Here we are. At another Thanksgiving. Another year later. Not but 3 days shy of 90 days clean. Again. Another round of detox, treatment, leaving treatment hysteria. I can’t help but think of where we were last Thanksgiving. I remember when JoDee went to her first meeting after coming home from AZ. I let her go with a friend of hers and she walked in, handed me her white key tag and said “I never have to do this again.” The same thing she said when she handed me her 30 and 90 day key tags. 10 days after she was clean 90 days she relapsed and nearly killed herself. That was March. She relapsed again in April (1 day she used, and she thinks I don’t know… but this mother has been through this rodeo enough times to know what’s up) and then again in August, which we haven’t even discussed yet.
So to sum it up, one year later we have had 3 relapses, two detoxes and three different treatment centers to end up in a sober house. Cray cray I tell you. But I’m still grateful. Today, like yesterday and the day before, JoDee has options. I have options. I can’t say the same for many others. The facts are grim. According to a news article called “Meat and Potatoes of Fighting Drugs” which was published in Sept of 2014, the number of unintentional opiate overdoes in Massachusetts increased by 90%. This is in large part because heroin is easy to get, easy to use and cheaper than any prescription drug you could find on the street. Many addicts get hooked because they have an illness or injury for which they are prescribed some pill form of opiate and then are cut off from their physician and need a cheaper way to get high since OxyContin is expense compared to heroin. But share a similar high.
In another article “The New Heroin User: White, Young, Suburban” from Boston.com, the average age of an opiate user is 22 and the demographic is more than 50% female, white, from the suburbs. Well, that basically describes JoDee. Though, she is a little younger than that. And, if all of that isn’t bad enough the NDA reports that long term drug use changes the white matter in the brain, or even deteriorates it, which changes the way a person thinks or reacts. It alters decision making, behavior control and poor response to stressful situations. That really resonates with me, because I can see those long term effects in JoDee. When she called to say she had a job interview I asked what she was going to wear. Apparently, I asked her to give me her left lung. And kidney. Or that is what it would have seemed, and right before she hung up on me, she yelled that she really had to figure this out. For an interview that was 5 hours from the time we were speaking. I said ok and let her hang up. It’s moments like that when I have to wonder if she will ever heal entirely. Will she be able to rebuild her brain damage to be able to handle things rationally? Oh but wait…. She is only 20 so being completely self-centered, over-dramatic and needy is completely age appropriate so maybe I shouldn’t be worrying at all? Hmmm. I will have to ponder that some more.
I’m still grateful. Given everything we have been through this past year, I am angry, but grateful. I’m angry at JoDee for making me choose her or the rest of the family. And that is what it feels like when I have to say no to her. When I have to dig deep and find tough love, tell her she can’t come home, or I won’t give her money. I hate the look on her face when she has a plan, which is altogether ridiculous, because it in some way means I am going out of my way to work harder at her recovery than she is, and I have to say no. The wounded look in her eyes is torture. It’s worse than the saying no part. No when I want to say yes. I don’t want to have conversations about what are you going to do to be safe this holiday. When you feel like using, who will you call? Do you have a sponsor yet? These are not the types of questions a mother of a 20 year old should be having. I should be saying when you come home for Thanksgiving break bring your laundry, and I will take you shopping for food for your dorm. Or, when will we meet your boyfriend/girlfriends family? Are they nice? I promise I won’t swear too much, which will be a lie and we will both know it and laugh. But that isn’t what happens. Instead I have to figure out what meeting she wants to go to on Thanksgiving so I can plan my dinner around it. And I do it gratefully. But angrily. Many will say you can’t be grateful and angry. And to those people I say oh how little you know about what a person can feel or do when wrapped up in addiction. Believe me. I have learned you can celebrate your birthday in the hospital while your child is high on heroin, and not even be resentful. I learned that you can actually be so shocked, it’s not shocking anymore. I have learned that the expression one is too much and a thousand is never enough applies to so many things in life, not just heroin. But the most important thing I have learned is today is today. Tomorrow may never come and if it does, you never know what will come with it.
As I embark on Thanksgiving 2014, I am grateful it is not like last year. I will sing praise that I have been granted another year with JoDee, clean or otherwise. I will be thankful for all those that have supported my family, and even those that haven’t. In truth, those that judge us or descend negativity on my family only give me fuel to keep on fighting so to them I say thank you and go take a long walk off a short pier. And I will take a moment to say a prayer, before I eat my Thanksgiving Dinner surrounded by my family, for the addict still suffering, for the addict that lost his/her life, and for the family that loves them. I hope you all do the same.