As soon as I open my eyes in the morning, I roll over to grab my cell phone. What if I miss a call in the middle of the night? What if someone saw her in a place she shouldn’t or what if she called me for help and I slept through it (highly unlikely)? The phone lights up glaring the early hour of the morning, and the picture of baby kitty stares back at me to say no missed calls. No missed texts. No what ifs.
I roll out of bed with the appropriate amount of moaning and groaning an adult woman nearing 40 should utter, and slide on my slippers. As the cats and dog start swarming at my feet, begging in their own way for food, I start thinking about what the day ahead of me has in store. By the time I fill the cat food bowl with enough food for both cats to eat without fighting, I realize I don’t remember the last time I spoke to her yesterday. What if her silence means she is using? What if she hasn’t called me because she knows I will be disappointed and heartbroken? What if she saw someone in a meeting last night that she used to use with and decided to go back out? I try not to panic. I let the dog out and head back to my room to grab my phone. I scroll through Facebook trying to see when she last posted a comment or a picture or did anything that would give me some peace. Facebook Messenger says she was last active 1 hour ago. Why?
Why was she up so early? What if she never went to bed because she was out using all night? What if she is still high? What if she is dead and someone else is using her phone? I text her. Are you alright? She responds almost immediately she is fine and I’m a wacko. I remember then that she drives Big A. to work and he has to be there at the ass crack of dawn. Right…not using. Ok, where was I? Oh, making Jay J lunch that he probably won’t eat anyway.
But what if she is lying to me? I mean addicts lie all the time. You know how you know when an active addict is lying? Their lips are moving. Maybe she is active again which means she is lying. I text her again, where are you? She calls me. She is fine, I’m nuts, stop worrying, all is good. Ok, fine. She is good. I am good. I have to go to work. I have to stop playing the What If game.
She calls me later to say she got a job, she will be working a lot. I think that’s great. She can be responsible for her own bills, pay for gas, and stop driving Big A. in the morning-since her car is literally falling apart and she is one step away from looking like a Flintstone, using her feet to power the car. But what if getting a job is bad? She will be serving alcohol. What if she wants to drink? What if others at work have a drink? What if having money means she has more ability to use? What if someone she works with is an addict too and she goes back out? I can’t tell her this because I think what if I tell her what I think and it gives her an idea she didn’t have before. So I have to suffer with my What If’s and not ask her, not get any clarity that those things won’t happen. I say nothing. I work. I go home. I start supper. We eat. AC says what’s wrong. I say nothing. He says ok, with skepticism because he knows if I am quiet, I am talking in my head. I am talking to myself.
In my head I am saying What If this is as good as it gets? What if I spend the next 50 years we are both alive questioning every move? What if there is never any peace? I can’t spend the rest of my life-like this. I’m exhausted. I’m mentally drained. I am so drained I couldn’t explain to AC the conversation in my head anyways because if I say them out loud I sound crazier than I feel. What if I am crazy? What if I have lost my mind because my daughter is an addict? No, that is crazy. I’m not crazy because my daughter is an addict, I quickly realize. I am crazy because I was born that way. There are people who think we are both crazy, JoDee and me, but I don’t care about them. Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones… not to mention what others think of us is none of our business anyway. But what if she cares? What if what others think about her bothers her enough that she has to fix her feeling with something?
I walk out to the garden; mindlessly start picking some stray weeds, to think about the What Ifs. It’s constantly mind-racing. Constantly question what is next. What if she does use again? Neither of us wants to think about that. I can’t imagine the ties she would sever with her family. Her brothers can’t take much more, her step-ish sisters can’t worry anymore, AC and I can’t chase anymore. But we would have too. We would have to deal with it. Like it or not, it would be the hand we were dealt. What if I couldn’t get her to stop this time? What if she derailed so far from her family that there was no coming back? I would have to excuse her from our lives. The responsible thing for me to do would be to not enable her. To not support her drug use. Take her car, don’t give her money, or attention, or help her feed her addiction. She might come around again. I might have to section her again. What if they wouldn’t do it this time? What if she kept using? She would die. That’s what happens. Addiction either ends when the addict surrenders or when the addict dies.
What if she died? What if we had to face life without her? It would be miserable, and unbearable, and heartbreaking. We would miss her. And we would be angry at her. We would feel like she abandoned us. We would hope she found peace wherever she was. We would hope that we would be reunited with her someday. But what if we were relieved? What if not having to chase her addiction anymore made us feel like a burden had been lifted? What if we felt lonely and guilty for feeling that way? What if we already do? What if I have to force myself to stay current in her addiction when sometimes I just want to give up? What if that makes me a bad mother? A bad person? What if I have so many conversations in my head, and focus so much on the What If Game, that I miss the life that is going on around me?