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.

 

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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.

 

 

This Is What He Learned

I taught my son how to ride a bike. I taught my son how to ice skate. I taught my son how to tie his shoes. I taught him how to turn on the computer when he was four years old.  I taught him how to drive a stick shift car.  Those are the things I know I taught him. I have memories of teaching him these things. There are a lot of things I worked at teaching him through the years like manners, kindness, respect and laughter. Those are every day parts of parenting. I strive to teach him to be independent, to think before he jumps, to manage his money like he might be broke tomorrow, and to do his own laundry (though I miss doing his laundry because I could steal his sweatpants!).  I’m sure there are a lot of subtle or subconscious things I have taught him through the years but none was more evident than the incident that recently happened.

My son has a friend who is struggling with addiction. Many, many people have been trying to help him, but most of them do not understand the process as well as I do. There has been a lot of really high highs and really low lows lately except that I have anticipated them. When he reaches out for help, I remind them all that its great that he is asking and we should not be discouraged if it doesn’t work because at some point it will. Of course, the friend didn’t stay at the first detox attempt. And he didn’t continue going to his first IOP attempt. And he has called for help several times without following through all of which is really hard for the people around him that want to help. I keep saying just hang in there. I know that people said that to me along the way, through the years, and I know that they are doing exactly what I did: Ignore my advice entirely. I can’t take it personally because everyone hopes that their loved one is going to be the one that miraculously is clean and healthy after their first attempt, never to return to the drug world. I’m sure it does happen sometimes to some people but I can’t imagine it happens very often. I have never heard of it.

I wasn’t surprised when I heard he was going to detox again. I wasn’t surprised to hear that maybe his addiction had reached an all time dangerous level, either. A lot of times addiction will get worse before it will get better. I was surprised, however, to hear that this friend called my son in the middle of the night asking for my help. I was even more surprised when my son said that he didn’t need me because he could help him. And he did. He did everything I would have done. He was kind, and patient, and respectful but firm. Getting an addict to detox, for those who have never done it, is not easy. Most addicts are anxious, and high, and wanting to get more high on their way there. It means helping get rid of any triggers for when they get out, and cleaning up a mess that they may have left behind. It means hoping to hell that they don’t jump out of the car at a red light to run away. Or after getting there hoping to hell that they will get out of the car and into the detox without incident. Sometimes an addict will decide to go to detox, reach out for help, find a bed (Thank you Maureen at http://www.magnolianewbeginnings.org), only to panic at the last minute refusing to leave.  There is a balance of support, honesty, and strength needed by the driver/deliverer/helper. It’s not easy. And I don’t mean physically. It’s mentally hard to see someone you love using, and high, and strung out, and desperate. It’s not a pretty picture.  And my son handled it like a pro.

He did exactly what he needed to do. No matter how traumatizing and difficult and probably scary, he handled it. I’m proud of him for that and I’m so thankful that his friend reached out to him. But I’m also horrified and saddened and a little bit guilt-ridden. Why is that, you ask? Well, that is what my son learned from me. Watching me take care of his sister for years has prepared him, readied him to help an addicted friend. How many mothers can say that? His childhood was flanked with detox, rehab, drugs and a mother who spent a lot of time doing all the things he did but a million times more. Is my legacy to my children how to navigate the drug-rehab world? This… this is the life we inhabit. Awesome. Mother of the year right here.

Things That Make You Go Huh?

Recently I have felt like I am living in the twilight zone. Here are some reasons why:

 

Who in the world found my blog by using this as search terms:

Chinese. com xxx pre-teen

I literally can’t….. I’m ridiculously disturbed for so many reasons….

I joined snapchat. Actually, that’s not true- I have been on snapchat a long time but never really used it. I decided to broaden my friends so I would see more snappers. Somehow I realized I wasn’t friends with JoDee on snapchat so I sent her a friend request. The following is a true story:

Snapchat received- who is this

Me- your mother you dink

Snapchat- really? wtf

Hours later I sent JoDee a snapchat of me saying “What’s up bitches???”  using the video feature while pulling the phone up close and then far away from my face.

Snapchat- Um,. I don’t know who you think this is but you are definitely not my mother. My name is William but I keeping you added for the entertainment.

Me- Omg I’m sorry I called you a dink. I just sent you a crazy snap, please please do not open it.

Snapchat- Too late. lol

Me- I am dying. I have died. I am crying from blind humiliation and laughter.

Who am I? Who does this? HOW did I do this? My snapchatting days are effectively over.

While banned from driving when I was sick- trying take an Uber home from work:

Uber requested, and accepted. Ten minutes away. Five minutes away. Two minutes away. Five minutes away. Wait what? Ten minutes away. Hello? Where are you going? Fourteen minutes away. What the hell? Your Uber ride has been cancelled.  Did I just get blown off by Uber?  Second request sent and accepted. Ten minutes away. Phone rings “I can’t pick you up so can you please cancel that ride?” It’s a real ego boost when two Uber drivers abandon you within five minutes apart. Isn’t it there job to give me a ride????? I wasn’t looking for a free ride!

Young man at Dunkin Donuts:

Have you lost weight? You look different.

Me:

Do I come here to much for you to ask me that? And no, I haven’t. It’s because I am in my pajamas but Thank you for drawing attention to it.

I decide to step on the scale, which is never a good idea. But this time, it’s on the heals of breaking my friends lawn chair when the leg folded in, so I’m looking for a confidence booster. Naked, with just enough courage to take the leap, I step on the scale and immediately jump off. That can’t be right. Timidly I step back on. The numbers flashing are taunting me, and rude, quiet frankly. 798.8 is staring back at me. Ok- I know I have suffered from Over Active Fork this summer, but that is just uncalled for. 798.8? Wow. That cured me of my desire to ever do that again.  (Side note: apparently the battery was dying but I still find it to be particularly unforgiveable. The next day it read 78.89 so all was forgiven. Also I notified Guinness Book of World Records about the largest weight loss in the shortest amount of time.)

I had a psychic party at my house. A psychic came over to read 8 of my closest friends and families futures. It was fun and funny and a little scary in some instances. Everyone that got a private reading came out of a little bit shook. I went last. This lady, (who had to call me for directions and was nonplussed when I seemed surprised that she didn’t just KNOW where to go) writes down everything she is “seeing, thinking, psychic-ing” as she talks to you. On mine she said I sleep little and think to much, and a bunch of stuff about my sons but then she wrote “Jody, early twenties, ? sick?” I nearly shit. Then I thought maybe she saw my blog but who knows. In the end she told me that I shouldn’t give up hope and right before she walked out the door she told me that JoDee should stay on suboxone. I did shit. Actually, I was speechless and if you know me at all you would know that NEVER HAPPENS.

The reason that I found that so shocking is that JoDee has talked about suboxone many, many times and each time I have talked her out of it. I believe it works. And I believe it is important to some addicts, but I always thought it was a bad idea for her. Alright all you judgy, critical people. I know it isn’t my business, and I should stay out of it, but I’m a mother and I am human and I am naturally a buttinsky. When I called JoDee to tell her about that last comment, she swore at me, and said some other choice things and then pointed out that I need a psychic to tell me what’s what to let her make her own decisions. Wait, what? C’mon. That’s a little dramatic. Let us don’t get carried away, people.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Magnolia, Process, and a Flawed System

 

This is the story of one young man’s willingness to get help, and the three women with the determination to find him that help. Picture it: The year was 2017, the month June. Three women with no prior relationship or association are brought together by the sheer desperation of one young man. It all started with a young girl. That young girl saw that her boyfriend needed help. He was going down a bad path and it was terrifying to watch. She turned to the one person everyone turns to in their hour of need: her mother.  Let’s call her Karen. Karen and her daughter sought advice on how to get treatment for this young man by someone who had been through it more times than she cared to discuss: me.  They wanted to know how to get him help, where to go, what to say, who to tell and what they should expect. The young man’s situation was sad. Parents that had trouble of their own, and his feeling like he is floundering through life. Karen took him under her wing and was willing to do whatever it took to help him. I gave them the information I had, and I told them I would help however I could  but when they left my house I felt sad for them. I know what it is like to be at the beginning of this journey preparing to discover the world of addiction.

 

A few weeks later I received a call from Karen saying that he was willing to go to treatment but she didn’t know what the next step is. This is where everything became a mess. For me, I was the parent. I was JoDee’s mother and it made it easier for me to drag her to the hospital for medical clearance, to call insurance companies, to call detoxes for her and eventually pack her drugged-up ass to deposit at a facility. That challenge is exaggerated 100% when the child is not your own. With her own child in crisis, Karen managed to get him to the hospital for medical clearance. Of course, nothing is ever easy. He was discharged with the hospital telling him that he wasn’t “addicted enough” to meet the protocol for detox. He didn’t have enough drugs in his system, and cocaine didn’t qualify for detox. Imagine? Sorry, son, your drug habit isn’t bad enough. Go out and fuck up your life worse and then come back for help. For some reason helping an addict before they are at the brink of death is frowned upon.

 

Undaunted Karen did not give up. She fought with the hospital, she argued with the social worker and as a last resort she called me. It infuriates me that an addict has to have a village of people in his corner to get help. It is infuriating that this boy would have left the hospital to go home to a questionable environment because he wouldn’t have known how to fight for or ask for more help without having people in his corner to tell him how to do it. So, I did the only thing I know how to do when looking for a bed in a crisis- called the people that helped me with JoDee. I immediately reached out to two individuals whose organizations have helped JoDee many times, Nicole White from The Process Recovery and Matt Ganem from Banyan Recovery Center . Neither of them could take his insurance (which is another whole nightmare) but they put me in touch with organizations that could. Nicole gave me the number of a Maureen Cavanaugh with Magnolia New Beginnings.

 

Magnolia is a non-profit organization that offers many different services and much needed help navigating through the recovery world. Founded by Maureen, this organization provides something invaluable- understanding. As a parent that has tried to maneuver the landmines of insurance companies, case managers, detoxes, rehab and all the different agencies I can tell you I wished I had this service. It is impossible to know what to do. Finding out your child is an addict is heartbreaking and shocking and there is no time to take a moment to let it sink in.  Magnolia New Beginnings is designed to help the addicts find treatment, with scholarships for programs not otherwise available to them and by working with other programs like Process for continued care. It also provides support services for family members.  Rise Above, a sober living program with multiple locations, works with Magnolia to assist addicts with scholarships on move-in fees and weekly rent if they financially qualify. Process and Banyan both provide recovery programs that are abstinence and 12-step program based. Both are residential programs with the idea of continued recovery in mind aiding in transitioning an addict back into society.

 

Over the next twenty four hours, while Karen managed inpatient help for her daughter, the three of us text or called each other at least a million times exploring every avenue possible for a bed for him. I am pretty sure between the three of us we called ever detox or dual diagnosis unit in Massachusetts. The young man was losing hope and getting more desperate as the time went by with no bed. He was emotional, distraught and questioning a system that made it so difficult for someone to get help. His exact words were “it shouldn’t be this hard”. He is right. But a flawed system is what we had to deal with and it is the only system we have.  Karen and Maureen made an incredible team not wavering until he was head in a bed. We all know it is up to him now, and only he can write the future but I was honored and grateful to be part of a network that truly moves mountains to help someone in need. Before he needed help I didn’t know either of these women, but now I think they are my new BFF’s.

 

For information on any of the organizations mentioned in this post, or to make a donation (Magnolia is completely volunteer staff. Donations go to help addicts with scholarships, treatment and family support services), please click the links below:

 

http://www.time2riseabove.com/about_us

 

https://www.banyanmass.com/

 

http://www.magnolianewbeginnings.org/

The Things

The things most parents say:

Get up.

Brush your teeth.

Get dressed.

Don’t miss the bus.

Don’t be late for school.

Tie your shoe.

Read a book.

Are you hungry? Are you sick?

Are you happy?

Don’t worry.

Don’t lie to me.

I love you.

I love you too.

I miss you.

Knock before you come in.

For god sakes, I’m peeing. Can I pee in silence please?

I can’t hear you, I’m in the shower.

Can it wait until I am done showering?

Empty the dishwasher.

Fold the towels.

Walk the dog.

Does anyone close a freaking door around here? There is no toilet paper fairy. Anyone can replace the roll.

Finish your homework.

Bush your teeth.

Go to bed.

 

Things most parents of an addict say:

 

Did you use today?

Do you have narcan? When was the last time you ate?

Don’t buy from people you don’t know.

No, I won’t give you money.

I will buy you food.

You look like shit.

You look so good.

How long have you been clean?

Why haven’t you answered your phone? When will I see you again?

You seriously think I’m dumb.

Don’t lie to me.

No, you can’t come home.

No, you can’t come for Easter.

Happy Birthday. I didn’t think you would see another one.

Are you sick?

Don’t leave detox.

Go back to detox.

Don’t leave rehab.

Go back to rehab.

You are going to die.

I want to punch your face.

I love you and I’m scared.

I can’t talk to you.

I need to talk to you.

Shut up. Shut the fuck up this second before I sew your mouth shut with barbed wire. (Am I the only one who says this?)

I’m sorry.

I forgive you.

I can’t do this anymore.

Get a job for the love of all that is holy!

If I catch you watching Netflix all day one more time I am going to pop your eyes out and drop them in battery acid.

No wonder you’re fucked up…. I’m a nutcase.