I know I owe you all the second of two things that happened to me, however, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about where we are in the Drug Court/Sectioned phase of active addiction. JoDee has been locked up for about 2 and a half weeks at this point. We were supposed to go to a Family Support Meeting on Tuesday and of course a typical New England blizzard derailed that plan. We rescheduled it for Friday, and again, impending snow once again made a reschedule necessary. We had made a plan to meet the coming Tuesday. Not five minutes after I walked out of work I got a call from JoDee and her clinician saying that a meeting Tuesday won’t work because she is being discharged on Monday. To say that I was panic stricken would be an understatement. There is a no time for a meeting because they don’t do them on weekends. That went over like a lead balloon. So, once the shrieking stopped, by me, the calm clinician said she would meet with us on Saturday morning. Then it was back to Friday. Then there was a trip down for no one to be available. Completely frustrating. Neither AC nor I really had any idea what to expect when we arrived. It was so much worse than we thought it would be.
WATC-Women’s Addiction Treatment Center of New Bedford looks like a jail from the outside. Barbed wire, big fences, locked doors. The story starts, however, before we even left. It was like the stars were aligning to prevent us from going down there. First the meeting changed, then we went down and no psychiatrist available, then we change the date again. The morning we were supposed to leave I woke up before the sun came up, anxious and worried about the drive. I got up and got ready, got AC up, did the normal morning routines. We were ready to go early. I knelt down in my bedroom to see if my shoe was under the bed and I felt this ridiculous stabbing in my foot. I yelped, jumped on the bed, pulling off my sock, to find a large splinter in my big toe. From my hardwood floor? What? It took AC and me 20 minutes to get it out. At one point I told him forget it, I would just go with it in because I didn’t want to be late, but after basically cutting my toe open we pulled out a long, thick piece of wood that I can’t logically imagine where it came from. Then, we get on the road only to find that my windshield wipers were broken, the pipes to the windshield was completely frozen. We stopped at a gas station for AC to desperately try to make the fluid make onto my windshield because we could not see through them at all. We tried (by we, I mean him and I sat in the car yelling stupid suggestions) tried putting windshield washer fluid in, chipped the ice off of the dispensers, tried using warm water, nothing would work. I think once, months ago, when I was driving back from the Berkshires I had no fluid so I put in water. It must have still been in there and froze (I have not told him this because I am certain I would end up with a Colombian neck tie after what he went through to try to make that work!). I am slightly horrified to admit that we ended using a Macgyver-esque system which involved hooking a hose from my dad’s camel back which I still had in my car from two years ago to a sports bottle which we kept filling with fluid. He would hang out the window, while I tried to slow down enough to get it across the windshield, and he would squeeze it out, I would put the windshield wipers on. Completely unsafe but there was no going back, I was making it to that friggan appointment.
After several stops, near misses, and some yelling and laughing, we arrived 20 minutes early. We were both sort of taken aback when we first saw the building. There is a side door that said Family Support Session Only. It was the only door we were able to go to. The rest of them were closed off, gated off. Bars on windows. I couldn’t help but think about what JoDee must have been feeling, what she must have been thinking when she was transferred from one van to another, went through Middleton to be processed, and then driven all that way. My stomach clenched at the thought of her going through that ordeal. It sickens me, if frightens ma and it angers me that we all have to go through that, too.
We got out of the car, ran to the door in the wind that nearly blew us off the road on the way down, and rang the bell. The woman who came to the door was short and round, with a very kind sort of forgettable face. As in, you might remember she had blonde hair, or wore glasses, but probably won’t remember the details. She was very passive and calm, she reminded me of calming colors like pale green and yellow. Which was similar to how her office was decorated. We were let through two doors that needed security clearance directly into a very typical industrial cafeteria with steel tray lines and soda fountain, steamed trays. Similar to any hospital or institution. The social workers office was just on the other side, and it was so well decorated and organized it didn’t belong in this type of building. The outside was such a contrast to this office. But that doesn’t mean that a beautiful office means that beautiful things happen in there.
She sat us down and began talking about what the process would be. JoDee would come down, we would talk about her leaving, JoDee has some things she wants to share and she warned us the meeting would go by very quickly. And that ain’t no shit. The 50 minute meeting went by extraordinarily fast. I kept finding myself starting at the clock trying to will it to go slower. JoDee came in, looking amazing I must say. Her skin looked so clear, she had put on weight, and her hair looked healthy. For probably the first time in a year or two she looked really good, and she is locked in a state facility. How cray cray is that? We talked about how JoDee is coming home to her sober house on Tuesday. I think that is completely effed up, but I have no say. I argued that JoDee was turning 21 on Thursday and I was worried about it. We talked about her plan for when she left. It’s not a plan I am happy with, I wanted my full 90 days that the court said they could give her but that isn’t the way it works either. JoDee is a cute girl from the suburbs who looks like everyone’s sister or neighbor or babysitter. There is no way they were going to keep her for a long period of time. It’s such a shitty system. Even the social worker said that the average length of stay was 21 days. Again, not long enough. It is not long enough. 21 days is nothing. But she has something on her side. She is finally on some real medications that should address her mental issues. And she started the Vivitrol shot. I know I have said before that she is at a huge risk but there isn’t much left to try at this point. If she is going to try to break through the shot to use enough to OD, odds are pretty good she would do that without the shot. At least the shot will curb the desire, back to the changing the composite of the brain and so on and so on.
However, the interesting piece of the meeting was when I was told that I over step my boundaries. This is not something new to me. I know that in many areas of my life so if someone thought I would shocked by that, I was not. The social worker did that thing, the thing some- somewhat patronizing social workers do when they know they are saying something you will hate but stop after each half sentence to give a dramatic smile which annoyed me even more- than the your-addict-doesn’t-succeed-at-recovery-because-you-enable-her speech. So the conversation went like this:
Her: JoDee needs to be an adult (obnoxious smile) which means you need to be able to step back and allow her to handle things on her own.
Me: I totally agree but that means she needs to handle it then. I have told Jodee many times that I can’t keep doing her biding for her, she needs to do it.
Her: Well (obnozious smile, for at least 5 seconds) I think what I hear JoDee saying is that she needs to be able to handle things on her own. (Obnoxious smile with awkward pause) And that means allowing her to be responsible for herself.
Me: You can smile, when you say things, but that doesn’t make them accurate. So you know, we gave JoDee space and freedom and ability to handle things on their own and that was met with her calling me yelling that she didn’t have clothes or didn’t have her meds or was going to be late. She had the freedom to do as she pleased, and handle her affairs and that lead her here. My typical response is you have to figure it out and then she swears and yells at me and hangs up. I will completely step back to allow her to take care of things on her own but that means she has to handle the consequences. (Turning to JoDee) I will allow you to take care of your own responsibilities but I will not make it easy for you to use. If I see that you are using or I think I will, I will tell your house manager again and I will not apologize for that.
I have read enough about co-dependency to know that it is easy for me to get sucked into that role. I totally believe I have enabled her. The definition of co-dependency is excessing emotional or psychological reliance on a partner or loved one, typically who requires support due to an illness or addiction. I am not taking it personally that I am being told to back off, by all rights it’s probably very accurate. I was a little annoyed that it was sort of presented to me like I was the problem, when there was no discussion about it. JoDee is an addict in active addiction sectioned there because she isn’t safe for herself and has only been there about ten minutes but whatever she says must be gospel. Another fail in a long line of fails in the system. I found out after JoDee has met with the social worker enough times to count on one hand the whole time she has been there. Clearly she knows all she needs to know. Eh. I realize how bitter and selfish I sound but I felt as though this was another example of how the mother is blamed. I’m already well aware of my fault in this mess, but let’s not give the addict something else to use as an excuse to be absolved of fault too. It feels so much like thing I used to protect my family is becoming the same thing that destroys us. Is there such a thing as too much love?
At any rate, the social worker is right. I have so much invested in JoDee’s recovery and I can’t do it for her. I will really step back this time. I will have to watch from the side lines. Something I have said I would do and have tried to do. I will give guidance when asked and bite my tongue when necessary. I know that I am not ready for this next step. I am absolutely, no-questioning, terrified about this next step. But if I identify something I need to change, whether JoDee changes or not, I have too. Just to be fair, I think the social worker was one of the better ones I have seen in this process. She seemed as vested in a patient as she could be having met JoDee on limited bases and with limited resources. I probably am just overly sensitive. Especially now, that once again, I can’t sleep.