The Cat Is Out Of The Bag- Part 1

The cat is out of the bag. The. Cat. Is. Out. Of. The. Bag. I wasn’t saying anything to anyone, or posted publicly because, well, you know, superstitious. But, someone, Ms. Fancy Pants, has been posting on Facebook abut 5 seconds after she turned her phone on, so I guess, I owe everyone an explanation.

JoDee is home. She is clean. She is doing well. Much, much better then I have seen in many years. Instead of addictionish asshole-ness, now she is just normal millennial asshole-ness. It’s a welcome change.

How that happened is a story that will be hard to tell. To put certain emotions into words is so, so hard sometimes. Describing the chain of events that lead up to her homecoming involves an article on Facebook, a nightmare and a gut feeling. Buckle in because this is going to be an interesting ride. And it won’t be a quick one. This will not be a fast read, they will be long, and emotional, and probably several entries long but that’s because there will be no way for me to explain it without a lot of the detail. So, sit down and catch up, or ask someone who does for the cliff notes version.

We have been doing this dance with JoDee where I am the only one who talks to her, and even talking to her is probably a stretch, but never tell anyone that I do. She would call me for an Uber ride because she was late for an appointment, or someone was chasing her, or mean to her, or otherwise in need of a ride immediately, and I would use my Uber app to send it to her. This usually involved the driver not being able to find her, so they are calling me, while she is texting me saying she doesn’t see them. It almost always encompassed a stressful, anxiety-provoking chain of calls, and yelling, and my being upset, all while I am at work. Couple that with the calls for a toothbrush, a jacket which can double as a blanket and a winter that proved to be hard on both of us: emotionally and environmentally and it spells enough. I was at my end. I was at my rock bottom. My rock bottom is probably different from most peoples because the average person processes emotions on a regular basis. Emotions other than anger, irritation, or rage. Those three emotions I have down but crying? Sobbing? Defeat? Me? Defeat? I mean, come on, who is going to believe that? Believe it. I was swinging between no sleep and sleep like Rip Van Winkle. I vacillated between I am not getting out of bed and I can’t lay down for one more minute. I either didn’t shower for days, or I stood in the shower every day until the water was so cold I saw penguins run by me. It was so taxing. And I’m sure you can imagine how taxing this was to my family.

The truth is I’m a fraud. I write these blogs about cutting off your addict even though they are your child or your husband or your sister. I preach that tough love is the way it must be because otherwise we are enabling them. But suddenly I was faced with the absolute realization that I was the enabler. I was the life line she would always have. She would be able to call me to get an Uber ride, or money for toiletries and no matter how nasty she was to me, or the fact that she shut her phone off for days at a time wouldn’t matter because I would still do what ever she needed. Now, don’t misunderstand me, she was homeless. Not the kind of homeless like she was staying at a friend’s house because I kicked her out homeless but HOMELESS. No home. Natta. Zippo. Tent city. Squatting on a porch. Shelters and soup kitchens. Finding places to shower. And by the time I saw her, it was clear that wasn’t all that often. So, my enabling her didn’t feel like I was enabling her because she was fucking homeless. I mean, how can I enable someone I won’t even give a roof over her head too? But, alas, it was happening. Around the same time that I was reaching this peak of lowness, I saw an article on Facebook, probably in one of the many addiction groups I am part of, that said He is an Addict and an Asshole. The point of the article was that this girls father was an addict. He spent her entire childhood couch jumping, getting arrested and dodging all responsibilities as a father. And, she spent her childhood blaming everything on his addiction. Having spent enough time around Al-Anon, Learn to Cope, NA, AA, and any other acronym you can think of I knew that she was supposed to say that it wasn’t his fault. And then. There is always an aha moment. The girl meant up with her father years into her adulthood and years into his sobriety to discover, he was an asshole. Addiction or not, he was a dick. Entitled, nasty, lazy. A general jackwagon that no one would want to be around. For her, that closed the book on that chapter. She could walk away knowing it wasn’t because she was a bad girl, or a shitty person, but because he just sucked. For her it was a relief. For me, it was the anchor I needed to finally hit the bottom.

An idea is such a little thing sometimes. It starts small. And then the more I pontificate on it, it grows, sometimes into something way out of line. In this case, I started to think that JoDee was becoming an asshole. I started believing that even if she were clean she wouldn’t be a good person. I can’t tell you how that feels. I cannot describe the absolute gut-wrenching, violating, vulnerable, magnificently disillusioned feeling that was. For days I kept going back to read the article. And, I would bring it up to AC without ever really telling him I read it, in ways that must have seemed innocuous to him. At dinner I would ask if he thought if JoDee found recovery we would like her. Or while doing errands I would ask him if he thought people who met JoDee now but didn’t know her before would think she was a bad person. I have heard so many stories of people having an existential crisis, but I can only tell you that whatever you think it is, is a million and fifty times worse when it happens to you.

Around this time AC and I were shopping for plants (because you know, retail therapy) in Home Depot and we ran into two of my favorite people in the world. While we were catching up, of course, the subject turned to JoDee. I said it for the first time out loud that day, surprising myself when it came out of my mouth, that I was going to have to cut her off soon because she wasn’t the person I thought she was. I said I was going to have to cut her off, like your dead to me, cut her off. The words felt like balls of cotton in my throat, and the voice that said them didn’t even sound like mine. I believe my next words were, I can’t talk about it anymore because there is no crying in Home Depot. Humor. That is another emotion I can contend with. That night I woke up at 2 in the morning crying. That might not seem so unusual given the state of my life for the last 7 years, but this was not like cute little tears running down my cheeks. This was ugly, sub-sub, can’t catch my breath sobbing. I can only think of about 5 times in the last 5 years that has happened. And none of them were good situations.

I didn’t want to wake up AC so I laid there biting my blanket, crying, and sobbing, and feeling the complete defeat that had become all of us for hours. When AC finally woke up he knew something was very wrong as soon as he saw me. He tried to talk to me, to comfort me, but I cannot handle these types of things. I would rather ass punch you with a meat cleaver then feel these things. So, needless to say I wasn’t really receptive to his loving embrace. I believe I yelled some profanity and took a shower where I stood crying and cursing whatever spiritual beings there are for an hour. The next 24 hours were something out of The Walking Dead for me. I was like Morgan. I could only think of the loss of my child, I was not really present in anything I did, and I was a complete nut job. Well, more of a nut job then I usually am. I had to tell AC how I felt. And I did. Of course, when he tried to calm me down to tell me that it wasn’t like that I threatened to stab him in the neck with a fork while he slept so he just sat there staring at me. Ironically, I fell into such a deep sleep, the kind of deep sleep I hadn’t had in a long, long time, that night. Sadly, that blissfully deep sleep was fraught with a terrible nightmare about JoDee drowning and me trying to save her but her pushing me under the water to save herself. It was both awful and metaphorically perfect for how I was feeling. That morning, between rib-breaking sobs, I told him it was time. I had to say good bye to her. I was going to call her to tell her that she could no longer use me as her life line and she was on her own. After getting ready for work, I got in my car and dialed her number. Two rings later she answered the phone, and then hello changed everything.

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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.

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.

Embarrassed

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

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

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

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

 

 

Life of Life

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

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

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

Oil Tank Spill:

My Baby Blu

AC and Me in NY

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

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

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

Insert Picture Here:

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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.