Theatre Endings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bad Luck Is the Only Luck

Once, not all that long ago, Jay J said to me if it wasn’t for bad luck I would have no luck at all. That. Is. No. Shit.  The last several weeks have been proof positive of that statement. Now, I try to look at the positive side. Ok, that’s a lie, but AC tells me to anyway. HE says I look at things to much as a realist. HE says I should try to think positive so that positive things will happen.  HE says that I should see things could be worse. HE is right. But please for the love of  all that is holy, please do not tell him I said that.  But, these days, I’m pretty sure karma is laughing at me. Here are the reasons why:

  1. Cinderella is graduating in the late spring. We had been planning a graduation trip, and to wit my friend leased her condo in Aruba to us for a week in a July. After several schedule conflicts and arranging travel plans, it was determined that it wasn’t going to work. But I already had sent the checks for the condo, so AC and I decided we would go alone. Neither of us have gone on a vacation kid free since Jesus was in short pants, and never have we gone sans kids together.  This was a good thing. We thought spending the money would be a special trip for us, and we deserved it since we had a small nest egg saved. Then our heater died.
  2. No heat. First it was just one day and the nice young man fixed it in what he called a band aid. The nice thing was that the heat never worked upstairs properly and he was able to fix that. The next day it went down again. The kid came back, told us that it was old and he was concerned that it had never been cleaned properly so he didn’t know how much more he could do without making it worse. We tapped off one of the lines in the cement that was leaking (cutting off heat to the first floor but keeping the heat on the second floor). That held for a little while, but then blammo. The burner was toast. Inside the cast iron was being held together with poxy and there was decades of sediment and soot and shit at the bottom, as the kid expected. Our nest egg was now going to a new heater system. I think that is the end of our vacation, AC thinks that we have an awesome heater that will last for along time.
  3. We debated it for a while and decided the condo was paid for and with it just being the two of us, we could go on vacation pretty cheap. And then I lost my debt card.  I had wonderful charges on my account from a brothel in Amsterdam, all the paying with none of the fun. I ended up bouncing several checks (which is how I found out my account had been hacked to begin with) and that is MORTIFYNG. MORTIFIED. HORRIFIED.
  4. I finally get that straightened out, and some of the money returned, the rest to come later and our new dog seems sick. First she is just lazy, I think. She had surgery on her hip before we got her so I thought she just wanted to rest on it. Then she seemed really fatigued. On the third day she had a volcanic, spraying, disgusting ass explosion all over her kennel, my floor and the wall. That started the throwing and going. The next morning we brought her to the vet who immediately sent us to the animal hospital. The animal hospital is not something I have ever had to experience. It is not like a human hospital. Everyone is not entitled to services regardless of their ability to pay. Within 20 minutes of being in the hospital they told us that she has a form of anemia that can be deadly, that she needed blood transfusions along with other treatments and the bill was $4500. Oh, and some people find the cost to prohibitive so euthanasia is an option. That is an aawful, awful position to be in. That dog is the sweetest, passive, adorable baby who has only lived 10 months. How can she possibly need to be put to sleep? And further more, how in the world can I seriously just put her down that fast? Just like that? But $4500? Holy shit.
  5. Needless to say, I coughed up the dough, and left her there for the night. The next day a wonderful doctor called me from the hospital to say that my beautiful puppy (Georgi) does not in fact have that life threatening anemia (IMHA) but she believes she has a rare type of virus that is passed most commonly from pittbull to pittbull when one dog is used as a bait dog. MY poor little thing was used as a bait dog? She said she had all the scars as evidence and  broken hip that was never corrected so healed incorrectly from when she was younger all seemed to point to that direction. There was a test, it costs an arm and leg but then we would know for sure, blah blah blah, several hours later, that’s what she has. Now she has to be on anti-malaria drugs for the next several weeks which cost me the other arm and antibiotics which cost the other leg, so she can be better and everyone can call me shorty. Poof. Nest egg smashed to pieces.
  6. Bud, our older dog, decides for some unknown reason just strolls out on the pool cover, falling between two slates nearly getting submerged. That pool hadn’t been opened for two years by the previous owners. There is probably malaria in that water! AC and I were half in the pool to get him out. I wanted to dunk my whole body in battery acid to kill any disease I may have gotten. Later that night, he starts panting and acting funny. He looked engorged and bloated so of course I am convinced he has some wretched disease. So I spend two nights staying up petting him and getting him water and telling him it’s going to be okay thinking that this is it. The poor old guy is going to die. Nope. On the morning of day three he was barking like a maniac and stealing my piece of toast right out of my hand.
  7. Lastly, while at the gym my phone was not behaving (which may or may not have something to do with my having it dropped it so many times the screen has more cracks than a crack house) so it wouldn’t play music and I couldn’t get Netflix to work, or Amazon, or Hulu. Finally Hulu popped up and the only show that would play was…….. Intervention. I shit you not. I debated turning it off but then I thought maybe I could learn something. No. No I did not. No surprise there.

I guess, after reading the recent events, it could be worse. Both dogs could have died, I could have had nothing to listen to at the gym and I could have been the one to charge my card at a brothel in Amsterdam which I think AC wouldn’t have been happy about.  I hope your luck is better than mine.

 

Happy Easter.

 

The Bag

It’s warm here. I am safe here. I find that to be ironic.  Here, I don’t have to move or talk or listen. The silence is so loud it is deafening and welcoming at the same time. A cocoon of protection from the cold wind that is blowing a trash bag through the air. I frown as I watch it land in a tree to high up for anyone to get a hold of it without climbing the limbs. How long will that bag be there? Will the weather beat it, and drowned it, shred it until it is nothing but battered plastic clinging to a piece of bark? Or maybe the wind will gust soon blowing it off that tree to another one, or a rooftop, or a power line? That bag is not safe. It is drifting around at the will of the earth and its elements. At anytime that bag may be gone from this world. The amazing part is how impressive wind is. It is sightless, and grasp-less, and intangible.  The power it has is nothing short of a miracle. The wind can blow over a house, or people, or really strong winds from tornadoes have been known to jam straws of hay into telephone posts.

I can hear the wind screaming. Rattling windows, and shaking cars it clearly is letting its presence known. The wind is blowing at different degrees of strength horizontally along the earth’s surface. It is a bulk movement of air that travels from Alaska to Maine. From China to Hawaii. It can be cold and harsh, unwelcoming coupled with rain. The wind can be scary when it ratchets up to the speed faster than a car can travel. The wind can be enjoying while sailing or on a scorching day at the beach. It’s natural form never changes. It is always blowing and we tolerate it without much thoughts because we have no choice. There is no stopping wind. Wind is the silent partner to earth’s elements that should not be taken advantage of, or dismissed because it is as giving and unforgiving as any snow, rain or earthquake. And I know that. I am acutely aware of the power it has.

I adjust myself so that I can see the bag better. I have a bet running in my head with my two selves. One is saying that bag is stuck there until it disintegrates but the other self is pulling for the bag to be set free. It’s a sad ending for anything to be stuck in one spot, beat and torn and tortured until there is no choice but to give up, dying alone and dirty without anyone noticing or caring. I want that bag to have a chance. I want that bag to have the ability to fight for another day.  As the wind flirts with the closed bottom, the bag hangs by one handle feeling the tickle of the wind deciding to either lift it up to set it free or rattle it so it is wrapped around the branch. I’m holding my breath. And screaming in my head let it go. Let the fucking bag go. But as the wind retreats for a moment, the bag sags back to hanging with one handle which is now ripping. The plastic is stretched as far as it can so it will either break to fly free or become tangled on the branch below it. The branch below is not as thick and healthy as the one it’ is on now. If it drops to the lower branch it will most definitely become entangled with no hope of leaving.

My face is pressed against the glass, my warm breath fogging the window in spurts, as I try to move the bag with my mind. That bag represents so much more than a piece of trash blowing in the air. It represents the meek and sick and unable. That bag can give me the hope that when things look bad, as bad as they can be, there is always a chance that it will get better. Things change in an instant. A few minutes ago that bag was traveling around seeing the sights. It could see all the houses and people and had the potential to go anywhere or land anywhere. Now, it is at a fork in the road. That fork is destiny determining. Something has to give. I can’t sit watching and waiting and wondering and hoping for a good outcome. There must be something I can do to make the situation better. I am wracking my brain trying to figure out if I could climb a ladder, or use a long stick, or even climb up the tree. All of those options have little benefit with great risk. Risk to myself I mean. If I fall off that ladder or out of the tree I will likely be injured badly, if not killed. But is that worth it? If the bag is able to go one and live another day and see the people and have a future, is my life a fair trade? Is it the bag, or is it what the bag represents to me?

I slap my hand against the glass ignoring the bowing and moaning the window makes in indignation. Do something. I want the bag to do something before the wind makes the decision for it. My eyes are burning as the tears pool under my eye lids. Squeezing my eyes tight the  water spills over for the release of a thousand tears not shed and  I pray silently for the bag to do the right thing. I understand I can’t control it or even help it because it is not my problem to solve. I can only sit back and watch and wait to see what happens next. I hear the wind begin to howl, and my stomach flips as though I am on a roller coaster. When I open my eyes the bag will either be gone, or destroyed. I tell myself that I can handle it either way. I will be able to live with the outcome believing I could not have changed it anyway. As the wind whistles in the trees, the electrical wires slap around, I know that it’s happening so I open my eyes with hope for the best and prepared for the worst. Now, it’s all in the bag.

What You Say vs What I Hear

What you say:

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are a good mother.

You have done everything you can.

She might recover.

Think about yourself.

 

What I hear:

I have everyone fooled.

I am so numb I don’t feel anything anymore.

You know I’m not, but you don’t know what else to say.

I pity you.

She won’t.

You look like shit so do something nice for yourself.

 

What you say:

How is JoDee?

I don’t know how you do it.

I can’t imagine how painful this must be.

Don’t give up hope.

What can I do for you?

 

What I hear:

Is she alive?

I’m so glad that isn’t me.

I don’t want to imagine your pain because it makes me think it might happen to me.

I don’t know what else to say to you.

I feel helpless because there is nothing I can do. I love you and I want to do something for you.

 

What I feel about what I hear:

I wish everyone could see how weak I really am.

I wish everyone could see my cowardice.

I wish everyone could see that I tried to be a good mother, but I don’t think I did it right.

I wish I could keep up hope.

I don’t want to think about myself.

I have no idea how JoDee is. Even if I was in touch with her, I never really know how she is.

I’m glad it isn’t you too. I wish it wasn’t me. I wish no one had to go through this.

No, you don’t. You don’t want to imagine the pain, or try to imagine your own pain if you were in my shoes because it is crippling to think about.

You don’t have to say anything because there is nothing to say. Nothing anyone can say. Nothing to be said. Except for this is total bullshit. And being honest, I don’t want to talk about it anyway.

I feel hopeless too and I appreciate you offering to send me food, or a house cleaner, or take me to dinner but it just isn’t necessary because tomorrow will be the same as today as tomorrow as a month and a year from now. But thank you for being a friend.

Progression of S

Stroke

Seizure

Scary

Scarier

Scarred

Silent

Suffering

Stupid

Sacrifice

Sympathy

Sympathetic

Sad

Sadness

Sadly

Stunned

Shocked

Surprised

Seething

Stay

Statistic

Score

Scorn

Screaming

Screamed

Scream

Screwed

Search

Secret

Section

Self-centered

Self-absorbed

Self-harming

Self-hating

Secret

Secretive

Severe

Solo

So long

Shake

Shallow

Shame

Shout

Shut up

Shut out

Shut down

Shit

Hell

In high school I read a story about three people from different stations in life being asked to describe their idea of hell. This was a blanket statement.  What is your idea of hell? Most would have heard that question and assumed it means the place no-good-doers go to when their life is over.  The answers were very  much in line with that school of thought.

The first  was a middle-aged man, white, married with several children, of a stable financial class. He said that hell would be a burning, hot place. Cliffs and ridges of brimstone and hell’s fire. Loud sounds of moans and screams, explosions, and lightening but no rain. Nothing moist or wet. Everything is dry and life-sucking.  In this man’s hell he could hear his wife and children screaming but could not discern where it is coming from. The screams are shrill and speak of violence and fear. The man is paralyzed in place. His feet are engulfed in quick sand but it isn’t pulling him down further, it is turning to cement. The cement burns and bubbles and scolds his feet.  As he continues to struggle to get out of his cement shackles, he can feel and hear his bones breaking until his legs separate, knocking him to the ground with bleeding stumps.  This scene starts over again. In his hell, he lives these moments over and over in eternity.  Though, he could not say the crime he committed to warrant such a horror.

The second person was a woman. She was a school teacher in her early thirties. Recently married, no children, with no plans for children in the future. She was stuck on the why. Why would she be in hell? What could she have done that was so terrible to constitute an eternity in hell? The why seemed to dictate the what. Depending on how bad the crime was, depended on how bad hell was. In her mind, there were different degrees. If she had been a liar or stolen or some other offense that was not life taking then she described a hell that was being lost in a maze of trees on fire. There was a way out, the maze had a beginning and an end but she could not remember where she entered or how to get back out. The trees that made up the maze, similar to the one in The Shinning, were all ablaze. She could hear children screaming, and yelling for her but she was unable to find them. Her fear of burning alive made it impossible for her to make the decision of which direction to begin. Her eternity was spent in that burning maze. If she had murdered someone, or taken a life in any way, she would be in the same maze only she was the one on fire. The trees were dense and she was not able to find her way out. Her husband could be heard yelling to her so he could help but she could only hear the crackling of her hair burning, and skin melting from her bones. This was how her eternity would be spent.

The third participant was a child. This was a young girl, around the age of 11, with no specific religion noted. She was of Spanish decent, with both parents living, and had lived a typical childhood with no traumatic experiences to note.  She described hell as a place that people go when they do not deserve heaven.  It is hot, and dry, and people there have no eye lids. They are never able to close their eyes no matter how tired they are, and they have no thumbs so they are not able to grip or grasp or hold anything for any length of time. People do not have any big toes making it difficult to move quickly, run or dance.  The ears are removed but not the eardrum making all sound seems louder and more intense and the sounds never stop making sleep impossible. She described a mouth so dry that it hurts and her lips would be cracked yet she could see a water fall, a ways out in the distance, with no way to reach it.  There are people enjoying the water. Playing in it, splashing around, laughing and enjoying each other but there was no way to get there with them and participate so the only thing to do is watch them with longing and jealousy. Her eternity would be spent as such.

Those things have always been in the back of my mind. I’m not exactly sure why but I have thought about that a lot. My idea of hell isn’t a place I will go to when I die or spend my eternity. My idea of hell is right now. To have a child that is not dead, who lives and breathes, who wakes up every morning but is not really alive. Not really living. Not really awake. To have a day that is snowing and cold to be spent with my children shoveling and watching movies and cooking dinner and baking a homemade chocolate cake (courtesy of Cinderella) but not really enjoying it because we are missing one. One child that isn’t really alive but isn’t really dead. Who is alive and part of this world but who isn’t part of my world is being in hell. To know that I cannot reach out to her because doing so would help her stay sick, and is not good for anyone, is hell.

We are living in a time that addicts are dying by the multiples every day. There is no warning sign. A person may get a batch laced with something else, or something in it that they aren’t aware of, and it will kill them instantly. Or just take too much, and bam- you are dead. Knowing that, and knowing that my daughter was in treatment, in a safe place, but chose to leave to go back to a life that is like playing with a match in one hand while holding a gas can in the other is hell to me. Getting the call that she had left again was not a surprise. It wasn’t shocking or even really upsetting, if I am being honest, because I knew it was coming. I knew that her attitude wasn’t right, she was so busy making sure even one pitied her she didn’t have time to focus on recovery. She was on her game while in recovery. She was on her scam game, who can do the most for me, my mother won’t help me, I’m just a poor victim game, while she was in recovery.  And that was hell to me.

I know where she is, even though she thinks I don’t and knowing where she is, is hell to me. It is hell to know she is crawling back to a place she used to be that isn’t good that lead her to be abandoned in a park in the dark on a cold night. That night was hell to me. It was hell to me getting back in my warm bed, knowing she would be sitting on a park bench until someone else would pick her up. It was hell to find out another time I refused to pick her up she was actually sick, and in danger, without the use of her legs, but I didn’t believe her because she cried wolf so many times. Facing myself then was hell to me.  Explaining to the doctors why she was alone on the street in the freezing cold was not only humiliating to me, but it was hell.

And now, I have no contact with her, and I know that I can’t, is hell to me. I have done all that I can. Others have done all that they can and she doesn’t stay in recovery and that is hell to me. She does not value her life as I do, and she doesn’t care if she lives or dies, and I think she doesn’t believe she is entitled to live a happy life, is hell to me. I am in hell while I am alive, and I will be in hell when she dies. This hell is not worse than fire and brimstone, or eyes with no lids, or waterfalls I can’t reach. This is a hell only a parent can understand. I live in hell.

Lucky Luck

Recently, the girl scrammed again. One minute in treatment and one minute in the wind. Earlier that day she was asking me to give her a ride to a friends wake and hours later, bam-gone. Gone in the wind. It would be a lie if I said I was shocked. I think I have said this before. Nothing really shocks me anymore. I think it’s sad, and dangerous, and I worry about her, but she doesn’t shock me. At the time I received the call I was in the emergency room with AC and AC the Original because he was having a small complication from his recent surgery. I hung up from that call and I told AC the nature of the call. He was shocked. And he was made because he was shocked. He told me that he always believes this is the time. This is the time that she will really stay on the right track and every time she derails she surprises him.  My only true thought was will her luck run out?

She has been so lucky. I can’t count with both hands how many times she overdosed. And I can think of the near death experiences she has had and I believe it takes up one whole hand, including the palm. But she always lives. Homeless, shiftless, left on the street, nearly paralyzed, has not stopped her from her drug addiction. She has been able to come back from the depths of the worst possible places. How long can that go on? Cats only have nine lives. I don’t believe people have that same amount. If we do, she definitely is getting to the end of that number. I mean, doesn’t the death by overdose really come down to luck? The lucky ones put a needle in their arm and live, and the unlucky ones put a needle in their arm and die. It is sheer luck that a person doesn’t get a bag of something other than heroin or something that is heroin but not enough to kill them. Someone can do the same thing day in and day out and one day it’s over. No excuse. No reason. No understanding.  Also, some people can be addicts until they are in their forties or longer and live to tell about it and others  die at twenty-three. Isn’t that luck? Well, bad luck?

When we got home from the hospital I sent her a text that said I hope your safe because you don’t have to many lives left, kiddo. She did not respond though, if I am being honest, I didn’t expect her too. She hasn’t reached out, and I’m not sure I should reach out to her, so I’m not going too. I just hope that the last conversation we had wasn’t about the logistics of picking her up for someone elses funeral.  That would be terrible, horrible, traumatizingly unluck.

Helpful Hints, Tips, and Miscellany

The heroin crisis is only getting worse. People are dying everywhere. This is not just an East Coast thing, or a young person thing, or an ethnic thing. I know that when one group of people is targeted for something those not effected don’t pay attention. In fact, 30 years ago heroin was the leading illegal drug killer for black men ages 44-64. It wasn’t until it crept into the suburbs that anyone started paying attention. That alone pisses me off.  But, I am not going to get into that today.  Today I am going to spread the wealth of knowledge I have collected over the course of many years dealing with addiction.

Programs:

Nar-Non and Al-Anon are both good groups. Clearly Nar-Non offers more support and education with drug addiction then Al-Anon. To Nar-Non alcohol is a drug, in some Al-Anon programs they only talk about alcoholics. The Al-Anon groups I went to were very supportive of families dealing with drug addiction. Nar-Non groups are harder to come by, especially at convenient times.

Learn to Cope is mostly a Massachusetts program but it is a group worth looking into because they do offer an amazing on-line community. The support groups are for loved ones who have an addict suffering from opiod use. I have found that to be beneficial because I heard so many stories like mine that it helped me realize that JoDee wasn’t possessed by the devil (well, she is but that devil is heroin). This is more than just a support group. They offer resources and education about other programs and typically have an industry professional as a guest speaker.

There are multiple blogs (like mine) that offer different perspectives. And there are a number of on-line communities such as In the Room, PAL, and the drug addiction hotline Hazelton Betty Ford Clinic has a website that I have found helpful and informative.

Rules:

The things I didn’t do, but should have are listed below:

  1. Do not be trusting. Addicts will say things like they can’t believe we don’t trust them, or that we know them, and they wouldn’t lie to us but every single addict lies. If your child hasn’t stolen from you or hasn’t lied about where they are, it doesn’t mean they won’t or that you just haven’t caught them. No matter what, trust that everything they are saying is no true. If you are seeing changes in your child or loved one and they deny anything is wrong, don’t believe it. Addicts will have a lot of excuses but it’s important to see through them.
  2. Research programs. Just because a detox or rehab is near you, does not mean that it is the program for them. Educate yourself on methadone and suboxone and other drug replacement therapies to determine if that is the way your family should go. Some detox’s are better than others. Sometimes there is a way for them to find more drugs inside than outside. Find a program that has an after care, and potential parent groups too.
  3. Do not believe that detox is the miracle cure. It isn’t. No matter how good the program is there has to be willingness for the addict to get better or they won’t. Be ready for the unexpected.
  4. Find your own recovery. Just because an addict is going to stay in active addiction does not mean that you have too. Those meetings and support groups are clutch when things seem at their worst. Going to a support group does not mean you have to air your dirty laundry. If it doesn’t feel right, say nothing. AC and I went to so many meetings and I don’t think I ever really talked about JoDee or our situation. But sitting there listening to other peoples struggles gave me comfort. And hearing that their children did find recovery gave me hope. I won’t lie, sometimes they are depressing. No one says you have to go every day. Do what feels right.
  5. Don’t lose hope. It they are alive there is a chance they will find recovery. No matter how terrible things seem, they could change in an instant. No one knows when that ah-ha moment is going to strike an addict. Maybe it never does, but maybe it does.
  6. Don’t enable them. Balancing our own recovery, keeping hope and holding our bottom lines are very delicate. Try not to set yourself up for failure. There is no way to stay positive all the tie, or keep hope alive everyday or hold your bottom line when the addict asks you so many times and no is hard to say the first time, never mind 200 times. Be ready to give yourself a break and know that if you cave in and give them money, or a place to sleep for the night, or allow them to get their clothes out of your house when you said you wouldn’t, forgive yourself. No one can be strong all the time. I can’t be strong a fraction of the time. At the end of the day you have to be able to look in the mirror and see your own face, not the face of regret. So do what is best for you.
  7. Reject the lies and manipulation. Our addicts have lost their mind, literally, and with it their moral compass. They will be mean and angry and ugly and hateful. Do your best to not take this personally. It is so hard to do and sometimes you may just want to punch their face in but don’t bother, I have tried that and it doesn’t work. It’s best to just ignore them.
  8. Look around, and recognize that you are not in this by yourself. Even if you have a spouse or a best friend or a person, it doesn’t mean they will always feel the same way you do, and that can be extremely lonely. You aren’t alone. You are not alone. You. Are. Not. Alone. And more importantly, this is not your fault. So don’t isolate. Call a friend, go to a movie, and take a cake decorating class. Learn from my mistakes, I basically hermit-ed myself in my house for a few years but that is no good. Do something that isn’t drug related. Stay connected to the people with normal lives. You know non-drug addict lives. It’s refreshing to socialize so to forget, even for a little while, that life is worth living.
  9. Don’t be afraid to do the thing you said you would never do. I once told myself I would never have JoDee sectioned and now I have done it four times. I said that I would never put myself in compromising situations as a result of her drug addiction and I have had encounters with drug dealers that involved my having a golf club (I am not suggesting anyone else should do that) . There are no limits a person will go to try to save their loved one, but that also means saying no. Don’t be afraid to say no. Even if it’s painful. Not being afraid to do the thing you said you would never do may be leaving your kid stranded somewhere because you simply can’t help anymore.
  10. Eat dinner together. Even if you never did the whole family at the table for dinner routine before, do it now. Or make everyone have breakfast together one day a week. Find a way for all of you to stay connected. It is so easy to push aside the family members that are not addicts. Addicts demand so much attention even though they don’t really deserve it. Ignoring my other duties and family members is something that haunts me now, but I make an effort to connect with all the other kids on a regular basis. And connecting means talking to them about them, not about what JoDee did or where she is or what she is going to do. It means letting them know I am listening and interested in their lives. I am present. And listening. It used to be hard. I would always be so invested in JoDee’s recovery that it felt like I lost interest in parenting anyone else. It was work to bring my focus back, but it can be done, and I did it.

 

 

Would You Do It Again?

SPOILER ALERT- If you have not watched Arrival do not proceed!

AC, AC the original, and AC the brother and I watched Arrival together last week. It is an alien movie. It was a really good and captivating alien movie, but an alien movie all the same. Alien movies typically leave a person wondering about, well, aliens. When I was done watching this movie I was left feeling … some kind of way.  A feeling.  It was a strange feeling.  I didn’t think about whether there was life on another planet, or if I would have been able to deal with the things that the protagonist had to contend with. I found a deeper meaning:  If you knew that in the future a painful event was going to happen (like have a daughter that is a heroin addict but in this case the death of a loved one, would you change your life to avoid ever having that person in your life?

I know that is a mouthful, and a mindful but it kept playing over in my head. If I knew the events of my life would I do them exactly the same way again? Where does someone start? How could I prevent JoDee not be an addict? What point in time would I go back too?  If I could pin point the moment that she used drugs the very first time, I could make her not be in that exact spot.  But that wouldn’t stop it forever. So I would have to go back far enough to see what drove her to that. And if I could determine a moment in time, an event that happened, changing that would change something else.   I mean, to truly not have her become an addict, I think it would mean not HAVING her. Her not existing and that seems harsh.

If I go all the way back to the beginning, it would start with my senior year in high school. I graduated high school preggers which was a much bigger scandal in those days.  It was downright scandalous. Let’s say I avoided Daddy-O. If I knew I would get pregnant the first time I met him that day in my senior year when he came to my house with a mutual friend, I maintained a friend-zone, never becoming more than that.  That changes everything. That means that I wouldn’t have moved into that tiny apartment with him and others. Or moved in with his grandparents, or his mother, or got our own apartment- the one that got broken into and the lady upstairs got beat on the regular. We wouldn’t have been together when his father died.

Right after his father died, two friends moved to North Carolina. I visited them, and followed them for a while, and I met some of the best people I have ever known in my life down there.  Although I am not in touch with the original two friends that moved there, I have stayed in touch with my friends from Nebraska.  I visited and lived there for a short while which introduced me to my second husband.  As a result of that we moved back to Massachusetts together. When we moved back to Massachusetts I contacted folks I had worked with in the medical field. That led me to a job in a nursing home. I worked there for a while, and Ex-Husband Numero Dos failed a drug test at work, losing his job. At that time a coworker of mine whose husband worked at an establishment that dealt with horses (just the kind of job a farm boy from NE would be good at) and was looking for a new assistant.  From there I went to another place, an assisted living. There I met a woman who became my friend.  Later, she left our company to go to another company, taking me with her.

While at the new company, Ex Husband Numero Dos and I split up, and I met my current husband better known as AC.  Those are the very big details. I won’t get into the ways that never meeting AC would have affected his kids. But look at how it would have affected mine. Not having JoDee would mean not having Jay J or Jared.

JoDee was my first born. My learning baby.  Not having her changes that which makes me what I am. If I am not a mother, I don’t know what I am, or what I would do. I feel like I carry that with me in every aspect of my life. I mother people at work, and it helps me when negotiating with employees, or dealing with a difficult situation. I feel like JoDee and I grew up together, and maybe that contributed to her being an addict.  I can’t imagine all the things we did together before the boys came along. And, she was born two weeks after her cousin whom she grew up with, and was inseparable from. Had she not been born, how would her life had changed? Essentially, one decision, a choice not to do something, will change the course of many lives.  And to make such a giant decision would mean taking the good and weighing it against the bad. Can I really say that the bad dealing with her addiction really out weights all the good?

No way. If the day I got pregnant I was able to see my entire future which included JoDee’s future, I would not change anything. No matter how much pain and suffering I have endured at the hand of her addiction it would never out weigh the joy I have from being her mother. No matter what. So, in summary, I am with Amy Adams. I would do it the same, knowing the outcome, knowing our fate.  And I make no apologizes for that.

 

 

A Day In the Hospital

Recently, my father-in-law had to have an invasive but not emergent surgery that required both my husband and me to spend two days in various parts of the hospital with him to translate English as he speaks primarily spanish. The particular hospital that the surgery was done in was one I used to work in. It has been so long since I have worked there, I didn’t expect to see anyone I knew, especially because I typically worked the second shift back in those good ol’ days. You know, the days of black and white television and horse drawn wagons? Anyway, it also happens to be a hospital that we had taken JoDee to on many occasions.  As soon as we walked in AC said this looks familiar, and that looks familiar. I figured he would process it eventually but I think it was the wee hours of the morning and the lack of coffee he had in solidarity of his Dad who was surgery starved, but I finally had to tell him. The first few hours were a little bit entertaining as my father-in-law  didn’t want to use the interpreter the hospital offered choosing instead to use his son, my husband, to interrupt for him. This was a problem because the hospital policy requires that it be a third party so there is no chance of skewing the interpretation or having the patient withhold information he wouldn’t want his son to know (not a problem in our family).  There was a lot of scurrying around, and forms to sign, and blah blah blah. All very boring.

When he finally got underway, or under the knife as it were, AC and I decided to go to the cafeteria for breakfast, which as a side note- was the first date like meal we have had together since Jesus was a small child. This is where we first began people watching. The two maintenance men drinking coffee at the table in front of us were talking about their ex-wives. One was bashing her, pays her two much, never sees his kids, seemed sort of like a dink and the other was saying nice things. They still had a good relationship, she was a good mother, she drove him batty sometimes but he couldn’t complain. The poor Guy B spoke nicely of Ex-Wife B, Guy A spewed venom about Ex-Wife A. Finally, B told A that maybe she was nasty because she had married and divorced the devil, and that comment went over like a lead balloon.  By the time we had reached the waiting room again, there were more people waiting. An older woman, a middle-aged woman, a family of folks all speaking Russian and one young girl, maybe early twenties, bleach blonde and face buried in her phone.  We all were making ourselves busy minding our own business, when the trilogy of people watching strolled in with their mother. These three were tall. No, not just tall, looming. Just looking at them it was easy to tell they were three brothers. One brother was the tallest and the most unkempt while appearing put together. It was fascinating. His hair looked like one of those signs in a crossroad with arrows pointing in all directions. His clothes were business casual but so rumpled and disorganized, it came off looking business confused instead. A large face, with octopus like lips, full cheek bones, and wide eyes, finished him off. I can only assume he was the oldest, because they all had the same look but each one shorter than the other. The last one, the youngest presumably, was the shortest at six feet tall, and had a limp. The had many of the same characteristics but one of them that not only caught my eye but grossed me the hell out was the uncomfortably large amount of white spittle dried in both corners of all three of their mouths. They were like a circus side show. AC elbowed me in the ribs on more than one occasion but then finally, he was taken in also.

The waiting room was large. Larger than large. Ample enough for all of us to fit without having to sit very close to each other. Until the stooges showed up. Within minutes they had spread out so intrusively the had stuff on every chair. Jackets, bags, laptops and tablets, and one even took off his shoes. And that was before the mother was even called in for her case. When it was time for to go to the pre-op area, the nurse asked if the sons wanted to join their mother and one of them wanted to know if there was any food on offer in the back. I think you are getting the picture. My father-in-law was in surgery longer than anyone else in the waiting room so we saw most people come and go. When the surgeon came out to see the men after their mother’s procedure was complete, the first thing the tall doofus asked was if the DNR (for those that don’t know Do Not Resuscitate) was necessary. Who the hell asks that? Who? In front of people? In a waiting room? I couldn’t help myself. I could not. Could. Not. Help it. Couldn’t. I didn’t even realize I was speaking out loud until someone answered. I said “Who the hell says that?” The lady across from me said that she was thinking the same thing and that she was embarrassed for them. At that exact moment, sounds of yelling and screaming and some pretty explosive swearing erupted from the floor below us. The waiting room was above the ER and Main entrance lobby and it was an open air layout. We could hear everything clearly.  A woman was yelling that she didn’t feel like she should have to leave. Several male voices in lower voices were telling her that no one here could help her. The older woman next to me muttered something about a drug addict. The middle-aged woman across from me mumbled something about the world going crazy. The young blonde finally looked up from her phone, turned around in her chair and was staring over the balcony.

“There a bunch of cops down there.”

“It’s a lady. I think she has a kid.”

“No, she said she has a kid in there but the cop said she doesn’t.”

“No, the cop said she can’t see the kid.”

This kind of commentary carried on for about ten minutes. The stooges really didn’t give a shit but the other women did. They pretended not to listen, but they were. We all were. Several cops dragging one slight woman who clearly hadn’t had a good meal in years, or a shower for that matter, out of the hospital on to the sidewalk. None of us know why. Mental illness, drugs maybe, bad parenting. Maybe she beat her kid to a pulp and brought him there, but I doubt it because she wasn’t arrested. I don’t really care what was happening. The moral of this story, to me, was that misery sells. That entire waiting room was pretty much minding their own business, not paying attention to each other except for the three big dinguses, but when that lady was being humiliated, and drawn out of the hospital, she got an audience. The blonde hopped up to check it out, and the older women didn’t tell her to stop giving the blow by blow. No one, not even me, told her to stop. We liked it. We hate to admit it, but it’s true. When we hear a story of someone missing or murdered or beat or overdosing, we call that news. When we see a feel good story we are less likely to believe it’s true or real. Our society has gotten to be one that feeds off of zombie apocalypse and mass murder and Identification Discovery Channel which is really a death station. Another way I can tell is that when JoDee is using and missing and I am suffering and I post blogs, the stats are shooting off the roof. But lately she has not been outrageous, other than hating my guts, or I have been refusing to write about her terrible behavior, so that stats are low. This is not really concerning to me because I now that my blog would be short lived and eventually come to an end (not that I am doing that now) but rather a point of interest. Fascination. Proof positive that misery is a big hit. Very weird.

That really provoked my own thoughts about our situation. Did people stare at us like that? Did people watch us in the ER waiting room, or see us in a trauma room and find our behavior fascinating? Or her lack of behavior fascinating? At what point did we go from spectators to the spectacle? And do I care? No. Not really. I know that at the time that things are in a really bad way I don’t give two shits if people are staring. I am too busy trying to see if she is going to live to really notice. It never really dawned on me to be embarrassed to bring her to that hospital because I use to work there but I know that her father was worried about it (he works in the same hospital occasionally) and there were times she saw someone she recognized and would become embarrassed. I can’t remember if there was a time when I was conscious of it. I know the very first time she overdosed, I immediately brought her there without a second thought. I can’t remember a moment, even fleeting, of embarrassment. Now, looking back, we both must have looked a mess. More than a mess, but the truth is we were. We were absolutely a mess. Truth be told we are still a mess. However, I do have a little satisfaction knowing that I was someone else’s people-watching captivation. Eat your heart out people because some day, I will be character assassinating you right back.