I live in a chronic state of fear. I am sure we all know why, and the reasons because, well, I have a whole blog written about them. But it’s a different kind of fear during active addiction then in recovery. It’s like an itch compared to poison ivy. If a person has an itchy back, they will try really hard to scratch it. A person might rub their back against a door-frame, or use a ruler (don’t judge, what’s a girl to do?) or any number of things. The itch might actually go away. Or it might sort of linger not really satisfied. It might always be there. Sort of annoying, but not really incapacitating. Poison ivy on the other hand, that is incapacitating. The itch is awful. Burning, and irritated. Itching it makes it worse, not itching makes it worse than that, and when you aren’t scratching, you’re thinking about itching it. It’s always nagging, painfully. The emotion of it is, um, emotional? It’s awful. There is no escape. During recovery, I am very aware that it could change at any time. At any moment she could make a move that erases everything she had just gone through. It isn’t as painful, but it’s still ….there. During active addiction, there is no running from it. If I am awake I am thinking about it. If I am asleep I am having nightmares about it. The anxiety and anticipation of when something will change, how it will change, IF it will change, is draining. And every time there is a relapse, I can’t help but think will this be the time. When will the call come that will end the hope and end the struggle.
The pattern in our existence has been recover/relapse/recover/relapse, rinse and repeat. I have been trying desperately to break my part of the cycle. I have vowed not to drop everything and run when she calls. I haven’t given her any money, or really any daily emotional support. I have been standing on the sidelines like a good girl, aka, non-enabling mommy. Intervention would be so proud (insert very lady-like curtsey, actually no insert very manly chest bump which is more my style). But that is really hard to do. Sometimes AC says to me that he doesn’t know how I function. Caffeine, suppression and road rage are really all that keep me going. Then, there are times the urge to be her mother just take over and I absolutely cannot ignore it. So, after two weeks of radio silence, I called her. I had too. It was a feeling, maternal I guess, but I had to hear her voice for myself to know she is ok, which is going to really do the exact opposite because clearly she is not ok. But I did it anyway. She answered the phone with a hello that screamed of skepticism. I reassured her that nothing was wrong, and I was just calling to check on her. She sounded terrible. She sounded beat down and sad but I couldn’t ask her about that. Asking her about that would lead to her telling me which would make me feel guilty for abandoning her even though I hadn’t and I would force myself to act on that so she wouldn’t feel that way or feel like she wasn’t loved.
There are times when a parent has to know that less is more. There are times when a parent has to do the opposite of what the child has asked because it is in their best interest. And there are times when a parent has to know that it’s not about what is right or wrong, it’s about what is best even if best sucks monkey anus. As she told me that she has tried to go to detox twice, and she wanted to go back to recovery but was having a hard time. She had reserved her bed and cancelled it a few times but didn’t want to this time. I gave her encouragement. I told her I love her and I told her that could do this, and live the right way, but she is the only one that could do it. Our normal pattern would be for me to drop whatever I am doing to pick her up because for some unknown reason whenever she wants to leave where she is to go to detox she has to do it under the cover of mystery, leaving before the person she is with comes home, to bring her either home to my house to wait for a bed or directly to detox. I didn’t offer to pick her up. I was holding firm. I was standing my ground. I was not going to be deterred. And then she said. She said the words that always break me. They are not I need you Mom or I love you Mom or even I might die Mom. She said, I am terrified, Mom. Those words, for me, is like taking a bullet to the heart. No parent can hear that their kid is afraid and not want to hold their hand. It is ingrained in us as parents. For mothers it happens at conception, for fathers it happens as soon as they see their child, having to wait to have the bond we develop as the child grows in our womb. It is against all that we know, it is against everything we learned from Dr. Spoke, our pediatrician and of course, Sesame Street.
I called her from my car. I was driving home from work, in the ever lovely evening rush-hour on 128 which is really code for Highway from Hell. With the phone pressed to my ear and ironically, Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins played in the background she said she was terrified. I put the phone to my chest for a brief moment. I had to take a moment to contain myself. If I didn’t hit pause, whatever came out of my mouth next would probably be wrong. My brain said go get her. Pull a U-ey at the next exit to turn around and head to Everett. But that is the same pattern again and again. It’s wrong. Actually, it’s right. It’s right to do what felt wrong because wrong was right and I was only able to control myself. I can’t stop her from repeating her cycle, but I can stop myself from participating. I can stop physically doing it, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t mentally do it. My voice said it’s scary because it’s a change and it’s a massive change. My voice said that she could do this and that she has done it before so she knows she can. My voice said that she would feel better if she could really, really live. And my voice told her that I loved her.
My mind was screaming go fucking get her you stupid dumb asshole. My mind was telling me that only a bad mother let’s her kid figure this out alone. My mind told me that only a bad person would hang up and finish driving home to make dinner, feed the new dogs, and my other regular evening duties. My resolve was strong though none-the-less tortured. I never even mentioned I talked to JoDee until we were sitting down for dinner. I just casually mentioned that I had talked to her and she was going to treatment. I didn’t say much about it. I made it seem inconsequential because I know that’s how they want me to be. The next day she text me that she was scared, that the person she was with had come home and she didn’t know if she could leave. I told her to do it different and tell him the truth instead of being sneaky because recovery was a good thing, not something to be ashamed about. She said she couldn’t do it, she would wait for him to leave. I reminded her that she is repeating the same patterns, and she told me she knew and would try to tell him. Later she text me that she was on her way but wouldn’t call me from detox. Are we at that point? Are we so far from each other that she felt she couldn’t call me if she wanted too? How did two people, two family members, a mother/daughter duo become so distant and broken that we can’t call each other randomly? What the hell happened to the days that she would call my 100 times a day for many reasons up to and including calling me to ask where the cat is? Ironically, that isn’t what happened, and life has a way of sticking in your ass when bend over to pick up a penny. And JoDee has a way of making things worse for herself. She is her own worst enemy.
Sometimes I don’t know whose life I am living. I feel like in my house, alone, I can be as disturbed and distraught about this life as I want too but when I leave the house I have to put on my Person Clothes. In my Person Clothes I look like the me everyone knows, and sees, and laughs with and I am normal. In my Person Clothes I don’t look like the person that feels as though heroin has literally ruined my life. Why is that? Because I am terrified she won’t ever recover. I am terrified that I will bury her someday, and that someday will be sooner than later. I am terrified that her addiction problem has made me so cynical and jaded that I may never be able to see the world in a different way again. I am terrified that she won’t die but we will continue this cycle for the next 20 years and then she dies. I am terrified that she will have a stroke, and this time it will make her brain turn to mush leaving me with a completely handicapped child who will need constant care. I am terrified that if that happens I will resent her for making me suffer further for her addiction because I know myself so I will have to take care of her myself until I drop dead, that is if I out live her. I am terrified that she will never have a normal relationship with her siblings. The truth is, she is not the only one that is terrified and I can’t really help either one of us.