Addicts Can Recover. Can I?

Addicts can recover. Women can recover. Not all addicts do. Not all women do. Not all addicts are able to stay alive long enough to realize their life is worth something. If I am being honest, there were times when I couldn’t realize my life was worth something, especially when JoDee was in a tent in a snowstorm. I can’t speak to what recovery is like for the addict…. (light bulb goes on overhead- maybe I will help JoDee draft her own post from her perspective), but I can tell you what it was like for me. From the family of the loved one’s perspective. I have spoken about the transition to active addiction to recover for me in other posts. It’s no secret I was doubtful, resentful, angry that I was completely mistrusting of JoDee. I did not think I would ever look at her without punching her straight in the face. And then clean her up with love, of course. The back and forth. Punch her, love her. Strangle her, love her. Throttle her about the body and head, love her. It was an exhausting game. Certainly, there is a normal part of parenting that renders the punch in face feeling. I have often said I would absolutely throw myself in front a train for them, but sometimes, I would absolutely throw myself in front of a train because of them. You can relate, right? I mean, I hope so. They are adults now, so no need to ring anyone!

The desire to punch an addict in the face is much different, however.  It is much less metaphorical and more shit just got real. There were times that I would beg for some higher power to help her get clean, or to help her find her way home or to a hospital, or for her to die so she would be in peace. If I am being honest, I think I believed there would be peace for me too, but the truth is that her death would only bring a new rein of suffrage. One would think that there would be a limit, nay an apex of pain, and sorrow a person can suffer, but have a child addict and you will learn it is boundless. My heart was hardened, to coal. My feelings dried up like a desert and my tears were nothing, but remanence of time gone by. When I would see JoDee I would vacillate between broken-hearted and breaking her legs. So, after two paragraphs of violence, I think you are picking up what I am dropping here.

The point is that there is no switch to turn that off.  Before active addiction hit my life, I was not exactly a crier or a warm and fuzzy person, but I had more empathy for the plight of others. After almost 8 long years, I had two feelings. Anger and fatigue. By the end of this rein of terror, I had thrown myself into work. Working 10-12-hour days. Sometimes coming home from work, to work more. It was easier to sleep and work. Eat occasional. I was super-ass-and-awesomely-skinny. Can’t say I hated that, tbh people.  But digression aside, it was not a life. It was merely existing.  I want to say that it is not sustainable, but it is. I could live the rest of my life that way if I wanted too.  I’m not sure I would have begun the metamorphosis that is/was required to come back to life without JoDee being pregnant. I was hard on her. I didn’t trust her. I was still in active addiction mode. I questioned everything she did. I wouldn’t let her move home. I wouldn’t leave my purse unsupervised. I mean, if you are a parent of a shady ass kid, you know what I’m talking about.

I have talked about how feeling the feels came sort of all at once. And that was difficult too. If you are not a person who was a really a feeler to being with, that sort of emotional tornado is diabolical. It took a while for me to stop being agitated and I should probably admit, more than a little volatile. But watching JoDee’s belly grow with baby inside and doing all the super fun things like throw an awesome baby shower helped me along. And then the fore mentioned uncoupling happened, and everything came to a head.  That was a big breakthrough for me. For my whole family. When all signs of that relationship were gone, out of the house, and realized to not be as traumatic as I thought, I realized, I was happy. Not overjoyed, not elated or jubilant but comfortably happy. Happy and guilty. And I do have to tell you that the happiness grew, probably into jubilance, but the guilt came at the same pace. Guilt about how I raised the kids, questioning if I was a terrible young mother, survivors’ guilt that she lived. I was so convinced that she would kill herself someday, I was more surprised that it didn’t happen than if it had. It was and still is hard to think about the mothers I know that lost children, and not just that the children are gone, but they won’t experience the future of those kids either. Here is the conundrum- I feel terribly that children, husbands, wives, siblings are gone, and have feelings of incredible luck that mine didn’t, which makes me feel guilty for feeling luck. Make sense? No, I didn’t think so. It’s another level of the suffering of addiction life. And I know, woe is me about my poor alive kid, right? I know so the guilt spirals again. It’s a ridiculous cycle.

And, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about JoDee. Her recovery was coming along splendidly. Ugh, I have been watching to many English movies, splendidly? Who says that? But in honesty, it was. She was mothering like a boss. She is such a good mommy. And Brynnlee is surrounded by people who love her! She is dedicated to being a good mother, and it shows. It shows in the 1 million bows and shoes we now have strewn around the house! Baby Daddy is a loving daddy, who was calling her baldy locks because she was so bald. I thought that was hilarious! So, after nearly 8 years of my life being on a string waiting for the piano to drop out of the sky on my head, she just turns it around. Sometimes, that made me a wee-bit, just a tad, we are talking about miniscule amounts of resentment. I hate even admitting it. I kept thinking she is young and made mistakes, but she has plenty of time to make them right. She can be a good mom, and a good partner, and a good sister or daughter. Meanwhile, my marriage broke up, grossly I might add, my job took a very demanding turn, and the divorce was out-of-control ridiculous. I was happy, though, right? So why was I resentful? Isn’t this what I wanted? Wasn’t her recovery what I wanted? Yes, to all of that. But somehow it seemed anticlimactic then the addiction itself. I felt like there would have been this end-of-the-movie moment where she would realize how wrong she had been and would declare herself worthy. At sunset. On a beach. And we would run to each other, hugging and laughing, and all would wonderful. Hmmm…. that actually sounded like the end of a romantic movie, so, nasty. But you catch my drift.  Living with the addiction was so traumatic, and it seemed like coming back to life would be more…. More. I guess just more. The strangest part, the part that I think most parents don’t talk about, not the parents with surviving kids, is that I almost had no purpose. I was only living to keep her alive. Now she is alive and thriving…so what’s my purpose? That’s rhetorical, but you get the thought train, and the ways it wreaks havoc on a girl’s mind. Fun times, people. Fun. Times.

The Cat Is Out of The Bag Part 3

Part 3- I’m sorry it’s been three months!!! This is long over due.

No phone. No meetings. No social media. No friends. No going out. No was the word at the beginning of each thing on his list. She yessed him over and over, while I sat there smirking thinking they were both delusional. She told us she was in a day program and had been for two weeks. She was hoping that at some point we would see she was clean and help her get back on her feet. No pun intended but the irony is not lost. She was going to a clinic every day and would have to continue that for the unforeseeable future which meant that she either had to get into another program or she was going to have to stay put, her words not mine. AC and she worked hard to get in touch with someone at the current clinic she was in to see what we could do about moving her. I don’t want to get into all specifics, but it was a rough several hours. We could take her with us, no we couldn’t. She got into another program, no she didn’t. This went on for most of the afternoon. Finally, it was clear that the social worker was working on it but there was no guarantee. Our choices were as follows:
1. Take her home with us and hope that she is allowed into a program by the next day.
2. Leave her there and hope she didn’t relapse while we wait for her to get into a program.
3. Curse the day I was born and start a media campaign warning everyone that having children sucked and was akin to having your butthole electrocuted. Every 6 seconds.
She wouldn’t leave without being in a clinic. She said it was the thing keeping her clean, and alive so we would have to leave without her. Once that became clear it was difficult for me to stay with her. As I mentioned previously, I don’t do well with the sad/crying type emotions. I don’t DO touchy feely, I do kicky screamy. The overwhelming emotional rollercoaster was making me feel trapped in my skin, in our car, and in the moment. I kept taking off my sweater (ok kids, keep it clean, I had a t shirt underneath) and blasting the air conditioner to telling AC to stop the car so we could walk around. I physically could not stay still. I also wanted to go to sleep. It was such a weird out of body experience. I don’t remember a single time in my life I was ever that conflicted, physically and psychologically. Meanstwhile, back on the farm, aka the time and present, AC was taking JoDee for ice cream, and talking about the things she would do when she got home. He had the foresight to ask her what she would need for the next week or so (possibly how long it would be before we could get her in a program) taking her to a store to buy those items. I walked around the store like the big, dumb Planet Fitness guy picking things up and putting them down. It was really embarrassing now that I think of it. I have no idea how much money he spent on her that day between Walmart and some dollar store, and cigarettes. Eventually it was really time for us to leave unless we wanted to double the two-hour ride home with the evening traffic commute. Again, words are a paltry thing. How can I describe to someone reading this the emotion of leaving your child on the side walk in a downtown area knowing full well, they would be sleeping on a porch in an abandon building with 8 other people? A place, B T Dubs, that I could not go see. We went to pick up a few of her personal items to bring home and I just knew that I would be doubly traumatized if I actually saw this place, so AC went up with her. Later, when we were driving home, he said he was very glad I didn’t come up. I can’t even imagine what that means, but this heaux is not asking! Instead, I spent the next two and a half hours crying, and I do mean c-r-y-i-n-g, and yelling at AC. He kept saying she has been outside for almost a year, and that a couple of days would be okay especially since we bought her some supplies. I can’t remember my exact words but I believe they were things like I am having you deported (I can’t, he is legal so slow your role calling the prez), I will punch you (I could, but didn’t) and shut up right now or I will jump (I could, and wanted too, but didn’t). The next few days were some of the longest I have had in my life. I have learned that anticipation is much more painful than any possible truth. Anticipation is an absolute asshole, thank Jesus almighty that I am a bigger one.
I knew that one of the things that was going to be difficult, was telling the sibs that their sister was coming home. I know that probably seems like a weird thing to say but keep in mind they have put through the ringer. And, believe me, I understand that JoDee has too, but these kids have had attention taken away from them, time taken from them, and I’m sure they feel like their mother was taken from them. I mean, this is a blog for another day but the PTSD I suffer because of her addiction trickles down to affect everyone. I think they probably are angrier at the way it affects me more then they suffer their own feelings. I asked AC if he thought we should tell them right away. After a lot of back forth I decided not to say anything because we were waiting to see if she got into a clinic somewhere around us, and if she didn’t she couldn’t come home. Not to mention who knew if she was going to follow through. It’s not like she hasn’t runaway before and this time she wouldn’t have to run away, she would just have to ignore my calls or turn her phone off. Instead we came home, I took a shower to wash the smell of parental failure, depression and exhaustion off my body, and crawled in bed.
Much to my surprise, she called me early the next morning to tell me that she got a spot in a clinic in Peabody (the next town over for those not in the know) but it was a “guest spot” and it might only be for a month. Essentially, she could come home, and be a member of their program for a month. We would have to hope someone graduated or relapsed, so a spot opened for her for long term. So, imagine this decision. She could come home to go to that clinic to wait to find out if she was accepted full time which meant if she wasn’t, at the end of the month I would have to bring her back to where she was to be homeless again. Or, we wait to see if a spot opened which means that we hoped someone graduated the program, or someone relapsed. The social worker did recommend that she come home to take the guest spot because it was more likely she would be able to stay full time if she was already there, and that made sense. So, okay. I agreed. She should come home. This was both a giant relief and a giant nightmare. I had no idea what was going to happen. I had absolutely no idea how the kids were going to take it: hey kiddo’s your sister is coming home and by the way, she is coming tomorrow.
From work I sent a text asking everyone to be home when I got home from work, so we could have a family meeting. The usual family meeting involves me berating all the kids about how they don’t do chores and are lazy bastards that need to shape up or live somewhere else, so no one was happy about receiving that text. Everyone was standing in the front living room by our stairs, and I asked how they would all feel if JoDee were to come home. I won’t put the kids on blast but some of them said nothing, some expressed feelings of protest. In the end, I told them all the truth, this was all about me and not really about her. Because, that is the truth. I could not stand another night of laying in my bed, in my house, with all my belongings within desired reach around me while my child lived out of a backpack and looked like a street rat. I had spent so, so many nights awake listening to the wind howling or watching the snow falling and questioning how this was right. I could not allow her to do drugs in the house. I couldn’t risk the chance that she would overdose and one of her siblings would find her. Or, that she would become truly desperate and steal from them. So, it was decided, she was coming home. I was picking her up the next day. I drove the two hours out to pick her up having this ridiculous debate with myself and my other self. This is going to work, this is going to be a disaster. Being homeless on the North Shore is not like being homeless in the town she was currently in. So, did that mean she would be more likely to stay this time, or was she just tricking me, so she can get home, a place she had more drug contacts. I picked her up in her favorite downtown spot, and we drove to a plethora of places picking up her remaining items. These things were left at the many possible places she might stay. It was heartbreaking and gut wrenching, but it was also the end of a chapter. No matter what happened next, it would be something else. I don’t know how I knew this, but I just knew that it was going to be different. And, different it was, but that is a story for another day.

The Cat Is Out of The Bag- Part Two

Part 2:


Hello. It is the thing people say when they answer the phone. It is a greeting when a person walks in a house, or in a room. I can’t imagine how many times in my life I have said hello, as a greeting and as a what the hell are you thinking attitude-y way. For some reason, the hello she said that morning made me sick to my stomach. It made me mad at myself that I hadn’t seen her since I sectioned her (for what? Number 102?) right after Christmas. And, if I am being completely honest, I still hadn’t recovered from that- the guilt was killing me. I can still hear her in my head asking me to get her Eggnog because she hadn’t had any all season, something that was usually a tradition for us. She was wearing these dingy clothes that I didn’t recognize, with a winter hat and these manly looking black winter gloves that were too big for her and she was high. I was driving her to a police station under the guise of one thing, knowing I was flat-out, full on, no arguing about it, lying to her about why we were going so I knew she wasn’t getting any Eggnog, or going to make it home to open Christmas presents, something else she asked about. On the way home from that episode, I saw one of her black gloves on the floor of the front passenger side. For some reason that glove still haunts me. Such a strange thing to think about it, but it feels like it’s a symbol of her life: half of it just discarded and left behind.

I made small talk for about a minute or two and then made an excuse to hang up. Once I pulled into the parking garage at work, I put the car in park, putting my head on the steering wheel to cry. I called AC. He reassured me that I would do the right thing. He told me that we would get through this. I don’t know what he thought the “right thing” was because I didn’t ask. I still don’t, if I am being truthful. I have never asked him. After a pep talk I walked into work. I couldn’t have been there for more than an hour before I decided, I couldn’t be there. I had to go to see her. Before I could call her to tell her she was no longer, what? My daughter? Part of our family? I had to see her. I had too. So, I left work, got in my car, and called AC. I must go to see her. He agreed and asked when, I told him I was going right that minute, but he said no, come pick me up first. It’s funny because I work 12 minutes from home, but I was annoyed I had to go back to get him, and in the end, I don’t know what would have happened if I went alone.

He drove. Smart thing number two he did that day. By the end of the day, the list was much, much longer. I sat in the car, a car that was driving in complete silence, immersed in thought. For days I had wanted to call my friends, any friend, to ask if I was doing the right thing but I just don’t do that. I don’t know why but I don’t. I almost called EJ but then I realized she was away for her wife’s birthday, and I almost called Lorrey but she was enjoying her grandkids and it felt like I would put a damper on her otherwise happy life. It feels like talking about this to anyone would be a burden. I could have called CA but then I fear that she worries about me, and Pam was traveling. You see how I can make excuses to just keep it to myself? To just carry it around like a suitcase full of bricks? So, that car ride was no different. Occasionally, AC would reach over to squeeze my hand, or rub my leg. He would throw out a few words of encouragement and say how great it is going to be to see her while I sat there wondering if I opened the door to jump while he was going 75 miles an hour, would I make it out the door to bounce along the highway to my death before he could grab me. That man has cat-like reflexes so the over/under was 50/50.

I waited until we were halfway there before I called her to let her know we were coming. I mean, I couldn’t just show up on her doorstep unannounced because she didn’t have one! To my supreme surprise she was excited we were coming. She started rambling about all the things we could do, and this place we could have lunch, and she had a doctor appointment so didn’t want to miss us so would we wait. I reassured her we still had over an hour before we would arrive, so she had plenty of time. She called three more times before we got into town to see if we wanted to go to this place, or if we could get her that, and of course, would I buy her cigarettes. As we got closer I started to brace myself for what I was going to see. She had been homeless for a long time now, so I had no idea what she would look like, or be like, or how I would react to either of those things. This is where the hard to describe thing begins. One might think it was the whole blog post worth of horribleness in the part one, but the truth is, that was nothing compared to what happened the rest of that day, and in the days to come.

As much as I am sure people would love the gory details, there are somethings I just can’t post publicly. Her entire addiction has been put on blast for all to read in the name of cathartics and education and she is fine with that. But, this was different. This is different. For me, it was shocking. It was alarming. My eyes saw someone who was in deplorable condition. The atrocity of her person frightened me, and saddened me, and made me morbidly curious. The sight of her was truly agnostically emotional, which seems impossible to achieve. Now, there may be people she was with in that time that thinks she looked fine, or didn’t see anything wrong with her, but those people didn’t know her before. Before addiction, before a long winter on the street, or before the last seven years. Those that met her that way was probably assuming she looked good for a drifter, but I felt differently.

We met her in a downtown area that was popular with homeless folks. There were several people hanging around with panhandling signs with various pleas for money and thanks for providing. One thing I learned about this area of Massachusetts is that they treat their homeless well. Now, well is sort of objective. They are still homeless but there are places a person can shower or cleanup and a homeless person will find a free meal every day of the week. In some cases, more than one. There is a restaurant that has two different counters for ordering. One is for regular paying customers with a full menu and one is for those with little to no money who can order a limited number of items including grilled cheese or other hot choices and pay what they can afford or nothing. And that was not uncommon there. In that way, I was sort of grateful she was out there. I could understand why she never made her way back this way. Being homeless on the North Shore would be nothing like being homeless out there, but that doesn’t mean it was a walk in the park. I mean…. Homeless is exactly that- without a home.

She wanted pizza or sandwiches at a specific restaurant so in we went. It was a quaint place and I would love to describe it more but I this post is getting long. Anyway, after we ordered the owner came over to our table, and without saying anything placed a handful of large band aids, some medical tape and a tube of bacitracin on the table top before walking away. Apparently JoDee had large open sores on the bottom of her feet that were making it very difficult for her to walk. The man knew this, and it wasn’t until later, much later, that I could even ask why, so he had been giving her some supplies. I asked to see them, my first mistake, and then I asked how she got them (when you have no home it is common to just walk around from spot to spot which causes feet to sweat and her shoes were too small hence large open sours that started out as blisters but kept growing), my second mistake, and I spent the rest of the meal watching her eat and listening to her and AC talk while I used every ounce of willpower I had not to run away or have a nervous breakdown. After they were done eating (I don’t think I even touched my pizza) I looked at her, really looked at her, and said how can we bring you home? It never works. But, and to this I should not have been surprised, AC had a plan.

The Cat Is Out Of The Bag- Part 1

The cat is out of the bag. The. Cat. Is. Out. Of. The. Bag. I wasn’t saying anything to anyone, or posted publicly because, well, you know, superstitious. But, someone, Ms. Fancy Pants, has been posting on Facebook abut 5 seconds after she turned her phone on, so I guess, I owe everyone an explanation.

JoDee is home. She is clean. She is doing well. Much, much better then I have seen in many years. Instead of addictionish asshole-ness, now she is just normal millennial asshole-ness. It’s a welcome change.

How that happened is a story that will be hard to tell. To put certain emotions into words is so, so hard sometimes. Describing the chain of events that lead up to her homecoming involves an article on Facebook, a nightmare and a gut feeling. Buckle in because this is going to be an interesting ride. And it won’t be a quick one. This will not be a fast read, they will be long, and emotional, and probably several entries long but that’s because there will be no way for me to explain it without a lot of the detail. So, sit down and catch up, or ask someone who does for the cliff notes version.

We have been doing this dance with JoDee where I am the only one who talks to her, and even talking to her is probably a stretch, but never tell anyone that I do. She would call me for an Uber ride because she was late for an appointment, or someone was chasing her, or mean to her, or otherwise in need of a ride immediately, and I would use my Uber app to send it to her. This usually involved the driver not being able to find her, so they are calling me, while she is texting me saying she doesn’t see them. It almost always encompassed a stressful, anxiety-provoking chain of calls, and yelling, and my being upset, all while I am at work. Couple that with the calls for a toothbrush, a jacket which can double as a blanket and a winter that proved to be hard on both of us: emotionally and environmentally and it spells enough. I was at my end. I was at my rock bottom. My rock bottom is probably different from most peoples because the average person processes emotions on a regular basis. Emotions other than anger, irritation, or rage. Those three emotions I have down but crying? Sobbing? Defeat? Me? Defeat? I mean, come on, who is going to believe that? Believe it. I was swinging between no sleep and sleep like Rip Van Winkle. I vacillated between I am not getting out of bed and I can’t lay down for one more minute. I either didn’t shower for days, or I stood in the shower every day until the water was so cold I saw penguins run by me. It was so taxing. And I’m sure you can imagine how taxing this was to my family.

The truth is I’m a fraud. I write these blogs about cutting off your addict even though they are your child or your husband or your sister. I preach that tough love is the way it must be because otherwise we are enabling them. But suddenly I was faced with the absolute realization that I was the enabler. I was the life line she would always have. She would be able to call me to get an Uber ride, or money for toiletries and no matter how nasty she was to me, or the fact that she shut her phone off for days at a time wouldn’t matter because I would still do what ever she needed. Now, don’t misunderstand me, she was homeless. Not the kind of homeless like she was staying at a friend’s house because I kicked her out homeless but HOMELESS. No home. Natta. Zippo. Tent city. Squatting on a porch. Shelters and soup kitchens. Finding places to shower. And by the time I saw her, it was clear that wasn’t all that often. So, my enabling her didn’t feel like I was enabling her because she was fucking homeless. I mean, how can I enable someone I won’t even give a roof over her head too? But, alas, it was happening. Around the same time that I was reaching this peak of lowness, I saw an article on Facebook, probably in one of the many addiction groups I am part of, that said He is an Addict and an Asshole. The point of the article was that this girls father was an addict. He spent her entire childhood couch jumping, getting arrested and dodging all responsibilities as a father. And, she spent her childhood blaming everything on his addiction. Having spent enough time around Al-Anon, Learn to Cope, NA, AA, and any other acronym you can think of I knew that she was supposed to say that it wasn’t his fault. And then. There is always an aha moment. The girl meant up with her father years into her adulthood and years into his sobriety to discover, he was an asshole. Addiction or not, he was a dick. Entitled, nasty, lazy. A general jackwagon that no one would want to be around. For her, that closed the book on that chapter. She could walk away knowing it wasn’t because she was a bad girl, or a shitty person, but because he just sucked. For her it was a relief. For me, it was the anchor I needed to finally hit the bottom.

An idea is such a little thing sometimes. It starts small. And then the more I pontificate on it, it grows, sometimes into something way out of line. In this case, I started to think that JoDee was becoming an asshole. I started believing that even if she were clean she wouldn’t be a good person. I can’t tell you how that feels. I cannot describe the absolute gut-wrenching, violating, vulnerable, magnificently disillusioned feeling that was. For days I kept going back to read the article. And, I would bring it up to AC without ever really telling him I read it, in ways that must have seemed innocuous to him. At dinner I would ask if he thought if JoDee found recovery we would like her. Or while doing errands I would ask him if he thought people who met JoDee now but didn’t know her before would think she was a bad person. I have heard so many stories of people having an existential crisis, but I can only tell you that whatever you think it is, is a million and fifty times worse when it happens to you.

Around this time AC and I were shopping for plants (because you know, retail therapy) in Home Depot and we ran into two of my favorite people in the world. While we were catching up, of course, the subject turned to JoDee. I said it for the first time out loud that day, surprising myself when it came out of my mouth, that I was going to have to cut her off soon because she wasn’t the person I thought she was. I said I was going to have to cut her off, like your dead to me, cut her off. The words felt like balls of cotton in my throat, and the voice that said them didn’t even sound like mine. I believe my next words were, I can’t talk about it anymore because there is no crying in Home Depot. Humor. That is another emotion I can contend with. That night I woke up at 2 in the morning crying. That might not seem so unusual given the state of my life for the last 7 years, but this was not like cute little tears running down my cheeks. This was ugly, sub-sub, can’t catch my breath sobbing. I can only think of about 5 times in the last 5 years that has happened. And none of them were good situations.

I didn’t want to wake up AC so I laid there biting my blanket, crying, and sobbing, and feeling the complete defeat that had become all of us for hours. When AC finally woke up he knew something was very wrong as soon as he saw me. He tried to talk to me, to comfort me, but I cannot handle these types of things. I would rather ass punch you with a meat cleaver then feel these things. So, needless to say I wasn’t really receptive to his loving embrace. I believe I yelled some profanity and took a shower where I stood crying and cursing whatever spiritual beings there are for an hour. The next 24 hours were something out of The Walking Dead for me. I was like Morgan. I could only think of the loss of my child, I was not really present in anything I did, and I was a complete nut job. Well, more of a nut job then I usually am. I had to tell AC how I felt. And I did. Of course, when he tried to calm me down to tell me that it wasn’t like that I threatened to stab him in the neck with a fork while he slept so he just sat there staring at me. Ironically, I fell into such a deep sleep, the kind of deep sleep I hadn’t had in a long, long time, that night. Sadly, that blissfully deep sleep was fraught with a terrible nightmare about JoDee drowning and me trying to save her but her pushing me under the water to save herself. It was both awful and metaphorically perfect for how I was feeling. That morning, between rib-breaking sobs, I told him it was time. I had to say good bye to her. I was going to call her to tell her that she could no longer use me as her life line and she was on her own. After getting ready for work, I got in my car and dialed her number. Two rings later she answered the phone, and then hello changed everything.


Recently I had to do a research paper on cultural appropriation. In case you do not know what that means (often called cultural misappropriation) it is a concept in sociology when the elements of a minority culture is adopted or presented by the majority of a dominant culture. One of the most egregious forms of cultural appropriation came by way of the Swastika. Many will find it hard to believe, but the Swastika is dated all the way back to the Stone Age. It was seen as a talisman for religion and good fortune.  In fact the word Swastika is actual translated to conducive to well being. In Buddhism the swastika takes on the representation of Buddha’s foot prints. In Mesopotamia it was used on coins and Navajo’s wove into blankets.  For centuries it was seen as a symbol of something good or cherished. It only took on the negative connotation when Hitler decided he needed to find a way to connect the German’s with the Aryan’s.  Turning the swastika on its axis in a white circle with a red background did it begin to become something…else.  Just like that. Poof. One man decides that this symbol now represents his white Aryan nation and wammo, a symbol of all that is pure becomes all that is tainted. Can you imagine how those that honored that symbol would have felt in that time? I can’t imagine the horror.  Or now. Those that a Buddhists may find it difficult to use a symbol of Buddha’s footprints as a decoration in their home, or a background screen on their phone because that is not how it is not how it is recognized world wide. And who would believe that? Hey- this isn’t an Aryan nation support symbol, I am representing the conduction of well being…. good luck with that.

The bigger picture here is that one person’s opinion can change everything. Hitler, to the first person, to the next becomes an army becomes a nation becomes an epidemic that nearly wiped out an entire religion. That is sad. And disturbing. And monumentally unfair.  But, I hate to add in the but, aren’t we all guilty of it? Don’t we all have some cultural misstep we commit regularly? Have you ever said I have a girl crush on so and so when you are a girl but are not in fact gay? Have you thrown a Cinco de Mayo party at your typical suburban house with the 2.5 kids, a mini van, and sombrero’s? Raise your hand if you have said that something was your spirit animal even though you are not native American. Doing those things does not make you a bad person. It doesn’t make me a bad person. Hitler appropriating the Swastika didn’t make him a bad person, the way he used it, and the endless acts of violence, hatred, torture and mayhem make him a bad person. So why am I telling you all this? Honestly, that is a question I find myself saying on the regular. Why am I doing or saying anything? The truth is I feel unfaired. I feel as though life has been unfair, and as a result I am the victim of unfairness. I am the unfairee. I recognize that those are not actual words, or actual things being done to me, but I am whining and pouting and generally don’t give a damn.

We just had another holiday that JoDee wasn’t home. I can’t even remember the last good holiday we spent with her. I can’t understand why this continues to happen and go on. I hear that she is not using, and she is trying to right her ship that has gone so far wrong that I can’t even see her horizon but is that enough? How do I know? How do I know when the time to help again has arrived? Have I gone so far into the realm of skepticism and distrust that I can’t trust my own judgment now? I behave as though I am the mother of a child that was lost. I feel as though I am a parent that has suffered the loss of her child. Isn’t that appropriating another mother’s pain? The mother of child that really was lost? My child is not lost to life, she is only lost to me. To us. To our family. Aren’t I being Hitler-like in the way of using something that isn’t to make something appear as though it is?  I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that this shit is really unfair.

The Unsent Letter

Adapted from the Fall from Grace album: artist Paloma Faith

I miss you in the mornings
Been up all night
I tell myself
You’ll be alright
Maybe someone will help you in a way I never saw
I am frantic, torn, and raw.

I miss you in the moments
When everyone is there
Listen to the silence
That hurts my heart
Maybe someday you will be back again
And not turn your  back
On the love that we try to send.

So I write this letter
That I’ll never send
Because there is no one to receive it on your end
And I write this letter
To my daughter, so filled with strife
So it stays with me forever,
Even if you aren’t in our life.

I miss you when I’m laughing
You’re very near
But then I open up my eyes
And you’re not here.
Maybe one day you will understand
The things I do,
I did it all for you.

So I write this letter
That I’ll never send
Because there is no one to receive it on your end
And I write this letter
To my daughter, so filled with strife
So it stays with me forever,
Even if you aren’t in our life.

And I’m just as scarred as you
Since you run wild with freedom
And I know right now you think there
Is no reason
But you’ll see
Nothing in life is easy

So I write this letter
That I’ll never send
Because there is no one to receive it on your end
And I write this letter
To my daughter, so filled with strife
So it stays with me forever,
Even if you aren’t in our life.

How’s JoDee?

Hmm. Everyone asks that. How is JoDee? What’s up with JoDee? Any word from JoDee? My answer is always the same. Fine, Thank you. Good, Thanks. Oh, really no knew news, thanks for asking. Those are the responses you hear on the outside. On the inside, well that is a totally different story.

On the inside, the words how is JoDee elicit a reaction in my gut that is akin to a rupturing volcano. My heart, which feels like a delicate piece of crystal, develops a new crack. Each crack threatens to break into a million pieces, for good, with no chance of putting it back together.  The more that she is homeless, by choice, on her own, on the street, staying with this person or that person that will give her shelter for the time being, using her mother by preying on her raw feelings of despair begging to come home, begging for a bus ticket and then using the money I send for a bus ticket (which the mother knows better than to do) for something else, the more helpless I feel.  Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t want people to ask, and I know they want too and should. I am not pointing fingers and telling anyone not to be inquisitive.

The problem is that the question, as obscure as it seems, is such a leading question. Why? Well, let me tell you. Suppression. Ignorance. Denial. If no one asks about her, or if I have talked to her, or where she is then I don’t have to think about it. I can pretend in my own ignorant mind that she is just off with friends somewhere living her life. I can suppress the idea that she is a drug addict, living a rough and degrading life.  People can tell me over and over and over again that this is not my fault. And I know that it probably isn’t but if there is a mother out there that can see their child living on the street, asking for a coat instead of a hotel room because the coat she can use everyday but the hotel will only keep warm one night and not feel like she has failed as a parent, raise your hand. I don’t know if it was a direct parenting flaw. Or if she is paying for my sins of the past. Is the way I treated or mistreated people in the past the reason she is suffering? If I apologize and humble myself to the people I have wronged, will the karma bus let her off? Will she be able to stop suffering to rejoin the world? Sadly, I am desperate. I am desperate for any relief so I started making a list. A list of people who may have felt wrong by me, or I  know I wronged, or I didn’t wrong but need to apologize anyway just in case. I have begun my own version of the 12 steps that are not Al-Anon, Nar-Non or NA/AA approved. It is not identical.  It is just me accepting that I can’t change this, but I can face it, and I have to find the courage to admit my faults and atone for them. I have begun atoning. It isn’t easy, and it is uncomfortable and it is embarrassing but I don’t know what else I can do. It is not ideal, but it’s all I have.

Please don’t do that thing where everyone tells me it’s not my fault and I am a good mother because it only makes it worse. It makes me feel like a fraud. Like one of those people who says how fat they look when they are a size 0 and you want to punch them in the face with a hostess Twinkie. And a vat of lard. But I digress…. at this point we aren’t really communicating which is something I have to do but don’t want to do. Although I preach cut them off, kick them out, tough love the truth is when she is sending me text pictures of her in a tent during a snow storm I offer to get her a hotel for the night. Which turned into two nights, which turned into a coat, and some money for a food, and then a $30 Uber ride and money for a bus to come home because she was alone and lonely and need me, which turned into her not buying a bus ticket. And when I questioned her she said she bough sleeping bags but she knows I can see the transactions on her debt card so I know that isn’t where it went. And the final straw is when she casually calls me, without realizing how stupid I feel for believing all the crap she has told me over the past few weeks, to say hey can you put money on my card so I can buy some food at the grocery store and I say….no. It is two letters. One word but the hardest one in the world to say. No. I cannot give you anymore money. I cannot give you even $10 for food. All I can do is say, No. And good-bye. And try desperately not to drive my car directly into the bridge embankment in front of me, or cry. Because if the damn breaks….there is no telling what will happen. Not one tear. One small, lonely, wet tear rolling down my cheek leaving a salt mark in my perfect make-up would cause a hurricane of emotion that would probably end with me in my bed. Again. For days. So….. ya, JoDee is great. Thanks for asking.

Conversation Part II: The Real Thing

1:01 Am

Are you flooding?

Not in the house. The back yard is nuts though.

Why are u awake? And how nuts

Idk. My daughter is homeless sleeping in a tent in a major snow storm. It doesn’t exactly promote sleep fullness. That little pond is back in the way back. The one where the ducks will probably come back too.

I don’t remember that.

It was way back. Why are you up? Are still outside? Are you safe?

I’m safe. Always. I’m in a house now, but not last night, and not tomorrow either. It sucks. XXX got approved for an apartment so I should be able to stay with him soon. IDFK. I am safe tho always. I just haven’t been sleeping.

The story will last longer than just tonight. Are you going to sleep in a tent outside? Or outside outside?

A tent usually. It’s not mine, so as long as I am with GGG and HHH then a tent. Otherwise, just, like, outside.


It’s fine mom.

(In my head: how the fuck is that fine? How can she even think that this is fine?)

JoDee, the storm is going to last longer than one night. Is there a cheap hotel near by? I shouldn’t do this but I will give you a couple nights worth of hotel fair but I need to pay them directly.

If you could do that it would be awesome. Then I won’t have to use the pay shower and I can use my money to buy food.

(If I wasn’t standing, I would literally have fallen to my knees)



I could really use a winter jacket instead. A hotel is only going to help me for one night. But the jacket will keep me warm all the time. I can only stay inside for small times but the jacket will keep me warm when I am walking and I can use it as a blanket.

(Is this where we are? Is this a real conversation we are having?)

Jesus JoDee. Je-sus.

Yeah, you have no idea.  Seriously. Go to bed, mom. I will call you in the morning so we can figure it out. Love you.

Love you too kiddo.


Who sleeps after that? What parent is going to then lie down and go to sleep after that? My daughter, who has a middle-class family that loves her dearly, is a homeless, begging, hungry, nomad. The next few hours, until the sun comes up, I laid in bed breathing through the desire to vomit, and contemplating exactly how much longer I can do this. Wondering exactly how much more I can put up with. Knowing I was getting worn out, and that usually means doing something I know I shouldn’t but desperate to feel better, even if it is for a minute.



Hi, what’s up?

Nothing, what’s up with you?

Nothing. Everything ok?

Ya, are you getting this rain where you are? It’s friggen pouring here. The half dead pine tree in the back yard is begging to break.

Ya, It’s brutal here too. Cold, rainy, super windy.

So….are you, like, outside? Like are you in a tent or…. like what are you doing?

Mom, stop. (pause..sigh) stop.

Stop what? No I won’t stop. I’m supposed to just sit here thinking about you sleeping in some tent encampment while we are all warm in the house? I need to know.

The tent encampment was bulldozed when you had me sectioned. And what difference does it make? Are you going to pick me up? Let me come home? Cuz we both know that ain’t happening.

(Long pause on both ends)

JoDee, I can’t think of you just outside. Like living outside like a piece of trash. Like a piece of disregarded trash. Like a McDonald’s cup that is thrown out the window after some guy pulls the top off with the straw still in it, shaking out the last drop of ice and melted soda before he tosses it out the window on the pike? I’m supposed to just let you be that stupid cup?

Mom what are you even talking about?

You. I’m talking about you. Supposedly clean but basically choosing to live like a hobo. JoDee the hobo. That’s you. Do you at least have a can of beans?

Mom. Stop.

(Long pause on both ends)

Mom, can I come home?

No. You know you can’t. I can’t let you come home. It never works. It hasn’t worked in almost 7 years.

Then why are you even calling me?


I had this conversation in my head. The end result is always the same. I hate addiction. I hate what it has done to my family and what it has done to my beautiful daughter. My beautiful, addicted, homeless hobo daughter.

Nothing Changes, Nothing Stays the Same


I have been quiet. I know I have. Aren’t you sick of hearing me say the same things over and over? Aren’t you sick of hearing that active addiction is stronger than she is? Or I am? Also, I have had some negative comments made about the fact that this blog even exists. That gave me some food for thought but then I realized that I don’t and can’t care what anyone else thinks. Everyone has to deal with addiction in their own way. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to read it. The update at the moment is not much has changed. Right after Christmas I tricked her. I tricked her in an awful, terrible way because I thought it was best. I was sectioning her again but I couldn’t tell her or she would never have agreed to go with me. If I told her that we were going to the police station so they could take her into custody, she would have run from me. As it was she was already skittish. Up to this point, I am the sole person she has trusted blindly. I knew that lying to her, and tricking her this way was a onetime deal. There was no going back. After this she wouldn’t trust me anymore so I had hope to hell that it worked. That she would go to WATC and find salvation and a desire to live in this world. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how that worked out. She did her time, went to a sober house or a half way house or a three quarters house or house of the wholly or whatever and eventually ran away. She claims to be clean. She sounds it but she is royally fucked in the head because even though she may not be doing drugs she is still living a life that requires sleeping in tents outside in freezing weather or in sleazy rat-trap no-tell motels. But that’s her. What does that mean about me? Well….. I have no idea.

In the years since this all started I have been so anxious I whittled away to a hundred and nothing pounds and got so depressed I ate my way to who-the-hell-knows what weight. There is this constant state of unknown. So, a friend reached out to me to start going to parent meetings again. It’s funny because her daughter ran into me in an emergency room and listen to me tell her she had a reason to live. She found recovery and has been doing pretty well. My kid only hears me talk like I am the Muppet baby’s mother (whaw, whaw, whaw). In the most recent meeting a mother said that her son is sick and she doesn’t hear from him often and is living in fear. She hates living in fear that someone is going to knock on the door to tell her that her son is dead. I sit in those meetings listening to everyone’s issues thinking that I remember when JoDee was at that stage, or they have no idea how bad it can be, or thinking they are fooling themselves. When this particular woman said that she hated living in fear I laughed, a little too loud. I wanted to tell her living in fear that they might die is nothing compared to knowing that when they do die you won’t be shocked. And, there might even be a moment of relief. There will also be devastation and guilt and a plethora of human emotion but fear is only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more hidden under the water beneath that peak but a person only learns about that by going through the process.

At the same meeting a wonderful speaker was saying that her daughter said to her if you love me you will let me die. That really resonated with me because JoDee and I have had that same exact conversation so, so, so many times. She has said if she wants to die that is her business and I have always say that she is too sick to make that decision so it’s my job as her mother to fight for her until she learns to fight for herself. The problem is that it’s tiring. Almost 7 years later my arms are stiff from holding her up and my fingers ache from reaching out. My back is stiff, my legs feel like jelly and my brain cannot think anymore. I am getting weak. I am getting ready to lie down with her. I am almost to the point I could say ok. We go together. If you go, I go. But then my husband calls me to get milk on my way home and my son tells me he got the job at the post office, and SC makes the Deans List and my youngest asks to borrow my car. Those things remind me that I have more to my life then her addiction which means I can’t lay down with her. And that means I have to find the strength to keep going. And, that, that makes me angry.  I want to live life, not live through life but I don’t know how to do that. Enjoying things and having fun, planning trips with my family feels wrong without her and not doing it makes me feel like I am suffering everyone because of her. I guess purgatory continues. Good times, people.