So, our family has had a lot going on lately. Jay J’s heart issues, my treatments coming to an end, work has been nutso crazy, the kids end of year, a new friend visiting from Texas and, of course, graduation is creeping up on us. One might thing that with all that is going that I wouldn’t have time to worry about JoDee and her addiction and where she is in life. But actually, it is the opposite. With everything that happens, I think I don’t have time for her to relapse. I don’t have the energy for her to relapse. I can’t manage another thing so she better not relapse. Some of those things, well really all of them, are really unreasonable to consider. If JoDee relapses, at any point in our life, I will have to deal with it. Even if by dealing with it, I can’t help her and I do nothing, I will have to deal with that. That would be as distressing and traumatizing as contending with her relapse, if not more. The anxiety and guilt at leaving her to her own devices amidst active drug addiction is devastatingly hard. I have done that when she was on the run in Arizona. I have done that when she relapsed this Christmas that just went by and I can honestly tell you, it is agonizing.
Anyone, especially someone currently dealing with addiction, should hear me loud and clear when I say do not convince yourself that shutting off your addict, separating from your addict, is somehow going to give you relief. It does not. It will not and you will be doing yourself a grave disservice by telling yourself that. In fact, it’s the opposite. And I believe, it’s the reason that so many of use stay in active addiction with our loved ones for so long. Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. Not to mention the average person is reluctant to change. So, when our addicts are using we have several things working against us: First we don’t want to admit it because it means that we have to concede that there is something wrong with our loved one and possibly with us. Second, we would have to do something about it. A girl, I mean, she is actually a woman but is a young girl to me, told me very early on in JoDee’s recovery that you can’t un-know what you now know. And it is so true. Once the truth is out, once the milk has been spilled, it can’t be put back in the glass. Admitting is the first step for us, the family members, as much as it is for the addict. Sometimes these admissions of a real problem lead to times of recovery. Sometimes they don’t. And when they don’t, you cannot turn a blind eye like you once did.
There were times I believe I knew something was wrong, but I can convince myself of anything, if I really want too. Now that I know that JoDee is an addict, I can’t ignore her behavior. Well, actually I could. But I would suffer the consequences. If she died I would question if I did everything I could to save her. Obviously that is the worst case scenario but even the middle case scenario, if she picked up a charge for example, I would still feel guilty about should I do nothing in the face of active addiction. Then there comes a point in some addicts active addiction that they are so far from reality, and so unable to listen to what anyone is saying, and so unable to hear the message of love, that doing nothing for them is the best thing you can do. This is confusing, but that is not doing nothing. In this instance, doing nothing is a very big, very clear and very loud action. It is hard to explain to an outsider, and hard to understand while you going through it. Essentially, while you are having no contact with your child, knowing very well the next phone call could be that you will never hear from that child again, you are doing the only thing you can. While it is true that it might not help them, the realism in that situation is that you would never be able to help then. Addicts do recover. And there are some that don’t. Meanwhile, back on the ranch, while your addict is out running amuck, trying to cop, sleeping under a bridge, or trying cash a bogus check, you are home pacing the floors at night, playing the what if game in your head, and generally feeling like a giant piece of shit.
The point to all of this is, you never forget. You can’t forget stuff like that. It’s just impossible. I’m sure that when JoDee is 20 years clean with kids and spouse of her own, I will still be worrying about her. And even though she is well over 100 days clean, I am still worrying about her. With each step in our lives, I take a moment to think about how I will fit a relapse in our life. I think she relapses right before graduation, I have to let her be, plaster a smile on my face and move forward for Jay J. I will be sick and anxious and tortured by that, but I have to make a promise to myself not to let it ruin Jay J’s special day. I have to think if she relapses right before we go to Aruba I will go anyway. The rest of us will deserve it. We have been looking forward to it. Will I enjoy it like I would if she was with us? Hell no. Will I enjoy it at all? Probably not. Every laugh, every good time, every excursion we take, will be a reminder that we could come home to a life without her. Why am I bringing this up now? Well first of all, JoDee has not relapsed. That I am aware of. She has some health issues we need to address, and she has. She got a job, which she started this week and I’m so proud of her for that. She started completing the process to get back in school, and I’m so proud of her for that too. She has been taking her meds routinely. She has been going to her doctor routinely. She is doing all the right things. I mean other than smack ending the back of some lady in a car registered and insured to me. I want to kill her sometimes. But those are normal things that teenager’s do. Clearly, she isn’t a “teen-ager” but I think she is. She missed a lot of her normal teen age years to addiction so I give her a little bit of slack.
This is just a reminder that even though JoDee is clean, it doesn’t mean that fight is over. The struggle is there. I am probably more worried than I was three months or four months ago when she left WATC. JoDee is not typically an immediate relapse-er. It takes her time. We are treading virgin waters because she has never been clean this long. Or this clean, if we are being honest. And becoming a productive member of society brings with it a whole new set of problems. What happens when she makes money now? Will she manage it right? Will having money mean she has a better access to score? She is going to get cash tips so it will be easier for her to hide it from me. When she goes back to school, will she make better choices? Will we waste more money on classes she won’t complete? Will she meet up with old running buddies and lose sight of why she is there? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. What I do now is I can’t hold her back from living, for fear of making a wrong turn. I also can’t control her life anyway, she is her own captain at this point. I will make sure to call her every day. I will check in with her, and make sure we keep open communication. I will watch for signs of stress when she starts trying to juggle school and work. I will also make sure she is getting to meetings, now that she is working. And I will worry about her and the future. But I will make sure I don’t spend so much time worrying about what I can’t control, that I forget to celebrate our success and be grateful for any day we have another one together and healthy.