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.

 

 

Who is the Boss of Me?

No one. No one is the boss of me. I have been sick recently so everyone thinks they have an opinion. They don’t. There are ways to prove that:

Conversations with my children:

Jared: I need to go to Petco. Me: No. Not again. That’s three days in a row. Jared: I will meet you in the car in five. Me: I’m not coming. (five minutes later while getting in car) This is BS. Why do we have to go so often? Jared: Because my pets are new and I need stuff, stop complaining besides you can’t drive, so all you have to do is ride with me. Me: Shut up. Jared: Fine.

Me: 12. 12 pills each morning and night. 24 effing pills and they taste disgusting. I should just swallow chaulk. Jay J: (without looking up) take them. Me: No. Jay J: Take them. Me: They are fucking gross. Jay J: Take them. Me: You don’t rule me (as I swallow the first 6). Jay J: take them all. Me: Shut up.

Me: I am going out. Cinderalla: Where are you going? Me: Out. Jay J: You can’t drive. Me: I won’t. Cinderalla: Um. where are you going? (sounding super sweet) AC: I’m driving Ms. Crazy so it’s ok. Me: I’m an adult, and I can do whatever I want so shut up.

Conversations with my husband:

AC: What are you going to do today? Me: Laundry, maybe go to Lowes. I want to plant my grape bush. AC: (while looking at me like I am a two year old trying to climb out of my crib) No. You aren’t. You can’t drive.  Me: I can Uber. AC: Rest does not include Ubering to Lowes and I did the laundry. Me: I hate you. AC: No you don’t. Me: Shut up.

AC: Are you hungry? Me: No. AC: Stop being a brat. Me: I am not hungry and you can’t make me eat anything if I don’t want too. AC: I am making you a hot cheese and chicken sandwich. Me: I won’t eat it. (After eating the delicious, finger-licking sandwich) That was gross and I’m going to throw up. AC: Shut up.

Conversations with my animals:

Me: Blu, stop. Get off me. Just because I am in bed doesn’t mean I have to pet you. Blu uses paw and then paw and claw to scratch my head. Me: BLU NO. Blu presses claws further into my head and bites my hair. Me: Okay, Okay. Continues petting him for an hour.

Me: Blu I pet you all day, get off me. (This is at 2am).  Blu begins head butting me and purring loudly. Me: Okay fine but stop purring so fucking loud!

Georgi jumping on my bed, licking my face, sitting on top of me, and biting my pillow. Me: STOP! Georgi throws pillow in the air. Me: STOP! Georgi jumps off bed with pillow and runs away. Me: Fine take the stupid pillow!

Me: I am coming to get that fucking pillow. (Grabbing pillow from her she shakes her head like we are playing) Let go of the pillow Cujo!

Me: Diego, thank god you are the best kitty in the whole world and I love you better than anyone else.

Conversations with Bibi:

Bibi: Are you home? Me: Yes. Bibi: Well you are going to be on the bread line soon. Me: Thanks for the support. Bibi: Well bitch you may but work you must kiddo.

Bibi: Did I wake you? Me: Yes, are you alright? Bibi: Yes but I need to tell you something important or I wouldn’t have called. Me: What? What is it? Bibi: The pigeons are shitting all over my piazza. (a few moments of silence) Me: And? Bibi: Isn’t that enough? Bye. (hangs up).

Bibi: Did I wake you? Me: No. Bibi: How do you feel? Me: Like shit actually, my head is killing me. Bibi: Oh well, I have had headaches my whole life so suck it up. At least you aren’t 92 years old. Me: That’s true. Bibi: Do not trust yourself to break wind in public at 92, it could be more than wind. Me: Thanks for the heads up……

Bibi: Melanie, Melanie the ride stole my walker. The ride stole my walker and they won’t give it back. I called them and they said to describe it. Describe it? It’s a friggen walker. Those shit faces stole my walker so they could sell it at the Flea Market. (has not even said hello, or given me a chance to speak at all) Melanie, I am calling the police to report it stolen. Good bye. Immediately calls me back. Bibi: I called the ride back and told them to shut the hell up! Hangs up again. Click…..

 

Did You Just Hear Yourself?

Recently, my beautiful and wicked smaht niece graduated from college. Her and JoDee are sixteen days apart. They started kindergarten together (separate schools but same day). They started middle school together (same school) and high school together (also same school) and eventually they graduated high school together. While they ran in relatively opposite groups they still remained close enough. Sunday dinners, family vacations and the like kept them involved in each other. After high school their lives took extremely different turns. JoDee, as we know, as struggled with drug addiction, while my niece has gone on to school and met a nice young man and got a job as a preschool teacher. No one compares them, but I’m sure JoDee does. Or maybe others do, but I certainly don’t. They have been decidedly different people since birth, so I never expected them to follow each other down the same path through life.

The reason I am giving you all this background is that my niece had her graduation party this weekend. I have had some health things going on, so I wasn’t sure if I would make it but my parents had flown in from South Carolina so we made a plan for them to meet us for breakfast on Saturday morning at our house. This was killing two birds with one stone: getting to see them and them seeing the new house. It also meant we would see my aunt and uncle, who came with them. The reason I am telling you all this is because we had an interesting conversation. One of which was that sometimes my blog posts get to be too long and the reader might lose interest. This was a valid and appreciated comment, so I will remember to keep them informative without being boring.

The other conversation was about why someone was of a certain age and still single. I said he wasn’t really a catch from a woman’s perspective. My dad respond that he was good looking. My idea that he was not catch had nothing to do with his looks. It had more to do with him being an addict. Now, I know that may sound, well, asshole-ish but I meant it. And my aunt was very quick to call me out. She said “Did you hear yourself?”

Yes, I heard myself. I know exactly what I said. Years ago I would have said everyone deserves a chance. And years ago when a friend of mine began dating someone with an addiction, I supported that. He was a wonderful guy. Fathered his daughters, and his stepsons and eventually drugs took his life. Maybe not in the normal way via overdose, but it certainly shortened his life. Knowing what I know now, I would have said run away. Run far, far away. Why? Because a normal lived person cannot understand, comprehend, or appreciate the struggles of an addicted person. I’m not saying that addicted people do not deserve mates, because I don’t think that at all. Some of the best couples I know have come through addiction together. But they have that in common. It’s hard for someone who is not an addict to truly understand the struggle. Or the commitment to going to meetings. Or the need to have a routine, or avoid certain situations.

When my aunt asked me if I heard myself I told her not only did I know what I said, but I meant it wholeheartedly. JoDee, and several people she has dated, can attest to the fact that on more than one occasion I have asked her at-the-time-partner if they were effed in the head for being with her because she was a one woman wrecking ball when she is in active addiction. I have said many times she isn’t a catch. Not like she is, or was, or is during active addiction. No one is. And no addict is a catch within the first year or so of recovery. At what point in the dating process does someone tell a person they are an addict? Meeting partners in detox/meetings is frowned upon but where else is one to meet a fellow addict? The program is called Narcotics Anonymous so I don’t think where a sticker that says Hello My Name is JoDee and I am an Addict would be acceptable. So on goes the struggle…. But addicts are really horrible pimps in the armpit of America anyway, dating should be the least of their worries?

Nurse Jackie

Hello, my name is Melanie and I am Netflix addict. If you know me, you know this is true to a ridiculous extent. Including watching the The Walking Dead or Greys Anatomy from the beginning for the millionth time while on the treadmill.  I have watched them all: The Following, The Fall, Weed, Charmed, Bloodline, Glitch, The Killing, Prison Break, SuperNatural, House of Cards,  Lost, Lie to Me, Longmire, Stranger Things, Marcella, West Wing (hated it, btw), should I continue or have I humiliated myself enough? Anyway, you get the point. The one show I have not watched is Nurse Jackie. I was going to watch it but then I asked someone about it and I learned it was about a nurse with a drug addiction. Normally any show that depicts someone with an addiction is so far off track it is either offensive or laughable. For example, the Soprano’s had a lot of drugs which was pretty accurate but then Christopher (Anthony Soprano’s nephew) developed a drug problem to heroin. His addiction was so bad that he sat on his girlfriend’s dog while he was high and killed it. After that and a few other incidents the family staged an intervention with an actual interventionist and that was somewhat accurate. But then he went to a 30 day rehab once and hallelujah! found recovery. Just like that. Boom. Hail Jesus. That was offensive. Who the hell goes to rehab once (not to mention no real detox) to find a super life? Oh and when he left rehab he went back to a thug life, working around drugs and booze, with really no relapse, until much, much later.

I was actually relieved to see him finally relapse because the whole thing was insulting. Insulting? No,farcical. So, when I saw the trailer for Nurse Jackie, and I heard what it was about, I decided to skip it. And watched everything else (including shit on Amazon and Hulu) but I kept seeing it pop up as something I might like to watch. I finally decided to give it a chance. Mostly because I had the flu and was so dead in bed, I had really no other option. I was surprised. The story is not really parallel to mine as the mother is the addict and her kid hates her for it. Obviously mine is the opposite, but I don’t hate my addict. But, it is interesting to see the progression of the disease from a different perspective. I mean, come on, it’s still fiction. It’s still drama made for TV but it’s not that far off. This woman has a wonderful (and sexy as hell) husband and two great kids and life which she ruins because of her drug addiction. The whole story sort of roped me in because she is an awesome nurse, and a mom, and basically living a double life to feed her addiction.  But, the one thing that seemed so realistic to me was the impulsivity.

SPOILER ALERT:

I am going to talk about the show which will probably give away important facts. If you read on you do so at your own risk.

This woman is a very successful addict for many years. I know that sounds like an oxy-moron but it’s true. She is a fantastic nurse, and mother, and wife who happens to screw the pharmacist at the hospital she works to feed her drug addiction. She uses the excuse that she hurt her back as a means to get him to supply the drugs which he does because he has no idea she has an entire family. Of course, the facade is ruined one day, and everything begins to crumble around her.  She has several seasons of drug horror before she finally finds her way to rehab. She white knuckles it through the first year of sobriety. One the  anniversary she just nonchalantly pops a pill in her mouth. For no obvious reason. For no purpose. Just because. And that, that is so true. I know for a fact that JoDee has rewarded herself for a 30, 60, 90, 120 day sobriety with getting high. That is the fucked up, irrational, diseased thinking that addicts have. They believe that since they made it a year they can control it now. It’s really not much different from someone with bipolar disease believing they no longer need meds to keep them stable. It’s all part of the disease progression.

It’s not long before she is a wrecking ball in her life, that ends with her being arrested. Blah, Blah, Blah, nursing diversion program, suspended nursing license, once again working hard to gain back everyone’s trust, blah, blah, blah, nursing board reinstate her licence earning her job back. Immediately she puts her nursing scrubs on throwing a pill in her mouth at the same time. Bam. And it seems so ridiculous. You will want to beat her. And shame her. And yell at her. And you will want to think she deserves her family abandoning her, and her boyfriend going to jail, and losing her license again, and possibly her life, and all those feelings are fair enough. Only that is part of the problem. Drug addiction goes so far beyond the actual drug use. It’s the mentality. It’s the mental regression. It is not being able to think about family, or life, or  self. It’s not because the Nurse Jackie’s of the world don’t love their children or spouse or jobs, but because they are not equipped to face those responsibilities. They truly believe that no one knows they are using, and that they can handle it, and that their life is manageable.

Once, at the very beginning of this nightmare, when I thought accompanying JoDee to every N/A meeting would somehow control her using I had my first experience with this kind of relapse. We went to a meeting on a Wednesday night. At that meeting a young man was receiving his 60 day chip. He spoke about his struggles, and that his family finally sent him away to rehab and that was the magic ticket. That rehab was the salvation and he was ready to embrace life drug-free. The very next day we went to a different meeting and the same young man stood up to receive his 24 hour chip, signifying that he had relapsed the night before. I was stunned. And horrified. No one else in the room was. I was so shocked, I almost couldn’t contain myself. Fast forward all these years later, and I am rarely shocked. I am a little embarrassed for myself that I was such a dingus.

Since then JoDee has pulled this exact thing. I can’t tell you how many times I went to see her pick up a milestone chip only to pick her up off the floor the next day. She discharged from detox to an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program). The first night I picked her up from the program, she was high. She didn’t even make it 12 hours. And another time she discharged from WATC with a handful of narcan because she blatantly told the staff she had ever intention of using the minute she stepped foot outside the fence. So I guess what I am trying to say is that not all addicts look like the homeless people on the street. Sometimes they are seemingly rational, hard-working, and productive members of society. All addicts have one and only one thing in common regardless of station in life, financial income, sexuality or religion and that is unpredictability.  You will never know when they will use. You will never know if their sobriety is long term. You will never know if they will put drugs over self, family, job or safety. And you will never, ever know what made them pick up again because often they don’t even know. The conundrum is real and painful because as a loved one of an addict I can tell you that I want to trust my addict, I want to believe she is really not using, but historically that isn’t the case. History has told me that if I think she is using, she probably is. And my gut tells me if I think something isn’t right, it probably is wrong. But how do we reconcile that? When the addict is standing in front of us looking earnest and honest pleading their case about not using and doing well, how does someone know when to trust them? The answer is we don’t. We will never know.

Recently, once again, I was tasked with collecting JoDee’s belongings from a place that she left them behind. This is her typical MO. It smelled bad, made my car stink like smoke, and I did not want to search her stuff for drugs or needles.  I know I probably should have but I’m sick of doing that. I’m tired of doing this especially because she doesn’t stay clean. This morning I had to leave all those belongings on my porch for someone to pick them up for her. As I pulled out of the drive way I was struck with the ridiculousness and depressing realization that this is where we are. We are at a place were all of my kids shit is on my porch waiting to get picked up like donations to a charity, or the weekly trash. Everything she is, or was, or has been is packed in one box, one laundry basket and a suitcase so heavy I was slightly concerned there may have been a body inside. I didn’t look inside because if there was a body in it I’m pretty sure she would have asked me to bury it. That is what I have become, the cleaner, the problem solver, the only when- I- need -you person. All symptoms of addiction.

Addiction: The Choice

Recently I saw someone I was Facebook friends with post an article about the frustration the writer had at addiction being called a disease. The writer wrote about his/her opinion, and it is an opinion which is kind of like assholes: everyone has one and they all stink. The basis is that addiction is a choice. Plain and simple. It compared addiction to children on the cancer ward dying of terminal illness. Because those are apples and apples. So, contrary to my sarcasm I do believe people have the right to believe whatever they want to believe. One of the most amazing things about America is that we all have the right to be assholes.  And, sadly now I can’t be Facebook friends with that person anymore, because the one thing I won’t do is begin, entertain or participate in any Facebook arguments. I look on Facebook for entertainment, and there was nothing entertaining about that. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to share my opinion.

In my opinion the writer (not the person who posted it) is a fucking ignorant dick face. In my professional opinion, actually. If a person were inclined to look at addiction from the moment of picking up a joint, or sticking a needle in their arm, then yes that action is in fact a choice. But the decision was made so far before that. I certainly do not think that my child’s drug addiction is comparable to the pain and suffering a parent would go to if their child was battling brain cancer. But isn’t comparing addiction to childhood cancer like saying don’t feel bad if your grandfather dies at 98 because kids are dying at 3. There are just somethings that are not comparable.Otherwise,  no one in America should ever complain about their coffee order being wrong because there are starving children in Africa. And certainly no one should ever be inconvenienced by their pet’s death because women are being sold into sex trafficking in many countries. Also, no one should complain about having MS, fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy, dementia, clubbed feet, cleft palate, blindness or deafness because families in China are only allowed one child.  Do you see how ridiculous all that is? All of those things are hard to live with, especially getting a wrong coffee order! How can one be more or less important than another?  I have MS. It affects me in different ways. And some days are harder than others. I would be pretty effing pissed off if someone told me I didn’t have a right to have a feeling about that because of some other non related incident.

I don’t like when people compare addiction to other diseases because they only see the act of using the drug as the issue but the disease has taken over long before that happens. The choice might be in which drug a person takes but the disability is much deeper than that. The disability is in the mental illness that causes the addiction. Or the self-deprecation, or the lack of self-esteem or the sexual abuse or other childhood trauma the addict suffered from that drove them to such a low point in life that drugs seems like the only option. Why is it when a life-long smoker suffers lung cancer we only see the cancer not the action that got them there? Or when a diabetic loses their eye or a foot because blood sugars were not monitored or diet was not restricted we only see the loss of the eye or foot not the action that got them there? And I am not saying that we should be less compassionate with those folks either, because I’m not. What I am saying is that all diseases deserve compassion regardless of how they happen. If someone was critically injured in a car accident because they were speeding would we be less sorry for them? Or be willing to help them less?

I have use my energy getting out of bed every day. I have to use my energy going to work, checking on my addict, raising my children, being a good wife, and a good granddaughter to my aging and ailing Bibi. I have to use a ridiculous amount of energy determining the many ways I cannot and should not help my addict because at this point helping hurts so having to take time to explain why it’s asshole-ish to compare addiction to child cancer is really shitty.  Saying that someone is an addict and it is a disease does not mean that they aren’t accountable for their actions. Saying that addiction is a disease does not absolve the addict of any responsibility. I know that addicts often have the “poor me” attitude but the reality is that the attitude is part of the disease. It doesn’t mean that we (by we I mean any and all of us not an addict but dealing with an addict) have to put down the red carpet to take all the shit they dole out.

Accepting that addiction is a disease is acknowledging that the addict is sick. That’s it. It doesn’t require some big action or some large hand-out. The society at large is not expected to make a protest, start a petition or drag an unknown addict off the street to personally see to the recovery which would be useless anyway. It takes no effort. If you are a family member of an addict it may take some hard lessons on how not to let the addict run all over you. But if you are lucky enough to be on the sidelines of addiction, if you are a spectator then spectate, not speculate. Making judgments and having opinions takes more work than doing nothing.  The addicts are not the people reading those articles and letters because they are high somewhere, mindless, numb and oblivious to anything anyone else thinks. If they did read them they wouldn’t give a shit what anyone thought. So that means the family members, like me, are the people left reading them, and realizing how cruel the world can be. It is hard enough to see our addicts so fucked up to then be subjected to the asshole opinion of ignorant, uneducated on the subject dick faces that feel that somehow their asshole opinion should have an impact on us. Are we supposed to see that open letter or article and think Gee my addict decided to do this so I hope they die? Or they should be banned to an island in the middle of nowhere? Or, even better, they should be locked up with pedophiles, murders and rapists? What is bashing the weak suppose to prove? What is it suppose to accomplish?  Before supporters of this rhetoric answer that, really think about it. Don’t just respond to act tough or fill in a blank. Think before you speak.

Theatre Endings

Most  people would find  this surprising about me but I love the theatre. Musicals, operas, plays, ballets, and the like. I love the ambiance, and the people it attracts and the clothes they wear. Both those performing and those attending.  Years ago it was much more formal than it is now. No one would have dared go to the theatre without having black tie attire on but now there are all kinds of dressing from jeans to ball gowns and everything in between.  My favorite type of performance is Les Miserable or Phantom of the Opera. Les Miserable being my favorite. The story of human suffering and hardship being overcome through the music and song. It’s amazing. The music is so encompassing it that the misery of the story line becomes secondary. In Les Mis a man is a prisoner to a rich entrepreneur to a mayor back to hero to prisoner to dead. And it’s a lovely program!

Life, however, is not a program.There is no script with beautiful songs. There is no intermission to digest all that we have seen. And there is no fat lady singing to let a person know the end is near. In life, those things are a mystery. We don’t know when we are in the middle, because we don’t know when it is going to end. We don’t know if the damsel in distress will really be saved or if she will die marking the beginning of a new plot, the twist in the story. Life is all about the unknown. Sometimes the unknown is wondering if I really will make it to the gas station since my gas light has been on for two days (true story). Or if I will wake up tomorrow to find out I am the mother of two children and two step-children instead of three children and two step-children because my oldest has killed herself via drug overdose.

JoDee went to treatment. Again. This ritual has gotten so old, I am unphased by it. I don’t get excited about her being in treatment, and I certainly don’t bank on her staying. AC tells me on the regular that kind of thinking is putting bad energy into the universe. But, when she runs away it is shocking to him. Every single time. I am never shocked. I am disappointed, and upset, and angry but never shocked. I stopped being shocked a few years ago. I can’t even remember the last time I was taken aback by anything she has done.  Recently, she surprised me. She surprised me by allowing herself to get the vivitrol shot. For those who do not know what the vivitrol shot is let me explain. The shot introduces a drug into the system that blocks the opioid receptors. This is significant because the recipient of the drug can not get high on opiates. It is also significant because users are at a higher risk of overdose. Technically, the shot should help with the craving and obsession but if a person wants to get high for any reason, but they should not be able to feel the high but they might try to “break through” the shot which leaves them vulnerable to respiratory distress and death.

In the past JoDee and I have discussed the shot but always felt that with her relapse rate, as the shot wears off and becomes less effective, she would really be at risk for death. She has already overdosed many times without the shot so I can’t even imagine the amount of drugs that would be necessary to break through it. There is a pill version that she has taken in the past that has helped her tremendously but she has to take the pill every day for it to be affective and she doesn’t like that. A person who has taken the shot can still use other drugs or alcohol to receive the high they are looking for. It won’t stop benzo’s or cocaine from getting her jammed. Something she made sure to tell staff before she left treatment this time. A week after she got the shot, she left. I had a feeling she was going to leave. I called her one morning to tell her I could sense her restlessness but she should stick it out. She told me she was restless, and had thought about leaving but decided to stay. The next day, gone. Gone like the wind.

There is no minute to ponder what will  happen next. I don’t have the luxury of taking an intermission to discuss these events, and pontificate or vacillate on the next scene. It just is. It is what it is. And it sucks.  I want this to be someone else’s story. Actually, no, I want this to be fiction. A story told through dramatic dancing, music that will end with an entire cast, including the daughter that may die, taking a bow at the end. When I get these calls, I still have to continue with on with my life. If I am cooking dinner, I can’t abandon dinner to lie in bed, or out in the grass allowing myself a few minutes of self-pity even though I want nothing more than to do that. But suppression is a dam. It is blocking so much emotion that if I let even a small crack appear, it will all come spilling out, which will be good for no one trust me. I am not a crier or someone who falls down in a heap of sadness. I become angry and I don’t want that to happen.

Even worse than the call is the call from her. After being gone for some time she is calling me to say she can’t stay where she is. She needs a ride. She needs a place to stay. I fucking hate with the heat of a million suns having to tell her that I can’t help her. It’s cruel. It’s absolutely cruel. A mother with a drug addict child is bad enough. It hurts enough and it is brutal enough but then we have to endure this hell on earth called leaving your sick child on the street? I can’t force her to break her cycle. I can only stop myself from being part of her cycle but even that is soul-sucking. I say this all the time but there is no word or statement or metaphor to explain those lucky enough to not be in the know how it feels. It is feeling your pulse to make sure your heart is beating but knowing there is no heart in there. It is watching your breath in the cold air but knowing there is no life left. It is being on the most gorgeous beach on the perfect day around only the people you love the very best all of whom are having the time of their life but you have the stomach flu. All you can do is vomit and try not to shit your pants while trying to enjoy the world around you even though you are so sick you can hardly stand. But you force yourself to sit by the pool, or go on the boat ride, or attend the dinner party all the while you can’t enjoy it the way everyone else is. Only you know how bad you feel. Sometimes you can smile and even participate so that the others aren’t worried or brought down by your misery. It’s a big charade.

I don’t know what is going to happen with her or where she is going to go. I don’t know how many times I will have to say to her that I can’t pick her up or bring her to my house. I don’t know how to convince her to humble herself and surrender for good not for a few weeks. I can’t believe I have to tell her to find a shelter. Who does that?  I think about my friends that have lost children and how they would give their own life to even receive that phone call and I wonder if I am doing the wrong thing saying no. Every single piece of material I have read on addiction, every support group, meeting and clinical professional has said no help is the only help I can give. Will I regret that if the fat lady sings? Instead of a broken glass from an opera singer will it be the shattered heart of a broken mother that signifies the ending?