A good friend of mine is very preggers. Very. And recently she asked me a simple question. What is wrong with people? Hmmm. Where should I start? In her reference it is because of the well-meaning but completely out-of-line people who rub her belly without permission (and probably wouldn’t have gotten said permission if they asked) or tell her how huge she is. I am not certain why anyone feels it is appropriate to make a comment about a women’s weight, especially an extremely pregnant and even more hormonal women. I think they have a death wish, but alas, it is people being people.
That is true for all aspects of life, up to and including, anyone dealing with addiction. Even the most well-mannered people. Even the people who love you the most. People are people. Everyone has their own perspective on things. Recently we, as in the ol’ man and I, aka, AC whom would not be thrilled at being called Ol’ but he doesn’t read the blog so I can say whatever I want, have been having the “talk”. You know, if I die first sort of talk. Basically it went like this:
AC: If I die first I want you to move on and find someone to spend your life with.
Me: That is so nice.
AC: Don’t you want the same for me? Me: Um, hell no. What am I? A pair of shoes that gets worn out? Just get a new pair? No, sir, I do not think so. You should mourn in misery forever. And don’t forget I will be watching.
True story. But not really the point. The point is we are entering a new phase that requires tough conversations. Not because I am going to die soon or anything, but there are things coming up that spark the planning part of life. The just in case, the -you-never-know-so-I-better-be-safe, conversations. Making sure he knows how to access my life insurance, should he need too, and what about the house, and oh, the kids! It’s all theoretical but he is 47 and I have MS and am… younger (ha) so we should prepare. But, this sort of conversation evolved into the “what ifs” and he commented that the first thing he would do should I have an untimely demise was make JoDee move home. Something I know he thinks I should do even now, but that’s because he doesn’t understand why it is better she isn’t home. And, you would think someone who lives in the war zone with me would get it, but he can’t because it’s different for him. He loves JoDee no doubt, but he isn’t her mother. . Even though I have to pay her rent, even though I buy her groceries, and pay for her car and insurance, it is better for both of our mental health, and her physical well-being if she isn’t living at home.
Why? Why might that be you ask? Let me tell you. I want to be her mother. I want to talk about boys, music, take stupid selfies where I always look like total crap and she looks like glamour shots taken by the paparazzi. Those are things mothers are supposed to do. Not quick cup her, not check her pupils. I don’t want to be her warden, or her parole officer, or her guard. And I have done that job. I have done it a lot. I have tossed her room, found needles (I am still finding needles!), I have hid my medicines, or locked items in a safe, I have sat up watching the clock wondering when she is getting home (still do this, for her and the other two, sucks when your kids have a better social life than you and can stay up past 9). That isn’t the role I want anymore. I passed that baton, not because I have failed as a parent, even if it feels like it some days. It is too hard as a parent to see through the lies. I have come far enough in this disease to know that the desire to want to believe her is stronger than my will to confront her. When I know she is lying but she looks so sincere, I will believe. And that is so wrong. It’s deadly.
In her sober house she is surrounded by people whom know better than me. The two women in charge of the house are tough as nails, smart as a whip, mothers of their own children who will not take JoDee’s bullshit. Hell, I’m afraid of them! And it isn’t just them, because they can’t be there all the time, it’s the other addicts too. She lives in a house full of women that will call her out. Her roommate, a new blessing in JoDee’s life, would stop her in her tracks, or tell someone that could. I hope. Ha. Even after everything we have been through, I’m still not sure I believe everything I see. Sometimes I see JoDee and I’m convinced she was using, but she really isn’t. And there were times I was defending her, she was tired, over-worked, too much on her plate, when she was clearly using. I know the end result is that it is JoDee’s life and I can’t live it for her. But I can’t live my life if I am constantly watching her life. It sounds so contradictory that I can’t have her live at home, but I actually have more peace if she is somewhere that is drug testing her routinely and holding her accountable in a way that is difficult for me.
Example, because I know you are dying for one, when JoDee shows up at the house, looking ragged and disheveled, my first thought is she is using. So I say, you’re high. And she says no while casting me the look all teenage girls master that basically says you’re a complete idiot, stop talking immediately. I say I know you are, she says she is not and why can’t I give her some space. I tell her because she is an addict, she says thanks for reminding me because my daily desire to use isn’t enough of a reminder. And then I feel guilty. I feel badly that I have made her feel badly. It’s a brutal mind game. She is the addict that has lied, stolen, deceived, overdosed, and I have been the parent that has prayed, cried, given money when I shouldn’t, cut ties from her when I should, but I’m the one feeling badly. And that scenario played out when she was in fact using living under my roof. I believed her. I didn’t know how not to believe her. In times when she is clean, I have a similar conversation but it usually ends with her telling me to drug test her, which I do and she passes, and then I feel guilty. See a pattern here? Me too.
I will always be the mother of an addict. JoDee will always be an addict. Our struggles, as individuals are totally different even if our end goal is the same, for her to live. It’s sort of strange to understand. As a parent I feel part of the definition is to advocate for my child when she can’t. I do that, I think. But I also have to know my limits. It has taken countless overdoses, numerous relapses, many months of me fighting harder for her recovery than she does and almost a full year of attending NA meetings with her for me to grasp that we have different paths. It’s best for our relationship if she travels her path with those likeminded to her and I travel my path with those likeminded to me. Ours is a course best traveled separately but parallel. If she stretches out her hand for help, she will feel my fingertips waiting to be grabbed. She is never alone. I am never alone. We are two singular halves that make a whole, and nothing will break the bond of mother-daughter, not even addiction. Thankfully we are both learning our limits and I am feeling less guilty. I have a feeling Guilt is always going to be around, but it’s a learning process, just like everything else.