A shared journey is exactly as it sounds. A journey that is shared with one or more individuals. A journey can be as minor as a walk around the block or as major as the passage through parenthood, which at times feels like trying to swim the Indian Ocean with no arms, or legs. Everyone participating in a particular journey experiences it differently. Two people could be trapped in the same boat, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, for a horrendous amount of time. Before each dies, their view of the circumstances could be totally different. One of the boat mates may see this as the worst possible thing to happen. Being stuck in the most dangerous ocean, in a small boat is a death sentence. A slow, agonizing and lengthy death sentence. The other boat mate may see it as the only way to die. Out in the vast ocean, where his body will eventually fall into the water where fish, sharks and other sea creatures will feast on his corpse making him part of the marine biological circle of life. I think that guy would be a little nutso but to each their own, right? The point is, the journey could be the same, two people side by side on a path, and have varying degrees of relating.
Parenting my addicted child is not much different from that. In a lot of ways. AC and I walk this path hand in hand, caring for JoDee when we can, not doing anything when it is appropriate. The same as her father and his wife do. In a certain degree we all walk it together. But their experience is far different from mine. I don’t want to sound condescending or nasty but a mother’s experience is always going to be different. Father’s may love their children the same, I assume they do, but I’m not a dad so I don’t know, but they don’t experience the maternal pull of momminess. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know that feeling. I wish I didn’t have that voice in my head telling me to do something or not do something, because I want to do the opposite. And I get great advice from other mothers of addicted children but often their journey is different from mine. Even mothers whose children are suffering like mine is, and mothers that are suffering like I am, are experiencing it differently than I am.
At this point in my life on I am on multiple, life-changing, shared journeys. With my daughter, I am on a shared journey of addiction. I don’t know what her future holds or if she even has a future to speak of. She could. She should. She is a beautiful, smart (street smart, smart-ass, smart-mouth), giving and loyal to everyone but herself, which makes her completely disloyal which is not her at all. She has the world within her grasp and instead of reaching out to grab it, she risks jail time to steal $5 worth of gas, and then disregards the help I offer making wine out of water to place her in a great program. It’s inconceivable to me that she is in a place that she is jeopardizing her freedom for $5. How is that not an all-time low? It is for me. But it’s not my low. It’s just my ride. I can’t get off. I can’t bail on the journey. I can’t go back, or speed ahead. I can’t ask the tour guide to take me in a different direction. I can’t ask for my money back. All of the things that I hear in Al-Anon about protecting myself do protect me, to a certain degree but they do not make me not a parent any longer. Even if I don’t talk to her I will still worry, and think about her, and love her. So whether I do what I was doing, chasing her recovery for her, or I do what I do now which is nothing, I am still on this journey with her. This the journey from hell. This is the journey through hell. Which is so freaking weird because at the same time I am on a journey with another one of my children (a step-child) that is the opposite.
I am on a journey with AC and his daughter that is about becoming the person she was supposed to be and growing into the adult that will shape the rest of her life. It’s an amazing journey that has been an honor to be part of. To be able to share with one child all the potential she can reach by working hard, sticking to her plan, and following through with the hardest of the hard of decisions has been a blessing. I won’t say I haven’t had moments of jealousy. Not the angry, green monster kind but the loving kind. I can see the look of pride on his face as he watches his daughter meet her goals and I wish that for JoDee. I see how pleased he is that she was willing to give her all, and suffer some pain to experience a full life of pleasure, which makes me happy and proud for both of them and sad for JoDee knowing she is holed up in someone’s house probably high, probably confused as to what day it is, probably wondering when she can get high again. I hate having one child have perfect focus on her dreams and working on them and one child having no aspirations or goals at all.
I am on the shared journey with my daughter and her addiction. I am on a shared journey with AC and his daughter as they walk the path to person I always knew she could be. Two entirely different journeys. Two entirely different paths to two entirely different ends, both with children I love. One has a wonderful positive outlook and future. One has an outlook and future whose path has a dark and looming question mark hovering in the air. Sometimes, I don’t want to know how it ends.