Embarrassed

One of the things a parent of an addict, or any loved one of an addict, feels is embarrassment. I know that people are often embarrassed FOR me. The thing that is misunderstood is that I am not embarrassed BY JoDee. I think that might be really hard for people to understand. I know fellow mother’s in the same situation as I am, like Jill and Toni, will agree that it is a complete misconception that our addict is an embarrassment. She isn’t. There is a lot of embarrassing things floating around us, and there are situations that I have been embarrassed by but those are typically emotions I have felt, or actions I have taken, or thought that I have had-less the addict. The statement hate the addiction, love the addict is true and with that comes a broader level of patience and accountability, and perspective. When dealing with an addict a person cannot use cookie-cutter methods to their madness. Madness it is. Madness is probably a perfect word for it. And that is a word I can dissect in another day, but today is about embarrass.

The first moments that addiction becomes so obvious in your family, there is no time for embarrassment. The brain cannot catch up fast enough to comprehend embarrassed. The first emotion is disbelief. Horror. Terror. As a mother, I went directly into mom mode. She has an illness, how do I cure it? I read everything I could, I called every medical person I knew, I learned there was no cure. I learned that there was so much more to it than someone doing drugs. So I read all the information I could about that. I went through a lot in the first months of her addiction. Pulling away from the very detox after I dropped her off, I felt numb. I was shook. I thought I was devastated. I thought it couldn’t get any worse. But I realized that it could. And the first time I realized just how fucked up things were about to be was when she ran from the first rehab in Arizona. Locked in my bathroom, laying in child pose, crying harder than I ever remember crying in my life, I thought my life was over. Confessions time: I am an ugly crier. And not the regular ol’ ugly crier, we are talking absolutely horrendous, think the mask from the Scream movies. Scary. That is embarrassing.

Hindsight is 20/20- that is no shit. I remember the time that JoDee went to the emergency room in Salem because she was high, and breathing shallow, and they were going to medically clear her for detox. At that time, I was so mad that she relapsed. I was so pissed that she was still doing this. I remember seeing JV and Big Al waiting for me at the entrance, knowing I was going to kill her dead, trying to calm me down I of course flew past them directly to the doctor where I demand he do a list of things (blood work, fluid, etc.- this wasn’t my first rodeo) and he treated me like, well, I guess, like the mother of a dirty, smelly, unkempt, incoherent addict. I responded with a personal attack that sounded something like the air was thin for him because he had a giraffe neck.  That was embarrassing.  And I have about 900 examples of that. Every road block, every person that didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, every time I couldn’t get my way to help her get better that is embarrassing.  It some instances the person on the receiving end of my attack maybe didn’t deserve it. In some instances that deserved that and more, but I’m a reality and I should be able to maintain a level of decorum, especially if I want people to have a different perspective of addicts and their families.  I consider it part of my duty in changing the stigma to behave in a manner that is not embarrassing to other families of addicts.  Every time we walk into any setting with our loved one that is drooling, and unclean, and combative, it is up to us to make others see them as a sick, and not less than- that means acting like we are not less than. It is not easy. It is trying, and disappointing and sometimes hurts in a place that brings out the worst in anyone, especially me. Since I am not a crier, I don’t break down and cry but instead square up, fist up, ready to take it on. That sounds tough but it isn’t. It’s weak. It is the easy way out to fight with someone instead of staying calm to send a clearer message. That sort of behavior embarrasses me (kinda sorta, in a #sorrynotsorry sort of way).

I can’t think of a single example of me being embarrassed BY JoDee. I might be embarrassed FOR her sometimes. Those feelings are different. I would never not claim her as mine or be unable to be seen with her in public or uncomfortable talking about her. If was at all embarrassed this here blog wouldn’t exist, y’all. I implore other families to feel the same. Feelings of embarrassment toward an addict is only going to feed the stigma fire that says they are of a lesser class. Our addicts need to be seen as people first, with a disease that makes them sick not as a sickness on society. They are very, very different things.

 

 

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Tough Questions

Tough Questions
I am really getting reflective as the year comes to an end.  It has been a really hard year. Not that any of the others weren’t hard, because for the last 5 years have been very difficult as a whole.  I have spent much of these five years questioning many things including my sanity.  It’s hard not to doubt yourself as a person when you’re watching your child fail at life.  I can recite verbatim the information parents are given about addiction not being our fault, and that it’s a brain disease and that often parenting and environment have a slight factor on addiction. I’m not sure I believe all those facts. I imagine a child raised in a shooting den would have a more likely chance of being an addict then a child born in the suburbs. If for no other reason that children tend to follow in their parents footsteps. For that reason I believe that environment plays a bigger factor and that under privileged neighborhoods need more drug prevention resources and support.
I also believe that indirectly environment plays a big factor. A child can be raised in the most supportive and functional atmospheres yet still die on a cold bench with a tourniquet and a needle. Mental health plays such an important role.  Mental health encompasses so much more than ones mental ability or stability.  Experience and station in life are also important. If a child of a preacher is afraid to tell h/her parents they are gay, it will be detrimental to their mental health. If a child is abused by a relative or neighbor when they were young but never spoke up or even if they did but didn’t work through the trauma, they will seek out a way to calm the feelings inside.  If a family of Doctors expects their artistic child to follow in their footsteps instead of going to art school that child will grow resentful and distance themselves, sometimes in the form of drugs not miles.
It is difficult to hear anyone bashing an addict of any kind because no one really knows how that person came to be. How did that person end up on the street? In the gutter? With no teeth or hair? With pickled skin and thinking delays that make it hard to form a sentence? I can’t begin to work out the ways in which life is lost while still living while simultaneously receiving zero sympathy or empathy from society.  So my difficult question is how can that change? How can an entire society see things from a different perspective?  When someone starts smoking, especially in the last 20 years, they are well aware of the likelihood of getting lung cancer. Or any cancer really. No one ever says that a lung cancer patient deserves whatever they got. I know some people never smoke a day in their lives yet still get cancer. Isn’t that the same with addicts post injury? Those addicts followed the advice of physicians until their bodies because dependent on a drug that they supply, i.e. the physician, cuts off when they decide it’s no longer warranted.
Sometimes I believe it is the little big syndrome. I probably made that name up but often people have to make others feel little so they can feel big. If I talk about how terrible someone else is it is in effect saying that I am better than them.  I’m sure that many of those that have hurtful and awful things to say about addicts have their own skeletons in the closet. This sort of redirect will certain assure them that those skeletons are not nearly as bad as the person targeted.

One of the toughest questions I ask myself is why does this keep happening? Why is anyone picking up a drug now? We all know the consequences. No one is immune. No one is unkillable, undeathable, invinsible.  The reason that no one knows the answer to that question is because they are looking for the wrong one. We can not solve drug addiction, but we can solve or try to prevent the problems that lead to drug addiction. The system in place shuffles addicts from one program to another, shoving drug facts and 12-step literature down their throat. Families, like mine, do everything in their power to help the addict put the drug down. But the problem started long before an addict picked up that drug. And without the proper information,  understanding of the reasons the addiction developed we are simply keeping embers from burning into flames, but they are always smoldering

My last and hardest question I ask myself is why, as this weekend begins which should be the celebration of her birth, the day to honor her coming into the world, a day to spent with her mother, and son, and sister, are we mourning the loss of a beautiful soul. Why are they planning final service arrangements and telling her son she will never come home? Why is my wonderful friend looking at life mothering her grandchild while grieving the loss of her own child? Why did this happen to a family that I know has fought with everything they had, and done everything they could? I don’t understand why a wonderful mother and friend is crying an endless river of tears and afraid to close her eyes because of the image that haunts her dreams. Brittany was an immeasurable asset to the world. She had more to offer than her addiction allowed which now will never be realized. When a life is lost it is a tragedy. When a life is lost for something so senseless and preventable it is a travesty. When society points fingers and makes the victim of said travesty a villain by means of nasty comments, judgments, alienation and dismissal it is a perversion for all humanity.  Remembering Brittany for anything other than the beautiful, amazing and giving soul she was is a crime

In loving memory of Brittany Michele Medlin 12/17/1989-12/14/2016

 

 

via Discover Challenge: Tough Questions

An Open Minded World

Open Minded was the word for the week. I sat for a moment thinking about what that meant to me. There are so many areas it could relate too. Open Minded is an interesting subject at this point in the world. The world is fighting for open minded-ness, only everyone has their own version of being open-minded. Many people prance around in their fantasy world pretending that they are open-minded, they may even think that they are open-minded but they aren’t. They are what I like to call compartment open-minded. To me, it means that they are only open-minded to the extent that their small mindedness will allow them.  Let me give you an example.  Sally and Johnny Smith are the typical, average white American family living in the suburbs with the standard 2.5 kids, a cat, a dog and a canary. Sally works part-time at the kid’s school library and the Johnny works full-time as a defense lawyer. This lovely couples best friends are Sasha and Tyrese Jones whom live next door also with their 2.5 kids and multitude of pets and are African American. Sasha is the school nurse and Tyrese is a stockbroker. Johnny and Tyrese carpool into the city together. They have a lovely life together for years and years and years.  All the Smith and Jones children go off to college together. Several to the same college.  But uh oh, little girl Smith becomes knocked up by little boy Jones second year of college.  Mr. Johnny Smith is not to happy at the idea of having a multiracial baby in his family. He won’t come right out and say it. But his attitude towards the Jones changes, he can’t look at his daughter the same. Everyone assumes it is because of the pregnancy at first. Soon it’s obvious that isn’t it. The dynamic in the family changes. The bigger little girl Smith’s belly becomes the less Johnny spends time with Tyrese. He claims he isn’t prejudice and in his close minded way he wasn’t, as long color stayed out of his alabaster family.  Our country has become a symbol for that.

If you want to know if you are open-minded, think about the comments you make. If you make a statement about a same-sex couple that sounds like you don’t care what “they” do behind closed doors, or live and let live, what you are really saying is let’s be stagnant. Or let’s not grow, or let’s not develop as people. A person is not open-minded when they say I support gay people as long as I don’t have to see it. Please, stop. Stop saying self comforting statements like I support gay people, because you do not. Those false statements are only being said to make you feel better as they certainly do nothing to help the gay community. I support the gay community. That is the statement. It does not need to be followed up with a but and does not need to be followed with a “as long as”. Also, to be clear, a human, does not need to have a family or relative or compadre in the gay community to be able to support it. And you don’t have to SAY that statement. A person can support programs that provide help/support/safe harbor for LGBTQ communities. A person can volunteer on crisis hotlines, donate clothes, time or personal effects to LGBTQ shelters.  Do not wait for a personal connection to become involved. The time is now. The day is today to become evolved and educated and open-minded.  Gone are the days that gay is about sex and perversion but about lifestyle and family and normalcy. But still, hate crimes happen, innocent people are still frightened and fear strikes the hearts of those whom only want to be who they were born to be. Shame on those who bring that on. And shame on those that sit idle by claiming to be “supporters” while doing nothing.

I suppose those are the same people who want to beat up women trying to use the bathroom in peace. Those are the same people who wait outside the public bathroom doors daring to ask for licenses, or proof of genitalia to assure them that such a person has gained appropriate access to said bathroom. In what world do we live in that a man has the right to stand outside a women’s bathroom and frighten them as they come out. Justice for a women peeing, or straightening her pantyhose, or applying her make up, or checking her bobby-pins is a possible punch in the face from a man who has the need to feel manlier by threatening a woman caught completely off guard exiting a bathroom? That is America’s open mindedness at its best.  The bathroom debacle has nothing to do with men going into to women’s rooms. If parents were truly concerned about their children we would also be hearing about women dressed as men going into men’s rooms and attacking their son’s but no one seemed overly concerned about that. Not to mention if your child is young enough to be abducted, or molested, they are most likely in the bathroom with an adult. This is closed mindedness, racism, sexism, hate and isolation just for the sake of having someone to point a finger at. The world sucks right now. We have no jobs, low pay, terrible economy, and terrible prospects for the future of leadership, and the horizon looks as though napalm would be best. Everyone has gotten extremely pissed off and when bullies are extremely pissed off they hit the weakest group. What could be possibly weaker than the transgender community? Transgender women, especially transgender women of color, are the single most targeted group for hate crimes. And the least frequently talked about. Why is that? Because no one gives a shit.  Why does no one give a shit? Because transgender folks are seen as having a mental disorder and not for what it really is. And no one takes the time to figure it out, or learn about it. Transgender people are not freaks. They are not A transgender like A schizophrenic. They are not pedophiles or child molesters. They are sons and daughters and mothers and fathers and have jobs and go to church and have beliefs. When people take the time to open their mind to the beauty they have to offer the world, it is awe-inspiring.  The bravery it takes to be the person you know in your soul you should be when the whole world is telling you its wrong is super heroic.  Closed-minded individuals lump those that commit sex crimes dressed as the opposite sex into the same category as regular citizens. Transgender citizens are people. Those who commit sex crimes, are not human. The two should not be confused.

There are other things we as a world need to open our mind, too. We as a race of human beings should wonder why we see someone overweight and regard them as less than instead of someone who may have a medical condition, a mental condition, or self-esteem issue. Why do we see someone parking in a handicapped spot with a handicapped placard but walking perfectly fine only to assume they are a cheater, skimper, skimmer, scammer instead of seeing someone who has MS or MD or Fibromyalgia or a seizure disorder but is having a good day, not a bad one. Would that persons limb, pain, agonies make you feel better about parking a few spots down? Would those extra steps you have to walk into the store take a lot away from your life so it deserves your bitterness? When the mother of four is standing in line of the grocery store using her new Iphone but pays for her purchases with her government EBT card, are your sneers really important? Does it matter that the phone was a gift from someone else? Or that she also works 2  jobs, and a phone is important because both jobs post their schedules on their mobile App as most do in the digital age. Or would it matter if she told you that she is only getting the EBT now until she is done with nursing school.  Or would it matter if she went home to her boyfriend who is also scamming the government by saying he is homeless so he can an EBT card.  Wouldn’t we rather pay for a few deadbeats so we know that the kids that need help are getting it.  Is it worth condemning that woman in line when you really have no idea the story? No, it’s not. I don’t want to make her feel like crap if she is a hardworking mother trying to do the best she can. One woman to another, I will take my chances. If she is a jackass, living off the state, milking her life away, that sucks, but I don’t want to judge. I don’t want to live as a closed-minded, judgmental and questioning the morals of someone I don’t know.

There are a lot of reasons to be closed minded. Being open minded is much harder, takes a strong constitution, a firm will. Entitlement is free flowing, and judgment is readily available. Laziness, excuses, finger-pointing and fighting over flags, sitting during ceremonies, presidential campaigns full of lies, name calling, discrimination and encouraging isolation is what our country has come too. None of that speaks to being open minded. Since the course we have taken hasn’t proven to be super successful wouldn’t another direction be better? Wouldn’t it at least be better to open our minds to another possible solution or possibility?

 

Shared Journey

A shared journey is exactly as it sounds. A journey that is shared with one or more individuals. A journey can be as minor as a walk around the block or as major as the passage through parenthood, which at times feels like trying to swim the Indian Ocean with no arms, or legs. Everyone participating in a particular journey experiences it differently. Two people could be trapped in the same boat, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, for a horrendous amount of time. Before each dies, their view of the circumstances could be totally different. One of the boat mates may see this as the worst possible thing to happen. Being stuck in the most dangerous ocean, in a small boat is a death sentence. A slow, agonizing and lengthy death sentence. The other boat mate may see it as the only way to die. Out in the vast ocean, where his body will eventually fall into the water where fish, sharks and other sea creatures will feast on his corpse making him part of the marine biological circle of life. I think that guy would be a little nutso but to each their own, right? The point is, the journey could be the same, two people side by side on a path, and have varying degrees of relating.

Parenting my addicted child is not much different from that. In a lot of ways. AC and I walk this path hand in hand, caring for JoDee when we can, not doing anything when it is appropriate. The same as her father and his wife do. In a certain degree we all walk it together. But their experience is far different from mine. I don’t want to sound condescending or nasty but a mother’s experience is always going to be different. Father’s may love their children the same, I assume they do, but I’m not a dad so I don’t know, but they don’t experience the maternal pull of momminess. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know that feeling. I wish I didn’t have that voice in my head telling me to do something or not do something, because I want to do the opposite. And I get great advice from other mothers of addicted children but often their journey is different from mine. Even mothers whose children are suffering like mine is, and mothers that are suffering like I am, are experiencing it differently than I am.

At this point in my life on I am on multiple, life-changing, shared journeys. With my daughter, I am on a shared journey of addiction. I don’t know what her future holds or if she even has a future to speak of. She could. She should. She is a beautiful, smart (street smart, smart-ass, smart-mouth), giving and loyal to everyone but herself, which makes her completely disloyal which is not her at all. She has the world within her grasp and instead of reaching out to grab it, she risks jail time to steal $5 worth of gas, and then disregards the help I offer making wine out of water to place her in a great program. It’s inconceivable to me that she is in a place that she is jeopardizing her freedom for $5. How is that not an all-time low? It is for me. But it’s not my low. It’s just my ride. I can’t get off. I can’t bail on the journey. I can’t go back, or speed ahead. I can’t ask the tour guide to take me in a different direction. I can’t ask for my money back. All of the things that I hear in Al-Anon about protecting myself do protect me, to a certain degree but they do not make me not a parent any longer. Even if I don’t talk to her I will still worry, and think about her, and love her. So whether I do what I was doing, chasing her recovery for her, or I do what I do now which is nothing, I am still on this journey with her. This the journey from hell. This is the journey through hell. Which is so freaking weird because at the same time I am on a journey with another one of my children (a step-child) that is the opposite.

I am on a journey with AC and his daughter that is about becoming the person she was supposed to be and growing into the adult that will shape the rest of her life. It’s an amazing journey that has been an honor to be part of. To be able to share with one child all the potential she can reach by working hard, sticking to her plan, and following through with the hardest of the hard of decisions has been a blessing. I won’t say I haven’t had moments of jealousy. Not the angry, green monster kind but the loving kind. I can see the look of pride on his face as he watches his daughter meet her goals and I wish that for JoDee. I see how pleased he is that she was willing to give her all, and suffer some pain to experience a full life of pleasure, which makes me happy and proud for both of them and sad for JoDee knowing she is holed up in someone’s house probably high, probably confused as to what day it is, probably wondering when she can get high again. I hate having one child have perfect focus on her dreams and working on them and one child having no aspirations or goals at all.

I am on the shared journey with my daughter and her addiction. I am on a shared journey with AC and his daughter as they walk the path to person I always knew she could be. Two entirely different journeys. Two entirely different paths to two entirely different ends, both with children I love. One has a wonderful positive outlook and future. One has an outlook and future whose path has a dark and looming question mark hovering in the air. Sometimes, I don’t want to know how it ends.

The Apology

Have you ever wanted an apology so bad you could taste it? Have you ever known that you deserved an apology, earned the right to hear the words that someone was sorry for something that was done to you or wronged you in some way? Or reversely, have you ever known that you owed someone an apology but couldn’t choke the words out? The words burning your tongue like a bite of hot pizza that you can’t spit out. The longer you hold them in the more they hurt and the harder it is to get rid of. Why is that? Why is apology so hard to say and so hard to accept and so hard to obtain? It’s elusive.

A good apology is an art form, right? I mean, when someone says they are sorry, and they mean it, the words are just merely a vehicle to deliver the emotion. When a person is truly overcome with remorse for anything, it might seem enormous to the apologizer and it may be trivial to the receiver, it is physically painful to speak. It will hurt, in that moment, to force the sounds to vibrate within your vocal cords and form around the tongue. The lips will forget how to dance with the mouth to work the appropriate syllables and all that comes out is mumbles and crying. As tears leak from your eyes and snot rolls down your nose, your soul burns with the desire for forgiveness where it has settled in the middle of your chest. The metallic taste of blood lingers on your taste buds from the words that became a jagged piece of glass stuck in your windpipe. You will be humbled, and ruined, and broken and freed all in the same moment.

On the other hand a bad apology, well that is just insulting. When a person has wronged you in a way that is troubling to the very core of which you are, you deserve for them to feel badly for that. A person deserves to have the power to forgive them, or not. But, when the person does not care about your forgiveness, and your feelings are so easily cast aside, not even a blip on their emotional radar that is far worse. Not only will you not get the satisfaction of telling them you do or do not forgive them, but you are left wondering how something so hurtful to you means nothing to them. Our feelings not being validated hurts, often, even worse than the original infraction. Or, if the person apologizes just to pacify you, well that can just be condescending. I would rather someone abstain from giving me an apology then to give me one that is meaningless and transparent. That means your feelings mean so little that they can just throw words in your direction without any regard for where they land. When a person can’t even bother to hide their disdain, or lack of caring towards your feelings, that really sucks and is another unforgiving act needing of an apology.

But what about when there is no one wrong or right? When a thing happens, a thing so egregious that people are hurt and feelings are hurt, and lives are changed but there is really no one particular thing that say THAT is the reason. There is no reason, no one thing to pin point. There is no one to apologize and no one to take a bow to say they were wrong and take their punishment, whatever that may be. There are times in life when a person wants to blame someone, and looks around wildly for the person or thing that has run away with their rights, their moment of apology, only to find bare streets, and blinking light posts, and ghosts of feelings past drifting by. The day you wake up and realize that your child is an addict, and you aren’t too blame, but no one is too blame, and no one is going to apologize or give you your child back, or your life or her life back, that’s a sad day. A parent can only hope to have someone to charge after or chase or berate or hurt in the name of their wounded child. There is no one to fight. There is no one to chastise. Sometimes it doesn’t happen because of a sports injury, or a traumatic event. Sometimes addiction happens because of something we can’t see or understand, from a place so deep that it can never be found. Sometimes shit happens. Life happens: On life’s terms. And life apologizes to no one.

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