The Things I Never Knew I Always Knew
Addiction is funny. Not ha ha funny, but irony funny. And the way it sort of comes out is ironic too. Just like a song on the radio can remind you of your first junior high dance and the pimple-faced young boy that held you at a stiff arm’s length while you stepped side to side like the two awkward teen-agers you were, so can memories evoke visceral reactions to drug use. JoDee had a similar experience recently. She was driving by a golf course when I got this text:
I remember that day also. Very clearly. I believe it was just three or four months later that we had the infamous meeting about with her therapist that unveiled that addiction was a member of our family, wanted or not. It was June, I believe. The kids had just gotten out of school and my dad and step-mom were up here for vacaton. At the time, as per usual at the beginnin g of our relationship with the on and off game, AC and I were in an “off” period. I think it was Fathers Day. Or close to it. We went golfing with them; Jared, JoDee, Papa, Diane and me. I don’t know where Jay J was…. Or why he didn’t come with us. Probably because on the whole, Jay J doesn’t like to be social, unless absolutely forced into it. Golfing is one of those things that we all enjoy, but we don’t play frequently enough. JoDee has the attention span of a nat, so she basically plays a few holes and then busies herself harassing everyone else or pretending she is Happy Gilmore for the rest of the time. Jared actually tries and when his sister isn’t yelling “Watch out” or “Swing hard” or my personal favorite “BEE” , in his back swing, he is pretty good. I suck. We won’t talk about that.
I have said so many times, I didn’t know. But if I am being honest, I did know. How could I not know? I didn’t want to admit it. They sound different, but they are sort of the same. You have to be willing to accept and acknowledge something to really understand it. I knew something was going on, but I didn’t grasp what it was. In the picture below, if you scroll in, you can see the bruise on JoDee’s arm, on the inside of her elbow. I have looked at this picture so many times, because I asked her about those bruises, she didn’t give me a good answer and instead of pushing the issue, instead of being a good parent, and having a hard conversation, prepared to hear the worst possible answer, I let it go. I should have done the opposite. I should have made a scene. Yelled. Got her attention. Googled it, even. Done something. Doing nothing is deadly. It could have cost her life.
When I see the look on her face, I can see that she was sick. I see that she was trying to hide it. But I think I also fear in there. I think there was a point that she realized she was in way over her head. Once anyone one of us starts something and it realize we are totally screwed, we all do the same thing…. Try to cover it up. She looks pale, sick, and sad. To me. I might be trying to find something that isn’t there. I might be trying to convince myself that my daughter didn’t want to be an addict and was struggling, but I don’t see the happy person she was previously.
The picture on the left was that day golfing, the picture on the right was exactly a year before.
To me, they are two different people. But that didn’t happen over night. It was gradual. And when anything happens over time, a gradual change, it isn’t as easy to recognize. There are other signs. At least in my case there were.
One summer day, AC and me and all the kids returned from a time at the beach (I believe we went to have dinner on the beach), and as I pulled into my driveway, a cop pulled in behind me. JoDee was sitting in Drug-Runner/Boyfriends car, in the front seat which was parked on the side walk, wrapped in a fleece blanket., looking dead. Literally. The cop said he was called for a wellness check as a neighbor was concerned about the welfare of a girl in a car. D.R./Bf was working on a lawnmower or something in the yard. I looked at JoDee and instantly knew something wasn’t right. I told her to get in the house. I told the cop she had the flu. I told him that kids are dumb and instead of staying in bed, she wanted to be outside with her boyfriend but I would make sure she stayed in the house, and I thanked him for his time.
When he left, I yelled at both of them. Asked them what they were doing, and if they were crazy. JoDee claimed she was really sick and D.R/BF (‘m not sure why I don’t use his real name because honestly, I couldn’t give a rats ass about his privacy but… eh) said he thought she had strep throat. She had a fever (um., no shit, she was in a swiltering car wrapped in a fleece blanket!) so I put her to bed. But the incident stuck with me. I didn’t forget it. A couple of nights later I snuck out of the house in the middle of the night and searched his car. I found a punch of Q-tips with no cotton on them. I found a bunch of cotton bits strewn around. I found a bunch of cruppled up sandwhich bags. No needles. No drugs. I didn’t realize, or I didn’t want to realize, that I did find evidence. I just did nothing with it.
When JoDee sent me that text about the golf course, this was the rest of the conversation:
I have to stop saying I didn’t know. I did know something. What I didn’t know is what to do, and I didn’t do anything to figure it out. But, I try not to beat myself up about it. I try to give myself the same adivce I would give anyone. I am not defined by the mistakes I have made, I am defined by what I do with those mistakes to change the future. I can honestly say, I would never ignore these signs again. When someone asks me what to look for, the number one thing I should have seen, was the change in her personality. Baggies, needles, bruises, physical changes, all start to show after it has already started. Before your child gets to heroin there are a lot of mental changes that occur. Those are the signs to look for. Those are things that might help you save your child from getting to the point of heroin. But maybe not. If that is the case, brace yourslef for a long road, but don’t do what I did, and do nothing. A wrong action is better than no action at all. Often our biggest regrets are the things we did not do, not the things we tried but did not work.