Unfair

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

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

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

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How’s JoDee?

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

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

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

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

Conversation

Hi

Hi, what’s up?

Nothing, what’s up with you?

Nothing. Everything ok?

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Long pause on both ends)

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

Mom what are you even talking about?

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

Mom. Stop.

(Long pause on both ends)

Mom, can I come home?

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

Then why are you even calling me?

 

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

Nothing Changes, Nothing Stays the Same

 

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

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

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

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.

 

 

Life of Life

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

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

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

Oil Tank Spill:

My Baby Blu

AC and Me in NY

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