Jail, Institutions or Death

Interesting but true. Addiction ends one of three ways. It is not necessarily in the order either.  Sometimes death comes before any of those. Sometimes Institutions does the trick. And other times jail really knocks sense into someone. But one way or the other addiction will end. It’s inevitable. It’s not endless and no one is invincible. Though, every addict thinks they are.  I have no idea what it will be for JoDee. If I had to guess, I would say Death. She has been to enough institutions by now, one of them would have gotten through to her and she never gets herself in enough trouble to pick up a charge so I don’t see her going to jail. That only leaves one thing. And the reason Rage is so important.

I don’t plan on breaking up with Rage for a long time. I embrace it, and envelope it and enjoy it. Rage gives me strength, when weakness is so easy. Rage gives me energy, where Despair is exhausting. Without Rage, nothing would get done. And it also helps me realize when I am at the end of my patients. Right now Rage has held my hand, and wiped my tears as I cut off ties from JoDee. Rage sits up with me at night, watching me pace around my house while I pontificate whether I have done the right thing. I know I can’t help her. I know I enable her and the only way to stop it to stop. Nothing changes until something changes. As long as I make it easy for JoDee, as long as I am always holding the ladder for her to climb out of trouble, the more opportunity she has to use, abuse, lie, and otherwise ignore real recovery. She needs to grow up. And I mean GROW UP. On her own. Be responsible. Face her mistakes and learn that there is a truth and we all know it even if she won’t admit it. That’s the funny thing about addiction. When you are the person who is not using around someone who is you know. You know when they start using. And you can smell a lie a mile away.

She thinks she is fooling me. She thinks she is fooling everyone but the only one who is a fool, is her. Once you know something, you can’t un-know it. I have said this many, many times. I have raised JoDee. Every day and every night, day in and day out for almost 21 years. I have seen her at her best and more recently at her worst. Before I knew she was an addict I knew something was wrong, I just had no idea how bad it was. I knew she was up to something but never would have guessed she was using heroin. The nodding off, droopy eyes, pinned pupils, slow drawl when speaking, were all symptoms of something I knew nothing about. But now I know something about it and I can’t pretend I don’t know. That’s heroin. There are other drugs, other relapses, other symptoms and I know them now. I can tell just by the look on JoDee’s face when something is amiss. Mainly she looks afraid. If she looks at me with fear in her eyes, I know there is something going on. And that’s because I have stood by her no matter what.  I have stayed at the hospital, fought for a program, argued with healthcare companies, I have gone after her recovery with guns blazing determined to drag JoDee into a clean world, with no mercy. But that also means I am a source of enabling. As long as I do it for her, she doesn’t have to do it for herself. I have always fought for her, but she doesn’t want me to fight with her.

Parenting is also about advocating.  I believed that it was my job as a parent to advocate for JoDee when she can’t advocate for herself. But there has to be a limit to that. She has to be a participant. And right now, where we are, I don’t think she is. I see through her. I see through to what is really going on. No amount of lies, no amount of yelling or deception is going to get me to see things differently. I have been down this road too many times. I have sold my soul, given my heart, paid emotionally, physically and financially enough to help someone out of addiction that has not been participating. It’s always the same thing.  A few weeks, a month, everything is on track, then the slowly the attitude, nastiness, lies start to slowly roll in like a fog. Behind that fog is a storm. That storm brings with it hell. A hell that no one knows or can understand unless they have been stuck in it. It’s like watching the tornado coming toward you, knowing it will kill you, knowing it will kill you painfully and slowly, and heading straight into anyway. There is nowhere to hide. There is no point in running.  The only option is to gear up, brace yourself and head straight for the eye of the storm. I can never stop JoDee from using. And I can never get JoDee to stop lying to us, herself, her sponsor, or anyone that cares for her or is trying to help her. There is nothing I can do anymore. This was a hard road to travel with my daughter. And up to this point, we traveled together, hand in hand, along this journey of addiction. Now we are at a fork in the road. I watched which way JoDee choose to go, and I am going on the opposite path. This doesn’t mean I am not her parent. It does not mean that I don’t love her, in fact, it’s the exact opposite. It’s because I love JoDee that I can no longer walk along with her. I cannot carry her through the worst moments of her life. I cannot stand in front of her and protect her from herself or from anyone else. The only way to love JoDee is to send her along on her own. Make her decisions and choices and live with them. Face them. Understand that her actions have a lasting effect on her for her life.

You see, JoDee needs to grow up. I don’t mean in the derogatory “Oh grow up” but literally. She needs to have to learn to rely on herself. One of the things we as adults know is that we have to use experience and education (not just books smarts but things we have learned in life) to make healthy decisions. Right now, she relies on me to make decisions for her. Admittedly, I probably could have handled this better. Screaming, yelling and losing my temper is probably not the best way to approach cutting ones daughter from their life, but when a parent gets to this point, it’s Rage that stands with them and strokes their hand. Rage reminds me that I have sat in many a hospital room at the peril of my next day’s work, I have missed many a school event for the other kids, I have forfeited my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, weekends, vacation time from work to help save her life, get her into a program, go to a family meeting, bring her cigarettes, or whatever else she or her addiction may need. I have spent more nights in NA halls sitting next to her for support, or waiting in the car to afford her privacy, instead of doing laundry, cooking dinner or putting Jared to bed so that I could make sure she had the provision she needed. In the end, she always picks up. Maybe not shooting up, but clean is clean. Just because one does not shoot heroin does not mean one is clean. And high is high. If it’s got a street name and it wasn’t prescribed to you, you’re not clean. I mean, that’s like saying you’re only a little pregnant. Either you are or you’re not. There is no in between.  And there can be no in between in my family anymore.  While I was in those NA meetings some things I heard resonated with me: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I know I can’t help JoDee. I must have the courage to see that I can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

JoDee is on her own. She needs to decide when to be honest. When to do the right thing and when she has had enough. Now she can stand up in those meetings and say she has lost everything. And we will suffer without her. Rage can help me come to this point, but it won’t sustain me forever. Eventually Rage will withdraw, backing into the mist of fog as it recoils from our life and I will be left with the emotions and feelings that only a parent that has reached this point that has cut ties in order to self-preserve can understand. If JoDee can stop using us, abusing us, shitting on our feelings, lying at will, and participates in the efforts to stabilize her life, we will welcome her back with open arms. She needs to be ready to be honest, realize we aren’t as stupid as thinks and realize that pride is as much an addiction to her as drugs. She needs to be able to set her pride aside, admit when she is wrong and humble herself to the real truth. She needs to realize getting someone to believe something not true just to save face is not as good as being honest and truthful. But those are all big steps and a lot of things to do. I don’t think, any time soon, she is going to realize that I know her better than anyone and she can’t get away with much with me. Until then, I wish her luck. We will miss her, we will continue without her. We will visit Karen and Fred (Love you guys!) and celebrate New Year’s and Jared’s birthday. We will pray for her and think of her often. I will wonder where she is or what she is doing and hope that she is safe. And most importantly, I hope she realizes that I am not doing this because I hate her or I am mad at her, but because I love her very much.


One thought on “Jail, Institutions or Death

  1. Diane says:

    Thank you for that post! I went to see my daughter today, and even after 15 months of sobriety a lot of the addict mentality is still there. Like you said, “unless you’ve lived it, you can’t understand”! Hope to meet you soon. Diane


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