The Real Dilemma

I used to think that a dilemma was when I agreed to be in two places at the same time. Or when my gas light was on but I couldn’t find my debit card. In the real world of normal people dilemmas are stressful but manageable.  I remember when I used to be stressed out by every day dilemmas.  In another life a dilemma wouldn’t keep me up at night, staring at the ceiling wondering if the choice I made is the difference between my daughter’s life and death.  I believed, back then in the fantasy world I lived in, that the dilemmas were horrible and unnerving. I laugh at the person now. I sneer at her in awe of her ignorance and naivety.

First world problems is a new tag line going around. There is some real truth behind that. Market Basket is a zoo is most people’s biggest complaint on a Sunday morning, meanwhile there are people who haven’t eaten food they haven’t scavenged or killed with their own hands ever in their life. I am complaining about dog hair and cat hair and boys that don’t bring their dirty clothes to the laundry or girls that leave clothes everywhere and yet there are children that have never had clothes. CLOTHES. Those are not dilemmas though. Those are tragedies and real world problems. It makes me embarrassed for us as American’s when we complain about our dilemma’s.  Even though, that is true, when facing a dilemma it does help put things into perspective when comparing them to the problems of others. Someone very smart once said to me if everyone in the world had to dump all their problems on the street for all to share, we would be very quick to go grab our own.

Technically, a dilemma is being torn between two or more situations in which each one is equally troubling. Every time I have an encounter with my daughter, I am faced with a dilemma.  She is destructive, and self sabotaging, and hurtful to everyone around her. She can’t tell the truth because I’m not sure she even knows it anymore and she can absolutely not do anything that would better her life.  Each time I see her or talk to her I am faced with the dilemma of hugging her or smashing her face in.  I can’t say with each relapse, because her life is one constant relapse, but every turn on the Merry-Go-Round makes me sicker, makes her sicker and pulls us farther apart.  When this ride started I stood next to her, in front of her, trying to protect her from all of those around her. While the horses went up and down and the creepy music played I frantically searched for the next threat so I could help eliminate it no matter how motion sick I got. As the Merry-Go-Round sped up and horses started to break away, I kept my eyes on the horizon looking for her bright future.  All the while that stupid ride spun me crazy, and everyone who began the ride with us was gone, I never noticed the real threat. The real problem was not the other riders, or those standing by watching to see us fall. The real menace was her. She was the real problem. And there was no saving her from herself.

Now that I see something, I can’t unsee it. I can’t make my mind block the truth. I would look at her to see the baby she was, the young girl that I watched grow up.  The girl on the Merry-Go-Round was blond and little and waving her arm to for all of us to wave back, proud she was on the horse all by herself. I was blinded by that image and I couldn’t see what everyone else saw. I was warned, and warned, and warned. Many people told me that there was nothing I could do. Many people told me to step off the ride. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make myself get off no matter what. Like an idiot, I believed the ride would eventually stop and we would both be able to get off, together.  I believed it was my duty to stand with her, even if she took me down with her because I was her mother. Isn’t that my job as a parent? To advocate for my child when she can’t advocate for herself?  In 99% of the situations a child goes through, that may be true, but not with addiction.  Addiction epitomizes a dilemma. Helping hurts, doing nothing sucks, watching them live sick and soulless is torture but death would be worse.  There is no bigger dilemma then when she calls you to tell you that she is going to have to sleep in a park because she has nowhere to go. If I bring her to my house again, she steals from us, I can’t go to work because I can’t leave her alone and no one feels comfortable with her being there when she is not the JoDee we all know and love. The person that would come home would be a person we don’t know. A stranger occupying the body of someone who looks like someone we used to know.  If I pick her up to bring her home she will be validated that I will always pick up after her. She will never have to change because I am always there to clean up her mess.

If I don’t pick her up, she sleeps in a park. In my mind it isn’t the image of the stranger we see in the present but the daughter I knew in the past. She could use alone and die from an overdose. She could be kidnapped or raped. The numbers of things that go through my mind are endless. I hear her crying in the phone, and her words are not good. I can tell she is high. I’m not even sure if I’m breathing.  I don’t know what to do. This. Is. A. Dilemma.  My choices are let her sleep in a park in Everett, or pick her up to bring her to my house. The place that she stole medicine and money and who knows what. How can a mother make that choice? How am I supposed to decide between those two options? I know what Nar-Non and Al-Anon and who-ever-the-hell-Anon would say:  Don’t get her.   So, I should say that I’m sorry I can’t pick you up just to climb in my own bed, with my fuzzy blanket and sleep?  She knows I won’t let her come home, so I ask her why she is calling me. Through cries and hiccups she tells me that she thought I would want to know that her child is sleeping in a park. Those words are like a bullet right to the heart.  Even if I picked her up, what then? She can’t get in any programs and she has nowhere to go.  If I don’t pick her up, how long does she sleep in the park?  How will I live with myself, or look myself in the mirror, or sleep?

I didn’t pick her up. I have done everything I can do. The only thing I have left to do is nothing.  Nothing is a very strong statement. It hurts to say it, and it hurt for her to hear it.  I don’t know how this ends; I don’t know how long I have to live in hell on earth. I hope someday there is peace for both of us.

3 thoughts on “The Real Dilemma

  1. Hi Melanie
    you may remember me, I told you of my son and his death on May 20th in Bangkok. I live in the UK and was told by my sons drug worker, after his death, when I could not see or breathe that the ones that survive are those that are left to their own devices. In his opinion the more street wise they get the better their chance of survival. This was hard for me to hear as I had moved mountains to help my son keep a roof over his head. He lived in a tiny flat close to my home and ate with us any evening he was able to or wanted to. I drove him to his meetings did his laundry etc. ( i did still hide my purse when he was in my house even though he had never stolen from me?) I tried to keep him “respectable”. I loved my son very much and miss him everyday but he went on a short holiday to Bangkok as his methadone treatment had been terminated and never came back. I don’t know how you deal with these dilemmas anymore……everything seems to be ineffective. And the stress each time one of these situations crops up is draining and destroying. It seems what ever we do the outcome will take its course. I wish you strength to deal with all this and I wish Jo Dee a flash of clarity soon. sending you both love… is all we have xxx chris evans


    • Hi Chris,
      Someone recently said the same thing to me. That if I shelter her, and try hard to protect her she will be more vulnerable on the street. They only learn street smarts by experience but it’s emotionally paralyzing to realize it. To actually say to her that I won’t pick her up so sleep in a park its almost impossible to get the words out. I know she did not sleep in the park. I know that she found a friend to pick her up. Probably one of the only friends she has left, but that was only one night. Now what? Where will she go now? It’s endless. And it’s tiring. And sometimes I think people just tell me what I need to hear to get through the hard part, but I have no other choice at this point.


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