My Friends

What does it mean to be a friend to someone? I think that being a friend means different things to different people. For example, I have to be a friend to my husband. That means, sometimes I have to put my feelings as a wife aside to tell him that he is being a dunder head and why. Oh wait… that sounds a lot like being a wife.  I think I got that backwards. Instead of calling him a dunder head I have to give him my honest opinion in a well worded, diplomatic way so that he comes to the realization that he is a dunder head on his own. Being a friend to my son means being able to listen to him talk about his girlfriend (either in a good way or bad way and by bad I mean if they are in an argument because my son has been a dunder head) without getting weirded out. That means I have to be able to get him to see something from a different perspective without calling him a dingus or threatening to ass punch him. On the other hand, parenting my younger son means sounding like a friend when I am actually parenting him in a way that isn’t so obvious. This is because one son is an adult and one son is still a dunder head teen-ager.  Being a friend to someone not related to me means asking whose ass I am kicking even I think s/he is wrong. Sometimes it means laughing at their expense. Sometimes it means telling them they are a…you guessed it….dunder head.  It’s no wonder I have very few friends, come to think about it.

One of the things I have learned in the last five years is that I have amazing, amazing friends. Due to my absolutely crazy life, and my horribly addicted daughter I am often unpredictable. Now, my mouth is ALWAYS unpredictable. No one, including me, every really knows what is about to come out of it. Every once in a while I shock myself with the phrases and character assignations that vomit out of my mouth, but such is life. Suck it up, buttercup.  The one thing I know I do not do is tell my peeps how much I appreciate them. I know I am not alone in this oversight. The last few decades the world has gotten itself in a big hurry, and no one really stops to appreciate.  Years ago, and by years I do mean a time before even I was born, friends would get together for coffee a couple of times a week. In those days women were basically forbidden from working, being gay was something people only gossiped about after seeing it on TV and “the help” was still calling the lady of the house Mrs. something or other. Admittedly, those days sucked too, in a much different way. (I could get into the ways that history seems to be repeating itself recently but I will not make this a political post.)

I rarely get a chance to hang out with my friends. When I do have a chance to I don’t want too. Not because I don’t enjoy my friends but because my life is depressing and laying in bed means I can wear sweatpants. In truth, I don’t take enough time, or make enough time.  This past weekend it was one of my longest and dearest friend birthday. Her husband threw her a last minute shin-dig and invited the whole crew. I was late, as I am to most things, but I had such a good time. There was drinking, and eating, and swimming, and selfies.  It had been so long since I had seen some of the other guests, I forgot how often we used to all get together. I am so fortunate that even though I’m not around that much that my friends remember me. Remember to invite me knowing that I am anti-social and don’t always make it out.  I’m so grateful for that. I’m also super grateful for the friends that have stood with me during this hell with JoDee. Being the friend to a woman whose kid is an addict is not easy.  So because of that I have to say:

 

Thank you for being my friend.

Thank you for listening me complain about the same things with JoDee over and over for the last five years without telling me to shut up.

Thank you for never giving up on me.

Thank you for buying me alcohol, and coloring books, and colored pencils.

Thank you for not judging when I showed up to your house in sweatpants that haven’t been washed since Obama’s first term.

Thank you for not tracking my kid down and beating her to a pulp as I know many of you have wanted to do.

Thank you for being you. I love you.

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The Stages of Loving an Addict

To love an adult child is different than to love a baby. When children are first born they are dependent on a parent for their every need. Those needs and the level of dependency varies and grows as the child does. Eventually the goal is that the child is a well-rounded, independent member of society and the parent is able to enjoy them as a friend, and as a child. The love never stops, it just grows. When we are talking about the addict adult child, it is a whole different situation. I love my daughter, and nothing would change that. Now, it means something totally different than it did when she was a baby.

Loving JoDee means putting aside the resent I feel for her ruining her own life. It means forgiving her when she steals or lies or ignores me at times of active addiction. It means understanding that she is going to be selfish and self-centered and have little regard for those around her, especially the people that love her. Loving her now, at this point, at five years into addiction, means I can’t expect her to be the person she used to be. I can’t expect her to be an honor student, a gymnast, a good employee.  I have to understand her limitations and accept them for what they are. When she calls me to say she needs this or she needs that and don’t forget the things she asked for, as though I am required to bring those things even though I am furious with her for making such a shit storm out of her life, I don’t respond with bitterness and anger but instead, swallow the rock of frustration in my throat.  Some days overlooking the entitlement and immaturity is so difficult. I have to get real religious with myself to be reminded that her immaturity is because she has stunted emotional growth.  In summary, loving an adult addict is to restrain myself from running her over with my car by remembering the way she was when she was a baby.

The Parent of an Addict Loving Themselves:

Finding out your child is addict is liking someone telling you that your child is a murderer or a thief or picks on challenged people. It feels like as a parent, you have done something wrong. The addict doesn’t understand that feeling that way does not mean we think they are a murderer or a thief of picks on challenged people. They don’t understand that we feel as though it is a reflection of ourselves, not of them. It is always the parents that ruin a kid. When we see a young child running in the street looking like a gutter rat, the first thing we think is where is their parents? Most often it is usually where is that mother? It is extraordinarily hard for a parent to love themselves when their child has gone so far off the path we imagined them on. It means we, or I, spend a lot of time going over the things that happened during her childhood. Should I have punished her that time? Should I have not punished her that time? Was I strict enough? Not strict enough? Did I treat her like a friend not a daughter? Was I not friend-ish enough?

For me it took a lot of talk therapy, late night analysis and self-deprecation before I finally realized that I can’t hate myself. I can hate the things that have happened, and I can even hate the way I behave sometimes (like the time I punched her in the back of the head when she was high, or smacked her on the forehead with the N/A Basic text, neither of which aided in her recovery, at all) but I have to forgive myself. It helps no one, including her, if I am drowning in hatred of myself. That causes a lot of depression and isolation and bitterness that I can’t afford to have or my other children suffer even more. It’s not easy to forgive myself, or love myself, it is hard work, but it’s important work. No one will survive this if I don’t.

An Addict Loving Themselves:

Before an addict is addicted to something, they were a person. A person that did many things, including work or go to school or teach dance. Somewhere in the back of their brain something was already going wrong. They were hardwired to make poor choices, or have impulsive behavior. Without proper intervention, the end result is unavoidable. Until recently we didn’t know what those signs were, or how to prevent them. An addict already has a crack in their foundation of self-confidence and acceptance. Addicts are not only from under privileged areas though that is the stereotype. Or they had abusive parents, or were sexual assaulted. But the truth is, there are lots of individuals that had all of those things against them but never did any drugs, at all.  There are so many reasons that a person activates the part of the brain that feeds on addiction. But it’s a slow process. Most people believe it is fast, and happens overnight but that just isn’t true.

A person feels a way, a certain way they can’t explain, and tries something to fix that feeling. Adderall, pot, valium. For some that is enough, and they keep doing what they do. For some that isn’t enough and they can’t still feel what they don’t want to feel or don’t know how to explain how to feel. They move on, to something harder and stronger, until they end up at heroin. The end of the end. The life-sucking, life-ending, mind-melting end.  Somewhere along the way, they stop even liking themselves. I’m not sure when they stopped loving themselves, but by the time they are stealing from their family, sleeping on the street, cheating on their partners, selling themselves or their souls for one more hit, they hate themselves.

JoDee and I have talked about this many times. Being high means not having to remember all the painful things she has done to herself and her family during active addiction. Being clean means facing these things, and finding a way to move on from them. She has never come right out and said she hates herself, but I can see it. I can see it in her eyes and I hear it in her voice and it’s evident in her actions. Just when I think she can’t do anything worse to herself or others, she does. Just when I think she can’t surprise me anymore, she does. And not in a good way. Addicts have the ability to love themselves but it’s a process, and it takes work. Without doing the work, it won’t happen.

 

Siblings Loving an Addict:

Children see things so differently than adults do and siblings see each other even more differently than their parents. There is so much more I am willing to forgive or ignore that our children won’t. When I am sad or depressed they are angry. They can often see manipulative behavior before I can, or I am willing to admit. Not only do they have resentment toward the addict for her actions but they resent her for the way her actions affect me. It often appears on the outside like her siblings hate her. And that just isn’t true. The truth is that they are hurt and angry by her actions. The truth is the miss the life time they were promised with their sister, but was taken from them for reasons beyond their control.  The kids are so much more direct than I can be. The boys will say I am mad at you, don’t talk to me to her, but ask me how she is anyway. I can’t even say don’t talk to me. I should. It might help her see that she is a wreck but that makes me feel worse. I have gone that route and to be honest, it sucked. I’m not sure the end result was worth it because I was suffering wondering if she was alive or not while her world changed zero.  I am glad that her siblings are still living their lives. I wish I could be more like them. And then there are times that I wish they would reach out to her more. But that isn’t fair for me to ask of them. It isn’t fair for me to ask them to put themselves out there, and be vulnerable to her addiction when we have seen no evidence in 5 years that anything would change.

JoDee has been an addict for six years. It has been five years of me chasing her recovery. I look back at the person that dropped her off at the first detox and I don’t recognize her. But sometimes, I miss her. She was thin, and naïve, and full of an angst that allowed her to do anything. She was silly enough to believe this would turn out alright and we would earn the win. Ah….those were the days.

 

 

Magnolia, Process, and a Flawed System

 

This is the story of one young man’s willingness to get help, and the three women with the determination to find him that help. Picture it: The year was 2017, the month June. Three women with no prior relationship or association are brought together by the sheer desperation of one young man. It all started with a young girl. That young girl saw that her boyfriend needed help. He was going down a bad path and it was terrifying to watch. She turned to the one person everyone turns to in their hour of need: her mother.  Let’s call her Karen. Karen and her daughter sought advice on how to get treatment for this young man by someone who had been through it more times than she cared to discuss: me.  They wanted to know how to get him help, where to go, what to say, who to tell and what they should expect. The young man’s situation was sad. Parents that had trouble of their own, and his feeling like he is floundering through life. Karen took him under her wing and was willing to do whatever it took to help him. I gave them the information I had, and I told them I would help however I could  but when they left my house I felt sad for them. I know what it is like to be at the beginning of this journey preparing to discover the world of addiction.

 

A few weeks later I received a call from Karen saying that he was willing to go to treatment but she didn’t know what the next step is. This is where everything became a mess. For me, I was the parent. I was JoDee’s mother and it made it easier for me to drag her to the hospital for medical clearance, to call insurance companies, to call detoxes for her and eventually pack her drugged-up ass to deposit at a facility. That challenge is exaggerated 100% when the child is not your own. With her own child in crisis, Karen managed to get him to the hospital for medical clearance. Of course, nothing is ever easy. He was discharged with the hospital telling him that he wasn’t “addicted enough” to meet the protocol for detox. He didn’t have enough drugs in his system, and cocaine didn’t qualify for detox. Imagine? Sorry, son, your drug habit isn’t bad enough. Go out and fuck up your life worse and then come back for help. For some reason helping an addict before they are at the brink of death is frowned upon.

 

Undaunted Karen did not give up. She fought with the hospital, she argued with the social worker and as a last resort she called me. It infuriates me that an addict has to have a village of people in his corner to get help. It is infuriating that this boy would have left the hospital to go home to a questionable environment because he wouldn’t have known how to fight for or ask for more help without having people in his corner to tell him how to do it. So, I did the only thing I know how to do when looking for a bed in a crisis- called the people that helped me with JoDee. I immediately reached out to two individuals whose organizations have helped JoDee many times, Nicole White from The Process Recovery and Matt Ganem from Banyan Recovery Center . Neither of them could take his insurance (which is another whole nightmare) but they put me in touch with organizations that could. Nicole gave me the number of a Maureen Cavanaugh with Magnolia New Beginnings.

 

Magnolia is a non-profit organization that offers many different services and much needed help navigating through the recovery world. Founded by Maureen, this organization provides something invaluable- understanding. As a parent that has tried to maneuver the landmines of insurance companies, case managers, detoxes, rehab and all the different agencies I can tell you I wished I had this service. It is impossible to know what to do. Finding out your child is an addict is heartbreaking and shocking and there is no time to take a moment to let it sink in.  Magnolia New Beginnings is designed to help the addicts find treatment, with scholarships for programs not otherwise available to them and by working with other programs like Process for continued care. It also provides support services for family members.  Rise Above, a sober living program with multiple locations, works with Magnolia to assist addicts with scholarships on move-in fees and weekly rent if they financially qualify. Process and Banyan both provide recovery programs that are abstinence and 12-step program based. Both are residential programs with the idea of continued recovery in mind aiding in transitioning an addict back into society.

 

Over the next twenty four hours, while Karen managed inpatient help for her daughter, the three of us text or called each other at least a million times exploring every avenue possible for a bed for him. I am pretty sure between the three of us we called ever detox or dual diagnosis unit in Massachusetts. The young man was losing hope and getting more desperate as the time went by with no bed. He was emotional, distraught and questioning a system that made it so difficult for someone to get help. His exact words were “it shouldn’t be this hard”. He is right. But a flawed system is what we had to deal with and it is the only system we have.  Karen and Maureen made an incredible team not wavering until he was head in a bed. We all know it is up to him now, and only he can write the future but I was honored and grateful to be part of a network that truly moves mountains to help someone in need. Before he needed help I didn’t know either of these women, but now I think they are my new BFF’s.

 

For information on any of the organizations mentioned in this post, or to make a donation (Magnolia is completely volunteer staff. Donations go to help addicts with scholarships, treatment and family support services), please click the links below:

 

http://www.time2riseabove.com/about_us

 

https://www.banyanmass.com/

 

http://www.magnolianewbeginnings.org/

The Things

The things most parents say:

Get up.

Brush your teeth.

Get dressed.

Don’t miss the bus.

Don’t be late for school.

Tie your shoe.

Read a book.

Are you hungry? Are you sick?

Are you happy?

Don’t worry.

Don’t lie to me.

I love you.

I love you too.

I miss you.

Knock before you come in.

For god sakes, I’m peeing. Can I pee in silence please?

I can’t hear you, I’m in the shower.

Can it wait until I am done showering?

Empty the dishwasher.

Fold the towels.

Walk the dog.

Does anyone close a freaking door around here? There is no toilet paper fairy. Anyone can replace the roll.

Finish your homework.

Bush your teeth.

Go to bed.

 

Things most parents of an addict say:

 

Did you use today?

Do you have narcan? When was the last time you ate?

Don’t buy from people you don’t know.

No, I won’t give you money.

I will buy you food.

You look like shit.

You look so good.

How long have you been clean?

Why haven’t you answered your phone? When will I see you again?

You seriously think I’m dumb.

Don’t lie to me.

No, you can’t come home.

No, you can’t come for Easter.

Happy Birthday. I didn’t think you would see another one.

Are you sick?

Don’t leave detox.

Go back to detox.

Don’t leave rehab.

Go back to rehab.

You are going to die.

I want to punch your face.

I love you and I’m scared.

I can’t talk to you.

I need to talk to you.

Shut up. Shut the fuck up this second before I sew your mouth shut with barbed wire. (Am I the only one who says this?)

I’m sorry.

I forgive you.

I can’t do this anymore.

Get a job for the love of all that is holy!

If I catch you watching Netflix all day one more time I am going to pop your eyes out and drop them in battery acid.

No wonder you’re fucked up…. I’m a nutcase.

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.

Ignore and Concur

Tough love is the only thing that works. Science shows tough love doesn’t work. Addicts need to reach rock bottom. Not all addicts have a bottom unless it’s death. Addicts need a reason to live, a reason to strive for recovery. Addicts will get clean for themselves no matter what, if that is what they want. Helping an addict is hurting. If you can’t help and addict don’t hurt them. The messages are so conflicting. There are so many schools of thought surrounding dealing with addiction. There is no handbook, or guide pack, or even expert that knows exactly the thing to do. We all have opinions. We all have our own processes, families and addicts alike, but there is no right or wrong- in my opinion. I have had many people tell me that addiction isn’t a disease and I don’t harbor bad feelings toward those people because they truly believe that. Either they have never dealt with addiction in their immediate family, or they have and were so hurt and traumatized they can’t see past their own anger. Either way their opinions are valid. Just as my opinion that it is a disease. Or maybe not a disease. Maybe I would call it a mental disorder, but no matter what it starts with something in the brain that can’t be corrected with a cycle of antibiotics. It isn’t that simple.

At this point I know that my addict is not going to be the person I always hoped she would be. It is a different level of acceptance for the family. For a long time there is denial that she is an addict, then there is the hope she will find recovery and resume her life. That eventually leads to realization that addiction will be a monkey on their back forever, but it is manageable if they work for it. And, lastly, when you have addicts like my child, acceptance that she will realize the future I envisioned for her. Though, in fairness, that is probably something most parents go through anyway. Throwing addiction in the mix is just an additional obstacle.

There are so many recovery centers with different philosophies. JoDee has been to them all. Some super strict, some not strict at all, some family based, some individual based, some Christian based, some follow N/A, some follow other fellowships; it’s a world all of its own. When the needle exchange facilities opened up there was a huge uproar. Lot’s of people felt that it was enabling drug users and condoning illegal activity. I’m not sure that I disagree. There is a sense of sort of turning a blind eye but it did help reduce the spread of AID’s, HIV, and Hep C among other diseases. It was also a good resource for those that wanted help. Options were available and discussed when folks came into for needle exchange. Those programs grew into larger, productive organizations working for the greater good of their community. Next came the big Narcan debate. Why was Narcan free but not epipen? Why was Narcan free but not chemotherapy? I can’t answer those questions on a broad spectrum but I can tell you that a lot of fight went into that. It was families fighting for the ability to try to save their kid, just like a parent or loved one would do. And in the end, it isn’t free. It may be free to the person receiving it, but DPH pays for those with a grant that was secured.  If people have an issue with it, take it up with Big Pharma.

Now, I saw that they have passed a law to allow what will essentially be a shooting gallery. They are formally called Legal Injection Sites and they have stirred up the shit pot for sure. The theory is that if user’s had a safe place to inject there would be less overdose, fewer needles on the street, and a safe place for addicts to go. The sites would also provide social services, help with recovery, and the like. Some say it is enabling. Others say it will save lives.  Both are correct, really.  There are people who stand firmly on one side of the debate or the other. I have no idea where I stand. In the last few weeks I have had conversations with many different families about their own loved ones dealing with addiction. Two in particular have stayed in my mind. Both need help right away. Both need their families to be way more aware of the urgency to the situation. I am truly afraid that the families will be shocked when something tragic and permanent happens that makes them wake up. I also think about how I felt when I was in their shoes five years ago. I know I would have been completely horrified. I think I still am. Am I?

There are Pros and Cons to everything in life. Studies showed a large decrease in public nuisances such as addicts shooting in public, publicly disposed of used needles, and public overdose. The impact on blood-borne viruses had an overall decrease because users were able to have access to clean needles eliminating the need to share. The survival rate for overdose increased as trained professionals were on-site to administer narcan and other medical interventions.

Of course one of the number one reasons (to me) this is a con is financial. I would imagine that a site like this will have to have a lot of government funding along with donations and fundraising. A site in Australia reports costs of $2.7 million per year to keep it running. That is not a lot of money for any type of public health clinic, however, it is $2.7 million that could be used for more rehab or detox beds.  The funding for recovery is very low. I know that many people complain that any money is spent on addiction, but it receives the least amount of any funding in Massachusetts. Less than 1%.  Opening an injection site would provide some of the services needed for successful recovery but it isn’t a long term solution.  Currently there is no long term solution. An injection site would help in the short run but what happens when the injection site staff is not able to find a bed for an addict in need because there aren’t enough?

Not to mention the enabling part. It is allowing drug addicts to use illicit and illegal drugs openly without recourse.  It sends a shitty message. My addict would have come in, plopped her ass down and not left unless they threw her out. Will addicts be able to hangout all the time? Who wants that sort of facility in their neighborhood? So after a lot of research and strong debate in my own head, I decided I stand firmly on the side……hell if I know. This is too big for me.  I believe we should try anything, and I appreciate that there are steps being taken but I just don’t know if this is one in the right direction. There is a point that divide an concur is effective at winning a war but this feels a little bit like ignoring the bigger issue. But that is just one woman’s opinion.

Levels of Volume

It’s been a long, long few weeks.  There has been one bit of nonsense after that other. So much so, that I don’t even really know where to begin. I guess at the beginning, however, I’m not even sure where that is! What I do know is that I was sick, out of work for almost three weeks. In those three weeks AC got poison oak on his face so he looks like Quasi Motto, but in the most handsome of ways of course. Our newest dog, Georgi, the one that basically had Malaria when we got her, choked on her supper one night so I had give her the Heimlich maneuver. That was a fun moment. Actually, scary fact: dogs can go pale while choking. I didn’t know that could happen.  Jay J’s car broke down, and then AC car broke down and then AC was rear-ended badly by a woman watching her GPS, rendering the only car we had left kaputz. My poor, poor sons found me unconscious on my bedroom floor requiring them calling 911. They did a great job and I am fine, no worries. Also, they are traumatized.

We have had some good things happen like Cinderella graduated high school and the person that passed out at that was not me! Her aunt and I got a little rowdy pretty much embarrassing our entire families but I didn’t care then, and I don’t care now.  AC has worked diligently getting my garden ready since I am really not able to do it myself. My basil is growing in fabulously, it makes the whole porch smell wonderful. My step-daughter got into college which she will start in the fall and Jay J ended the school year with strong grades. We celebrated Jay J’s 20th birthday which means I must have given birth to him at the age of 5 since I am not that old. I’m sure there is more shit in there but I can’t remember. So you see, things change all the time. Life moves fast and if you aren’t careful it can be missed. Except addiction. That never changes.

No matter the circumstance, or the situation, or moment addiction always IS. It is there, it is painful, it is nagging and it is just waiting somewhere to pop up.  During all these things that are going on, addiction is still a huge part of my life. It may be silent, but it speaks volumes. Those volumes are different levels. When I was in the hospital room waiting for my test results, convinced I was dying of a brain tumor all I could think about was I didn’t live long enough to see her get clean.  After saving Georgi from choking to death, Jared, Jay J, and SC were replaying the shocking events and laughing about how they all stood there watching her choke calling me, like I’m the dog whisperer or some shit, instead of doing it themselves and all I thought about was she missed this moment. At Cinderella’s graduation I thought about her graduation, and when her brother graduated and she sat in the stands with me holding my hand. I won’t continue because I’m pretty sure if you are reading this you are smart enough to figure out the pattern.  It never goes away. Why do I do that? Why do I think about her during precious moments? Because she isn’t there.

At the moment, I know where she is. I know she thinks she is convincing me she is clean. I know that in her mind she believes I am as dumb as she wants me to be. But I’m not. I’m not mad at her, or angry, or really upset in anyway. I’m just….here. The lack of emotion speaks volumes. It has been an emotional rollercoaster. I think about how I was in the beginning and I am embarrassed for myself but I also feel badly for that self. I become angry for the idiot that didn’t see the signs coming, and wasn’t paying more attention. And, I cringe at the stupid, ridiculous levels I went to in an effort to keep her clean. The theme for the last four of the five we have been dealing with addiction is keep her clean. The last year I have had a come to Jesus meeting with myself to realize that I can’t keep her clean, get her clean, work her recovery, etcetera. Four years, endless tears, one golf club smashed to bits on an innocent maple tree, lost friends, many a court visit, and countless levels of shit later I get it. I get that I can’t do anything. That doesn’t mean I don’t need reminding. I still have to go to meetings, see a therapist, and talk it out AC when she asks for money and I have to say no. It never becomes easier. It is never a cake walk. There is not a magic month, year, or event that is going to be the finish line. Dead. The finish line is death. Mine or hers. And that speaks volumes.

I have had two people, two different people that do not know each other, tell me that I am an expert on this subject. Specifically being the parent of an addict. That surprised me.  I guess I was measuring my own personal success on the success of my addict, so I had to have a good, long think. And I decided I am not an expert on addiction but an expert on addiction in my family. Every situation is unique. Drug addicts are different. Addiction isn’t. But the person inside are different. I have no idea the bottom line one person reached to make recovery become a priority vs my addict who wants the credit for being clean without doing the hard work. My addict would put a TV in a carriage at Walmart only to walk right out the door because she is a savage. In a bad way. While, another addict may be to afraid to do that so they steal jewelry from their gramma instead. My addict tells lies just like any other addict but the lies she tells she believes herself. Maybe another addict knows they are lying but does it anyway. My addict cannot, will not, or may never see the value she has, and the love of her family, or that she is worth every single thing she thinks she isn’t.  My addict let’s others blame her for things outside anyone’s control. When a person is an addict, any person, not just mine, it sucks. But no one can make them stop. Just like no one can make them use. My addict believes her redemption is in her own death. While another addict might make something of themselves and value the life they have in honor of the people they lost.

And, just like two addicts aren’t the same, neither are two parents of an addict. It took me 4 years to get to the point that I can say no. I still feel like shit about it, and it makes me want to throw up milk duds I ate in the 3rd grade but I know it’s what I have to do. Another mother may have learned that sooner, or hasn’t learned at all yet. To them I would say it’s okay. There is no comforting a parent of an addict. There is no vacation, no break, no pause button or stop button. We don’t get to just take a moment to remove the boiling lava of crap burning in our gut because that isn’t how life works. To them I say, suck it up buttercup because the volume of shit we will take in this life time is unreal.  And be nice to each other. We are all doing the best we can with what we were dealt. Don’t judge one parent for their short-comings because you just never know when the tables will turn. Put a hand out and help them when they are down. Remind them that at the end of the day they should see their own face in the mirror. At the end of that day, it’s really all we got.