I thought I knew what grief was. I lost my grandfather, friends for various reasons. Clearly, the closer you are to someone, the more you grieve. Not to mention there is other kinds of grief. Grief over the breakdown of my marriage(s) (but whose judging), grief over the loss of a job, or a job applied for but not chosen. There is grief over the loss of a car when I crashed it, or once a long grieving period was had for a roast that was smoked for 8 hours, sat to rest for 30 minutes and then savagely attacked by the dog, not even allowing us to have one piece before it was ruined with dog slime, dog hair and dirt. Not to mention the any number of Life Time Movies I would marathon watch that focused on loss of some kind. I guess what I am saying is I wasn’t completely guileless to what grief was. What I hadn’t realized is the stages of grief depending on the station in life. And how grieving for someone who is alive is so much different then when someone is not.
By the stages of grief, I am not talking about anger, denial, acceptance, etc. I am talking about the levels of grief itself. Being the mother of an addict… no, being the mother of a heroin addict, has really shown me a totally different perspective of grief. The grief associated with heroin addiction is so different from the any other grief. The grieving starts even before you realize you are in denial that she is an addict. It is immediate. But it’s not to be embraced. I laced up my running sneakers and ran as far away from grief is I could possibly get. Big mistake. I know that I would have no way to know at that time how much things would change and that they would never be the same again, but I think I could have handled those early days so much better if I had grieved the life we had to prepare for the life we would have. Part of the grieving process is recognizing something to grieve. Not everything is as black and white as someone dying. Loss is not always very clear. The process of losing should also be grieved.
The process of losing is often the loss of an idea, or a plan, or dream. The life I expected JoDee to have and the life she lives are monumentally different. Still, to this day, I have these moments when I vacillate between what she does and what she can do but those are my “what she can do”, not hers. I don’t know that she even has any goals for herself. I’m not sure that she believes she can aspire to anything. She certainly never gives herself a chance. I grieve that. Every day, I grieve while she is alive. I grieve for the life she is living, and the life she is leaving behind. I grieve for the friends she doesn’t have anymore, the loser’s she dates because she thinks she isn’t good enough for better. I grieve for her own self-worth. The relationship we should have had was lost. The mother-daughter adventures we should have been taking are being spent sitting in endless emergency rooms, and countless detox’s. We are not flying to Florida for a long weekend for girls only. We aren’t shopping at the mall and when we do get our nails done together, she is usually watching her phone to see when she is getting picked up. The brutal honesty is that I am forced to grieve her life while she is still alive, and if she dies, I will be grieving all over again. There is no relief.
I’m not angry, or disappointment, or even worried anymore. No, that’s a lie, of course I’m worried, but it isn’t like the kind of worry I had before. I used to worry that if she was using too long it would be harder for her to “resume” her life. Now I worry that she will have a life at all. Once again, we are in the cycle where I’m not really sure where she is, or really sure what she is doing, but I do know she was in a wonderful program and her addiction told her she should leave. Her addiction told her that she was beaten down, and defeated. Her addiction told her that staying in the program was wrong, and walking away in the middle of the night was right. So, that’s what she did. After detoxing for a week, at a point where she would have started to feel better, she took off for the wind. With each relapse a piece of her dies. And I grieve for that. She is going to get more desperate and more careless and more reckless. And I grieve for that. Her brother is going to a prom soon, and I grieve for her because she will miss it. And her great grandmother is older than dirt and may not be around for many more years, or year, and I grieve for her because she will always regret not letting GiGi see her clean. I grieve for her health, I grieve for mental state. I grieve for the relationship she doesn’t have with her brother. And, I grieve for my own life. How different my life is from the way I thought it would be. I thought my penance for being a young, broke, single mother was going to be calmer, stress-free, later life. I didn’t realize that I hadn’t even begun to pay my penance yet. I had no clue that what I thought was my penance was actually my gift. I grieve for that, too. I wish I had enjoyed their younger years so much more. I wish I worked less, played more, cherished the moments. It absolutely pisses me off when I think about it too long. Someday I will tell you all about anger. It pairs well with grief.