As a society we are all pretty connected. We are connected to our phones, our laptops, our Ipads , tablets, and any other device we can use to be in the know. In the now. Rarely are we fully in the moment. I used to have a boss, one of the bestest, favoritest bosses I ever had, knew that people are usually half listening so when he wanted my attention he would say to be “Be here now” and I would know he needed my undivided attention. He also told me to say that to him if I needed him to really hear what I was saying. It’s a good system actually, I have used it on my current bosses more than once. It’s effective, and really makes the person I am speaking too pay attention. So that person can connect to whatever it is I am saying.
As a parent I want to stay connected to my children. Not just electronically by snooping on their Facebook or Twitter or bedroom. But connected as people. I want my son to be able to talk to me about Cinderella, or his job, or heartburn. I want my other son to be able to talk to me about teachers or girls or video games. And of course, I always wanted my daughter to be able to do the same. We had that relationship. We were connected at the hip. Connecting with all of them is part of raising them and it’s an ongoing process. Until it’s not. It is virtually impossible to stay connected to an active addict. First of all, nothing she says to me is the truth. And some of it isn’t a lie either. There is this place in her head that she lives that is confusing and completely disconnected from reality. She doesn’t know what is real and what isn’t. Recently she suffered a tremendous loss. A loss that is so great, and so painful, she will not and cannot connect with real life. In her own words, he was a better person than her so she doesn’t have a right to life. In any other setting, in any other medical field when a person expressed that they no longer feel they have a right to life, they would be detained, and helped, and not released to their own bad decisions. Not in the addiction world.
In the addiction world, the thought is that the person doesn’t want help so medical personnel can’t help so they should be let go so that someone who wants help can be given that bed. It seems like policy and regulation and society has not connected the dots. People fail to see that addiction is a mental illness. It is a slow and methodical suicide. Our addicted loved ones are as much a danger to themselves as any other mentally ill patient. My daughter will be released from WATC. Where she will go right back to the place she was using before, with someone who will stay clean if she does or use if she does. They will either tear each other down to nothing or balance each other out. My money is on the former. She is not in a good place. She does not want to be clean. Words she has said to me herself. She does not understand why he dies and she lives. He was a better person then her, according to her. She does not want to face a reality of a life that he is not part of. And I don’t think she will. She cannot connect to a life that her best friend is not in. And she won’t. No one can make her. The desire is not to live; it is to be the walking dead. That makes me feel very disconnected as a parent. I don’t know how to parent that. So what is my alternative?
Staying connected to the rest of the family is really my only option. She is going to do what she is going to do. She is going to make her choices no matter the consequence. Disconnecting from my feelings about her addiction and staying connected to my other children is no easy feat. The boys, my two step-daughters, they are here and need me too. It’s like imagining 5 light switches in my head and heart, and four have to stay in the on position, connected and in the present. While one has to be turned to the off position, disconnected and distant. It’s not natural. It’s not maternal. It’s the opposite of everything a parent strives to be. I want to be an involved parent. I am an involved parent. So when someone calls me to say that when she is released from WATC she is going to his house, and I yell and scream and freak out and eventually calm down, I am pained to realize that she is completely disconnected from us. As I pace the floor all night thinking about what this means, I come to the conclusion that I need to let her know I know, and I don’t support it. And she is alone in this decision. This morning when she called me I told her he called, and it didn’t go well, and I know that she does not want to do this but is doing it to punish herself, and that she is on her own to live in this hell as long as this is her choice, I am not at all surprised that she disconnected the call.