would be right back. AC and I went into the house and started getting ready for supper. Shortly after JoDee came in with Jay J, apparently Jay J had been in a car accident with a friend of his and called JoDee to come get him. He walked in first. As soon as she came through the door, I knew she was high. I confronted her, she yelled and screamed. I confronted Jay J, he said she was all over the road and had to sign a release for the cop to let her take him and she could barely write. Talk a moment to fully grasp that. She went to the scene of an accident, spoke to a cop, and signed a release got back in the car and drove home. High. And not just high but wrecked. The perfect life we had vanished in second’s right before my eyes. She was 100 days clean. 100 days. Over 3 months. She had her 90 day key tag. How in the world could we be at ground zero all over again in just a few minutes? Where did she get it? Has she been using long? It wouldn’t take long to figure all that out.
The next few weeks were horrendous. The next few days were death-defying. That first day was probably the most stressful. I confronted JoDee, she denied it. She yelled and screamed. She tried to leave. I chased her outside. She tried to run, I tackled her. I dragged her back in the house. She got into our porch, grabbed the storm door and slammed it on my head and shoulder, glass from the window spraying all over both of us. AC was on the porch, arms out in a stop motion, shushing her like, trying to calm her down, like a baby. Nothing was working, and when I looked up to see Reality and Fear in the corner, pointing and laughing, I was filled with rage. I grabbed JoDee around the waist, oblivious to the fact we were both covered in glass, and threw her, physically into my house. She landed face down in the kitchen, at her dad’s feet. After another round of yelling, she finally passed out in her room. I mean, it’s embarrassing to admit this, but even after all this, I was thinking ok, she will wake up tomorrow, realize the mistake she made, we would go to a meeting, and start all over. I had no idea how many much she had taken or even what she had taken. Her dad dug around in her phone and on facebook to discover that she had reached out to a cousin who gave her some K-pins. At first he said no you are doing so well, but in true form of an addict on a mission, she convinced him that she wasn’t really clean and hadn’t been. It’s still not clear how many she got, but she did not wake up the next day, seeking recovery. She woke up like any other addict in active addiction. Nasty, confrontational, disrespectful. The boy came over, with some others from N/A. I let her leave with them to a convention. 12 hours later I got a text that she was literally drooling and barely conscious. By the time I picked her up, I knew she needed to go to the hospital. At the hospital, the news just got worse. The ER doctor was shocked she was alive, her blood pressure and pulse were almost non-existent. When he tried to get from her what she had taken, she started rattling off a list of ridiculousness: Percocet, heroin, suboxone (which seems redundant), Wellbutrin, K-pin, valium, and adderol. After several hours, a ton of blood work, and being hooked up to a heart monitor, he came back and asked her if she took anything else, because there were other things in her blood stream. He looked at AC and I with a look I can only describe as part sympathy and part dismay, and told us that there is no way this was social use. This was a suicide mission, and he sectioned her, again to the locked unit. She spent 5 days in the hospital on the telemetry unit monitoring her heart. For 5 days she was basically in outer space. She didn’t remember us seeing her in the hospital, talking to use on the phone, and eventually when she finally became a little aware, she didn’t know how she got to the hospital.
On day 6 she was transferred to the locked unit. Another locked unit. I had to trust that she would not try to sneak drugs on, that she would be safe, and that she wouldn’t be terrified of the other patients on the floor. I walked to the door with her, she gave me a hug and said don’t worry, I will be fine as she turned to go through the door. The door clanked shut, with that echo sound synonymous with institution doors, and she was gone. It was a long walk to my car. Reality and I walked together, contemplating the life-long struggle this would be for all of us, not just JoDee. Reality knew that I would figure it out at some point. There is no magic number. It isn’t 90 days, 120 days, 30 years. It is every day, every minute, every second for the rest of her life, my life, our lives. This was our life. And once again, I was going home without JoDee, with no idea what tomorrow would bring except the realization that life will never get perfect again.