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.

Advertisements

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Nature vs. Nurture

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

My Friends

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

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

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

 

Thank you for being my friend.

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

Thank you for never giving up on me.

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

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

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

Thank you for being you. I love you.

Nurse Jackie

Hello, my name is Melanie and I am Netflix addict. If you know me, you know this is true to a ridiculous extent. Including watching the The Walking Dead or Greys Anatomy from the beginning for the millionth time while on the treadmill.  I have watched them all: The Following, The Fall, Weed, Charmed, Bloodline, Glitch, The Killing, Prison Break, SuperNatural, House of Cards,  Lost, Lie to Me, Longmire, Stranger Things, Marcella, West Wing (hated it, btw), should I continue or have I humiliated myself enough? Anyway, you get the point. The one show I have not watched is Nurse Jackie. I was going to watch it but then I asked someone about it and I learned it was about a nurse with a drug addiction. Normally any show that depicts someone with an addiction is so far off track it is either offensive or laughable. For example, the Soprano’s had a lot of drugs which was pretty accurate but then Christopher (Anthony Soprano’s nephew) developed a drug problem to heroin. His addiction was so bad that he sat on his girlfriend’s dog while he was high and killed it. After that and a few other incidents the family staged an intervention with an actual interventionist and that was somewhat accurate. But then he went to a 30 day rehab once and hallelujah! found recovery. Just like that. Boom. Hail Jesus. That was offensive. Who the hell goes to rehab once (not to mention no real detox) to find a super life? Oh and when he left rehab he went back to a thug life, working around drugs and booze, with really no relapse, until much, much later.

I was actually relieved to see him finally relapse because the whole thing was insulting. Insulting? No,farcical. So, when I saw the trailer for Nurse Jackie, and I heard what it was about, I decided to skip it. And watched everything else (including shit on Amazon and Hulu) but I kept seeing it pop up as something I might like to watch. I finally decided to give it a chance. Mostly because I had the flu and was so dead in bed, I had really no other option. I was surprised. The story is not really parallel to mine as the mother is the addict and her kid hates her for it. Obviously mine is the opposite, but I don’t hate my addict. But, it is interesting to see the progression of the disease from a different perspective. I mean, come on, it’s still fiction. It’s still drama made for TV but it’s not that far off. This woman has a wonderful (and sexy as hell) husband and two great kids and life which she ruins because of her drug addiction. The whole story sort of roped me in because she is an awesome nurse, and a mom, and basically living a double life to feed her addiction.  But, the one thing that seemed so realistic to me was the impulsivity.

SPOILER ALERT:

I am going to talk about the show which will probably give away important facts. If you read on you do so at your own risk.

This woman is a very successful addict for many years. I know that sounds like an oxy-moron but it’s true. She is a fantastic nurse, and mother, and wife who happens to screw the pharmacist at the hospital she works to feed her drug addiction. She uses the excuse that she hurt her back as a means to get him to supply the drugs which he does because he has no idea she has an entire family. Of course, the facade is ruined one day, and everything begins to crumble around her.  She has several seasons of drug horror before she finally finds her way to rehab. She white knuckles it through the first year of sobriety. One the  anniversary she just nonchalantly pops a pill in her mouth. For no obvious reason. For no purpose. Just because. And that, that is so true. I know for a fact that JoDee has rewarded herself for a 30, 60, 90, 120 day sobriety with getting high. That is the fucked up, irrational, diseased thinking that addicts have. They believe that since they made it a year they can control it now. It’s really not much different from someone with bipolar disease believing they no longer need meds to keep them stable. It’s all part of the disease progression.

It’s not long before she is a wrecking ball in her life, that ends with her being arrested. Blah, Blah, Blah, nursing diversion program, suspended nursing license, once again working hard to gain back everyone’s trust, blah, blah, blah, nursing board reinstate her licence earning her job back. Immediately she puts her nursing scrubs on throwing a pill in her mouth at the same time. Bam. And it seems so ridiculous. You will want to beat her. And shame her. And yell at her. And you will want to think she deserves her family abandoning her, and her boyfriend going to jail, and losing her license again, and possibly her life, and all those feelings are fair enough. Only that is part of the problem. Drug addiction goes so far beyond the actual drug use. It’s the mentality. It’s the mental regression. It is not being able to think about family, or life, or  self. It’s not because the Nurse Jackie’s of the world don’t love their children or spouse or jobs, but because they are not equipped to face those responsibilities. They truly believe that no one knows they are using, and that they can handle it, and that their life is manageable.

Once, at the very beginning of this nightmare, when I thought accompanying JoDee to every N/A meeting would somehow control her using I had my first experience with this kind of relapse. We went to a meeting on a Wednesday night. At that meeting a young man was receiving his 60 day chip. He spoke about his struggles, and that his family finally sent him away to rehab and that was the magic ticket. That rehab was the salvation and he was ready to embrace life drug-free. The very next day we went to a different meeting and the same young man stood up to receive his 24 hour chip, signifying that he had relapsed the night before. I was stunned. And horrified. No one else in the room was. I was so shocked, I almost couldn’t contain myself. Fast forward all these years later, and I am rarely shocked. I am a little embarrassed for myself that I was such a dingus.

Since then JoDee has pulled this exact thing. I can’t tell you how many times I went to see her pick up a milestone chip only to pick her up off the floor the next day. She discharged from detox to an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program). The first night I picked her up from the program, she was high. She didn’t even make it 12 hours. And another time she discharged from WATC with a handful of narcan because she blatantly told the staff she had ever intention of using the minute she stepped foot outside the fence. So I guess what I am trying to say is that not all addicts look like the homeless people on the street. Sometimes they are seemingly rational, hard-working, and productive members of society. All addicts have one and only one thing in common regardless of station in life, financial income, sexuality or religion and that is unpredictability.  You will never know when they will use. You will never know if their sobriety is long term. You will never know if they will put drugs over self, family, job or safety. And you will never, ever know what made them pick up again because often they don’t even know. The conundrum is real and painful because as a loved one of an addict I can tell you that I want to trust my addict, I want to believe she is really not using, but historically that isn’t the case. History has told me that if I think she is using, she probably is. And my gut tells me if I think something isn’t right, it probably is wrong. But how do we reconcile that? When the addict is standing in front of us looking earnest and honest pleading their case about not using and doing well, how does someone know when to trust them? The answer is we don’t. We will never know.

Recently, once again, I was tasked with collecting JoDee’s belongings from a place that she left them behind. This is her typical MO. It smelled bad, made my car stink like smoke, and I did not want to search her stuff for drugs or needles.  I know I probably should have but I’m sick of doing that. I’m tired of doing this especially because she doesn’t stay clean. This morning I had to leave all those belongings on my porch for someone to pick them up for her. As I pulled out of the drive way I was struck with the ridiculousness and depressing realization that this is where we are. We are at a place were all of my kids shit is on my porch waiting to get picked up like donations to a charity, or the weekly trash. Everything she is, or was, or has been is packed in one box, one laundry basket and a suitcase so heavy I was slightly concerned there may have been a body inside. I didn’t look inside because if there was a body in it I’m pretty sure she would have asked me to bury it. That is what I have become, the cleaner, the problem solver, the only when- I- need -you person. All symptoms of addiction.