Committed: Recovery, Gardens and Family

The sun beats down on my back as I am kneeling in the dirt cursing the weeds that keep coming back. They are relentless. I have tried all of the tricks of the trade: homemade weed killer, pulling weeds in the middle of the night, when the dirt is dry, after watering, standing on my head while burping jelly-beans, but nothing works. The soil is rich and bountiful since the land was once an onion farm many, many years ago but someone spent many more years covering that farm rich soil up to grow grass. It has taken me several seasons to develop the perfect rectangle in the ground and most of the it is weed free, but the one area that continues to grow year after year is my nemesis. Well, the used to be my nemesis. Now, I am grateful for them.

 

My kitchen faces the back of my house directly into my garden deliberately. While I am washing dishes I love looking out at the butterflies attracted to the marigolds, and the bees pollinating my cucumbers. The blots of red from my tomato plants add a deep color to the mass of green vines and leaves. I am often standing in that exact spot trying to determine the items I will use in that evening’s supper. It’s beautiful, and knowing that the fruits of my labor will nourish my family is an added bonus. One particular day, late in the season, I noticed the last of the tomatoes had ripened, and were ready to be picked. The butternut squash was looking fantastic and on schedule for harvest in another few months and my second harvest of potatoes was almost ready. The flowers were gone and the plants were beginning to wilt, a sure sign that the tubers were ready when the phone broke my concentration.

 

When a person is staring at such a beautiful part of the earth, a part that she herself had helped create, she should not be disturbed by a phone call that will change her life forever. That is what happened to me. Drying my hands off on a nearby dish towel I answered the phone to be told that my daughter has jumped a wall in the middle of the night to runaway from a rehab in Arizona. There is nothing a person can do to prepare for that, and I was not prepared, at all. In the years since that day, we have many escapes and many near death experiences. She should be dead now, by all rights, but she continues to live another day. That first season the garden was all but forgotten about. My husband had been mowing the lawn at the time. The whole winter the lawn mower stayed right where he turned it off. The tomatoes rotten on the vine, and the potatoes under the earth. The butternut squash ripened to harvest and eventually froze to the ground decomposing the following spring. In the beginning getting out of bed was all I could manage some days. The garden seemed like a chore. I lost the love and the desire to watch things develop from seed to life. It felt as though the very opposite thing was happening to my daughter. She was slowly dismantling herself and her life. Killing herself. The drug was the weed that was strangling the life out of her and there was nothing I could do to stop it or help her. It was worse than that. It was like having powdery mildew sweep through the whole garden, and nothing we tried made it better or clear up. It was just a disease that kept on spreading.

 

It wasn’t just the outside garden that suffered either. My house plants wilted with neglect and my other children sulked around rarely showing their face out of their rooms. My Christmas Cactus never bloomed that year and the Wandering Jew I had for almost ten years on the mantel over the fireplace began to lose leaves and turn brown. Eventually we figured out how to bring life back to our lives. It isn’t an easy process. It is so difficult to commit to a life lived with an addict. It makes life unpredictable and scary. Even the strongest of people, even the people stick to their boundaries still live with the emotion attached to it. Not being in contact with the addict does not ease the pain or the depression or the misery of all that it entails but eventually it becomes just another part of the family dynamic.  Her addiction is like that patch of garden that keeps growing weeds. I won’t stop pulling them, and I won’t stop trying to figure out how to get rid of them for good, but I refuse to let it rock my commitment to the rest of the garden. I make sure I water the eggplant, and trim the herbs to encourage new growth. I snip roses putting them in vases all around the house so we can relish in their sweet scent and I take time to sit back to admire the work I have done.

 

That sounds easy, doesn’t it? To someone on the outside, that sounds like an easy thing. Pick the weed, accept it will grow back and move on. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It is a commitment. It is a commitment to myself and my family. I didn’t want to sell my house to buy a new house without JoDee being clean and able to be with us. I procrastinated as long as I could but it didn’t happen. I haven’t planned a family vacation yet for the summer because there is no way she can come with us. But I have to do it. The rest of the kids, my husband and I, work hard all year and we deserve the down time with each other. This is a real commitment. Every morning while I shower I allow myself to sulk and moan and question why this happened to me, and my daughter, and my family. By the time I dry off, brush my teeth and am dressed for the day I have to commit to putting it behind me until the same time the next day. Allowing the weeds to strangle me would only spoil the whole garden.

 

At this point with JoDee we are in a holding pattern. She says she is clean, but her patterns haven’t changed. Not working, watching Netflix, letting others take care of her is not going to make the weeds stop growing but I can’t preach that. At this point no one can. She knows what she has to do. She knows how to do it but she has to have the desire to do it. That is something that cannot be taught, or given, or explained. It has to come from her. And the first thing she would have to do is admit she still has a problem. She would have to admit that she is in denial because being drug free is not the same as living a clean life, weed-free* life.

 

 

*Weed as it relates to the garden, not a reference or innuendo for pot. Get your mind out of the gutter people.

Lucky Luck

Recently, the girl scrammed again. One minute in treatment and one minute in the wind. Earlier that day she was asking me to give her a ride to a friends wake and hours later, bam-gone. Gone in the wind. It would be a lie if I said I was shocked. I think I have said this before. Nothing really shocks me anymore. I think it’s sad, and dangerous, and I worry about her, but she doesn’t shock me. At the time I received the call I was in the emergency room with AC and AC the Original because he was having a small complication from his recent surgery. I hung up from that call and I told AC the nature of the call. He was shocked. And he was made because he was shocked. He told me that he always believes this is the time. This is the time that she will really stay on the right track and every time she derails she surprises him.  My only true thought was will her luck run out?

She has been so lucky. I can’t count with both hands how many times she overdosed. And I can think of the near death experiences she has had and I believe it takes up one whole hand, including the palm. But she always lives. Homeless, shiftless, left on the street, nearly paralyzed, has not stopped her from her drug addiction. She has been able to come back from the depths of the worst possible places. How long can that go on? Cats only have nine lives. I don’t believe people have that same amount. If we do, she definitely is getting to the end of that number. I mean, doesn’t the death by overdose really come down to luck? The lucky ones put a needle in their arm and live, and the unlucky ones put a needle in their arm and die. It is sheer luck that a person doesn’t get a bag of something other than heroin or something that is heroin but not enough to kill them. Someone can do the same thing day in and day out and one day it’s over. No excuse. No reason. No understanding.  Also, some people can be addicts until they are in their forties or longer and live to tell about it and others  die at twenty-three. Isn’t that luck? Well, bad luck?

When we got home from the hospital I sent her a text that said I hope your safe because you don’t have to many lives left, kiddo. She did not respond though, if I am being honest, I didn’t expect her too. She hasn’t reached out, and I’m not sure I should reach out to her, so I’m not going too. I just hope that the last conversation we had wasn’t about the logistics of picking her up for someone elses funeral.  That would be terrible, horrible, traumatizingly unluck.

T. R. E. M. B. L. E.

T-Today is a new day. It is a day we should embrace because we are given another chance to do things right. To make today count. The problem with that, is if I realize it, and I know it, it’s one thing. But she has to know it. She has to feel that way. She has to take today as a blessing. If she is making excuses, and blaming others, and focusing on the wrong then, today won’t count. It will just be a repeat of yesterday and all the yesterdays gone by.

R– Remembering how she was when she was young is both painful and helpful. She used to be so innocent, and beautiful, and kind, respectful. Now she is a shell of the girl she used to be. Now she is planning her next scheme, looking for away to work less but get more. She is looking for a way out or a short cut or an excuse or someone to blame. Gone is the girl who would beg to feed to feed her little brother, or would ask for chores to earn a dollar, and wanted to learn to mow the lawn. Now she feels like life owes her something, that she is the victim of her own doing and is deserving of all that others have.

E-Everywhere I go I am reminded of what is or could be or was. A mother with her little girl in the park looks like we used. A banged up girl on the bus looks like her now. The man at the Red Sox game nodding off into his beer looks familiar. The woman in the ER with the child passed out in her lap has the body of her own but the face of me.

M-Mothers are breed to protect their children. Mother instincts are not just a saying; they are in fact a real feeling. When the child grows up to be a heroin addict the instinct is now a curse. All the things a parent will do to protect their children, the mother will do, is the wrong thing. The way we would protect our children before now becomes enabling and dangerous. The feeling we have to stand in front of our children, shielding them with our own body, not only is harmful to our children, but may even result in a knife in our back. Mother becomes could world for mistake. And a big mistake will end up with a dead child because if we don’t make them responsible for their own actions it can be lethal.

B-Because we have to change everything we every knew about parenting means forgetting all the things we have become, and learned, and have grown into to instead be a jailer, and probation officer, drug specialist, hard-ass that we don’t even recognize when we look in the mirror. When I look in the mirror.  And because I don’t recognize myself I become the other B word. Bitter.  I am bitter that my life doesn’t look like I wanted it too, or that my daughter’s life doesn’t look like it should, and that I have to un-parent one child but still remember to parent the others. It becomes confusing.

L-Laughter is something I miss. Laughter is something that should reside in everyone’s household along with their pets, and memories, and experiences. Laughter should not be something that is malleable. It shouldn’t bend, and leave, or break and come back.  It should be part of every persons being. Laughing should be as present and tangible in every life. When laughter is missing, it is evident. The atmosphere is heavy and dark.  When laughter is present the atmosphere is light and bright and has a lot of hope.

E-Everyday I tremble with fear that she will be dead that day. Waking up with hope that things will change is becoming less frequent. Trembling is feeling, movement, or sound or a physical or emotional condition marked by trembling.  I have learned a person can tremble with laughter, with fear, with joy, with anxiety, or love. Hatred and anger can also make a person tremble. Desperation and anticipation can cause trembling as can heroin withdrawal, alcohol withdrawal, detoxing and overdose. When a person is administered narcan, and brought back from near dead, the will have involuntary shakes and trembling while also swearing, vomiting, and general disorientation or agitation.

Grave Oversight

The level of oversight can vary from incident to incident. If I do not pay the electric bill, it could be shut off but would be easily corrected. If I forgot to buckle one of my children’s car seats in when they were little that could be catastrophic.

When time came for the next step of JoDee’s recovery I did not want her to come home. I knew that being home is difficult for her. Not because we are using drugs, or partying like rock stars, but because I expect her to be a member of society. An able body in the house that helps clean, or cook, or take out trash, or keep her room clean.  This time, the director of the program and I had a conversation about my reservations. We talked about the goals for her and my concerns for her being home. He suggested that I make a list of things I would expect her to do or not do, send it to him and he would discuss it with JoDee.  That happened. I gave them a list and they discussed it as promised. It was clear that she wasn’t happy about my rules, but she claimed to be willing to adhere to them.  I told AC that it is all good in the hood right now but when she got home it would be a different story. I heard from everyone that I was pessimistic and being negative. I heard about how much she has changed, and that she really sees the joy in life now. Fine. She can come home. Fine. I will ignore my gut, again. Something I said I would not do. Fine. We will try again.

An oversight is an unintentional failure to act or notice something. Or it can be the act of overseeing something. It is my job as a mother to oversee our children. Obviously in partnership with my husband, but shall we be honest? Yes, we shall. Motherhood is the epitome of overseeing. Fathers do as well, but it usually falls to the mother. The majority of it anyway.  The colloquial word for oversight as it relates to being a parent is the bad guy. I have to be the bad guy. I have to tell them to clean their room or I won’t give them anymore money, or to find another sponsor or do step work or get a job or do their laundry.  I have to point out that the attitude sucks, and we aren’t here to cater to their every whim. And, this is not just my addicted child. It’s really all the children. They all need policing at some point. My addicted child needs more attention, and more parenting because she has larger hurdles.

Day one was amazing. She came home and immediately did dishes, organized her belongings, started laundry. Her attitude was pleasant and vibrant. It was a pleasure to have her home. The whole time she has been home I have enjoyed having her home. When the girls are all together the laughter vibrates through the walls, and makes everyone smile.  It is easy to relax when the house feels better with her there. It is easy to let your guard down when she attends her groups, goes to meetings and is following most of the rules.  But change is slow, and when it happens it is easy to oversee. The attitude became surly. The behavior became a little difficult. She didn’t eat much, she chewed her nails.  She was going out, but I believe she was doing the right thing. I think she was struggling with a lot of death around her, I think that she was suffering survivor’s guilt, still, for someone she loved a lot. Contrary to anyone who put her on blast.  I believe she felt like she was an outsider in her home with all of her family. And she wasn’t. She was one of us. She is one of us. She will always be one of us.

What she may not always be is clean. And that, that is truly the thing that separates her from us. She hasn’t learned that I am an expert now. I may not be an addict, but I don’t need to be to know when she is turning a corner. When she wanted to go to Boston on Saturday, I questioned her. I had a feeling it was a bad idea.  She told me that everyone was going, it was the Women’s March and something else at the Frog Pond.  She tried to FaceTime early in the afternoon to show me all the action. But we had a poor connection. She called me later on, and I knew it. I knew she was up to something. Maybe she was struggling. Maybe she was uncomfortable. When we hung up I told AC, she isn’t coming home tonight, I know it. He told me I was pessimistic. That she would come home to show me wrong. I was right.  By noon the next morning we had spoken via text. She said it was no good for anyone if she came home, and was honest about what she had done.

I was a grave oversight to ignore my gut. It was a grave oversight to not insist that she go to a different program, or a sober house, or a halfway house. I knew it would be hard if not impossible for her to recover at home. It is too easy for both of us to get wrapped up, to be caught up, and to forget the purpose of recovery. I should have noticed she stopped seeing her sponsor. I should have noticed that she wasn’t doing step work. I should have seen the signs of her feeling resentful and angry. But I missed them. I had an unintentional failure to notice something. And as a result, she is gone. Again. #whattheactualhellisgoingon

 

Faded In Time

Time heals broken hearts. I think it’s fair to say we have all heard that expression.  Nearly every time someone has said that to me I was in throes of agony and wanted to punch in the nose of whoever was trying to make me see the bright side. In the time of grief no one wants to hear snazzy Hallmark quotes or anything cheerful. There should be a Hallmark card that says “I’m sorry your life sucks. Who can I beat up for you?” I would buy that card. A lot.

During our journey with JoDee these last few years we have had a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes we are angry or sad or suppressing all feelings. We are not always in synch either. At times when I am depressed and refusing to get out of bed, Jay J is angry or Jared is in suppression.  When I am refusing to acknowledge any feelings at all, AC is depressed and waxing poetic about all good things JoDee which only makes his pain worse. It’s hard to say at any point what we might be feeling. One thing is true: we rarely talk about it.  We usually just go about our lives doing the normal thing we do. At some point I will say that I am going to visit JoDee or that I talked to her and some might peak interest while others, well, they are less interested.

The difference in our emotions is based on a lot of factors. Age, relation to her, and her current status are some of the factors. For example, while there are times I am angry at JoDee, there is never a time that I think I will never speak to her again. No matter what, I would always accept her back in my life. And I’m sure at some point if I had too, I would have had her in my life still in active addiction. I’m not sure I could just never speak to her again. Like, ever again. But the boys have had different feelings. There were times when Jay J was very indifferent to her. But most recently that has been Jared.  When Jay J got a letter from her, he wrote her back. When Jared got a letter from JoDee he barely glanced at it. When it was time to visit JoDee on Thanksgiving Jared begged out. I thought about making him go, but then I realized that hard feelings fade over time. He had the right to be mad at her and eventually he would come around.

Due to insurance and financial circumstances JoDee isn’t living at her program anymore. She is living at home, with us, and attending the program during the day. I was apprehensive about her coming home for reasons that most can imagine. I wasn’t ready. I’m still not ready, to be honest. But this is the next step in healing and recovery for her. I can be supportive. I will be supportive.  But I can’t ask everyone else to be supportive. I can only ask that they give her a chance to make amends and rebuild relationships.

We had a family meeting to discuss her coming home. We talked about meds being locked up and the normal things that would be relevant.  On the day I picked her up Jared text me asking if when she came home if he had to come out of his room to say hi.  That sounds harsh but you would have to know Jared. Jared is difficult some time, but only in the best way. He is a brat. Most of what comes out is outrageous but harmless. Sometimes I do question his sanity but then I remember who he was born from and it makes sense.  Jared is a loveable and frustrating kid. He was very attached to his big sister. I think he took her addiction almost as hard as I did. Often he would say just forget about her, or well she deserved this, or she deserves that but then later would feel bad for saying that. The guilt would eat him up until he talked to me about it. I wasn’t surprised by his pissy-ness when she was coming home.

But, time heals broken hearts. When we got home, I made him come out of his room to say hello. She told him he did not have to but he sulked around in the background not saying much.

I won’t drag this out too much but there was an amusing incident with the three of us bring the dog to the vet. The incident involved the dog refusing to get out of the car, in the freezing rain and wind, and us having to work as a team to get him out. Then another amusing incident with us trying to get the dog back in. One that involved Jared yelling that he was going to drop him and me saying the dogs asshole is right on my arm. This happened all while Miss JoDee jumped in the front seat laughing at us. Yup- It was hysterical. Not. The night ended with Jared asking if he and JoDee could rent a movie while they lay in bed together.  That was a beginning and I believe his anger with be faded with time.

 

Waiting for the Wait to End

The sound of the phone changes depending on the time of day. It sounds different depending on whom a person may expect on the other end. The sound of the phone ringing during The Walking Dead season premiere is annoying. The sound of the phone ringing at 8 in the morning on a Sunday is infuriating. The sound of the phone ringing at midnight is startling and concerning especially when the number on the caller ID is not a familiar one.  For a parent with an addicted child represents a whole different set of emotions to a ringing phone at midnight.  On Saturday night when the phone rang at midnight, I woke immediately.  JoDee had been in treatment a total of 15 days.  I had spoken to her and the Clinical Director just days before this and she was doing well.  She was excited about her future and being clean. She told me she was learning so much about herself and addiction. She said she was staying no matter what.  It was encouraging. I won’t say I was excited or feeling particularly optimistic.  I was cautiously glad with a hint of pessimistic.  I really hoped she was going to stay the course, but I knew that relapse is very likely with her.  Of course, to her I told her we were happy and couldn’t wait for her to come back to us.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when the phone rang. I guess surprise isn’t even the right word. I wasn’t surprised. I was disappointed. The voice on the other end of the phone asked if I was Melanie Brayden. I confirmed I was. She said I have you listed as the emergency contact for JoDee Joyce. I asked what happened. She said I’m sorry to tell you this but I’m calling to tell you that JoDee left the program.  I inquired about when and if there was anything that precipitated it. She had left an hour ago and it was sudden. She left alone.  The woman on the phone said to me that she had never had to make a call like this before and it was making her think of her own mother. She told me she would keep JoDee in her prayers.  That was it. Call ended. Probably 45 seconds total.  Everything changed from one moment to the next. Just like that.

I sat on the edge of the bed waiting for something. I stared at my phone for a few minutes expecting her to call me from her phone to say she left. Historically, JoDee won’t call right away. A day or two will go by but not usually more than that before I hear from her. However, the last time she called me for help I left her in a park in the middle of the night so I don’t know if she will even bother to reach out to me.  Sleep was over.  I paced the house, watched Netflix (p.s. Dexter took a huge nose dive once Deb found out he was a serial killer, such a bummer) and started preparing for the open house we are having (selling the house to buy a house that actually fits us all).  I won’t give you the step by step but eventually I went to sleep and woke up a few hours later.  AC and I had coffee while discussing what we thought she could be doing or what happened. All the while we are just waiting to hear from her. Some sign that she is in fact alive. Nothing. Sunday continued pretty uneventfully. I had the house further prepared for the open house by having someone to come in to help clean it (if you are in our area and looking for an AMAZING home cleaner Christie Mills is worth every penny plus!!!!!!!).  By the end of the day, with no contact from her, I tried to call her phone. Voice mail immediately. I tried to text her but I could tell her phone was off.  I tried going to bed which is a joke, really.

Monday was a busy day. Again, no one wants to hear about my boring life, but short story is that by the end of the day, I still had not heard from her. I started to worry. Waiting sucks. I kept checking my phone to make sure it was not dead. I kept checking her phone to see if it was on which it wasn’t which is also weird.  The waiting sucks.  It sucks so badly. Not knowing. Did she take her phone and wallet? Maybe her phone isn’t on because she didn’t take all her stuff with her. If that is the case if she dies somewhere how will anyone know who she is? Maybe she is already dead but no one knows how to get a hold of her family. She could be lying in a morgue as Jane Doe. The thought of that was paralyzing.  Paralyzing isn’t even strong enough to depict the emotion.  What in the world could go through her mind? She must know how worried I will be. Oh. Right. She isn’t thinking about anything. But her addiction. And her next fix.  So I guess we keep waiting until she wants to call.

At this point, I know where she is. She hasn’t called me or reached out to me, but I have confirmation she is somewhere. A place I knew she would go. I’m still waiting to hear from her. I will still be waiting for her to find long term recovery. I will be waiting for her to rejoin our family as a productive member of society.  I will be waiting for her to call for help again. I will be waiting for her to have her next bottom. And I will wait patiently because the alternative of not waiting is too painful to think about.

 

 

Candles

Not very long ago I read a story about a husband and wife whose only child ran away. At the time, they had no idea she was addicted to drugs. I can’t remember her drug of choice but it really doesn’t matter anyway, I don’t think. The family just woke up one day and she was gone. She packed a bag with some childish mementos that only a teenager would think of to cherish instead of life-providing essentials.  A favorite stuffed teddy bear, a foam finger from a basketball game she went to with her grandfather, some jewelry, make up and clothes.  Her toothbrush was left behind as was her hairbrush and it didn’t appear as though she took any food or water bottles or even a blanket.  Of course the family began a frantic search for her but she was long gone. The truth is if someone doesn’t want to be found they won’t be. I can tell you that first hand with my experiences with JoDee.  Honestly, the FBI or Center for Exploited Children could learn mad skills from a mother on the hunt for her child. We pull stops no one else will if it means finding our kid.  Sometimes even a mother’s detective skills aren’t good enough.

For this family, they posted flyers and put up billboards and went on their local news. I don’t remember exactly where this was, somewhere in the mid-west, but it never really got national headlines because she ran away not abduction. Let’s face it, a kid running away really isn’t interesting. The great people of America like the highest degree of tragedy.  A missing baby makes for better ratings than a runaway teenager.  The family was convinced she would turn up dead if she wasn’t found and truthfully, I assumed she would too.  The story went on about the efforts the family made to find her. A tip line they had set up gave them leads in many different directions which sadly the family chased.  I watched them as days turned to months turn to years.  I felt myself lucky that my kid would show up after being gone for several weeks at a time.  I knew what states she went missing in (Arizona, Florida, and California) even though I didn’t know the exact place she was. It was easier for me to call police stations and hospitals in the general vicinity. Addiction has tormented me as a parent for years. Five years to be exact. But not knowing where your child is for years and years has to be tortured to a whole new level. Unimaginable.

In the end, the girl was not dead. After nearly 10 years on the run she stumbled into a shelter looking ragged and miserable. A fatherly-esque man that was running the shelter took a special interest in helping her get well.  He kept encouraging her to call home. The girl felt that she had been gone so long, and made her family suffer so much that she would not be able to show up at home.  As a parent, the man tried to convince her that no matter what that parents love you anyway.  Blah, blah, blah it was all very after-school-special and on a rainy and cold night the screen panned to her in a phone booth, with the father-esque man making a call to her family. The man told the father that he knew his daughter and she wanted to come home. The man hesitated. To the silence in the phone, the man said to her father, she will be in your area next week. If you want her to come home leave a candle in the window.  If there is a candle in the window lit, she will know she can come through the door. If there is no candle, then she will know that she has been gone too far. Dead to her family and truly alone, she will move on.  It seemed sort of morbid and cruel. The poor kid had to wait until she got there to know if her family accepted her. I couldn’t imagine how scary that must have been but then I realized it was probably nothing compared to living on the street for ten years.

My immediate thought was that I would have been screaming in the phone let come get her right now. But that is what I did when JoDee first went missing. I would jump and run and abandoned my own life to pick her up off of whatever floor she had fallen on. After five years, I left her in a park to sleep as a homeless bum. I couldn’t do it anymore. I could not make her addiction my consequence any longer. Not picking her up forced her to make some difficult decisions, that I’m not prepared to talk about yet (refer back to previous blogs about being Jinxed).  So maybe by the time ten years had passed I would seriously have to think about whether I would let her come home. I couldn’t judge the parents. There must have been many factors to consider especially since that call came out of the blue so randomly.  I suffered through a zillion commercials, the road trip the man and the girl took to get to her parents house.  They imagined many different scenarios and several times the girl lost her nerve trying to make the man stop or turn around. He stayed steadfast and eventually, they pulled into her home town at very early hours of the morning.  To make the suspense build up, the parked around the corner, as she told stories of her childhood, pondering what made her take such a wrong turn. More commercials and just when the viewer, namely me, thought this is bullshit I’m going to change the channel, the beat up Nova turned the corner to the girls childhood home. The house was lit up with a candle in every window. Christmas candle lights surrounding the front door. On the lawn it was so bright it could have been noon even though it was surrounded by the very dark pre-dawn hours.  It was touching. Heartwarming. A real feel good moment.   She walked happily into her house into the arms of her loving parents, who embraced her with open arms.  It ended with them living happily ever after.

Bullshit.

There is no happily ever after. There is after, and it can be happy but it isn’t that simple. The unbridled anger and abandonment and let down don’t go away because a child comes home. For a moment, you are happy to see them, and there is some time of euphoria. But it wears off. It goes away. Reality comes to visit to remind you that in fact, your child is still an addict. You must hide the meds in the house, nail down anything of value, and question everything that comes out of their mouth. As time goes on I assume that fades a little but we have never had enough recovery time in our story for me to know that.  JoDee had seven months clean once.  After six months I was feeling better but always worried, and with good reason. Before the eighth month broke down she had relapsed.  I know long term recovery can happen. I know it could happen to JoDee. I know she has to want it more than I do. So far, no one has wanted it more than I have. It’s impossible to say when the after comes or when it will become happy.  I know it will never be like the after-school-special kind of way the show inferred. I would like to ask the family it represented what their happily ever after actually meant.  How long did it take them to get there? Are they still happy? Is there ever still after? I guess I will just wait to find out.

 

**Apparently I jinxed it anyway went I talked about JoDee at dinner with friends last week. At the time this was originally written she was doing well in a program. Saturday at midnight I got a call that she left treatment. Currently I don’t know where she is.