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.

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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.

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.

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

 

Life or Death

Life or death. Life being the opposite of death. Death being the finality of all life. I have heard people say that there is a thin line between life and death. Also, there is a thin line between love and hate. I don’t believe either of these to be true. I understand why someone says there is a thin line between love and hate because it assumes a sense of intimacy. There is no hate without some sort of connection previously.  It is impossible to truly hate a person without having some knowledge of them. Even if the person is relatively strange to you and committed a heinous act, there had to be love for the dead, to hate the person living that committed the act.  Sometimes you can love a person so much that you feel hatred toward they actions they take. Almost to the point where you want to whack them about the head and shoulders with a Lucille-type baseball bat. Not that, um, I have had that particular fantasy. Anyway… moving on.

Imagine I have been diagnosed with a life-ending disease. Any disease. I could have prevented that disease or have had no control whatsoever about the development of the disease but I have this disease and it could end my life prematurely or I could suffer through a treatment. A treatment that may take me away from friends, or loved ones, and life in general for a period of time, maybe up to a year, even, but at the end of that time I would be in a better place to continue life on life’s terms. Live life. Only, I decide to ignore a treatment plan only to wait for the disease to take my life. I imagine my family would hate that decision. They might even have hateful feelings for me but that doesn’t mean they hate me. It means they hate my choices and are desperate for me to change my mind. They might beg, plead, stage interventions, and eventually become extremely angry at me. None the less, I refuse treatment. In the end, I die. That would suck. Like, big time, yes?

Why is addiction different? It’s not. Not in my opinion. My daughter has an addiction. Addiction is proven to be a brain disease. It is directly linked to the underdevelopment or damage to parts of the brain that are responsible for impulsivity, problem solving, reasoning and other emotions. It is unfortunate that this has happened but it isn’t the end of the end. Or it doesn’t have to be. There are treatments. Traditional rehabs, holistic medicine, hypnosis, drug replacement therapy, and opioid blockers. Walk into any NA hall and you will find a room full of those that have found a way to recovery. Recovery happens.  But not without hard work, acceptance that there is a problem and taking responsibility for their own actions.

Right now my kid is in this place in her life where addiction is her excuse. She commits acts that the average person would deem unacceptable to seek help from those around her using addiction is the reason for her bad actions. At first, I would bail her out. I would help her every time she was in hot water but that is so old.  The entitlement surrounding her addiction is suffocating me, and making me want to suffocate her with the rainbow pillow case she has had since she was seven. I understand that she is suffering from addiction but she is only going to keep suffering unless she changes something. The only thing that has changed is her ability to come up with new and more unique excuses for her poor behavior. At nearly 24 JoDee spent Christmas on the street, trying to guilt me into giving her money, feeling sorry for herself and wanting me to feel sorry for her too. And it worked. While I did not give her any money, I did feel badly for her. And for me. But not in the way she wanted me too. Part of me felt that spending the year being self-absorbed and only concerned with scoring her next fix is the reason she spent it on the street in the cold, something only she could control. Part of me also wanted to drive out west to pick her up, but I knew that would not help her. And in the end it would make me feel worse, so I did not do that.  I did, however, feel badly that six years in we were still dealing with this shit.

“You can’t send me money for food, it’s Christmas this is crazy” was the text I got.

“I will not send you money for anything, but I will order pizza, or subs, or something for you too eat if you want me too” was my response.

“maybe later” was the answer.  Apparently she wasn’t that hungry.

She was right about one thing; this shit is crazy. It is crazy that she hasn’t participated in a long-term recovery program but thinks we should help her stay sick. It’s crazy that she hasn’t lived a life that really involved anyone but herself and her own needs but thinks we should spend the holiday feeling badly for that. It is crazy that she thinks that the people who love her and miss her will not see right through her behavior. It’s crazy that she said we were doing better without her and she was right, but for the wrong reasons. It is easier to have her away from us than for us to see her dirty, and broken, and lying and cheating, and blaming others besides herself especially when she reminds us again and again that she is suffering from a terrible disease but isn’t doing much to over come it. We are not better off without her when she is clean and the person we love, and participating in family events. I’m sick of the excuses, and I’m sick of the apathy for her own life.  She is an addict and that sucks and I hate it. I do not hate her. I think it is a terrible burden to care around but there are ways to overcome and succeed if the desire is there. If she doesn’t have the desire to work on her own recovery, why should I have the desire to participate in her illness?  She needs to decide if she will seek treatment, and if she decides to keep on this path, she will suffer the consequences, which means we will suffer them too. And I hate that shit.

 

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.