Hello, JoDee. I hope wherever you are that you are well, though I know, that you are not. When I first became aware of your addiction, I went into overdrive trying to get you away from the source, which I mistakenly thought was John. I was so hyper-focused on making sure that John was away from you, that I missed the most important thing, the why. I have written many times that no one wakes up one morning and adds drug addiction to their to-do list. As your mother, I should have spent more time pushing therapy, talking to you, and reassuring you that we can help the problem, not the symptom. Addiction was merely a symptom of a bigger problem. And, I feel as though I wasted precious time enabling you to use, managing your recovery for you. Every time you are using I assault you with begging and pleading and compromising until you go into detox, and then further treatment, and then you are back on the street before long. It’s a crazy pattern, and it’s killing both of us. Instead I should have been apologizing and changing things, so let’s start there.
When I think about your childhood, I always thought of good memories. Dad and I were young, that’s true, and we made mistakes but you were loved beyond this universe by both of us, and our families. As the first grandchild on Dad’s side, and the twins-ish grandchild on my side, everyone adored you. You were the most precious, blond-haired, Hershey-kiss brown-eyed, little ball of piss and vinegar we had all ever seen. You were a fighter back then. You made sure we all knew exactly what you wanted and when. I think about family trips to Disney, camping, and then after we split up trips the four of us took (me, you and your bro’s), camping in the living room, picnic’s inside when it was raining, road trips, birthday parties and girly sleep-overs. I thought that I had done the best I could for you even though I was young and poor and uneducated. But ignorance is bliss.
I think when you think of your childhood you see turmoil, parents fighting, mom dating, moving around a lot, disruption and upheaval. I think you feel there was no stability and no guidance, and no money for the things you needed. I think it was chaotic for you as a child to spend weekends with Dad and weekends with me. I think it made you feel as though you were constantly moving, and never able to settle down. I think I greatly misjudged your childhood, to the version I had. And if I am being honest, you are probably right. You see, I loved being a mom. Especially to you. My first born. The one I had the first bond too. I was so happy you were a girl, because I would have a friend for life. I can remember holding you in the hospital and whispering in your ear all the things we would do as partners as you grew up and when you were an adult. I vowed that we would be so close, as close as any two people could be, that I didn’t really process the parenting that would go into that. I may have been looking at the finish line, without running the race. Maybe I was so focused on what you would be when you were older, that I missed what you needed when you were younger.
I understand now, when you say addiction can make you believe anything, because selfishness can do the same thing. When we were moving across country I convinced myself that this was going to a life experience for the three of you. That you would be able to see how another part of the country lived and it would broaden your horizon somehow. I thought we would look back on all those car rides, with Jared peeing in a bottle, and Jay J trying to get the trucks to honk at us, dead deer, floating tires you thought were cat’s and broken-down cars, and enjoy those times. Laugh about them. See them as experiences in life, adventures. I was so so wrong. Uprooting you from everything you knew, and everything you had done, for my own selfish reasons was so wrong. And when it was time to come home, and I stayed, and sent you with Dad, I thought it would be good for all of you to live with Dad like you lived with me, so you could bond with him and see that we are both your parents. I had such high hopes that Dad and his wife and her kids and you and me would all get along and be a big happy family. The depths of my delusion was terrible and to the detriment of all three of you. I wasn’t gone very long, in the broad scheme of things, however, it was enough for you to feel that I abandoned you. All the calls, boxes of presents, trips back and forth, are not what was important. That span of time, out west, back here, back out west and then all of us back here, and then all the fighting over where you all lived must have left, no branded, you all in a terrible way. I should have worked with Dad and Momma J to come up with a plan that allowed all of us to spend time with you guys in a loving way without fighting.
Next big no-no was when you hit high school. I watched you, I watched your grades, I fought for your IEP so you could get the services you need. I made friends with your friends so I would know what was going on, I went to gymnastic meets, bought prom dresses, limo’s and graduation party that filled our back yard and our hearts with love. What I didn’t do was insist you date NO ONE. One bad choice after another floated throughout your high school years and I chalked it up to kiddie love. As a precaution I put you on the pill and often had sex talks to make sure you didn’t get pregnant. When your last love was out of high school and much older than you I was con-ed by his politeness and charm, and opened our family to him. I was so wrong. Red flags were getting tossed around like penalty flags at a Patriots game and I IGNORED them. Ignored them. I let you walk right out of our house into the devil’s den.
On this dreary morning I think about the most recent events that led you to leaving, again. I can’t help but here your last words time and again in my head- I saw that blog, you don’t want me here. I will add that to the ever long list of mistakes. My words were not meant to cast you out. In fact, I always want you here. Which leads me to my last and possibly biggest mistake, I want you here as the JoDee I want you to be. Not the JoDee you are. I have spent so much of this time of addiction trying to make you go back to the way you were before using instead of growing with you into the person you will become in recovery. I understand now that no one is the same after going through this horrible disease. I understand that you are the daughter I love more than my own life, more than anything on this earth. I understand that you don’t even know who you are, that you are traumatized, confused and self-loathing which is causing you to run out and block your feelings by using more which makes you feel guilty and hate yourself which makes you use even more….. I understand as much as a non-addict can.
So what I want t to tell you is this: You are so loved. No matter the mistakes I have made for my own selfish or stupid reasons, they were never a result of my affection for you. You have never been the problem. You are missed but I want to get to know the you that you are becoming. As we grew up together once, we can do it again. I want you to walk into your home and feel welcomed and wanted. I am so sorry that you had a tough childhood. I’m so sorry I didn’t see it more clearly before. I have loved every minute of being your mother. It has been the greatest honor and the greatest gift I have ever been given. I feel like I didn’t cherish it enough but we can make what is wrong right if we work together. Hear this loud and clear, I always want you at home. I love you so much that the words themselves don’t see strong enough. I know the mistakes I have made as a person and a parent which is the first step toward recovery. Give us a chance to be the best friends we should be, the big sister you used to be, and the daughter you want to be, because you have always been the daughter I wanted.