A Lesson Learned

I need a minute. A minute can pass very quickly when someone is reading, or writing, or watching TV or gardening. A minute passes very quickly when a person is doing something they love. Even when it is something a person doesn’t like, a minute can pass fast. Imagine the last minute before a person is put to death? That minute must drag and speed at the same time. All the minutes leading up to that minute must pass extremely fast. In life I feel that we often feel we have lots of minutes. But the truth is any single minute could be the last. The minute it takes for me to write this paragraph could be my last minute on this earth. I guess it’s not, so I will Stay Calm and Write On.

No, I won’t stay calm. I’m not calm. I’m crazed. And confused. And depressed. And frustrated. I don’t think she can recover. I keep hearing women do recover, but I’m not seeing evidence of that in my family. That isn’t what I keep experiencing. I keep experiencing lies, and deceit, and grief in ways that only families with addiction can understand. I thought we had seen it all, and done it all, and experienced the worst of the worst but just when a person thinks they have reached the lowest of the low, a new low becomes evident. I’m not talking about the addict either. There are addict’s lows or rock bottoms or whatever, but that is their business. I’m talking about our low. The family member low. The low of the person who has a qualifier, as they are so lovingly called at support groups. The family reaches a low point too. It’s the point that they realize that their “qualifier” is already gone and the figure consuming their space is just what’s left.

The child I gave birth too has been gone for a long, long time. I don’t know what happened to her, or where she is, but I know she isn’t gone for good. She could come back. She might come back. But time is slipping by at a rapid pace. With each day I spend focusing on having a staring contest with her addiction I am missing something else that is going on with life. As humans we measure success by material, tangible things. And part of that is time. How much time has gone by since I talked to her, or seen her, or when was the last time she used, or how much clean time does she have? The clock of time ticks around with each second, and then minute and then hour until so much time has lapsed by I don’t know where 5 years of our life has gone. 5 years of our life that I can’t get back. 5 years of Jay J and Jared’s accomplishments, pains, sicknesses, and growing that I might have missed. I don’t know what I have missed, because I missed it. I didn’t miss each relapse, each time she ran away and came back when she needed a place to rejuvenate before hitting the street again. None of us have missed anything she has needed, ever.  What does all that mean? It means that every experience in life is worth something as long as you learn from it. If I take nothing away from all of this, then I have done all of us a grave disservice.

Growing pains are not just cramps in a person’s legs from the bones stretching and manipulating for more room. There are emotional growing pains. I have been suffering horrible growing pains as of late. The kind of growing pains that make it difficult to get out of bed or shower for 5 days. Those kinds of growing pains make my husband tell me that if I do nothing else just stand up because if I move a little I will feel better. I don’t. Standing up does not make me feel better. Showering did not make me feel better and going to work, cooking a meal and gardening are not going to make me feel better. Nothing will. Because the only thing that can make me feel better is completely out of my control. My growing pains are grief. I am allowing myself the opportunity to grieve the loss of the daughter I love. It’s a horrible realization that your child is gone. Even though she is not dead, she is not the person I knew. She has had her own growing pains into something and someone I don’t know. And I can’t participate in that person’s life. Many times I have said I have to let her go, or cut her off, or stop helping her. But those were words and actions with no feeling. The acceptance that my help makes her sicker, and my availability makes it impossible if not undesirable to get better is debilitating in a way that makes debilitating not seem strong enough of a word. I have convinced myself that I have been brave and strong to try to fight my daughter’s addiction but I was wrong. It was cowardly and selfish because it kept me ingrained in her life which only aided in keeping her sick.  A really heroic parent realizes that the best thing they can do for a child sometimes, is nothing. Our bond is something so precious and delicate I have protected it, at both of our peril.  If I am being the selfless mother I want to be, I have to stop searching a sea of faces for the one that belongs to me. Instead, I must stare at the faces right in front of me, and allow her to drift away. By holding on to her, I am sinking her. And I’m drowning myself.

I ask myself, how do I know this is the right thing to do? How do I know that telling her she is on her own, for real, no calling to go to detox, no calling if she desperately needs a ride, no coming home for three or four days to be gone again and no more lying for her or covering for her is the right thing to do? Because it makes me want to stop living; it makes the most basic of functions feel catastrophic and it feels like I’m dying.   The only way we learn a lesson in life, is when we experience it ourselves. She cannot experience the depth of her life if someone is always there to clean it up for her. I have realized the lesson I must learn, and now she must realize her own, if not for her own recovery then for my sanity.


Your will shall decide your destiny– Jane Eyre


10 thoughts on “A Lesson Learned

  1. Oh your words made me call my mother and once again say I am sorry. The problem is that my sorries don’t mean much anymore. I wish I knew what to say. I wish I could talk to your daughter. I wish I could jump in her skin and make things right. I wish I could change the past for my mother and anyone else I have hurt. Please keep writing. I wish I could really talk to you instead of only leaving comments. I am so sorry, but once again what does that mean really.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pam Follows says:

    This leaves me breathless. The magnitude of your pain, loss and strength are astounding. Your family, your friends, me -we are all so blessed to have you in our lives. I love you.


  3. Your writing moves me and all the pain you are feeling Is happening to me too but and it is a big but- my son died 10 days ago. I cannot believe I have written those words. I shout it and repeat it over and over to anyone who will hear. But I am not hearing it. My precious beloved son has died and so have I. much love to you x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. He was like your daughter. But here in the UK the options for treatment are limited. The circumstances of his death are too grim to write…….you will be shocked but I am broken and I have lost my purpose. Your writing echoes my thoughts over the years. To raise fully functoning adults who contribute to the world in a positive way. I failed. I feel I have gone mad in my grief. There is no consolation of any kind in an early death from addiction. No national flag on a returning coffin, no proud tales of misadventure whilst on an adventure, no brave rescue, or courageous battle with illness just a sordid death of an overdose in a seedy room not found until…….well I shall not finish that sentence. He was abroad on what he called a holiday and when he did not call me after 24 hours (he never left it longer than 24 hours) I tried to get in touch. I read about your daughter and you are right no matter how miserable she is , she is alive. She can feel nothing if the alternative were to happen. Look at my memorial page for my son on face book. Jacob Burkin. It is not going into my head. Just always always let her know she is loved please.
    Any mistakes I made or errors of judgement are permanently etched on my heart, totally irreversably. I can make no more mistakes. Love to you and yours. chris


    • I don’t have words. I can only imagine the pain you are going through. And your reality is my worst nightmare. My fear is she will disappear and die and no one will find her, or notice. I’m sorry doesn’t even seem strong enough. It’s so unfair that you have to suffer while he is an addict in life and suffer double when he dies. There is no peace. There is no relief. My thoughts, prayers and love to you.


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