One would think we would come back from vacation refreshed and relaxed, ready to battle life in our rejuvenated state. Wrong. The last few years Fall has been a turbulent time. Fall in our family has usually been taken literally. As in we fall apart. Several years ago it was a beautiful, crisp, Fall morning in New England when I found out my daughter was a heroin addict. The following Fall she relapsed to the point of nearly killing herself multiple times. Last year she relapsed again in late August. So, I came back from vacation sort of bracing myself. I had decided that this Fall would be no different from all the other Falls save for the fact that I would anticipate it, prepare myself, and not be shocked. I was not wrong. But, per usual, I wasn’t right either.
I wasn’t wrong because we have been out straight crazy since the minute the plane landed in Boston. As soon as I came home I went immediately into the month end from hell in accounting land. Back to school, always a fun time and general post-vacation chaos ensued. To add to that, my very favorite kitty got out late one night… I won’t point the finger of blame on anyone but a certain Colombian I know and his father were out in the garage very late and left a door open, but that’s none of my business. All I know is by the time I woke up at 6 my poor cat was frantic to get in the house and when AC grabbed him, he bite him. Badly. Which I can’t say I blame him, because if I was Diego and was left outside for three or four hours by a Colombian who left the window open, I would bite him too. But that’s none of my business either. Needless to say, AC ended up with a bad infection and a doctor visit. That was day one post-vacation.
Day two post-vacation started innocuously enough. I made it to work at a reasonable time. My boss was in that day, and we share an office. We were both working as good employees should when I received a text notification from Verizon stating one of my phone lines just called 911. A moment later, another text came through that had JoDee’s number calling 911. I tried to call her phone immediately, it went to voicemail. I thought someone’s dead. I tried her number again, immediately went to voicemail. Interesting fact I did not know, if you call 911 your call waiting won’t work on a cell phone. It blocks the line. Who knew? I didn’t. I stood up and frantically started searching for my car keys. I got a new car with that damn keyless entry FOB which I lose daily. My phone jumped to life in my hand and the caller ID let me know it was a call from JayPay phone. For those few seconds it took for me to press answer, put the phone to my ear, and say hello, I basically buried JoDee. I instantly thought she overdosed. He is calling to tell me he called 911. I was surprised to hear the panicked crying of JoDee on the other end. Sobbing. Yelling. Scared to death.
Thankfully, no one was dead. And no one was relapsing (that I am aware of and if someone knows something different, keep it to yourself. No one likes a tattle- tale). Unfortunately, however, there was something awful happening. JoDee and JayPay had walked into their apartment at the precise time that it was being robbed. I can’t imagine how terrifying that must have been. I can’t imagine how violating that must feel. To have your belongs rifled through, touched, and stolen by a stranger. It makes me sick just thinking about it. And, if that isn’t bad enough, he was armed with a gun. How the hell does that happen? I mean, they aren’t living in Beirut for god sakes. It was unnerving for me, so I can imagine how shook up they were. They had a lot stolen and it’s hard to recover from that. And I said I would be willing to help them anyway I could. Famous. Last. Words.
JoDee hasn’t lived at home for a year. A year ago she relapsed, went to detox, and then an after program. At the after program she got kicked out for testing positive for Suboxone, which she was not prescribed. She was home exactly one night. By the next day she had a bed in a half-way house. She begged me not to make her go. She was ready to be clean, she would do the right thing. Pleading with me not to make her leave. She just wanted to be home. Of course, as a mother that was really hard to hear. It also totally pissed me off because she was clean. She was doing the right thing. Until she wasn’t anymore. Once someone lies to you once, you always question if they are telling the truth. And, really, an addict is telling the truth in the heat of the moment. But when the dust settles, and the cravings start taking over it won’t take much to break the promise. Again. And again. It’s endless. So I drove her to that half-way house, I helped her in with her bags. She had a momentary panic attack searching for her meds, and then we said good-byes. And I drove home, alone, thinking about how we had ended up back at this place again. I vowed she was never coming home. I knew that being home was a trigger for her. Not because living at home is so horrible, or that anyone at home is using, but because it was easy for her to get away with more. I would enable her. I would make it easy for her to come and go as she pleased and my house would be a pit stop to sleep it off or start the search for the next bag.
It took me a long time to be able to understand the difference between parenting an addict and parenting a normal. A normal needs are totally different from that of a child-addict. The things that would come instinctual for me, are the opposite of what I should do. I know that I can’t let her be comfortable, or help too much. There are different lines and different boundaries. Not just for her but for me too. She was never coming home. I had decided that. Under no circumstance was she coming home to live. It would be no good for anyone. People around me often don’t understand that. When I say I can’t let my child come home I am seen as cold or uncaring and that’s ok. AC didn’t get it. He kept telling me she was best home with her family but I wouldn’t budge. When she got kicked out of that program, same thing. I stood my ground, AC thought I was nuts. Fast-forward a year, a sober-house and an apartment with her boyfriend, later and she is back home. JoDee didn’t feel safe, I said come home. I meant for a night. A few if you need more time. She came with whatever stuff they had left, filled my car a couple of times and bam….my garage is their storage unit and they are sleeping on a mattress in the living room. All things considered it has gone reasonably well. A little squabbling between siblings, a few times JoDee and I laughed so hard JayPay couldn’t stand us, but overall, livable. I don’t imagine that they will want to do this for a long period of time. I don’t imagine that we wouldn’t all kill each other, eventually. But for now, it works. And the moral to this story is…. Never say never.