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?

image                                                                                image

 

Advertisements

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.

Banana Bread Lessons

The apartment was shaped like an L. Walking in the front door dropped you into the living room which led down a long hallway, several doors on the left were bedrooms and a bathroom. At the very end of the hall was the kitchen. The kitchen spread out to the left, creating the L shape. Back in those days, I thought I was a bad-ass cook but I really didn’t know anything. On this particular day, I was making bread. Banana bread to be exact. From a box. I think it was the first and last time I ever tried making a boxed bread. JoDee was just shy of a year old then. She had started walking so early, it was cute to see her too tiny legs wobble up and down that long hallway; a toddlers dream being able to run up and down that hallway with no remorse.

The oven was so old. It was in the crappy apartment long before Ex Numero Uno and I had moved in. In fact, I’m pretty sure that oven had been in that apartment long before the change of the century, two centuries back. At the time, I was working second shift at a hotel, and Daddy-O had recently been laid off, so we were both home during the day. On the day I was making the bread, he was in the living room and I was in the kitchen. JoDee just kept running like a drunken soldier back and forth between to the two rooms gaining speed in the hallway with a delightful squeal. As she would round the corner to the kitchen, I could only see the tops of her wispy blonde hair, before she would come into sight. It was so cute. Now, when I am lying in bed and I can only see the cats’ tail in the air as he walks around the bed, it reminds me of that wispy blonde hair.

Banana Bread from a box takes forever to cook, normally. That it was cooking particularly fast, or burning particularly fast, should have been an indication to me that something was wrong. I kept checking the dial, making sure the temperature was accurate, which it was, but the stove seemed awfully hot. A good mother would have realized the outside of the stove was probably hot too. A good mother would have told Daddy-O to keep the kid in the living room because something was up with the stove. A good mother might have been concerned with something other than the freaking boxed banana bread burning. But apparently JoDee does not have a good mother, because none of that crossed my mind until I heard the scream. A scream so loud, I dropped and shattered the glass bowl I was cleaning out in the sink. I only caught a quick glimpse of JoDee with her hands on the outside front of the oven door, and she threw her hands in the air waving them back and forth. It would have been funny if it weren’t for the knee-weakening, ear piercing scream coming from her tiny mouth. Instinctively I knew she was burned. Badly. I put the cold water on and stuck her hands underneath them. I yeld for The Big Man, but he was already running down the hall. We quickly decided we needed to go to the emergency room; there was blisters forming quickly.

We went to the ER, where I encountered my first ER visit with a baby and the prejudices that come with it. The ER staff treated me like I beat my kid, not that I can blame them. We were poor, nineteen year old parents, with a little girl who burned her hands. I was horrified, so I called my grandparents and let’s be clear, my grandfather gave those assholes the business! And that part is not really relevant. The relevant part is that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Age and experience in any situation is a base line for the next situation. Age and experience is what guides most of us through life. We learn new things as we age and we are enlightened to new ways to handle any situation after each experience. I definitely learned several things during that episode. Some lessons I didn’t even know I learned until twenty years later.

First of all, I learned that mother instinct is not as natural as people think. I should have thought about my daughter burning herself when I realized that the oven wasn’t working right. I learned that if you are young people with try to take advantage of you, i.e., the apartment manager basically told me that I wasn’t using the stove correctly. I realize I was young and inexperienced in the kitchen, but I wasn’t a complete jackass. This was in response to my request for him to remove the devil-be-gone stove as well as pay for JoDee’s medical bills since we didn’t have insurance (these were pre-everyone was must have insurance days). In the end, he tried desperate to bully me, to which he almost succeeded, and my grandfather telling me to get a lawyer. I did, he contacted the property manager, the bills were paid and I got a new stove. I should have sued but I was too young to know better and I was riddled with guilt for her injuries (which by the by, were not as bad as they could have been and she was all healed within a few weeks) so I was just happy to have the whole event behind me. There are many times since that event that I have reacted a certain way, or let something go (or not) simply because I wanted to put the whole thing behind me. That is a dangerous game. It’s called suppression. Avoidance. Ignorance. Sometimes Laziness.

I also learned that distance is clarity. I was not even aware that the ER staff were treating me differently due to age and appearance. I was way too wrapped up in JoDee’s injury that I just thought this was how people were treated in the ER. It wasn’t until my grandfather gave them all the verbal round house that I became aware of the prejudice to me and my little family. In more recent years, I have been on the other end of that spectrum. Many a night we have arrived at the ER with JoDee looking disheveled and unkempt. I am certain she is never aware of the dirty looks, the sideways glances or that she has waited a little too long for attention. I remember being a little embarrassed by my grandfather’s yelling but now I have appreciation for it. I have wondered what he would think of the situation our JoDee has gotten us into now. I can’t imagine he would be thrilled with some of JoDee’s choices, but I know he would be understanding of her addiction. He would have very little patience for those who judge a junkie before educating themselves on their struggle. And it sucks being on this side. It sucks knowing that the mere fact that my child exists, as an addict, makes others feel better about themselves. People who thrive on the pain of others can feel a little bit better about their own station in life because they aren’t a druggie, a loser, pathetic, homeless, stinky, or infected. It’s a terrible feeling knowing that people can look at my child and think at least their life isn’t “that” bad.

I cannot fight the entire world, though at times, like today, I would like too. I would love to walk out my front door and just give flying throat kicks to anyone with a smile. There are days that the happiness of others pushes me to the brink of mass violence. Luckily, I have medication, responsibility and the enjoyment of my freedom (and my cat!) to keep me from doing something I might never regret but really shouldn’t do anyway. At any rate, I cannot rid the world of asshole-ism. Or alcoholism or drug abuse-ism. So I guess the moral of this story is……. Don’t make boxed banana bread.

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:

Before

Somehow I missed that she was becoming this:

Wow

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:

Cousins

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:

Yup

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!

The Second of Two Things

So the second of two things, as promised, is sort of incidental. It isn’t something that happen to me as much as something that came to light. I know I talk about them, but like, I have two other natural children. I have two other step-ish children. I have a boyfriend (I hate that term with all my guts. I am 39 freaking years old, do I really have to say boyfriend? I could say partner or significant other but I think that implies that my boyfriend is a girlfriend, which I wouldn’t mind, either way, but he might. Not because he has an issue with same-sex relationships, because he does not at all and often tells me I would be happier in a same-sex relationship also probably true, but more that I think he is pretty secure in his male-assigned-at-birth gender and would like to continue to be recognized as such. Wow…totally off track). I have a job. I have stuff. And I used to have a life. I mean, yes I live and breathe every single day. But I don’t DO anything. I work. I clean, occasionally. I cook, even less frequently. I pet my baby kitty. I sleep, even less than less frequently. And then do it all over again. Below is the list of things I used to do:

  1. Talk on the phone.
  2. Have dinner with friends.
  3. Read a book or two.
  4. Discuss politics and world events.
  5. Jog.
  6. Play the piano.
  7. Feed the homeless.
  8. Walk the dog.

Ok, some of that might be a lie. (Maybe 6 and 7. And 4 to the extent that most politicians irritate me so I am only discussing how disgusted I am with the world at large so that sort of counts). Below is a list of things I have done THIS WEEK:

  1. Grocery shopped
  2. Tell OC and SC to stop fighting and beating each other up.
  3. Watched marathon episodes of Chopped and Worse Cooks in America.
  4. Emptied the dishwasher.
  5. Pet Baby Kitty.
  6. Took in a new cat from Ex-husband #1’s wife.
  7. Pet new kitty
  8. Made Jay J lunch for school on the days he actually had it
  9. Wrote this blog post

These are all things outside of the normal shower, go to work, eat, and sleep. Or not sleep. My big event last weekend, was taking 3 out of the 5 kids to BJ’s. The girls of course. And the highlight of this trip were two things that happened: A) we lost AC father because he is really short and likes to wander. And B) OC nailed AC with the carriage in the heel which caused him to yell, swear and say something not-so-nice in Spanish which SC and I found absolutely knee-slapping hilarious. Especially when the guy at the counter said to AC “How’d that feel buddy?” Priceless. And pathetic. Really? That was big day out? BJ’s? How did I come to the epiphany that my life has been sucked into a ludicrous cycle of nothingness? It all started with a phone call. On the same Friday of the florist shop incident, AC brother called him. And the spoke on the phone for over an hour. Pretty innocuous one might think. However, since being wrapped up in addiction, I have all but stopped talking on the phone. To anyone, really. Why? Because I am sick of talking about JoDee, her addiction, what it cost me in terms of money and emotion and how it affects our family. There is plainly nothing else I talk about. I talk about the radial effects of addiction all the time. It couldn’t be any truer here than anywhere else. The reason is I have lost the ability to communicate or hold any lasting conversation without it somehow coming back to this. Sometimes it’s because people care about JoDee, and I know a personal character flaw of my own is to crawl within. When I am in crisis, I don’t reach out, I don’t over react, I don’t yell or scream or cry, and I say nothing. I do nothing. I am usually having at least 4 conversations in my head between Reality, Denial, Anger and Despair that I can’t speak out loud. I certainly, at least at the beginning anyway, didn’t want anyone to know what was going on with us. So withdrawing was self-preservation. If I didn’t call Lorrey or Danna or Steen or Erica or Lynne or Pammie to tell them, then I wouldn’t have to be embarrassed for JoDee or for myself. Addict’s behaviors are embarrassing. I won’t tell anyone that isn’t true, what I am not embarrassed by is JoDee’s addiction. It took me a while to get to the point where I understood that this is not a black mark on our family, and it was wiser to let it out in the open.

It was so much easier for JoDee to get away with being a heroin addict when no one knew. She could ask for money or make up stories. She could not have to face what she was doing to herself, so I don’t regret at all being so open about it. It doesn’t stop Despair, however. Despair is sort of unwanted house guest. Like a rat living in the garage or a squirrel you can’t get out of your addict. Despair is always watching and slowly slinks in. I thought I was done with Despair. I had fought Despair off and won but the truth is, Despair never goes away. It might go into hiding, but its evil presence is lurking around the corner, waiting for the right moment to strike. It’s depressing watching your child struggle with any illness. There are illnesses that generate more sympathy, something I don’t fully understand yet, but overall, any parent can understand how difficult it is. I hate that JoDee can’t live at home. I hate that she isn’t at school. I hate that this is part of the rest of her life. Forever and ever and ever and ever. It sucks. Right now, 10 days of freedom and she is doing well. But tomorrow could be day 1 all over again. How does one really recover from that sort of trauma? To me, it is traumatic. I am still shell-shocked from the very first time she was over dosing, and that was years ago. JoDee being an addict has become part of my everyday life and that alone, by itself, is enough to keep Despair a household guest.

That is a really long Segway into the second of two things. AC was laughing and talking on his brother, and walking around, and generally happy. I hated him for that. If I could have removed one of his arms and beat him to death with it, I might have. Since that would require energy and in my state of mind, I am to lethargic to do that, I simply locked him out of our bedroom. Admittedly, I got a lot of pleasure from hearing him bang on the door while I fiend sleep. This, of course, generated a wee bit of an argument which spanned several days and ended with me doing something nasty and crazy but those details aren’t important. When I calmed down, I had to reflect on why I got so angry. And I wasn’t angry. I was jealous. He loves JoDee, and he has been right there with me most of the time she has been a mess, but he has two beautiful, healthy daughters. And he has his brother, and other things to look forward too. That doesn’t mean that I don’t. Because I do. I have his daughters, and my sons and let us not forget my precious baby kitty! And now, we have another cat. Blue. But I don’t take advantage of any of those things. I allow myself to justify doing nothing in the name of addiction. I can’t do the laundry today, my daughter is an addict. I can’t make plans for dinner, my daughter is an addict. The copier is out of paper? No fair- my daughter is an addict. The madness has to stop.

I don’t want to be jealous because my beau ( eh, better but not ideal) has a life and I don’t. It’s not fair to him and it’s not fair to me. I mean, over all it isn’t fair that my daughter is an addict, but that wouldn’t be fair to anyone. I really need to shake the winter blues, the pity party I am having for myself, and get a freaking life. I think I will start by having my hair colored instead of painstakingly drawing on my gray hairs with a brown sharpie each morning. Then I will have my nails done since I think Regan was in office the last time I had them done. Next week, after I see how many more ridiculous feet of snow we are getting, I think I will make a plan to see my some friend- Lynnie, I’m talking about you and your new hip! Small steps, but the first step is the hardest to take.

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.