I think I’m pretty steeled at this point of life. Not much surprises me. Actually, very little tends to shock me. But something happened recently that made take pause. In my email a few days ago I had this (I changed pertinent info so not to identify the writer of the letter and I re-named her Blacked Out, because I blacked out her name!):
My name is Blacked Out. I have a child that is a heroin addict. I know that because I found my child with a needle in their arm passed out on their bed several years ago. It’s been a rough few years since then. I follow your blog religiously because your life is parallel to mine. Thank you for putting your family out in the open for people like me that can’t do it but need to know they aren’t alone.
At this point in the letter, I was thinking that I was glad this person reached out. I have gotten several emails like this in the recent past and have made some good friends out of it. I am always humbled when I hear that someone get’s comfort from something I write. As I continued to read, it took a whole different turn.
Their addiction is not why I am writing to you today. I need advice. I recently started dating a man. I did not tell him about my child’s addiction problems because I didn’t want to put it out there unless I wanted to see him longer. I am pretty sure I do. We went out on a dinner date to a nice place and there was a person panhandling on the street outside the restaurant. He made a terrible comment about drug addicts. Something I don’t want to repeat but made me want to throw up. I know a lot of people make comments like that when they don’t have an addict in their life. What do you think? Should I try to explain it to him to give him the benefit of being a decent person? I haven’t dated in a long time. I want to have a social life. I don’t want to let my child’s addiction run off someone else. As you know addiction can be isolating even for us. Please be honest.
Yup. That happened. I did not see that coming. I am not an advice columnist. No one wants my advice on life matters. No one wants my advice on love matters. Hello- how many times have I been married???? Trust me when I say, no one wants my advice, which is what my original response was. After going back and forth about it for a while, she said that I sound like someone who says what needs to be said and not what someone wants to hear (Is that true? Do I do that? No. Can’t be.) So this was my response:
Listen- I know how isolating addiction is. I know that I used to have a social calendar filled with friends and dinners and lunches and places to go and gardening and now I have a social calendar filled with Bates Motel, Grey’s Anatomy and Breaking Bad. My big outing on the weekend is to the grocery store that I prepare for by deciding what we will eat all week and making lists of meals for dinner and lunch, snacks and weekend cooking. Then I do all the lists of things to buy and do, and errands to run. I make lists of lists I need to make. All that being said, and the fact that I am coupled up notwithstanding, I would say, absolutely kick that bastard to the curb immediately. Your kids addiction is not going to run him off, you should! Ignorance is ignorant. Rarely can someone ignorant be educated in a way that makes them enlighten especially when we are talking about a comment worthy of vomit. That is not the odd comment made at the wrong time or with wrong delivery. That’s just dick-ish. Typically dating is when a couple is in a honeymoon phase. Most people are on their best behavior and any unruly character flaws take some time to come out, i.e. dick-ish behavior. I can only imagine what is brewing beneath this guy’s surface if on a date in its early stages of the dating life (I am assuming that because you haven’t said how long you have been dating other than recently) he was so blatant about his attitude toward addicts. That means the behavior was natural to him. What other ignorant behavior is natural to him? It’s not about picking on an addict. It’s about picking on anyone. A normal decent person doesn’t talk smack about someone down on their luck in the street unless they know the person receiving the info pretty well. It’s true that AC and I might have a character assassination while out at a ball game when we see a clueless, young girl trying to impress her date by dressing in a scantily clad outfit when it’s 45 degrees in the outfield but we know each other. And we know that we are not bias or prejudice or assholes. We know not to judge each other because of what we say because there is history. If I was walking down the street with my husband’s mother (assuming she spoke English and could understand me which she doesn’t and can’t) I would not make the same comment to her as I would to my close friends about someone unkempt or disheveled that we pass by because that’s what separates good people from dicks. Good people talk behind peoples back to other people they trust and know aren’t dicks. Dicks say anything at anytime. Ask yourself this, at what age is a woman willing and able to see and respond to a red flag? Be a strong woman. Get a therapist. And don’t settle for a man who has qualities you may not like simply because you don’t want to be alone. If you want a social life join Meetup.com or get a dog. Don’t get a problem. You have enough of them.
Was that harsh? Was that too much? I know I can be too much. But I also can relate. I have been telling AC that I want us to have a life too. We have been crazy busy with kids and addicts and work and life that we have not really had time to enjoy anything. We need to enjoy something. We are going too. I don’t know what but something. Soon. This weekend. And if we lived closer I would extend an invitation for Blacked Out to come hang with us. Women do not need a man to feel complete. And they don’t need a woman either. They do not need a partner. They need to learn to feel complete with themselves, even in times of despair. The best friend, the best partner any woman will ever have is herself. Learn it. Live it. Own it.
Upon further contemplation I have decided I absolutely should not give anyone advice. About anything. Ever. Hashtagsorrynotsorry.