Sick to Death of Sickness and Death

There are so many stories of addiction in the news now. But I feel like it’s not about human interest and saving the addict, it’s more like a Jerry Springer show. Morbid curiosity. It’s similar to rubber necking as a person drives by a car accident. I keep saying we need to do more. We need to help fight addiction. But what does that really mean? I have no idea. I’m just a woman with an addict for a daughter that writes a blog. I’m not a Doctor or a Psychiatrist or a Psychologist. I’m a mother and a wife and an accountant.  What the hell do I know? I know the system is broken. I know that getting good help for an addict is really about how much money a person can spend. If I was rich with an endless supply of funds I could send JoDee to the nicest, most advanced rehab but that isn’t our story.

Our story involves state run facilities and detox’s that kick you out after 5 to 7 days with a list of NA meetings and a good luck. The addict may physically be over the symptoms of drug dependency but that is only the beginning. I sound like a broken record so I won’t preach about my feelings and thoughts about mental illness and addiction. What I will say is that if I see one more obituary that describes a wonderful, talented, loved person that died after a lengthy battle with addiction, I am going to light my face on fire. I commend families that are willing and able to speak truthfully about their loved ones addiction. It is a huge step in making people aware of how prevalent it is and how non-discriminatory it is. Drug addiction has been around a long time. It has plagued poor and under-privileged families and neighborhoods since the dawn of time. It isn’t new. It’s only new to hit suburbia and the affluent. So, that message also sucks.  The media is only now talking about the heroin epidemic since the median age and race of addicts is 18-45 white males. Where was the media when the median age and race was 45-60 year old black males. Where was all the attention to the heroin epidemic when our vets came back from Vietnam addicted as a result of suffering PTSD from the horrors of the war?  In the last 10 years the whole face of addiction has changed and now that it is a suburban problem, it’s called an epidemic. Before that it was called life for the poor, uneducated, under privileged. But I can’t get into a rant about that today, because, frankly, I don’t think anyone would listen.

What I can get into a rant about is finding help for everyone. It’s no surprise that JoDee has been struggling. Since she relapsed in the fall she has been in and out of detox and in and out of our house. On the run, back home, calling friends, into detox, running again. It’s never ending. It should end. It has too at some point. And it will. Either she will find recovery or addiction will claim another victim. Victim…that is an interesting word. Victim. Victim’s of addiction are whom exactly? Is she a victim to addiction or is she more a victim of her own doing? I guess it’s irrelevant because we all suffer the results. Talking to her, not talking to her, using, not using, it’s all painful. I know that the current hot word is enabling. There is a lot of talk of tough love really working but that’s a big bunch of bullshit. Don’t get me wrong- enabling is a thing. And it’s a serious thing. Loved ones are all too often wrapped up in this misery that they don’t see the ways they are enabling an addict. But, tough love does not necessarily slap sense into them. I have had plenty of parents reach out to me to say they were estranged from their child when they died and that is also hard to live with so if you are going to do that you have to be prepared for it. And know that being estranged from them is only a physical choice. You may be able to make plans because you won’t be running to anyone’s rescue or pick them up from a detox or any of the other nonsense affiliated with addiction, but you won’t feel any different. The same pain will always be there. And, it is often a necessary and only option because addicts feed off the pain and guilt that a family feels, usually to feed their habit.

It doesn’t matter how many times I drop her off at a detox, or watch her walk into a rehab, it never is any easier. There is some relief though. I would be lying if I said I didn’t sleep just a little better when she was locked up somewhere. The problem is that unless she is under a section 35 or a section 12, she can voluntarily walk out of any program she is in. We find ourselves, once again, wading through the muck and mire of another detox stay and I’m not convinced she is going to stay. Again. The positive here is that she comes to these conclusions on her own. No one forced her to go, and she wasn’t homeless. I believe she has moments that make her want recovery so bad she can taste it and as soon as the detox is too bad, or the facility is too restricted, she bails. At 22 years old, I can’t make her do anything anymore. Not that I really try, I have sort of given up on giving her direct orders because she isn’t going to listen. I have learned that I can’t tell her what she shouldn’t do so I have to tell her what I am going to do. So, I can’t say don’t leave detox or your grounded, but instead I say if you choose to leave detox I will not pick you up and I cannot let you stay here. It’s a terrible position that we are both in. I’m sure she feels very alone and abandoned, and I’m sure her addictive mind tells her that’s even more reason to dip. And, I feel terrible for having to say that to her when she is crying and begging and saying she just wants to come home. That is probably true, she does want to come home. But on her terms not mine. She can’t live life on her terms, she has to live life on life’s terms. She still has not been able to figure that out.

The last time she went to detox she decided on her own that she was going to go. Her new motis operundi. A friend spent all day on the phone trying to help her get into somewhere. Anywhere. One place wouldn’t take her insurance, one place wouldn’t take her insurance unless she went through the emergency department of a hospital, one place wanted $200 cash at time of admission. I’m sorry but if an addict had $200 cash they wouldn’t be looking for a detox. And I know how that sounds but let’s be realistic. How many of you have told yourself you were going to go on that diet as soon as you finished the ice cream in the freezer? Same thing. She finally get’s in a place that wants $275 deposit but they have a program for after detox. On our way she receives a call from another place, they won’t require the deposit. We pull over. Calls back and forth are made. I won’t bore you with the details, and I’m too emotionally exhausted to live through them again anyway, but it took a whole 24 hours from that last phone call to get her into a place. And three days later, the day of Jay J and Cinderella’s prom she ran away. Well no she didn’t. That was dramatic. She called someone else to pick her up but you know what I mean. I have only seen her twice since then. I have talked to her several times. At times she sounds great. At other times she sounds not so great. I still think she has no plan or direction, but it’s her life so I’m not judging or directing. At this point, I’m waiting. Though, I’m not really sure what I am waiting for.

And all that brings me back to the point, which is that I am sick and tired of sickness and death. I’m sick of our loved ones dying from a disease that should be treated with more resources. I’m sick of the over-worked, under-funded and stretched thin nurses/doctors/social workers not having the ability (or willingness) to help because they are over-worked, under-funded and stretched thin. I’m sick of hearing about young souls being taken too soon; leaving behind spouses, children, parents and siblings whose lives will never be the same. I’m tired of JoDee’s sickness. I’m tired of having a plan to go to Pilates and that being hijacked by an entire night in a parking lot waiting for a bed. Or just not having the will or resolve to do it because laying in bed with the kitties is so much better.  I want some freaking  peace and quiet for shit sake.

Look at them…. they are so freaking cute. How can I pick Pilates over them?

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Thanksgiving and Thankful

So. Here we are. Another Thanksgiving is nearing and we are, once again, dealing with the backlash of active addiction.  Whether you see it coming,, whether it sneaks up like ninja in the night, active addiction is hard to understand, live with, and watch. It makes life depressing. And it makes it hard to appreciate the good things in life.  The events occurring all over the world certainly put life into perspective.  Instead of running a long narrative about how our family has been chasing JoDee, dragging her home, and watching her detox, again, I decided to focus on what I am thankful for this year. These are in no particular order of importance.

  1. My children. All 5 of the Brayden/Cortes kids. I’m am grateful for their personalities, their troubles, their successes and their relationship with us and each other. Fist fighting, swearing and name calling one minute, all huddled under a blanket watching scary movies the next is the best medicine and I would have it no other way.
  2. My compadre. My spouse. My husband. Ours is a unique story that isn’t really all that interesting but we certainly do a good job of keeping everyone entertained. From grammatical errors on his part that make me die laughing, (ex: I got here first than you) to fights that end up with one of us (I will let you guess which) picking their previously clean close out of the freshly used kitty liter box. It’s a roller coaster I never want to get off.
  3. The middle finger emoji on the new IOS9 update. I can’t even stand it. I use it frequently and with the giddy delight of a pre-teen giving someone the actual finger.
  4. That I was able to hold back and not say what I wanted to say to the young woman at Dunks by my work. Never looking up from her phone, she ordered her large ice coffee with 5 creams and 7 sugars, walked out of the store to get into her car, which was parked in the only handicapped parking space without a handicapped plate or placard hanging from the rearview mirror. Believe me, I understand invisible disabilities (hello MS?) but that was not the case. I watched her drive out of the spot and out of the parking lot, with her phone still in her face. I don’t believe she looked up from her phone long enough to notice the handicapped sign. In case she knows who she is (off 128 in Stoneham) shame on you. Anyway, I was going to say something else that ended in you but I refrained so, ya, I’m thankful for that.
  5. That Jay J was able to enjoy and experience a wonderful trip backpacking Europe. And that he was home safe and sound before last week’s events occurred.
  6. Ex’s. Mine and his. We have a strange network. We have very unusual circumstances in both of our families and our children. I am thankful that we are all in a place that when we need to AC and I and OC/SC mom can all band together to support the girls. And when my three (though let’s be honest, we really mean JoDee) needs it, AC and I and Ex Numero Uno and his wife can come together to support each other and the kids. We have all come a long way and grown as adults and families. #Weirdbutworks
  7. Friends. Mine, of course, but in this particular instance JoDee’s. I’m not always sure that JoDee realizes how nasty she is when she is caught up. I don’t know that if we told her she would truly believe that it was as bad as we say. And she isolates and finds herself shutting off and shutting up all the people that care about her. As her family, we sort of have to take it on a different level than others. I am thankful for her strong network of people that care for her and help and welcome her when she comes back.
  8. Chopped and The Big Bang Theory. The two things I can watch hours of without remembering how life is shitty, in that particular moment. Thank you Food Network and Major Network Channel that I can’t remember at the moment. #Theydomeasolid
  9. I can wear jeans to work on Fridays. No further explanation is necessary, I’m sure.
  10. Please. You all know what is coming next….. come on. Baby Kitty and Mommy Blu (that I shouldn’t call Mommy because Blu is a boy and my kids all make fun of me when I call him in a high pitched voice “mommy Blu, come see me Mommy Blu”) My two fav’s. The only two that rarely get in trouble. Even when I hear them rummaging in something in the middle of the night so I get out of bed to go look and they have opened the cabinet with the cat food and are both ass-in-the-air, heads-deep-in-the-bag having a midnight snack. Even when Blu brings me baby mice that he lovingly leaves at my feet. And they are dead. Most of the time. Even when Diego decides the best place to sleep is on top of the book I am reading. Even then… I am so thankful for them.It goes without saying g(then why am I saying it?) that I am thankful every day, not just at thanksgiving, for our family, our health, our wealth (even the lack there of) and our lives. Addiction has made me all too aware of how bad things can be. I’m glad that we had only 2 relapse so far this year, that is half as many as last year. I am glad that I have seen she can do it, she managed 7, almost 8 months, of clean time. It’s encouraging that she realizes how toxic a situation she was in, and that she needs to change her behavior.

The Pine St Inn

One would think we would come back from vacation refreshed and relaxed, ready to battle life in our rejuvenated state. Wrong. The last few years Fall has been a turbulent time. Fall in our family has usually been taken literally. As in we fall apart. Several years ago it was a beautiful, crisp, Fall morning in New England when I found out my daughter was a heroin addict. The following Fall she relapsed to the point of nearly killing herself multiple times. Last year she relapsed again in late August. So, I came back from vacation sort of bracing myself. I had decided that this Fall would be no different from all the other Falls save for the fact that I would anticipate it, prepare myself, and not be shocked. I was not wrong. But, per usual, I wasn’t right either.

I wasn’t wrong because we have been out straight crazy since the minute the plane landed in Boston. As soon as I came home I went immediately into the month end from hell in accounting land. Back to school, always a fun time and general post-vacation chaos ensued. To add to that, my very favorite kitty got out late one night… I won’t point the finger of blame on anyone but a certain Colombian I know and his father were out in the garage very late and left a door open, but that’s none of my business. All I know is by the time I woke up at 6 my poor cat was frantic to get in the house and when AC grabbed him, he bite him. Badly. Which I can’t say I blame him, because if I was Diego and was left outside for three or four hours  by a Colombian who left the window open, I would bite him too. But that’s none of my business either. Needless to say, AC ended up with a bad infection and a doctor visit. That was day one post-vacation.

Day two post-vacation started innocuously enough. I made it to work at a reasonable time. My boss was in that day, and we share an office. We were both working as good employees should when I received a text notification from Verizon stating one of my phone lines just called 911. A moment later, another text came through that had JoDee’s number calling 911. I tried to call her phone immediately, it went to voicemail. I thought someone’s dead. I tried her number again, immediately went to voicemail. Interesting fact I did not know, if you call 911 your call waiting won’t work on a cell phone. It blocks the line. Who knew? I didn’t. I stood up and frantically started searching for my car keys. I got a new car with that damn keyless entry FOB which I lose daily. My phone jumped to life in my hand and the caller ID let me know it was a call from JayPay phone. For those few seconds it took for me to press answer, put the phone to my ear, and say hello, I basically buried JoDee. I instantly thought she overdosed. He is calling to tell me he called 911. I was surprised to hear the panicked crying of JoDee on the other end. Sobbing. Yelling. Scared to death.

Thankfully, no one was dead. And no one was relapsing (that I am aware of and if someone knows something different, keep it to yourself. No one likes a tattle- tale). Unfortunately, however, there was something awful happening. JoDee and JayPay had walked into their apartment at the precise time that it was being robbed. I can’t imagine how terrifying that must have been. I can’t imagine how violating that must feel. To have your belongs rifled through, touched, and stolen by a stranger. It makes me sick just thinking about it. And, if that isn’t bad enough, he was armed with a gun. How the hell does that happen? I mean, they aren’t living in Beirut for god sakes. It was unnerving for me, so I can imagine how shook up they were. They had a lot stolen and it’s hard to recover from that. And I said I would be willing to help them anyway I could. Famous. Last. Words.

JoDee hasn’t lived at home for a year. A year ago she relapsed, went to detox, and then an after program. At the after program she got kicked out for testing positive for Suboxone, which she was not prescribed. She was home exactly one night. By the next day she had a bed in a half-way house. She begged me not to make her go. She was ready to be clean, she would do the right thing. Pleading with me not to make her leave. She just wanted to be home. Of course, as a mother that was really hard to hear. It also totally pissed me off because she was clean. She was doing the right thing. Until she wasn’t anymore. Once someone lies to you once, you always question if they are telling the truth. And, really, an addict is telling the truth in the heat of the moment. But when the dust settles, and the cravings start taking over it won’t take much to break the promise. Again. And again. It’s endless. So I drove her to that half-way house, I helped her in with her bags. She had a momentary panic attack searching for her meds, and then we said good-byes. And I drove home, alone, thinking about how we had ended up back at this place again. I vowed she was never coming home. I knew that being home was a trigger for her. Not because living at home is so horrible, or that anyone at home is using, but because it was easy for her to get away with more. I would enable her. I would make it easy for her to come and go as she pleased and my house would be a pit stop to sleep it off or start the search for the next bag.

It took me a long time to be able to understand the difference between parenting an addict and parenting a normal. A normal needs are totally different from that of a child-addict. The things that would come instinctual for me, are the opposite of what I should do. I know that I can’t let her be comfortable, or help too much. There are different lines and different boundaries. Not just for her but for me too. She was never coming home. I had decided that. Under no circumstance was she coming home to live. It would be no good for anyone. People around me often don’t understand that. When I say I can’t let my child come home I am seen as cold or uncaring and that’s ok. AC didn’t get it. He kept telling me she was best home with her family but I wouldn’t budge. When she got kicked out of that program, same thing. I stood my ground, AC thought I was nuts. Fast-forward a year, a sober-house and an apartment with her boyfriend, later and she is back home. JoDee didn’t feel safe, I said come home. I meant for a night. A few if you need more time. She came with whatever stuff they had left, filled my car a couple of times and bam….my garage is their storage unit and they are sleeping on a mattress in the living room. All things considered it has gone reasonably well. A little squabbling between siblings, a few times JoDee and I laughed so hard JayPay couldn’t stand us, but overall, livable. I don’t imagine that they will want to do this for a long period of time. I don’t imagine that we wouldn’t all kill each other, eventually. But for now, it works. And the moral to this story is…. Never say never.

The Telephone Pole

The rocking chair squeaks against the old hard-wood floor as it rocks back and forth. I was contemplating getting up, but I love that rocking chair. It’s soothing to babies, and soothing to adults. It feels like a place where nothing will change, time will freeze, and baby kitty sleeps in my lap. I keep rocking, as I look out the window. The Japanese cherry blossom tree on the front yard only partially bloomed. It has been dying for years, but when it does bloom it is so beautiful, I can’t stand the thought of cutting it down. This year it bloomed over most of the tree but the flowers only lasted a day. Instead of the two weeks we are usually afforded. I still can’t remove it. I shift my weight, a fleeting thought of standing up is running through my head, but baby kitty stretches his front paws as though to say do it and your dead. As I settle back in the chair, begin rocking again, I see the end of the driveway. Our driveway has seen many cars, and many faces, and many feet in the last few years. That driveway has stood the test of snow, rain, blazing sun. It has oil stains, tire marks, and paint splatter. Beyond the driveway, away from the house, is a fence. And a sidewalk. Next to the sidewalk, off to the side so not to block the path of a person using it, a telephone pole. That telephone pole is what has my attention.


I remember the day like it was yesterday. Or today. It was hot for September that year. Even in the evening. It wasn’t cooling down like it normal would in New England. There was no bite of cool breeze. It was as though the universe was expelling my anger in the form of unseasonal heat. But I didn’t even notice it. Another day had been spent working (or trying at least) after spending an exhausting amount of time finding someone to stay with JoDee since I couldn’t leave her alone. I had picked her up from the place she was being “drug-sat” and was making dinner while she was sitting on the couch, playing with her brothers Ipod. I was sick. I was so desperate. I was so naïve in those days. I had no idea the wrath that was to come from her drug addiction. I wavered between crying and wanting to punch the face off anyone who came within arm’s length of me. I don’t remember what I was making for dinner, I don’t remember even eating back then, but I do remember AC coming in from work and immediately telling me she shouldn’t be using Jared’s Ipod. I told him that she was playing games, to give her some space, for god sakes. He said that girl can get on the internet with a microwave if it meant getting drugs. He was right.


I walked in the living room and knew from the look on her face, it was bad. We sat down on the couch with her, him on one side and me on the other. She knew she was screwed. I took the Ipod from her hand, and saw the thread of inbox messages between her and him. Bring me drugs. No. Yes. Your mother will see me. I don’t care, I can’t take it, I’m so sick (she was), I’m dying (she wasn’t). You will feel better soon. No I won’t. Later in the thread he agreed to drop of heroin, an arm band and a needle with a lighter near the telephone pole. As soon as I read it, I ran down the driveway, around the maple tree with the roots sticking out of the ground in the corner. I saw him. He saw me. He ran. I ran after him. Seconds are seconds. They go by in an instant but sometimes seconds are minutes, or hours, or years. Those few seconds had some much packed into them. Do I chase him? And if catch him, then what? Beat him up? Call the police? Call the police! I stopped in my tracks. He ran to his car, peeled out and took off. I walked in the house, telling AC and JoDee nothing was there. He must have not dropped it. I text message AC that there was a cigarette box by the pole that I watched him put there. I wanted AC to check it. He casual walked out of the house, and retrieved the box. It was a Newport Cigarette box. I watched him throw it by the telephone pole. I watched him deliver a box with a tiny baggy filled with brown powdery substance, a needle with an orange cap, a spoon that looked like something that was from the 1800’s and went a couple of rounds with the garbage disposal, with a small blue bic lighter. We didn’t want to take anything out of the box because thought they might finger print it (clearly we have seen one too many episodes of CSI or any number of shows on Investigation Discovery!) so we left everything in the box and delivered it to the police station.


Eventually he was picked up for distribution. I did not know that it was illegal to distribute drugs if you weren’t selling them. I didn’t even think they would arrest him, I thought it would just put him on the radar. I can’t say I wasn’t thrilled. I was. I was elated that he was arrested. I was celebrating it as a huge success. Score one for us. The realization that I would eventually have to tell JoDee that I had him arrested was sort of secondary at the time. I had brought Jared’s Ipod to the police station so they could take pictures of all the messages between them. She had no idea. She didn’t know for days. It took me a while to even tell her. It was a huge struggle. I didn’t want to tell her. I didn’t want her to know he was in jail because I was concerned that she would get angry and run away. Though, I’m not sure where she wouldn’t go since I had her only drug ally arrested. AC thought we should tell he because she was going to keep trying to reach out to him. He thought we should tell her that we mean business and we would have her locked up too, which I would have. Eventually, after we had come home from a meeting where I listen to the speaker talk about honesty and being honest with yourself and your family, I decided I had to tell her. And, to her credit, she took it much better than I thought she would. Undoubtedly she was angry. She was nervous that he would think she set him up. I told her that I made it perfectly clear that I wanted to police to tell him I was responsible for locking him up. I told them I would testify if I had too, which I didn’t, I just had to write an affidavit. After a few minutes, she was quiet. And still. I was afraid to even ask what she was thinking. She must have read my mind, because she said she was glad he was in jail. That maybe in jail he would get the help he needed. And knowing he was locked up, maybe she could get the help she needed.

It would be really nice if that was the end of the story. But we all know jail didn’t fix him, and her being away from him didn’t fix her. A few weeks after that incident JoDee relapsed again, and then she went to rehab that she would subsequently run from a few weeks after that. So much has happened in the years since that event. I have called the police on that particular person no less than 3 more times. JoDee is still an addict and he is too. I have no idea if he is in active addiction or not (I think he is in jail again). Occasionally, on days like this, I stare out the window, at that telephone pole, and think of all the things I thought would be compared to what actually was. It reminds me that addiction is a process for all involved. Not just the addict. This was a process for me. For me to realize that I have to stand certain grounds even though I think it will kill me. I have learned that I cannot anticipate the next “thing”, the next incident. I have no control over JoDee’s addiction, but I also have no control over anyone but myself. I have learned that parenting an adult is harder than parenting a child. And I have learned that responsibility is necessary for every single person to be truly self-accepting. When a person does not have to take responsibility for their actions, actions become decisions, decisions become choices, choices become habits and habits are hard to break.


As I sit in that rocking chair, listening to baby kitty purr in my lap, I remind myself that I am lucky. That my child has survived so far, even if has been painful and ugly. We are still lucky. Maybe that baggie of heroin was laced with something. Maybe that would have been the time she died. I will never know, but I think about it every time I look at that telephone pole. Kitty #2 is whining to come in and as AC opens the door he asks if I am ok. I tell him I’m fine. He says you look like you’re in outer space. He asks what I am thinking about. I open my mouth to say something, but nothing comes out. How do you vocalize all those thoughts, how do you explain that addiction might have made you a better parent. That addiction has changed our lives forever, but I feel grateful anyway. That the pole in our yard, strong and resilient, is symbolic of addiction in our family. Instead I say nothing. Somethings are just better left unsaid.

The Chronicles of Facebook

The Chronicles of Facebook

I am not a huge Facebook poster. Inasmuch as I don’t post “At the grocery store” or “Taking a shower”. I just don’t think anyone particularly cares enough about my life to know those things. More importantly I don’t care enough about my life to post those things. However, I was on a conference call the other day, and it really didn’t pertain to me, so I started scrolling through my Facebook page on my phone. Holy hell the things I found. It was interesting because I could tell how things were good, and then not so good, and then terrible, and then ok. But I also saw some old pictures which really brought me back in time. So that got me thinking about what this family has been through. And here are some picture to reflect on:

This is how it all starts, as innocent, beautiful children:

Baby JoDee

After several years, she became this:


Somehow I missed that she was becoming this:


Notice that this picture was taken in August (I found out the next month she is an addict addicted to heroin) and she is pale. Now when I look at this picture, I get it. She was clearly using. It makes me so angry that I didn’t notice it. How I missed it is so beyond me. It is crazy.

But, that led to the first of many detoxes and the first time I tossed her room. This was her on the day she completed her first detox:

1 Detox

I can see in her eyes she wasn’t ready. She had no intention of staying clean, not because of lack of desire, but because the drugs had already taken over. I can see in her face. She was fighting with herself before she even stepped foot out of that program.

But we didn’t know that yet, so there was lots of this:


We all sort of took turns baby-sitting her for a while, which is useless and dumb because you can’t drug-sit an addict out of addiction, even if you try and spend a lot of money doing it. Eventually, we had several relapses landing her in rehab. A great rehab program in Phoenix, AZ was willing to take her, so I flew out with her, dropped her off and waited for the miracle to happen. Instead she ran. On the run, using 2000 miles away from home was the epitome of torture. While that was happening, we got this:

Baby Kitty

Baby Kitty, aka, Diego, aka, my love. He is bigger than this now, but still has the exact same cute-pie face. How can you not love that face? (I know as my dad is reading this he is telling my step- mother that I should make Cat-Soup with that thing. Be nice Dad).

Eventually JoDee turned up from Arizona, a hot mess, detoxing, nasty, anxious, and ready to start anew. In that year we had lots of ups and downs. Things were moving along like this:

Girls Christmas

And some days were more like this:


Sometime around August JoDee had another relapse which resulted in her going to detox, a step-down unit and then to a half-way house. This was her right before I learned she was relapsing, how (again!) I didn’t see it, I’m not sure because she certainly looks cracked-out to me when I look at these pictures now:

Relapse Aug

Actually, we both do, come to think of it. I, on the other hand, was not cracked-out. I was simply sinking back into denial. I place I frequent regularly. JoDee got booted like a football from the half-way house for not following the rules (shocker!) so she ended up the sober house she is staying at now. She really derailed at Christmas which is really hard to believe given that she looked pretty good.
Thanksgiving part 2 Thanksgiving A Year Later   Duck face is better than Drug Face   Christmas Christmas 2 Christams 3

She was sectioned, completed that program, and is back at her sober house, doing well. I hope this is last time I say she relapsed, I hope these blogs can focus on recovery and helping others that are where we were, but only time will tell. JoDee is about to hit her 60 day mark. That’s fantastic. And, not but, and, we have seen that before. Good news is this time I think she really has been clean for 60 days, were as the other times, I’m not sure we could call her squeaky clean. I used to go with her to see her get her milestone key tag at a meeting but I have seen 30, 60 and 90 days. I won’t go this time until it’s 6 months. If all goes well, and I hope to Christ on a Cross that it does, she should be celebrating her 6 months right around the same time Jay J graduates, in June. The next few months are going to be tough for our family, not just because we deal with addiction every day, but we have some other tough stuff that is approaching. I don’t want JoDee to sweat about it, she has enough to deal with, and I believe this will a blip on our radar. Our family has been through hell and back with the scars to prove it; I believe we will come through these next 6 months stronger, clean, and ready to celebrate a lot of success in June. Even if it means I have a new hair cut!  And then these two faces:

AC and Me

will be able to enjoy taking the whole crew to Aruba in August to celebrate my milestone…. Let’s don’t talk about the birth day. I’m not ready to say I will be…..40!

How I Met Your Cat?

Actually it’s my cat. But he wasn’t always my cat. And in fact, he is not my cat, he is my baby, my precious, the only one in the house who is allowed to wake my whenever he wants, scratch me until I bleed, demand to be fed and sleep in my space leaving me a quarter of the space needed for appropriate sleeping. The ironic thing about this is, I hate cats. Or I did. I used too. I have changed. In the past few years many things have changed, and this is one of the things that is at the top of the “Recently Changed List”. Let me expand.

As my dear, dear friends Lynnie and EJ will tell you, I always said a good cat is a dead cat. Now, before you judge or unfriend or un-blog me, let me finish. I promise it will end with repentance. It is not that I actually wanted to kill cats, or truly wanted all cats expunged from the earth. That is not at all true. I just never had cats and I was always allergic to them. They made my eyes water, nose run, sneeze and sneeze and sneeze. My ex-husband had some really good friends (I’m assuming they are still good friends, just with him, not me) that had cats or a cat. And said cat loved sleeping with their daughter. When JoDee would come home from their house, I would have to wash her pillow and blanket right away or I would suffer miserably. So I sort of felt like they torture me, I should torture them back, but in a verbal way, not actually torture them. No cats have ever been harmed in the name of my cat dislike. I promise.

Anyway, I have lived my whole life believing that I never wanted to be in the presence of cat. Ever. And nothing really ever changed to make me think differently. I have a dog. I have watched other dogs. When AC ex-wife got sick, I let his girls bring their dog (which has since passed away, no fault of mine either but still super sad) here for two weeks while she was in the hospital. I said hell to the no about their cats. I was not budging. Those cats were not coming to my house. No way, no how, fah-get- it yo. And I had no guilt about that. Then said cats got preggers. And then said cats had 4 kittens. And the kittens were cute. I saw them a couple of times when we were dropping off the girls. Yup. Cute. Cute in the way of knowing that you can hold them, cuddle a little bit, and give them back. Just like babies either before you want any or after yours are all grown. And then there was JoDee. Every ridiculous decision I have made as of late has been the result of something relative to JoDee.

JoDee was just really trying to get clean. And by really trying, I mean vocalizing it but not really following through. She was about to head off to Arizona for her first real attempt at rehab. This was when I was in the begging, bargaining and pleading stage. You know, if you stay clean I will buy you a small Caribbean island. I’m sure many can relate. So, JoDee wanted a stupid kitten. And I did not, but I said ok, if you stay clean we will take the kitten. I flew out with her in October, my aunt and uncle live in the area so they picked us up at the airport and dropped her off. About 4 weeks later, the kitten was ready to leave his mother. JoDee was at rehab, doing well, and I made a promise, so I did what I said I would, and took the damn kitten. That was a Friday. Saturday morning I got the phone call that JoDee was on the run in Arizona, smoking crystal meth. Awesome. Now I have a kitten, I didn’t want and know nothing about. I did not know jack-shit about kittens, cats or how to introduce kittens to a dog. The dog was terrified of the 2lb kitten and he is 130lbs. I was not happy. I wasn’t sleeping and when I tried to sleep the cat would jump on the bed and knead my blanket purring so loud he sounded like a boat engine. I felt like I was being motor boated by a kitten, talk about really screwing with your mind!

I spent those weeks JoDee was running amuck with no mercy to her family, sending her Facebook messages and picture of the cat, trying desperately, pathetically to leverage the stinkin’ cat as bribery to come home. I mean, I have read it in all the psych books, the getting of a new kitten always shakes addicts out of addiction. Duh!!! Even as I think about it, I am horrified at my stupidity. Reality frequently would shake its judging head reminding me a kitten will not fix this. Under any circumstances. But Denial and I were BFF’s then so I let Denial convince me that it might work. The idea of seeing beautiful Mr. Diego might make JoDee see the error of her ways and run home to my open arms swearing off drugs for life and becoming a world-famous doctor and lawyer while being a Noble Peace Prize Winner. She would of course, win the Noble Peace Prize for finding the cure for addiction. CATS!!!! Oy vey. The dumbeth run deepeth. If you have been reading this blog, even a little bit, you know that is not at all what happens. But, when JoDee did finally come home, many, many weeks later, she walked through the door, still wearing I don’t even know what because I had never seen those clothes before and they should have been burned they were so nasty, crashed on the couch, and the baby kitty, crawled up on her pillow, nuzzled her face, and fell asleep with her. It was the most precious site. She was sound asleep and the kitty crawled under the covers with her, keeping her safe.

The ironic part was how Diego and I become best buds. I did not want that cat in my house. I was dreading it. I was nasty about it. I kept telling the girls to keep “that thing away from me”. In my feeble, closed mind (hopefully the only time in my life I will refer to myself that way! I am anything but closed-minded normally!), the cat was the devil incarnate and I didn’t want him anywhere near me. The girls, who love cats and all things feline more than most humans, were worried about me hating the cat. They were worried Bud, my dog, would try to eat the cat and I wouldn’t do anything or would care. And they were sort of hoping I would send them packing with the cat so they didn’t have to watch me glaring at the cat with disdain. Until, one night. It was 2 in the morning. I was sleepless, depressed, worried and agitated. I got out of bed to watch TV in the living room where I wouldn’t bother anyone. I sat on the couch and suddenly this tiny ball of fur and claws jumped out of nowhere onto my shoulder, scaring the every lovin’ shit out of me. I yelled. He yelled. We both stared at each other, and then he did THE thing. The thing that made me love him. He licked my nose. It was the cutest little tongue, with crappy sandpaper feel, but it was so innocent and so cute. It made me think of all my kids as babies, and how much of a pain in the ass they were, but so adorable, you want to squeeze them. I sat back and baby kitty crawled onto my chest, licked my chin, started purring and feel asleep. I was hooked.

What I really love about my baby kitty is he hates everyone else. He bites, scratches, attacks and ignores everyone. But me. If I walk in the door, he runs to greet me. If I have to use the bathroom, he has to follow me in. At night he sleeps on my side, usually spread eagle on his back. I’m the only one allowed to let him scratch his back or his belly. I am the only one he seeks out to lay with during the day. If I work from home he is on my papers or on my laptop or stealing my ruler or pen. In the end, it is true love. That cat is allowed to do whatever he wants. For some reason, he has a particular hatred for Jared. He lunges for him, he swats him, scratches him and then runs from him. He is allowed. He bites SC on the nose and face. He is allowed. He scratches OC and bites her hands. He is allowed. He scratches at the basement door when he is ready to come up, even if it is the middle of the night, he is allowed. He cries when he is hungry, even if it is at 4 in the morning but he is allowed. He is allowed to do anything he wants. Always. No matter what. He wants your eye-ball? Give it to him. He wants your first-born? Hand it over. He wants to crawl up and sleep on your face? Don’t even think about moving him off! He. Is. Allowed. He is allowed because I was wrong. Cats are wonderful and lovable and beautiful. I love my cat. Maybe I’m not a cat person, maybe I’m just a Diego person, but I will be forever changed as far as my opinions on cats, for the better.