I have spoken about the cast of characters in blog posts past: Reality, Despair, Anger, Fear, Denial. In the world of addiction they play an integral part of everyone’s life. I can’t speak from the perspective of the addict but I can from the mother of an addict. At different intervals I have experienced all of these emotions. They don’t feel like emotions, they feel like living, breathing beings that lead me through life by the hand helping me make sense of something when my brain won’t cooperate. It is overwhelming to say the least. But it is down right terrifying when they all show up at the same time.
Everyone shows up on the door step at holiday time, doesn’t it feel that way? Aunts and Uncles you see only once a year or when someone dies or is married. Cousins that moved to the area with no other family close by, or friends that have no relations close enough to spend the holiday with, is always the way, right? The cast of characters are no different in my world. At any time during a holiday or birthday one or more show up to pay a visit, but this holiday, I was not prepared to see them all at the same time. In the many, many years of dealing with heroin addiction I have never had that happen. And it sucked. Monkey ass, if I do say.
Let’s start with Denial. Denial began appearing a few weeks before Thanksgiving when it helped me convince myself that JoDee and Scooby could come home for the holiday and it would be awesome. Perfect. We would trim the tree, eat Chinese food, decorate the house, make Christmas cookies, have a big Thanksgiving meal while holding hands and singing Jingle Bells. Pause for me to shake my head in embarrassment and horror. As the days crept closer, Denial sat with me, holding my hand, and petting my head like a good doggie obeying orders to proceed even though my gut told me I was missing something. That is the beauty of Denial. It has a way of forcing a person to deny that which they feel in their core or see right in front of their face. Good Ole Denial.
As soon as I picked them up Fear jumped in the car. Loaded to the brim with their dirty laundry, brandy new, little kitty and who the hell knows what else, we began the two hour trip back home. Within a few minutes I was already worried. Worry turned to Fear but I didn’t notice it. There were phone calls and conversations that just didn’t seem right. I wanted them to be in a better place. I made it clear that when they came home they had to be clean, not sick, and ready to spend the time with us drama free. This was a bit controlling on my part because the truth is that when a person fears that something won’t go the way they plan the reaction is to try to control it. In the world of addiction there is no such thing as control because no one can control anything much less the addict herself.
I won’t spill the dirty details because it wouldn’t be fair to anyone, or much less be agreed upon as far as the way things happened: there is my version, her version and the truth somewhere in the middle. The truth is that Reality showed up after two days to let me know this was not working. It wasn’t working for me, it wasn’t working for them and there was little I could do to make it work. We were trying to fit a square peg into a round spot and it was only hurting all of us. Reality sat with me, whispering in my ear that I didn’t have to like it it, I could even hate it, but this was life and she was not ready to actively be part of it yet. Or, I had to accept that I was not wiling to have her part of it yet. Either way, the end result was the same. She had to go.
Any mother or father or loved one of an addict that has had to pack their person up to essentially throw them out of the house can tell you it is a heart breaking and soul crushing process. I have had to do this so many times that it summon for Anger. While JoDee and Scooby packed all their crap, and their brandy new kitty, and the laundry I cleaned for them, Anger, Reality and Denial all sat next to me on the couch having a debate about the rights and wrongs of this situation. Anger volleyed for them to move faster because it was so mad that it didn’t turn out the way we wanted, and Denial argued that maybe it wasn’t as bad as we thought, opting to give them another chance. But Reality reminded me to stay the course. Not to ignore my gut. Now, to be clear, an addict does not need to be actively using to have addictive behavior. There are ways in which a person can behave like they are in active addiction without nodding out, or shooting up or stealing. Removing drugs does not make a person drug free. Only someone who deals with an addict first hand would understand what I mean, but there is an entitlement and self-absorbed/centered/focused attitude that is often at the root of the addiction that can be as damaging if not more damaging then doing drugs. It was that behavior that put the four of us on my couch arguing the next steps.
Eventually I had enough of the four way yelling match between Reality, Anger, Fear and myself, and the girls were packed so it was time to go. Currently, I am driving a tin sardine can of a rental because my youngest son crashed up my car, so it was a tight squeeze with me, AC, those two, the kitty and the four characters (Fear, Reality, Anger and Denial) all in the car. The ride was a roller coaster of emotions. Fear that I was never going to see her alive again, Angry that we were driving to East Podunk Village in the middle of the night on Friday, Denying that this was changing the dynamic of our relationship possibly for good, and understanding that in Reality, I had no choice. When we got to their apartment Anger was torn between getting out with them or staying with me. Anger made her knock on the car window and ask me to give her cat without wanting to give me a hug or say good-bye at all. In the end, Anger got back in the car with us, and brought Despair for the long drive home. Waking up on Saturday morning (or should I say getting out of bed because who the hell slept at all that night!) Anger, Fear, Denial, Reality and Despair were all waiting for me. To sooth our souls we watched Dirty Dancing, Titanic, Legends of the Fall, Wind River, Ghost, The Hateful Eight, and We Were Soldiers all day and night. As difficult as it is to have them all around, they taught me a very good lesson: Don’t celebrate anymore fucking holidays. The end.
4 thoughts on “The Cast of Characters”
Dear Mel. You have tried and tried and keep trying. It is hard but I continue to hope, like you, that someday your trying will pay off and work. Love you.
Holidays can be the worst. I am sorry you had such an emotional roller coaster ride. I have been through that nightmare. Now my holiday interactions are in small doses with a quick getaway at all times. Not what any of us want or planned. Sometimes reality sucks, is so true.
I so understand, and my heart breaks for you. I send you love and prayers and the hope that you will be sheltered and comforted by your loved ones this coming holiday season.
Melanie: can you reach out to me to talk about my daughter, Nina