Life of Life

Well. Shit. Things just never go the way we plan, do they? I know in my life NOTHING goes as planned. I haven’t really added much the last few weeks but I had very little to offer in the way of encouragement or discouragement. I don’t have much to add. Period. We have entered a part of addiction I hoped we would never know. JoDee is living in purgatory; not really dead and not really living either. She calls once in a while, touches base sometimes and sometimes I go days even a week without talking to her. How do I live this way? Well, what choice do I have? I never was asked if I wanted to be dragged into the world of addiction so I certainly don’t think my opinion is wanted now. I mean, really no one has much say on the major events of their life. The most tragic things that happen are usually not planned. So, you know, things are what they are. It doesn’t mean that life doesn’t go on because sadly it does. Here is an example of some of the things that have been going on here:

  1. Our oil tank burst causing an environemental disaster in and around the foundation of our house. Now, if anyone has been paying attention, I didn’t want to move to begin with. I had it in my head that JoDee would eventually rejoin life and we would all move happily together, to a new home that would home filled with peace and no issues and we would all sing kombaya together while braiding each others hair. Basically, we would all drink the kool-aid. And no, that did not happen. We have had one issue after another with this house. The house that EVERYONE loves. But me. AC, he who is as superstitious as me, says that all this bad stuff happens because I put it in the universe every time I say I hate the house. Now the Department of Environmental Protection is my new best friend and we are living in a house in New England with no heating system until we can get the tank replaced which requires …ugh…just a bunch of shit not even worth getting into. So, to that end, I have I told you how much I LOVE MY HOUSE. It is perfect for us. Large, and warm, and homey. Just the best thing I could possibly ask for and I am so grateful and humbled by our fortune.
  2. Our cat, Blu, had terrible mats on his back. He has really long hair and this summer was so wet that when he would come home (he is an outside cat most of the summer but stays indoors in the winter) he wouldn’t let me brush it. Being the good fur-mommy that I am I found a groomer to take care of that. Jay J is away with my car, so I am driving The Beast, aka, his old Tahoe. Jared and I get in the car to drop Blu off at the groomer and while I am plugging in the address in my GPS, Mr. Speedy Pants Jared throws it in reverse and begins to back up. WHAMMO. BAMMO. Big bang. Backs right up into AC new Honda. Blu’s grooming trip quickly became a very expensive trip.

Lastly, I have a secret. This is a secret AC and I told very, very few people. Very few. Because I am supersticious. In fact, I believe JoDee will be finding out by reading this blog because we kept it very tight lipped, and given how it turned out, I was going to tell anyone but then I decided- fuck it.  Due to a strange set of circumstances and coincidences I had an opportunity to try out for the reality TV show Masterchef. We told everyone we were going to New York to visit some of AC family but that was a fat ol’ lie. I sort of agonized even going because I thought there would be so, so many people show up, like why bother but AC convinced me that the opportunity presented for a reason and anyone who follows me on Instagram knows how much I like to cook so I agreed to go. Three days before my audition I received a confirmation call confirming I was attending- that was when shit got real. This took DAYS of planning. Days. Because you have to bring something already made. Trying to figure out what to make, how to bring it, what to wear was so stressful. In the end, I did really well. I made it to the final 14 people in a group of I don’t know how many (last I saw 297) of which they took 4 people from that group and I wasn’t one of them. However, it was such an awesome experience, and my plating was really appreciated. It was taken away and photographed in different ways, and then I was interviewed for the promo screaming I am representing Boston like a jack-ass (a lot of others were too but not everyone-maybe 20). We met an awesome couple from Boston who we spent the day with ranking everyone else’s meal, looks, general appearance to satisfy our own humor.  I’m so glad I did it, and I was asked to start a food blog (or use my current blog for that) which I will think about but I am not sure I would do it again. Idk…maybe I would.  I got to see myself on film and I was HORRIFIED at what I looked at so the good thing that came from it is that I joined OrangeTheoryFitness with my friend Lorrey, and I have to tell you, it is seriously kicking my ass! The day after my first session I text her and said I certainly hope I have no need to pass gas because I am fairly sure I have no strength to hold it in!!!!!  And that was no shit. Pun intended!!

Oil Tank Spill:

My Baby Blu

AC and Me in NY

Me after being a loser       This is right when we pulled up by our hotel   The audition was here            AC being a goober

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A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

The phrase a picture is worth a thousand words is in English idiom. It means, loosely translated in Melanie-ism, that an idea or notion or thought can be conveyed with a just a single imagine or picture. Every one has experienced this at some point in their life. Looking back at pictures of babies when they were little we can see their innocence. Sometimes a photograph in a newspaper or magazine speaks to the soul in a way that words would seem meager.  I experienced this recently. JoDee and her partner were captured in their local newspaper at a vigil for lost lives to addiction. When she first sent me the picture I showed AC. AC said that she looked good. That she seemed sad but she was at a vigil so that was expected. He noticed the way her partner, aka Scooby Do, was watching her. That was not what I saw.

Insert Picture Here:

 

When I look at this picture I see a lost girl. A girl who walks around with her hood on so no one will see her face. I see a girl who is ashamed to be seen, by anyone and everyone. I see a girl wearing the same sweatshirt every single time I see her, including this picture, which is a large symbol of her current life, but holding on to the Coach clutch on her wrist, a symbol of her old life. I see pale, lonely, depressed and beaten. I see a girl who wants people to believe she is doing well, and she has things under control but right under the surface is a pile of anxiety and mayhem that she can’t let go of- if it bubbles out, it won’t stop until she is gone.  I see a young woman I miss, and wish was home when I made bagels from scratch and short ribs that braised for two days.

I also see a partner that is holding on to hope that JoDee will pull it together. A young woman who is praying that she doesn’t sink into that hoodie, never showing her face again. I see a pair that together could be great, but right now, are limping along holding each other up. If one falls, the domino effect is going to take them both down.  I know that Scooby is holding out hope that this will end well for both of them. As am I, and everyone that loves them. They are living in a part of Massachusetts that is a small heaven. It’s beautiful and quant and friendly. When JoDee recently went to detox, and subsequently dipped out, leaving both Scooby and me wondering where the hell she went; she turned up a few days later looking the absolute worse I have ever seen her. Thin, dirty, smelly, her teeth unbrushed since Jesus wore short pants, and completely oblivious that her sister and I were horrified for her and with her. Once we dropped her off, I spent the first 30 minutes of the ride home blasting OC’s ear about her wasting her life. And how her and Scooby could be living the high life in a great town with a really cute apartment, in a super gay friendly town (their crosswalks are painted in rainbow colors for Christ Sake!) but stay holed up in their room. I really want to slap the ever-loving shit out of both of them, and then take them home to feed, bath and tuck them into bed.  I would probably then wake them up to slap the shit out of them again just for good measure.

 

I want to be able to go spend the weekend with them, shopping and eating out, in their cute little town without worrying that she might take my cash, or beg me to come home. Home is some place she can’t come too. No one would be comfortable with that. Take a moment and let that sink in. If you have never experienced addiction, or have never had an addict to this point, think about how that feels. I cannot let my child come home because no one in the house would be comfortable with that. Do  you have any idea how bad that sucks? Do you have any idea how bullshit that is? There was a time I probably wouldn’t put that in black and white but we are so far into this mess, there is no point in sugar-coating it. And worse, she already knows.

A picture is worth a thousand words; it sucks when those words are all shitty.

 

 

This Is What He Learned

I taught my son how to ride a bike. I taught my son how to ice skate. I taught my son how to tie his shoes. I taught him how to turn on the computer when he was four years old.  I taught him how to drive a stick shift car.  Those are the things I know I taught him. I have memories of teaching him these things. There are a lot of things I worked at teaching him through the years like manners, kindness, respect and laughter. Those are every day parts of parenting. I strive to teach him to be independent, to think before he jumps, to manage his money like he might be broke tomorrow, and to do his own laundry (though I miss doing his laundry because I could steal his sweatpants!).  I’m sure there are a lot of subtle or subconscious things I have taught him through the years but none was more evident than the incident that recently happened.

My son has a friend who is struggling with addiction. Many, many people have been trying to help him, but most of them do not understand the process as well as I do. There has been a lot of really high highs and really low lows lately except that I have anticipated them. When he reaches out for help, I remind them all that its great that he is asking and we should not be discouraged if it doesn’t work because at some point it will. Of course, the friend didn’t stay at the first detox attempt. And he didn’t continue going to his first IOP attempt. And he has called for help several times without following through all of which is really hard for the people around him that want to help. I keep saying just hang in there. I know that people said that to me along the way, through the years, and I know that they are doing exactly what I did: Ignore my advice entirely. I can’t take it personally because everyone hopes that their loved one is going to be the one that miraculously is clean and healthy after their first attempt, never to return to the drug world. I’m sure it does happen sometimes to some people but I can’t imagine it happens very often. I have never heard of it.

I wasn’t surprised when I heard he was going to detox again. I wasn’t surprised to hear that maybe his addiction had reached an all time dangerous level, either. A lot of times addiction will get worse before it will get better. I was surprised, however, to hear that this friend called my son in the middle of the night asking for my help. I was even more surprised when my son said that he didn’t need me because he could help him. And he did. He did everything I would have done. He was kind, and patient, and respectful but firm. Getting an addict to detox, for those who have never done it, is not easy. Most addicts are anxious, and high, and wanting to get more high on their way there. It means helping get rid of any triggers for when they get out, and cleaning up a mess that they may have left behind. It means hoping to hell that they don’t jump out of the car at a red light to run away. Or after getting there hoping to hell that they will get out of the car and into the detox without incident. Sometimes an addict will decide to go to detox, reach out for help, find a bed (Thank you Maureen at http://www.magnolianewbeginnings.org), only to panic at the last minute refusing to leave.  There is a balance of support, honesty, and strength needed by the driver/deliverer/helper. It’s not easy. And I don’t mean physically. It’s mentally hard to see someone you love using, and high, and strung out, and desperate. It’s not a pretty picture.  And my son handled it like a pro.

He did exactly what he needed to do. No matter how traumatizing and difficult and probably scary, he handled it. I’m proud of him for that and I’m so thankful that his friend reached out to him. But I’m also horrified and saddened and a little bit guilt-ridden. Why is that, you ask? Well, that is what my son learned from me. Watching me take care of his sister for years has prepared him, readied him to help an addicted friend. How many mothers can say that? His childhood was flanked with detox, rehab, drugs and a mother who spent a lot of time doing all the things he did but a million times more. Is my legacy to my children how to navigate the drug-rehab world? This… this is the life we inhabit. Awesome. Mother of the year right here.

Nature vs. Nurture

My room was a mess. There was dog hair all over the rug, and my desk looked like a tornado ripped over it. Littered with coffee cups, and hair from my brush that AC just loves to pull out when he wants to use it and drop it like it’s hot, were scattered like tumbled weeds. My cute kitty statue (yes, I have one. Thou shall judge not!) had enough dust on it the top to give the appearance of actual fur. Today was the day I needed to put on my cleaning clothes, and get to business. I am not one of those people who blares music to clean (sometimes I do but I listen to music in the garden more) so I put on Netflix. Usually I will put on something that I have watched about 100 times so it’s just background noise, but nothing I really pay attention to watching.  (side note: Netflix sent me a push notification that said a new docuseries has been added that you might like, “Nurses That Kill.” Really Netflix? Really?)

This morning I just started pressing play until something came on. Immediately it caught my attention. Instead of restarting The Walking Dead or Grey’s it began playing a documentary about Aileen Wuornos. It is true that I am sort of obsessed with serial killers. I know that makes me sound like a nut job, but…well, I am. Anyway, there are few documentaries or books or articles about serial killers that I haven’t read. The more famous, or brutal, or number killed the more facts I know about them. I believe that I can spot one out a mile away, which is why I have not been killed by one to date. Or not. Who knows. Anyway, this documentary was even more interesting to me because the journalist making it was sympathetic to her. He was more sympathetic to the victims and their families but he really went into her background, her childhood, and her mental illnesses.

Aileen was born to a woman who left her directly after giving birth. The biological mother never revealed her biological father but many speculated that it was her own father, Aileen’s grandfather. Aileen referred to her grandparents that raised her as mother and father after that. According to a childhood friend, her home life was brutal. Beatings, sexual abuse, mental abuse were the norm. At age 13 Aileen became pregnant (a local pedophile was the suspected father but Aileen never would confirm) and gave birth to a baby that she gave up for adoption. Her grandfather refused to let her home after that. At the age of 13 she began living on the street. Literally. All four seasons in Michigan and she slept in vacant cars, in the woods in a fort or with other homeless people she slept outside. Her family effectively gave up on her except for her brother who was rumored to have a sexual relationship with her (a witness testified to having first hand knowledge of that during her trial). After a few years, and the realization that her family would not let her come home, ever, she began hitchhiking, working as a prostitute to survive. Eventually she landed in Florida. The rest of the story the whole world knows because it was made into a major motion film.

As she sat on death row, she gave several different interviews. The interviews, to me, were so significant to the periods in her life because it became so clear how mailable her mind was at any given time. At one point she decided to drop appeal efforts to accept the death penalty. During that time she was receiving letters from a woman who was a born again Christian. This was when she gave an interviewing confessing to all of her crimes, because she couldn’t go to the death chamber without being honest. She apologized for the crimes, and she seemed like she truly was concerned about cleansing her soul before she died but she smiled. She seemed child like, and like she didn’t really seem to grasp that depths of her crimes. Later, she gave another interview saying that she only did that so that they would put her to death. She claimed that the prison was crushing her head with pressure that was coming through the mirror, TV and other ways. Finally, she said that local police knew she was killing people but they let her do it because she was cleaning scum off the streets for them.  Anyway- she had a shitty life and a shitty parents and several mental illness that was never treated or addressed. It is no wonder she became a murderous hooker. And I see why the journalist had some sympathy for her. Maybe empathy is a better word. It’s hard to drum up sympathy for someone who took the lives of others but I, like the journalist, wondered what her life would have been like if she was born to a normal family. It begs the question did the mental illness happen as a result of her life or did her life make her mentally ill?

I think this is similar to addicts. Not that they are murderous hookers but the chicken before the egg. Addicts steal, lie, cheat, steal, lie, run, steal, lie, hurt… you get the point. I know that JoDee was genetically linked to addiction. Her addiction could have been to food, or porn, or being a health nut, but it was to drugs. Because that’s what she did. She made a bad choice by picking up the first time, and that is a process on its own. She didn’t just jump up in search of a needle. It was a series of bad decisions that eventually led to heroin addiction. To me, with the backing of science and facts, there is always  some mental health issues in the beginning.  I drank in high school, I smoked pot in the ditch behind the baseball field at Tapley. It was a rite of passage in my era. Everyone drank until they puke in the Orchards, or at the Rez. It was just the way it was. But that’s it. We laughed about it, or cried when we got PC’d or caught by our parents (side note: I am SO thankful that these things happened before the days of electronics!) but then we grew up. Some of us went to college, some of us went to work, some of us (ahem) got pregnant but for the most part we left the partying at the res as a memory for our class reunions. Of course there were a few that didn’t, there were a few that took it too far, or became rough alcoholics (there wasn’t a big heroin problem then) but even they were mostly functional.  The point is we stop. When you reach a level that feels like to much, or too far, or to scary we stop. Someone that keeps going and can’t stop is doing so because they either like the feeling of being disconnected from reality, or because they are searching for something else: subconsciously or not.

JoDee’s fate was sealed as an addict the absolute second she picked up that needle. Since then she has done many things she isn’t proud of and she has lost many people she loved because of addiction. She is distant from her family, she has zero relationship with her siblings, she hasn’t seen her aging great-grandmother since Jesus was in short pants. These are symptoms of addiction, right? Or is addiction the symptom and all these are things are a result of her environment? Would she have been a stealing, lying shadow of the girl I used to know if she had become addicted to working out? Or did the addiction world teach her how to be that way? Was Aileen born a murdering hooker? Or did she developed those traits as a result of the world she was born into? I don’t know. What I do know is we are coming to the end of year 5. 5 years. And just when I think I can’t be shocked anymore, just when I think it can’t get worse, something else happens. I’m sick of it. I have said that many times in this blog for many years, and over many incidents but I am really, really sick of having her live her life this way. At 23 years old I was the mother of two, pregnant with my third and owned a home with my then husband (Daddy-O with whom we divorced a short time later) and she is a nomad jumping from detox to apartment to program. She is off to detox again. This time in hopes of coming right home (not to my house, but to her own world) with a plan I don’t really believe in, but I don’t say that anymore.  I simply say call me if you need something. And I brace myself for 5 more years of this because the alternative is death or recovery and one seems more likely  than the other.

 

My Friends

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

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

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

 

Thank you for being my friend.

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

Thank you for never giving up on me.

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

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

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

Thank you for being you. I love you.

The Stages of Loving an Addict

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

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

The Parent of an Addict Loving Themselves:

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

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

An Addict Loving Themselves:

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

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

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

 

Siblings Loving an Addict:

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

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

 

 

Magnolia, Process, and a Flawed System

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.time2riseabove.com/about_us

 

https://www.banyanmass.com/

 

http://www.magnolianewbeginnings.org/