The Runner

She is not a runner. That’s the dumbest thing I have ever said in my entire life. The very first time JoDee went to detox I asked why the detox had a locked door. There were many reasons given and one was that people run. I remember thinking, not JoDee. Where would she go? She would never run away. Run to where? With whom? Not long after that, maybe a few months and several relapses later, JoDee and I were flying to Arizona for her infamous rehab stint. The very last thing I said to her before I left is do not runaway, I know you’re not a runner but if you run from here I will have no way to help you. 30 evenings from that exact moment, she threw her backpack over a wall and scurried after it into the unknown of Arizona’s worst areas. She was gone 3 weeks.

If your child is a runner, or your husband, or wife, or sibling, or partner, you know the empty helpless feeling that is associated with it. The moment the phone rang and an AZ number displayed on my cell, I knew it was bad. It was 10am on a Saturday morning in November. When the woman on the other end asked if I had spoken to JoDee, I knew it was worse than I had originally thought. The next three weeks were a roller coaster of disappointments, hopefulness, helplessness and fear. I read somewhere once that anticipation is the real killer, not the event itself and that is absolutely true. The anticipation waiting for her to call, text, be found dead was debilitating. I honestly thought I wouldn’t survive it. There were moments that I felt like I was disabled emotionally, completely void of any feeling. It was a terrible fog. One that I only was able to withstand due to the support of my family, friends and ridiculous amount of Pumpkin Latte, hot, with skim from Dunks. True story.

Since that dreadful time, there have been various forms of running. From me, from detox, from rehab, from dealers, other addicts and most importantly from herself. While there were many in between, the next remarkable running tale was when she ran from Danvers CAB. This event happened during that awful winter a year ago. The night was below freezing and she was wondering round Danvers trying to get someone to pick her up. She never asked me to get her, but she never said she wanted to come home either. She said things like life didn’t matter, she didn’t care if she died, she wasn’t going back to treatment and other horrible things. That was a sleepless night. A lot of Long Island Medium and episodes of Chopped were watched that night. The next day AC and I went to court to have her sectioned (Sectioned). Being sectioned was the best thing that happened to her at the time. She stayed clean for the longest period of time. She took her meds, worked, found a boyfriend, and visited family. We all know everything went to shit a few months later. Job gone, boyfriend history (which was ok too), no meds and now a better understanding of how to use in moderation. Something she didn’t know before. She used to be an all-until-almost-dead user but somewhere along the way she learned how to use without nearly killing herself. So that probably sounds good, but I’m not sure it is. It has allowed her to maintain one foot on the dock at home and one foot on the boat in addiction. She has the ability to straddle two worlds and that is a very hard thing to break.

Since then JoDee had run from me, and too me. From a boyfriend and too a boyfriend. From a creepy old bastards house and too a creepy old bastards house. She has lost countless clothes, hair straighteners, pictures, books, a car, relationships, and that’s just things I can think of off the top of my head. I can’t imagine the things she has lost (not including her pride, self-worth, years of living) that she hasn’t told me about. With the first needle prick in her arm, to this very moment in time she has been running. And I don’t see anything happening in the foreseeable future that will change that. Nothing changes if nothing changes. I can’t stop her from using. And I can’t stop her from running. So what can I do? I can stop chasing her. I can stop letting her run to me. I can stop running after her when she runs from me but I have said that many times. I have set bottom lines that are only moved to another bottom line and another and another until  the cycle just manifests over and over. Tell me, someone, how the hell  do you stop this from happening again? Ah, the infinite question. The answer is simple. Every action does not need a reaction. So, I have to stop reacting. How? How do I do that?

When she ran in Arizona, and subsequently resurfaced pleading to come home, (Life After Word ) I bought her a plane ticket to come the same night. Be the next day she was on a plane. When the same thing happened two years later, but this time she was running from a Florida rehab, I bought her a ticket home the same day. By supper time she was on a plane heading back to Boston. So, here I am, once again faced with a child who ran from another program, and has no where else to go. Some will say this is easy, just say no. No more help but it’s not that easy. Ask any parent that lost a child to addiction if they would do the same thing again. If I say no, and she stays where she is using which leads to an overdose and death, I will never forgive myself. Or anyone who told me not to let her home, if we are being realistic. If I let her come home, she will fall into the same pattern of binge watching Netflix, eating ice cream, being demanding and nasty, and eventually she will run from us because we have a funny rule about not using in the house.  It’s a lose, lose situation. There are no winners in active addiction.

The other day, while searching the internet for the Hail Mary to my problems, I found something that said if your addict is angry with you then you are doing things right. If your addict is happy with you, you are enabling them. That is so, so true. And the same goes for the enabler/family members. The easy thing for me to do, the thing that will make me the least uncomfortable will be letting her come home because I can see her, and talk to her, and watch her which convinces myself, falsely, that I am helping her. But saying she can’t come home will make me sleep even less, and be uncomfortable in my own house and in my own skin. That probably means that it’s what should be done. I just don’t know if I can do that.  I know if I were talking to someone else in my shoes I would say follow your gut. Mother’s instincts are never wrong. But what happens when your instincts are clouded by grief? Fear? Turmoil? Anger? Guilt? Resentment?  You go out for a run to clear your head. Thus the runnee because the runner.

2 thoughts on “The Runner

  1. Thank you for this. It reads like my life as a mother of a beautiful daughter who continues to use and runs from greatness each and every time. She straddles the world of using and functioning (holding a job, has a place of her own and a car—she’s a functioning addict). Not sure how long this will last and so afraid of what’s to come. Like you I was torn on what to do. I did make one change to this never ending cycle of running, she is no longer allowed to come home. However, I am now unsure what to do about communication. I just found out she is using heavily again. She posted images of her using on social media, including a message to drug dealers to connect with her. I said if she went to NA meetings I would talk with her again, but until then, I can’t keep doing this. She said I’m all she has and that now she’s all alone again. So I asked her, “If you feel our relationship is important to you, then you need to get help and attend NA meetings again…”. She said she did not have a problem and she didn’t want to talk about it. So once again, we are at a stalemate. God help us mother’s who suffer with adult children who continue to use.


    • Many times JoDee has said to me that I am all she has. And it took me a long time to realize that I am all she has because of her addiction. She would have so much more in life, like relationships with her siblings and step father and father and step mother but her using is the barrier between us. I know how hard that is. I know exactly the place you are in and it totally sucks. You have no choices. You have no control and the only thing you can do is pray that she finds a way to see her destructive behavior. I typically would have JoDee communicate with me at least once a day for my own benefit. My kids always think that it pulls at my heart strings but I would rather hear I’m alive once a day then go long periods of time not knowing if she is alive or not. That is a personal choice though. Maybe hearing from her will be harder for you…. Stay strong. I will keep you both in my thoughts.


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