Rebuilding implies that there was already something built, that was destroyed or broken or otherwise in need of repair. When I think about that, the most logical place to start is at the beginning. At the place where the thing that is in need of repair was in working order. At the time and place that it became broken, if we are to determine how it should be fixed. But what happens when you don’t know? There are things that are broken so quietly that a person doesn’t realize it is broken until a lot of damage has been done. And that, my friends, is the epitome of addiction.
If I were driving my car down the street and I suddenly got a flat tire, I would know the exact minute and spot it happened. If my house were to catch on fire, it would not take long for me to determine that it was in fact, on fire. Even if I didn’t know why, I would not that it happened. If I were diagnosed with cancer, or even multiple sclerosis (oh wait, I was, dur) I might not know why I got this disease, but I would know that I had it, and how it would be treated, thus allowing me to beginning rebuilding my life as the new MS-diagnosed me. How does a person rebuild their life after addiction because there is no after? There is no such thing as after addiction. There is only life before and then life with.
Life before addiction has become a distant memory. I remember when I found out about her heroin addiction I naively believed that we would send her to detox to be “cured”. It’s almost embarrassing now. I say almost because I have done this enough to know that most people think that. No one can truly understand that grip that heroin has on an addict until you see it up close. I would never have believed it could be this bad. We are five years into this nightmare and I still can’t believe it. It doesn’t seem real sometimes. At night, when I can’t sleep, I sit on the couch in my living room looking out the window at the world asleep. I used to be one of those people, that slept at night. I used to see families and think those babies are cute. Now I think, it’s all fun and games when they are toddlers, but just wait. I was sarcastic, now I am skeptical of everything. Anything. And there is no way to rebuild that. There is no way to not see the world differently.
I have been trying to illustrate to JoDee why she should see things differently. I have been trying to force her to see the world through our eyes, to see how painful the loss of her would be to all of us. But she can’t see that. She can’t because she is grieving for something so great she can see clearly. She is grieving for someone so important to her, she doesn’t see the life without him. She can’t imagine rebuilding a life that doesn’t have him in it. Rebuilding a life starts with recognizing there is a life to rebuild. If you don’t like your life, or you think you shouldn’t be alive, it’s impossible to begin the process. As much as I don’t know how to rebuild a life after addiction, neither can she. We are both stuck in a perpetual purgatory. As a parent it’s not natural for me to walk away from a child. Even when I know that is what must be done. Even though I know that is what is best for me. From the moment a person becomes a parent they stop putting their needs before their child’s.
I cannot fix her. I can’t take away her pain or give her a reason to live. I can’t parent her, and I can’t parent her. I can’t walk away from her but I cannot help her, or do anything for her at all, really. I can’t talk to her, or yell at her, or hug her. I can’t rebuild a life I lost because I haven’t found out what my life looks like yet. I can’t wait for her to find recovery because she might not. I can’t wait for her to die because she might not. I can’t keep doing what I have been doing because that isn’t living. I have to make a move. Even if it’s wrong, at least it would be progress. Even if the progress is small, it is still something. Anything is better than staring at my phone wondering if she will call. Feeling both relieved and sad that she doesn’t. When she calls, I won’t know what to say. I have the conversations in my head but the truth is she doesn’t want to hear what I have to say. She has already made up her mind and there is no amount of mothering that is going to stop her. Nothing I have done before would have stopped her either, but I guess I had to go through my own process to understand that. Now I have to rebuild a life, but I don’t know what I’m rebuilding.