Unfair

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.

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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.

Jesus.

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)

Actually….

What?

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.

Dear 2018

Dear 2018,

I hope this letter find you well, and in good spirits. It is but only 2 days until you make your grand arrival, and I would like to take this opportunity to acquaint you with some history of my life and my family. See, I have nothing but high hopes for this coming year. Actually, that is a lie. I’m afraid it is going to suck bird turd and I am about one incident away from complete and total psycho. Think, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I would be the Cuckoo.

2012 was rough. I was laced with depression and volatility but we managed through it. 2013 things got progressively worse. The year 2013 was as much fun as sucking eyeballs through a garden hose. But then, just when I got the taste of dirty eyeballs out of my mouth, 2014 showed up. This year had more ups and downs then a bipolar support group. It felt like I was riding a roller coaster that no one was manning and I had no safety buckle. Just when I was sick of hanging on, and I contemplated letting go, bamo, 2015. Now, 2015 started off very rough, but then it got better, actually. We had about six months in the middle of the year that were, I’m almost afraid to say it, nice. AC and I got married, we had a family trip, things seemed calmer, and normal. Of course, in my world that could never last. 2015 ended with me using the guts of my enemies to garland my Christmas tree. Ok-fine, not really but in my head it happened.

That brings me to 2016. 2016 was tough. There were times that I was afraid to get out of bed. Afraid? No. Resistant. Defiant. I am so grateful that I have all the kids, and AC, and most importantly the only reason I live, Diego, to get me through it. If it wasn’t the crazy, unhealthy and at times frightening love for my kitty, Oh-and my husband and children, I think I would jumped head first off the roof of my house. The other reason I didn’t do that is because things were going so effed up in my life I was afraid I would live but with one eye, three fingers on one hand, and no toes on one foot. Or, something equally as embarrassing and not at all deadly hence fulfilling my fear that I wouldn’t even be able to kill myself right. In the end, we made it through the year. We forged forward, and rang in 2017 with a bang.

I had such high, high hopes for this year. Buying a new house, all the kids were home, everyone had their own room, and AC and I had a room that was befitting to fabulous, magnificent and wonderful parents like ourselves. My high hopes were squashed. Not like a bug squashed. Think the guy that walked across those high story buildings in New York on a tight rope, but image he slipped plummeting like 200 stories to the ground type of squashed. SQUASHED. While every year has redeemable moments, and 2017 did too, I will not have another year like this one. I cannot. My family cannot. And, I have to say 2017 is trying my patients, and my will, and my faith right to the very end. Now, I’m hoping that 2017 knows something I don’t, like 2018 is going to be better and it’s the fight between good and evil. I am hoping that the evil 2017 is just holding on to the last bits of control it has because the last few days have been nutso to the 8th power. Think Stephen Kings movie Room 1408 (if you haven’t seen it, do. The book was better but the movie stars John Cusack- I mean, c’mon-John? Too cute for words!).  As the time ticks by, and it’s almost over I begin to fear something worse is coming.

This is where 2018 comes in. Listen, I am changing shit up a bit here. We are having a big News Year Eve party which means I will be actually awake (if I am not passed out drunk) at midnight. We are going to throw our Good-bye Eggs right after Midnight in an effort to get rid of the unwanted and unseemly devises of 2017 and …. Actually there is no and. That’s it so far. But, I am going to think positively. Now, that is not easy for me, and it is not something that comes naturally but I have been working on. AC and I have a packed for a New Year’s Resolution that involves being healthier, thinking positively, and making more time for ourselves so I have the tools in place I just need a little help from the stars. So, if you could help a girl have a banner year after 4 suck-ass, horrible, no-frills, dirty toilet water sprayed in your face kind of years, I would be forever grateful. One year. That’s all I’m asking. I’m not dishing out my five year plan, or begging for a life of leisure eating bon bons and watching The Following over and over (Um, James Purefoy? I can’t handle it. How can I love a character that plays a vicious serial killer… oh wait that actually is me totally!)? I am just asking for boredom. The lack of excitement. Simple-ness, and ease. Just nothing. Just living life. Doing dishes, going to work, hanging out with friends. Nothing remarkable at all. Just over look any dramatics or histrionics for this family. I am ok with no major changes or any kind but if there is some rule that there has to be SOMETHING then change for the positive is essential because one more year like this and I am pretty sure I will go right off the deep end. People will forget about Manson and only talk about Melanie! (Two serial killer references in one post, hmmm… Freud would love that.)

Thank you in advance,

Best,

Melanie

 

Embarrassed

One of the things a parent of an addict, or any loved one of an addict, feels is embarrassment. I know that people are often embarrassed FOR me. The thing that is misunderstood is that I am not embarrassed BY JoDee. I think that might be really hard for people to understand. I know fellow mother’s in the same situation as I am, like Jill and Toni, will agree that it is a complete misconception that our addict is an embarrassment. She isn’t. There is a lot of embarrassing things floating around us, and there are situations that I have been embarrassed by but those are typically emotions I have felt, or actions I have taken, or thought that I have had-less the addict. The statement hate the addiction, love the addict is true and with that comes a broader level of patience and accountability, and perspective. When dealing with an addict a person cannot use cookie-cutter methods to their madness. Madness it is. Madness is probably a perfect word for it. And that is a word I can dissect in another day, but today is about embarrass.

The first moments that addiction becomes so obvious in your family, there is no time for embarrassment. The brain cannot catch up fast enough to comprehend embarrassed. The first emotion is disbelief. Horror. Terror. As a mother, I went directly into mom mode. She has an illness, how do I cure it? I read everything I could, I called every medical person I knew, I learned there was no cure. I learned that there was so much more to it than someone doing drugs. So I read all the information I could about that. I went through a lot in the first months of her addiction. Pulling away from the very detox after I dropped her off, I felt numb. I was shook. I thought I was devastated. I thought it couldn’t get any worse. But I realized that it could. And the first time I realized just how fucked up things were about to be was when she ran from the first rehab in Arizona. Locked in my bathroom, laying in child pose, crying harder than I ever remember crying in my life, I thought my life was over. Confessions time: I am an ugly crier. And not the regular ol’ ugly crier, we are talking absolutely horrendous, think the mask from the Scream movies. Scary. That is embarrassing.

Hindsight is 20/20- that is no shit. I remember the time that JoDee went to the emergency room in Salem because she was high, and breathing shallow, and they were going to medically clear her for detox. At that time, I was so mad that she relapsed. I was so pissed that she was still doing this. I remember seeing JV and Big Al waiting for me at the entrance, knowing I was going to kill her dead, trying to calm me down I of course flew past them directly to the doctor where I demand he do a list of things (blood work, fluid, etc.- this wasn’t my first rodeo) and he treated me like, well, I guess, like the mother of a dirty, smelly, unkempt, incoherent addict. I responded with a personal attack that sounded something like the air was thin for him because he had a giraffe neck.  That was embarrassing.  And I have about 900 examples of that. Every road block, every person that didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, every time I couldn’t get my way to help her get better that is embarrassing.  It some instances the person on the receiving end of my attack maybe didn’t deserve it. In some instances that deserved that and more, but I’m a reality and I should be able to maintain a level of decorum, especially if I want people to have a different perspective of addicts and their families.  I consider it part of my duty in changing the stigma to behave in a manner that is not embarrassing to other families of addicts.  Every time we walk into any setting with our loved one that is drooling, and unclean, and combative, it is up to us to make others see them as a sick, and not less than- that means acting like we are not less than. It is not easy. It is trying, and disappointing and sometimes hurts in a place that brings out the worst in anyone, especially me. Since I am not a crier, I don’t break down and cry but instead square up, fist up, ready to take it on. That sounds tough but it isn’t. It’s weak. It is the easy way out to fight with someone instead of staying calm to send a clearer message. That sort of behavior embarrasses me (kinda sorta, in a #sorrynotsorry sort of way).

I can’t think of a single example of me being embarrassed BY JoDee. I might be embarrassed FOR her sometimes. Those feelings are different. I would never not claim her as mine or be unable to be seen with her in public or uncomfortable talking about her. If was at all embarrassed this here blog wouldn’t exist, y’all. I implore other families to feel the same. Feelings of embarrassment toward an addict is only going to feed the stigma fire that says they are of a lesser class. Our addicts need to be seen as people first, with a disease that makes them sick not as a sickness on society. They are very, very different things.

 

 

Life of Life

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

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

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

Oil Tank Spill:

My Baby Blu

AC and Me in NY

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

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

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

Insert Picture Here:

 

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

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

 

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

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