Unfair

Recently I had to do a research paper on cultural appropriation. In case you do not know what that means (often called cultural misappropriation) it is a concept in sociology when the elements of a minority culture is adopted or presented by the majority of a dominant culture. One of the most egregious forms of cultural appropriation came by way of the Swastika. Many will find it hard to believe, but the Swastika is dated all the way back to the Stone Age. It was seen as a talisman for religion and good fortune.  In fact the word Swastika is actual translated to conducive to well being. In Buddhism the swastika takes on the representation of Buddha’s foot prints. In Mesopotamia it was used on coins and Navajo’s wove into blankets.  For centuries it was seen as a symbol of something good or cherished. It only took on the negative connotation when Hitler decided he needed to find a way to connect the German’s with the Aryan’s.  Turning the swastika on its axis in a white circle with a red background did it begin to become something…else.  Just like that. Poof. One man decides that this symbol now represents his white Aryan nation and wammo, a symbol of all that is pure becomes all that is tainted. Can you imagine how those that honored that symbol would have felt in that time? I can’t imagine the horror.  Or now. Those that a Buddhists may find it difficult to use a symbol of Buddha’s footprints as a decoration in their home, or a background screen on their phone because that is not how it is not how it is recognized world wide. And who would believe that? Hey- this isn’t an Aryan nation support symbol, I am representing the conduction of well being…. good luck with that.

The bigger picture here is that one person’s opinion can change everything. Hitler, to the first person, to the next becomes an army becomes a nation becomes an epidemic that nearly wiped out an entire religion. That is sad. And disturbing. And monumentally unfair.  But, I hate to add in the but, aren’t we all guilty of it? Don’t we all have some cultural misstep we commit regularly? Have you ever said I have a girl crush on so and so when you are a girl but are not in fact gay? Have you thrown a Cinco de Mayo party at your typical suburban house with the 2.5 kids, a mini van, and sombrero’s? Raise your hand if you have said that something was your spirit animal even though you are not native American. Doing those things does not make you a bad person. It doesn’t make me a bad person. Hitler appropriating the Swastika didn’t make him a bad person, the way he used it, and the endless acts of violence, hatred, torture and mayhem make him a bad person. So why am I telling you all this? Honestly, that is a question I find myself saying on the regular. Why am I doing or saying anything? The truth is I feel unfaired. I feel as though life has been unfair, and as a result I am the victim of unfairness. I am the unfairee. I recognize that those are not actual words, or actual things being done to me, but I am whining and pouting and generally don’t give a damn.

We just had another holiday that JoDee wasn’t home. I can’t even remember the last good holiday we spent with her. I can’t understand why this continues to happen and go on. I hear that she is not using, and she is trying to right her ship that has gone so far wrong that I can’t even see her horizon but is that enough? How do I know? How do I know when the time to help again has arrived? Have I gone so far into the realm of skepticism and distrust that I can’t trust my own judgment now? I behave as though I am the mother of a child that was lost. I feel as though I am a parent that has suffered the loss of her child. Isn’t that appropriating another mother’s pain? The mother of child that really was lost? My child is not lost to life, she is only lost to me. To us. To our family. Aren’t I being Hitler-like in the way of using something that isn’t to make something appear as though it is?  I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that this shit is really unfair.

Advertisements

The Unsent Letter

Adapted from the Fall from Grace album: artist Paloma Faith

I miss you in the mornings
Been up all night
I tell myself
You’ll be alright
Maybe someone will help you in a way I never saw
I am frantic, torn, and raw.

I miss you in the moments
When everyone is there
Listen to the silence
That hurts my heart
Maybe someday you will be back again
And not turn your  back
On the love that we try to send.

So I write this letter
That I’ll never send
Because there is no one to receive it on your end
And I write this letter
To my daughter, so filled with strife
So it stays with me forever,
Even if you aren’t in our life.

I miss you when I’m laughing
You’re very near
But then I open up my eyes
And you’re not here.
Maybe one day you will understand
The things I do,
I did it all for you.

So I write this letter
That I’ll never send
Because there is no one to receive it on your end
And I write this letter
To my daughter, so filled with strife
So it stays with me forever,
Even if you aren’t in our life.

And I’m just as scarred as you
Since you run wild with freedom
And I know right now you think there
Is no reason
But you’ll see
Nothing in life is easy

So I write this letter
That I’ll never send
Because there is no one to receive it on your end
And I write this letter
To my daughter, so filled with strife
So it stays with me forever,
Even if you aren’t in our life.

How’s JoDee?

Hmm. Everyone asks that. How is JoDee? What’s up with JoDee? Any word from JoDee? My answer is always the same. Fine, Thank you. Good, Thanks. Oh, really no knew news, thanks for asking. Those are the responses you hear on the outside. On the inside, well that is a totally different story.

On the inside, the words how is JoDee elicit a reaction in my gut that is akin to a rupturing volcano. My heart, which feels like a delicate piece of crystal, develops a new crack. Each crack threatens to break into a million pieces, for good, with no chance of putting it back together.  The more that she is homeless, by choice, on her own, on the street, staying with this person or that person that will give her shelter for the time being, using her mother by preying on her raw feelings of despair begging to come home, begging for a bus ticket and then using the money I send for a bus ticket (which the mother knows better than to do) for something else, the more helpless I feel.  Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t want people to ask, and I know they want too and should. I am not pointing fingers and telling anyone not to be inquisitive.

The problem is that the question, as obscure as it seems, is such a leading question. Why? Well, let me tell you. Suppression. Ignorance. Denial. If no one asks about her, or if I have talked to her, or where she is then I don’t have to think about it. I can pretend in my own ignorant mind that she is just off with friends somewhere living her life. I can suppress the idea that she is a drug addict, living a rough and degrading life.  People can tell me over and over and over again that this is not my fault. And I know that it probably isn’t but if there is a mother out there that can see their child living on the street, asking for a coat instead of a hotel room because the coat she can use everyday but the hotel will only keep warm one night and not feel like she has failed as a parent, raise your hand. I don’t know if it was a direct parenting flaw. Or if she is paying for my sins of the past. Is the way I treated or mistreated people in the past the reason she is suffering? If I apologize and humble myself to the people I have wronged, will the karma bus let her off? Will she be able to stop suffering to rejoin the world? Sadly, I am desperate. I am desperate for any relief so I started making a list. A list of people who may have felt wrong by me, or I  know I wronged, or I didn’t wrong but need to apologize anyway just in case. I have begun my own version of the 12 steps that are not Al-Anon, Nar-Non or NA/AA approved. It is not identical.  It is just me accepting that I can’t change this, but I can face it, and I have to find the courage to admit my faults and atone for them. I have begun atoning. It isn’t easy, and it is uncomfortable and it is embarrassing but I don’t know what else I can do. It is not ideal, but it’s all I have.

Please don’t do that thing where everyone tells me it’s not my fault and I am a good mother because it only makes it worse. It makes me feel like a fraud. Like one of those people who says how fat they look when they are a size 0 and you want to punch them in the face with a hostess Twinkie. And a vat of lard. But I digress…. at this point we aren’t really communicating which is something I have to do but don’t want to do. Although I preach cut them off, kick them out, tough love the truth is when she is sending me text pictures of her in a tent during a snow storm I offer to get her a hotel for the night. Which turned into two nights, which turned into a coat, and some money for a food, and then a $30 Uber ride and money for a bus to come home because she was alone and lonely and need me, which turned into her not buying a bus ticket. And when I questioned her she said she bough sleeping bags but she knows I can see the transactions on her debt card so I know that isn’t where it went. And the final straw is when she casually calls me, without realizing how stupid I feel for believing all the crap she has told me over the past few weeks, to say hey can you put money on my card so I can buy some food at the grocery store and I say….no. It is two letters. One word but the hardest one in the world to say. No. I cannot give you anymore money. I cannot give you even $10 for food. All I can do is say, No. And good-bye. And try desperately not to drive my car directly into the bridge embankment in front of me, or cry. Because if the damn breaks….there is no telling what will happen. Not one tear. One small, lonely, wet tear rolling down my cheek leaving a salt mark in my perfect make-up would cause a hurricane of emotion that would probably end with me in my bed. Again. For days. So….. ya, JoDee is great. Thanks for asking.

Conversation Part II: The Real Thing

1:01 Am

Are you flooding?

Not in the house. The back yard is nuts though.

Why are u awake? And how nuts

Idk. My daughter is homeless sleeping in a tent in a major snow storm. It doesn’t exactly promote sleep fullness. That little pond is back in the way back. The one where the ducks will probably come back too.

I don’t remember that.

It was way back. Why are you up? Are still outside? Are you safe?

I’m safe. Always. I’m in a house now, but not last night, and not tomorrow either. It sucks. XXX got approved for an apartment so I should be able to stay with him soon. IDFK. I am safe tho always. I just haven’t been sleeping.

The story will last longer than just tonight. Are you going to sleep in a tent outside? Or outside outside?

A tent usually. It’s not mine, so as long as I am with GGG and HHH then a tent. Otherwise, just, like, outside.

Jesus.

It’s fine mom.

(In my head: how the fuck is that fine? How can she even think that this is fine?)

JoDee, the storm is going to last longer than one night. Is there a cheap hotel near by? I shouldn’t do this but I will give you a couple nights worth of hotel fair but I need to pay them directly.

If you could do that it would be awesome. Then I won’t have to use the pay shower and I can use my money to buy food.

(If I wasn’t standing, I would literally have fallen to my knees)

Actually….

What?

I could really use a winter jacket instead. A hotel is only going to help me for one night. But the jacket will keep me warm all the time. I can only stay inside for small times but the jacket will keep me warm when I am walking and I can use it as a blanket.

(Is this where we are? Is this a real conversation we are having?)

Jesus JoDee. Je-sus.

Yeah, you have no idea.  Seriously. Go to bed, mom. I will call you in the morning so we can figure it out. Love you.

Love you too kiddo.

 

Who sleeps after that? What parent is going to then lie down and go to sleep after that? My daughter, who has a middle-class family that loves her dearly, is a homeless, begging, hungry, nomad. The next few hours, until the sun comes up, I laid in bed breathing through the desire to vomit, and contemplating exactly how much longer I can do this. Wondering exactly how much more I can put up with. Knowing I was getting worn out, and that usually means doing something I know I shouldn’t but desperate to feel better, even if it is for a minute.

Conversation

Hi

Hi, what’s up?

Nothing, what’s up with you?

Nothing. Everything ok?

Ya, are you getting this rain where you are? It’s friggen pouring here. The half dead pine tree in the back yard is begging to break.

Ya, It’s brutal here too. Cold, rainy, super windy.

So….are you, like, outside? Like are you in a tent or…. like what are you doing?

Mom, stop. (pause..sigh) stop.

Stop what? No I won’t stop. I’m supposed to just sit here thinking about you sleeping in some tent encampment while we are all warm in the house? I need to know.

The tent encampment was bulldozed when you had me sectioned. And what difference does it make? Are you going to pick me up? Let me come home? Cuz we both know that ain’t happening.

(Long pause on both ends)

JoDee, I can’t think of you just outside. Like living outside like a piece of trash. Like a piece of disregarded trash. Like a McDonald’s cup that is thrown out the window after some guy pulls the top off with the straw still in it, shaking out the last drop of ice and melted soda before he tosses it out the window on the pike? I’m supposed to just let you be that stupid cup?

Mom what are you even talking about?

You. I’m talking about you. Supposedly clean but basically choosing to live like a hobo. JoDee the hobo. That’s you. Do you at least have a can of beans?

Mom. Stop.

(Long pause on both ends)

Mom, can I come home?

No. You know you can’t. I can’t let you come home. It never works. It hasn’t worked in almost 7 years.

Then why are you even calling me?

 

I had this conversation in my head. The end result is always the same. I hate addiction. I hate what it has done to my family and what it has done to my beautiful daughter. My beautiful, addicted, homeless hobo daughter.

Nothing Changes, Nothing Stays the Same

 

I have been quiet. I know I have. Aren’t you sick of hearing me say the same things over and over? Aren’t you sick of hearing that active addiction is stronger than she is? Or I am? Also, I have had some negative comments made about the fact that this blog even exists. That gave me some food for thought but then I realized that I don’t and can’t care what anyone else thinks. Everyone has to deal with addiction in their own way. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to read it. The update at the moment is not much has changed. Right after Christmas I tricked her. I tricked her in an awful, terrible way because I thought it was best. I was sectioning her again but I couldn’t tell her or she would never have agreed to go with me. If I told her that we were going to the police station so they could take her into custody, she would have run from me. As it was she was already skittish. Up to this point, I am the sole person she has trusted blindly. I knew that lying to her, and tricking her this way was a onetime deal. There was no going back. After this she wouldn’t trust me anymore so I had hope to hell that it worked. That she would go to WATC and find salvation and a desire to live in this world. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how that worked out. She did her time, went to a sober house or a half way house or a three quarters house or house of the wholly or whatever and eventually ran away. She claims to be clean. She sounds it but she is royally fucked in the head because even though she may not be doing drugs she is still living a life that requires sleeping in tents outside in freezing weather or in sleazy rat-trap no-tell motels. But that’s her. What does that mean about me? Well….. I have no idea.

In the years since this all started I have been so anxious I whittled away to a hundred and nothing pounds and got so depressed I ate my way to who-the-hell-knows what weight. There is this constant state of unknown. So, a friend reached out to me to start going to parent meetings again. It’s funny because her daughter ran into me in an emergency room and listen to me tell her she had a reason to live. She found recovery and has been doing pretty well. My kid only hears me talk like I am the Muppet baby’s mother (whaw, whaw, whaw). In the most recent meeting a mother said that her son is sick and she doesn’t hear from him often and is living in fear. She hates living in fear that someone is going to knock on the door to tell her that her son is dead. I sit in those meetings listening to everyone’s issues thinking that I remember when JoDee was at that stage, or they have no idea how bad it can be, or thinking they are fooling themselves. When this particular woman said that she hated living in fear I laughed, a little too loud. I wanted to tell her living in fear that they might die is nothing compared to knowing that when they do die you won’t be shocked. And, there might even be a moment of relief. There will also be devastation and guilt and a plethora of human emotion but fear is only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more hidden under the water beneath that peak but a person only learns about that by going through the process.

At the same meeting a wonderful speaker was saying that her daughter said to her if you love me you will let me die. That really resonated with me because JoDee and I have had that same exact conversation so, so, so many times. She has said if she wants to die that is her business and I have always say that she is too sick to make that decision so it’s my job as her mother to fight for her until she learns to fight for herself. The problem is that it’s tiring. Almost 7 years later my arms are stiff from holding her up and my fingers ache from reaching out. My back is stiff, my legs feel like jelly and my brain cannot think anymore. I am getting weak. I am getting ready to lie down with her. I am almost to the point I could say ok. We go together. If you go, I go. But then my husband calls me to get milk on my way home and my son tells me he got the job at the post office, and SC makes the Deans List and my youngest asks to borrow my car. Those things remind me that I have more to my life then her addiction which means I can’t lay down with her. And that means I have to find the strength to keep going. And, that, that makes me angry.  I want to live life, not live through life but I don’t know how to do that. Enjoying things and having fun, planning trips with my family feels wrong without her and not doing it makes me feel like I am suffering everyone because of her. I guess purgatory continues. Good times, people.

Life or Death

Life or death. Life being the opposite of death. Death being the finality of all life. I have heard people say that there is a thin line between life and death. Also, there is a thin line between love and hate. I don’t believe either of these to be true. I understand why someone says there is a thin line between love and hate because it assumes a sense of intimacy. There is no hate without some sort of connection previously.  It is impossible to truly hate a person without having some knowledge of them. Even if the person is relatively strange to you and committed a heinous act, there had to be love for the dead, to hate the person living that committed the act.  Sometimes you can love a person so much that you feel hatred toward they actions they take. Almost to the point where you want to whack them about the head and shoulders with a Lucille-type baseball bat. Not that, um, I have had that particular fantasy. Anyway… moving on.

Imagine I have been diagnosed with a life-ending disease. Any disease. I could have prevented that disease or have had no control whatsoever about the development of the disease but I have this disease and it could end my life prematurely or I could suffer through a treatment. A treatment that may take me away from friends, or loved ones, and life in general for a period of time, maybe up to a year, even, but at the end of that time I would be in a better place to continue life on life’s terms. Live life. Only, I decide to ignore a treatment plan only to wait for the disease to take my life. I imagine my family would hate that decision. They might even have hateful feelings for me but that doesn’t mean they hate me. It means they hate my choices and are desperate for me to change my mind. They might beg, plead, stage interventions, and eventually become extremely angry at me. None the less, I refuse treatment. In the end, I die. That would suck. Like, big time, yes?

Why is addiction different? It’s not. Not in my opinion. My daughter has an addiction. Addiction is proven to be a brain disease. It is directly linked to the underdevelopment or damage to parts of the brain that are responsible for impulsivity, problem solving, reasoning and other emotions. It is unfortunate that this has happened but it isn’t the end of the end. Or it doesn’t have to be. There are treatments. Traditional rehabs, holistic medicine, hypnosis, drug replacement therapy, and opioid blockers. Walk into any NA hall and you will find a room full of those that have found a way to recovery. Recovery happens.  But not without hard work, acceptance that there is a problem and taking responsibility for their own actions.

Right now my kid is in this place in her life where addiction is her excuse. She commits acts that the average person would deem unacceptable to seek help from those around her using addiction is the reason for her bad actions. At first, I would bail her out. I would help her every time she was in hot water but that is so old.  The entitlement surrounding her addiction is suffocating me, and making me want to suffocate her with the rainbow pillow case she has had since she was seven. I understand that she is suffering from addiction but she is only going to keep suffering unless she changes something. The only thing that has changed is her ability to come up with new and more unique excuses for her poor behavior. At nearly 24 JoDee spent Christmas on the street, trying to guilt me into giving her money, feeling sorry for herself and wanting me to feel sorry for her too. And it worked. While I did not give her any money, I did feel badly for her. And for me. But not in the way she wanted me too. Part of me felt that spending the year being self-absorbed and only concerned with scoring her next fix is the reason she spent it on the street in the cold, something only she could control. Part of me also wanted to drive out west to pick her up, but I knew that would not help her. And in the end it would make me feel worse, so I did not do that.  I did, however, feel badly that six years in we were still dealing with this shit.

“You can’t send me money for food, it’s Christmas this is crazy” was the text I got.

“I will not send you money for anything, but I will order pizza, or subs, or something for you too eat if you want me too” was my response.

“maybe later” was the answer.  Apparently she wasn’t that hungry.

She was right about one thing; this shit is crazy. It is crazy that she hasn’t participated in a long-term recovery program but thinks we should help her stay sick. It’s crazy that she hasn’t lived a life that really involved anyone but herself and her own needs but thinks we should spend the holiday feeling badly for that. It is crazy that she thinks that the people who love her and miss her will not see right through her behavior. It’s crazy that she said we were doing better without her and she was right, but for the wrong reasons. It is easier to have her away from us than for us to see her dirty, and broken, and lying and cheating, and blaming others besides herself especially when she reminds us again and again that she is suffering from a terrible disease but isn’t doing much to over come it. We are not better off without her when she is clean and the person we love, and participating in family events. I’m sick of the excuses, and I’m sick of the apathy for her own life.  She is an addict and that sucks and I hate it. I do not hate her. I think it is a terrible burden to care around but there are ways to overcome and succeed if the desire is there. If she doesn’t have the desire to work on her own recovery, why should I have the desire to participate in her illness?  She needs to decide if she will seek treatment, and if she decides to keep on this path, she will suffer the consequences, which means we will suffer them too. And I hate that shit.