Thoughts

I mentioned before how Ash has experienced more deaths from overdoses than I have encountered in my lifetime.  Our phone conversation yesterday was about the most recent one.  A young man who had a wife and child and had gone through rehab three times. The third time he left because his insurance would not cover any further treatment.  His wife had left him, he was still trying, and now he’s gone.  I cannot imagine what it is like for Ash.  I know she puts her heart and soul into helping others in their recoveries.  I have experienced how her clients, fellow employees, and those in AA respond to her.  She has a gift but she cannot save them all.  It is a daily challenge for her.

She is in a good place now, mentally and physically.  Despite the last couple of weeks, events which could have triggered a relapse, she seems to have gathered strength.  Her confidence has bloomed and she is seeing herself more as others see her.  

Last night I watched the documentary, HEROIN(E) on Netflix.  It was a look at the opioid epidemic in Huntington,WVA.  I kept thinking about the conversations Ash and I have had about treatment and believe me, she knows much more about it than me.   Huntington has quite a team fighting for addicts and their recovery.  Some may find it difficult to watch.  There was one segment of a team laying a young woman who had overdosed on a stretcher.  Her face was blurred but she looked so much like Ash, hair, body type.  I concentrated more on what the judge at their drug court, the firemen, EMS, and police were doing to help.  Amazing.

Some, but not all, were homeless.  I had asked Ash on my last trip if she had ever overdosed.  I thought I was ready to hear her answer as she never mentioned it nor had I asked.  I think I just always knew.  While she had never been hospitalized, she did have a couple of close calls. That led to the discussion of relapse always a possibility.  I was enlightened a bit more as to her time outside the gay bar and how she set up camp in the alley behind the building.  So difficult to imagine this.  It breaks my heart.  I wasn’t there.  She said the only thing that kept her from making a “Homeless, need money for food” sign was her pride.  We all have seen the homeless with the signs and wonder if the money would go for food or drugs.  I think that money given to her would possibly have gone for drugs.  They are more important to an addict than food.

Another startling statement during my trip was when Ash was stopped at a light, looked over at me and said, “You have good veins,Mom.”   Seeing the look on my face, she educated me on how she notices those things now.  She also cannot understand how I can be her mom, pour a glass of wine, and not finish it.  Some of my friends may not believe it, but yes, it happens often.  Ash said addicts have to drink the whole bottle.  I knew that but not that our veins are a source of envy.

In the Netflix show, a woman who has been trying to rescue people from the streets for years, asked a young woman what the craving was like.  Her reply was wanting that next high would be what the woman might feel if she could kiss Jesus.

Ash and I have some topics listed to write about from middle school on.  I am curious as to what you might want to know, especially those of you who are living the nightmare of an addict in the family.  We have good times and are always hopeful, but believe me, I know it can be a parent’s, spouse’s, friend’s, child’s and sibling’s worst nightmare.

I love my recovering addict.  What can we do to help with yours?

California is Too Far Away for This Mom!

 

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As the mother of a recovering addict, one thing is clear.  There is always the chance for a relapse.  I can never allow myself to believe that this is over and she will never relapse.  I can hope for that.  I can pray for that.  Yet to internalize it and believe it is not what the parent of an addict can do.  Addicts are very honest about this whether they have thirty days, thirty months, or thirty years.  There is always that chance.

My visit to California was treasured mother/daughter bonding time.  We rented a small cottage set in the midst of beautiful landscaping, koi ponds, and scattered seating areas around the property.  Our days were spent talking, watching a couple of movies, cooking dinner together, attending an AA meeting, and playing mini golf in 100 degree heat.  Anything to make us feel somewhat normal.

Ash had asked me if I wanted to meet a guy she had been seeing for about two months.  She had been very secretive about him as she tried to figure out if it was going anywhere.  Ash had shared with me what he had been telling her and it was obvious she was feeling adored and loved. I always am game for meeting anyone in Ashley’s life and he seemed to be on board with their relationship.  We had a nice dinner together.  Later, he texted her that he now had two favorite women in his life.

We talked about it over my remaining days and I was holding back any type of judgment.  Yes, he was newly in recovery and that was not the best sign.  One of Ashley’s past relationships was with a young man she had met during her first trip to rehab.  They did well in group meetings together and their talking eventually spilled over into a relationship that lasted for about seven years, off and on.  I met him a few times and did like him.  My biggest fear was they both entangled themselves without having at least a year clean.  I read quite a bit about addicts in relationships together and had no idea how this would end.  Some find that they keep each other sober, others use together. As I told them once, they could support each other or kill each other.  And kill each other with their addiction is what they almost did.  He introduced her to heroin.  I am not exactly happy about that but I don’t blame him.  That is what addicts do.  She made the decision to do it and if it had not been him, it most likely would have been someone else. I am thankful that he has about four years clean at present and I will always wish him well.

I do remember having dinner with them both one night and stated that I would hope if one of them used, the other would leave.  I was so far away that it was hard to know what was going on.  Days would go by and I would barely hear from Ashley.  When I did, she was on her way to work or she had to talk quickly because she was doing something else.  Not hearing much from her had always been a warning sign.

I mention this because I saw how this relationship had affected her.  One night I had a call from her and instantly knew she was not doing well.  She and the guy had broken up and she said, “I just want to kill myself.”  I was on a plane the next day.

So, when Ashley called and started telling me the story of what had happened with this guy, you may guess my reaction.  Nausea, heart pounding, staying as calm as I could while attempting to get a read on how she was.

She was hurt…again.  It made me sick when she explained what happened and how he treated the woman he had been living with and how he reacted when confronted.  I was worried for my daughter and the other young woman.  I could relate to it because something like this had happened to me.  It is extremely difficult to understand how someone a person loves and trusts can be so deceitful.  Believe me, there are human beings who are very capable of that and no, a person does not always see through it.  It is not even in our being to treat another that way, how can we see such ugliness?

I knew after talking for awhile that Ashley was okay.  I felt 99% confident she would not go out and get high or drunk.  She was angry as well as hurt.  I heard a strength coming from her that I had not heard before.  I am encouraged by the Warrior she has become and the way she and the other woman have bonded.  They are going to wear t-shirts, one saying Team Ashley and the other saying Team__.

I hate it when she is hurt.  I think she has had enough hurt.  I am so proud she can see he was not worthy of her.

I also was able to hear Ashley be the keynote speaker at an AA meeting.  I am always humbled at these meetings and do enjoy going and meeting her people.  She was humorous and so very very honest in her talk. (I am glad I was aware of almost all she said.  It would have been difficult to listen to otherwise and it still made me cry.) She wanted to give hope to those listening to her.

Ash is still processing all that happened.  I am seeing a young woman who has learned much about taking care of herself and what she needs to do when confronted with a situation that could put her back on the streets again.

We all have our struggles.  Many of you are dealing with the hurricanes, a loved one with cancer, Parkinsons, or any number of diseases, death, divorce, so many trials and we are all in this together.  No one person’s struggle is to be taken lightly or dismissed.  I see the love and support Ash receives from her postings and that shows me that she is indeed the beautiful soul I know.  She will give that love and support right back to you, no matter what.  She may be a recovering addict but recovering addicts are absolutely beautiful human beings.

Love my recovering addict.  She is here today and there continues to be hope.

Sick

The last three days I’ve been processing a very confusing and unbelievable situation.

I started dating somebody a couple months ago. I was incredibly trepidatious at first. My eagerness to love and to trust do not coincide. Though I want to find someone else to live my life with I’m also extremely cautious due to past relationships. This man, however, told me to give him the benefit of the doubt. He told me he didn’t know what had happened to me that made me so untrusting but it was really sad and he would never hurt me. He told me to give my heart to him and he would hold it gently in his hands. He told me he had been cheated on and would never do that to somebody because he knows how that feels. I eventually opened up to him and told him more than I’ve told anyone since Brett died.

The way this man looked at me flipped my world inside out. He would gaze into my eyes for literal minutes at a time with a huge smile on his face. My mom flew out to visit last week and I asked him if he wanted to meet her. I told him meeting my mom is a really big deal to me so don’t go into this decision lightly. If you do meet her it means to me that you’re all in, so think hard about it. He immediately answered asking me- what time should I be there?

He met my mother and I for dinner and we had a lovely time! Everybody was laughing and he experienced fondue for the first time. When we left the restaurant he and I walked alone for a minute to say goodbye and he told me with a serious look on his face and all the sincerity in his heart, “I miss you already.” Which is something he often did; we would hang out all day and after he would leave he would call me 20 minutes later and tell me how much he miss me already. I felt like I was living in a dream.  I dared to think I had been lucky enough to find another incredible man.

I had been hesitant to talk about it with my friends and family. I got my hopes up in the past and they had been swiftly shot down. But this was the real deal. This was love.

Mind you he is an addict in recovery.  He had been going through some personal stuff that was very intense and heavy to carry.  Naturally,  I was very worried that he was going to do something stupid and perhaps get loaded (as addicts it is so hard to see that drugs will make things worse despite all our previous endeavours into that abyss). We were supposed to hang out Wednesday night and he never showed up and his phone went straight to voicemail. By 5 on Thursday I was frantic. He doesn’t use social media because his ex-girlfriend had hacked into all the accounts. So I decided to go on the page he doesn’t use on Facebook and find the brother that he lives with. I planned on messaging his brother to see if he had heard anything from him. While looking for his brothers profile I saw a picture with a woman and him in it. I knew it was the ex-girlfriend because he showed me her page once and “how crazy she was because she won’t take down the pictures of us.”  My stomach turned-this picture looked super recent. His beard and hair turns and length it currently is. I debated for half an hour. Am I crazy??  This couldn’t be recent. He loves me.

I was desperate for any information on his whereabouts, though. So I messaged her.  Essentially I told her who I was and asked her if she knew what was going on and if perhaps wouldn’t mind talking to me. I told her he and I had been dating and I sent her a picture of the two of us together that past Friday from when we had dinner with my mother.

She promptly replied back: We have been living together for the last year. He is my boyfriend. I have a promise ring from him. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind calling me and a little while later after some quick questions between the two of us  I got a phone call through Messenger on the FaceTime.

He was standing a few feet in front if her and walked away as she followed. At one point he turned around and squinted and looked at the phone and said who is that? She replied, it’s your girlfriend. He again turned and walked away refusing to look at either of us.  Refusing to acknowledge either of us! She followed him around the house while we both spoke to him and he again turned around.  I was shaking violently and crying. I told him I had been so worried that he was in trouble or had perhaps gotten high.  So. Fucking. Worried. She said in front of him “he did in fact get high and is actually high right now.” I didn’t even recognize the man looking through the phone at me. His demeanor was dark and his face had lost all its shimmer. He started cursing at her to give him his keys.

“Look at what you did. She’s crying and you don’t even care!?”  He managed to take the phone and again raised his voice to her, cursing. At which time I had to hang up because I vomited. I got physically sick. I immediately regretted hanging up, worried that something bad would happen to her. I messaged her after trying to call back and eventually about ten minutes later she messaged me back- he was gone. She had kicked him out.

At this point she and I have been speaking almost non-stop for the past 72 hours. Everything I knew about this sweet, charismatic, kind, playful, affectionate, romantic, loving, gentle, and attentive man…all had been a lie Literally every detail he had told me about himself was not true. He told me he was struggling to get out of debt because she had stolen his credit card. He told me he lived with his brother (he even invited me over-knowing I wouldn’t want to risk driving my car that far due to a check engine light). Every detail he told me about his family life was a lie. Every detail about his working life was a lie. Every detail about his past relationships was a lie. He told me he had never dated somebody with kids because he didn’t want to get too attached to them if it didn’t work and because he wanted kids of his own. turns out he’d been living with his girlfriend AND her child for over a year. And the girlfriend before her had children as well. He had a secret phone which he spoke to me on. He made certain I knew his security code which I said was unnecessary.  He said he was an open book and wanted me to know that.

Part of his story was he had relapsed a couple months before and told me it was because he caught his ex (this woman who I’ve been speaking to…the woman he lived with) selling her body. The reality is he has been getting loaded for months and months and she had been supporting him financially and emotionally to try and help him have a life.

Most of the time when he was with me he would tell her he was with his sponsor or a friend who needed help. When he was with her he would tell me he was in meetings or picking up a day of extra work or with his brother trying to re-establish a healthy relationship (because, after all, they lived together).

How do I describe what this feels like? In such a short time he wrapped his teeth around my heart and sunk them in…deep. I trusted him more than I’ve trusted anyone in ten years. He told me I was the most amazing and beautiful and strong woman he had ever met. And for once hearing those words meant something.

When she confronted him he initially lied about it. Said I was crazy and that I’m a drug addict. Then he blamed HER for putting my sobriety at risk by doing this.  Now, after talking to her for so many hours there is no way that we can deny the truth of the situation.

I feel like I have been emotionally and physically raped. This sick human wriggled and manipulated  his way into my heart and into my body. he waited for weeks until I felt safe to let him do more than hold my hand or kiss me. He was patient and calculating.  This man who knows me better than almost anyone…this man who I knew nothing about.

We hear, in recovery, a term ‘some are sicker than others.’  This is the sickest thing I’ve ever heard of. The way he treated me, the way he spoke to me, the way he listened to me, and the way he looked at me; they were all a bit of magic. Well, he is a magician alright. Armed with a hat full of illusions and deceit and the best tricks I’ve ever seen.

Neither of us had any clue and both of us were fully convinced he was absolutely, positively, unshakably, head over heels in love with both us.  She spent a year of her life sleeping next to this man.  A year giving her heart freely while he blindfolded reality and danced with other partners.

And do you know what? Despite the horrible heartache and the inability to breathe sometimes-I am so grateful! Twelve step programs, other alcoholics and addicts, and working a program have allowed me to build a beautiful life!  And I have created an impossible to break bond with this woman. Without her the last few days I think this would have turned out quite different. Instead of tearing each other apart and down we have listened to each other and shared our broken hearts with one another and spoke in great honesty about our relationship with the same man.  And it is is so painful.

This soulless creature has created even stronger Warriors out of us. Although our hearts are in pieces, our lives can build to even greater empires of strength and love and courage.

I let a relationship in the past tear me down, break me, and send me spiraling. That was yet another man not worthy of my light.

To my new friend, the “other woman,”, the newest brick to  my Pillar of Strength:  You are beautiful.   You have probably saved my life-giving me a place to fall with your soft heart.  You have a kindness and a propensity to help even in your most betrayed of times.  I love you. Because you and I are capable of that. We are capable of anything.  I’m on your team.

Grateful

Not much time to blog right now as I am in California with my Ashley. She looks beautiful and I am sure that she has become taller by almost two inches at the age of 34!!

I wanted to share that although much of this so far has been about the fire and addiction, there are also times of laughter and great hope. We are aiming to give people on both sides of addiction some insight yet there have been so many blessings through all of this.

All of you who are reading and commenting are very much in our hearts. It is through the support and love of our family and friends that we, especially Ashley, are able to live our lives in the hope of helping others.

We are touched by the number of you whom we do not know who have reached out in messages, comments, and through other friends.

Always remember that every day your addict is here, there is hope.

Love being with my recovering addict.

Fire

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What do people think of when they hear the word coma?  I don’t remember what I used to think. Maybe something peaceful? Maybe something blank. Maybe a big long stretch of nothingness? This is not the case. Now when I hear the words comatose or coma I think horrific.

I lived a thousand lives those five weeks. A thousand painful, terrifying, horrific lives. I was sodomized by giants, tortured by friends and family, attacked by demons, crucified on a cross, tortured by bee’s, kicked out of heaven and escaped from Hell. The experiences and the details to go with all of the many world’s I went through are unimaginable. Indescribable. I didn’t know such fear was possible. Even thinking about it I pray I’ll be able to sleep tonight. . Ask my mom about how terrified I was to sleep after I was awake. How the touch of another human would send me spiraling out of control.

The scariest part is that it was all real. It still is all real. Because it happened to me in my head. When I started waking up I didn’t realize I had been gone. I thought I was in another level of Hell. One where my loved ones were possessed by demons. One where I was physically tortured all day, everyday. If I could imagine Hell that’s what it would be like. How could I not think I was really dead? And Brett wasn’t there for any of it. So I knew I must be dead! I was in Hell and he was on Earth living a beautiful life. As I write this I realize how much I wish that were true. I would live through an eternity of Hell to know that he was still here, living a beautiful life. I would give up my whole entire life for one more day with him. One more day with that smile and that laugh and that sweet spirit.

Everybody has always told me how strong I am. What a warrior I am. Well, if I could have spoke they would have known I was praying for it all to end. I spent literal years praying for it all to be over. I still do sometimes.  Not as much as I used to, granted. I have pockets of gratitude and moments of appreciation for this life. But it’s like that puzzle piece my mom wrote about.  Everything was put back together again and nothing changed but nothing is the same and there’s a huge piece of my sky missing. It’s like the sun of that big puzzle got blocked out…lost somewhere.

I wouldn’t be able to tell you how painful wound care is for the extensive burns I experienced. I literally would not be able to. It wouldn’t be possible. You couldn’t fathom. I can multiply that physical pain by a million and not even come close to touching the emotional pain. Ten short long years past have passed.  Ten years and I still have yet to meet anyone who even comes close to being a quarter of the person Brett was to me. I don’t say that to be mean or evoke sympathy. Excuse my language but, screw your sympathy. I’ve been drenched in people’s pity for far too long.  He was my love. He is my love. He is love. And there’s a big part of me that got cut out when he died.  I’m pretty sure everyone who knew me before the fire can see that piece that’s missing. I’m pretty sure everyone knows that I’ll never be whole again. After years of counseling and therapy and medications I’ve realized I have to accept that I’ll always be sort of broken. With that broken part of me I can still make a whole life.  I am just learning this vital truth.  I have found another piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

On this Quest of finding this piece, however, I’ve lost so much. That friend that my mother spoke of (Rach Boo) that was there from day one…I lost her. She left me. My addiction drowned our friendship. My addiction suffocated our love. She helped me survive the worst heartache of my life and I pushed her away. I’ve pushed so many people away. I’ve been so ashamed of who I’ve become and the things that I’ve done. Being alone seems so much simpler than having to disappoint all these people who care so much.

And the anger! I was so angry! My mom and I used to go to my doctor’s appointments at the hospital and I’d see a couple helping each other around. One of them in the wheelchair, the other pushing them. I would get so angry. Why couldn’t that be me!? Why couldn’t that be Brett?! My anger consumed me.

So, what does this have to do with addiction? It has everything to do with it! My problem is not the drugs or the alcohol. It’s the way I think. That’s where the problem is for all of us. I don’t process things the way normal people do. I got in a fight in 7th grade with my best friend and I tried to kill myself that night. That is not normal. But, for me, it seemed like the only logical solution. Make the pain go away.  I realized, as I got older, that I wasn’t suicidal; things got a little bit more simple. I figured out how I could be happy and numb and function.  Drugs and alcohol.

I drank to handle the world outside of me and I used drugs to handle the world inside of me. It’s that simple.  Brett put a halt to that. He completed my life in a way that I wanted to be a better human and I was hungry to feel life. So when he died, that part died, too.

Honestly, I have no clue where I’m going with this. I’ve never really spoke or written about these things. They are the darkness inside of me. I try so hard to live in the light. That’s what Brett would want. I learned at some point, I had to stop trying to live my life for him. It was too much pressure.  Every failure sunk me down deeper into my depression.

Slowly I am grasping how to live my life for myself. Just me. I’ve been single for the longest time probably of my whole life. I’ve learned so much about myself and the world around me.  I am starting to feel like the woman I was when Brett was here. Strong, independent, intelligent, beautiful, funny, accomplished, worthy.  I feel like all of these things. Just for today.

Was I an addict before the fire? I think so.  I smoked pot daily for nearly three years. I drank very often. If you had drugs I would gladly do them with you.  I used to find a book that I liked and stay up, reading until three in the morning knowing I had to get up in three hours for school. I did things in an all-or-nothing manner. I have always been compulsive and hard-headed and felt the need to learn by experience. Regardless of the lesson, I have to always try it myself. When you are little people think you’re wild and brave. As an adult people think you’re reckless and irresponsible. I am all of those things.  Being an addict is learning the difference and being willing to make the effort for change. And, my God!  It is such a struggle. The struggle is real. But, so is the peace that comes after.

Back to the Fire

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Always difficult to know where to start writing so I just have to pick a spot.  I was reading some of my journal entries from ten years ago when we were trying to pick up the pieces from the fire.  Why do I go back to this?

I believe it is part of our story.  We cannot say for sure that Ashley’s addiction would not have happened if there had been no fire.  Yet, I think this is a part of it.  Here are some journal entries from then.  She was on fentanyl and pain medics were already looking at weaning her from this powerful drug, percocet was on the menu, not breathing on her own yet, insulin, had a boxing glove on her right hand, ankle contracture boots on both feet, lungs were black from smoke inhalation, and the burns full thickness.

We had lost Brett.  I still cry when I think back to this day.  His mom said he was in a better place.  I know that but I wanted him here.  For his parents.  For Ashley.  For us and his friends and family and all those who would never know this wonderful young man.

Day 5 after the fire:  “Ry and Rach are going to see Brett today.  I want you to know that I wrote him a letter.  I cut off your funky little Ashley braid last night for Brett to take.  I figured that was more you than a lock of hair.”

Day 7 (on way to Brett’s funeral):  “Hey Smash uh lee.  It’s about 7:30 AM and we are on our way towards Blacksburg.  LWood and Rach are behind us.  Rach had a tough night.   She has been with us since day 1 and has taken such good care of your Boo Mama and family and friends.

Pretty sun rise today.  Steve just said so and it is.

I talked with LWood yesterday about how she thinks you will do as you begin recovering.  It’s not that I don’t have faith but let’s face it, I am your Mamacita and really trust your friend’s judgment.  LWood agrees that you’ll come out okay.  I know you will always be a bit shattered.  But most of your pieces will come back together.  It’s like that last piece of the jigsaw puzzle that you can’t find to finish the puzzle.  We’ll have to find a way to hold on to the missing piece.

Anyway,  LWood told me how you helped her wade through the bog when her friend died.  You listened to her, had your profound Ashley insights, and really helped her.  I know how you felt about the tragedies some of your friends had been through. Now, they want to be there for you.

Steve wants me to tell you that we could not have imagined in our wildest dreams that we would be doing this today.  He said we are taking you with us.  In our hearts.  Ry stayed back as someone needed to be by your side and he was here last night.

I hope you still like elephants.  I remember the last time we shopped you seemed to still like them.  I have a scarf on today that symbolizes you being with me and this will be the only time I wear it.  Then I will give it to you.  It looks like a baby elephant following her momma around.

Trusting that mom knows the way.

That mom will protect her.

Take care of her.

Love her.

And at night, the baby elephant will snuggle in with her mom and gently rock in her trunk.

The mom will sing softly to the baby elephant.

And stroke the baby’s trunk.

Eventually, the momma will nudge the baby elephant on to her own life so that the baby can bring joy, love, hope, and peanuts to others.

That’s it for now.  I’ll just keep this handy as we continue the drive to tell Brett we will all see him later.  I know he will somehow be with you every day.”

LATER:  “Ash, you know how it is when you spin round and round in circles until you are so dizzy you can’t spin anymore?  Then you stop and try to focus and get yourself stabilized but can’t figure out which way to go, even though you are where you started?  Everything is the same but nothing is as it was.  Some moments are like that.”

LATER IN THE AFTERNOON: ” Ashley, we just left the church after saying by to Brett.  I wanted you to know how it went.

I had a few moments with Brett and talked to him for awhile.  I told him how much you loved him and what a change he made in your life.  I told him I was so very sorry you guys would not be able to be together yet. That  I knew how much he loved and adored you. That I loved him too.  I brushed his lips, stroked his face, and did the finger thing to his hair like you like.

I spent some time with your friends.  Everyone was asking about you.  Quite a few people at the church remember meeting you and how sweet you were.  One woman told me she let you know that she had a lot of Brett stories she could tell you.  I guess Brett said you couldn’t hear them  The minister remembered meeting you too.

I met his Grandpa that you told me Brett was so close to.  He said to tell you he loves you.  Told me about what good friends he was with Brett.  I told him I remembered you  saying Grandpa was Brett’s best friend.  I met his grandmother too.

Everyone wants you to come back.  We have talked to the minister about doing a memorial service for you to come to.  I think people agree, it would be helpful.

The minister talked about how he has known Brett for so long.  He told the story of church camp.  He and his wife were going to sleep and they heard all the boys laughing.  they went to check and make sure that the building was still intact and found Brett doing his Roscoe!  Said Brett had always been so quiet, just never expected it of Brett.

Then there was the frog story.  Brett’s grandpa had taken him to look for frogs.  Grandpa told Brett to be real quiet and they would find a frog.  Brett waited and waited and waited.  No frogs.  Finally Brett said, ‘It’s okay Paw Paw.  Frogs are a lot like Jesus.  Even though you can’t see them, you know they are there.’

We sat with Brett’s family.  Later, his dad was telling people how the four of us bonded the moment we met.  And we did.  They are incredible people and I can see how Brett became the person he is.

Outside, as things began winding down, Brett’s mom had the idea to send balloons up.  So all of Brett’s family and friends had Virginia Tech colored balloons and let them go up!

We called and Ry said you were getting a bit fidgety.  Who could blame you?  They had to refrain your left arm and give you some more “happy” juice.  You are starting to take more breaths on your own.

And so the anxiety comes in about telling you about Brett.  I am so so sorry.   There are just some things I can’t change or make go away.  I prayed so hard and everyone did to keep Brett here.  He just couldn’t stay.

Now, we will just continue taking things hour by hour, then day by day.  My life is yours for awhile.  Take from me whatever you need.”

Why do I go back to this time?  I feel it has had such an impact on our lives and on the life of my daughter.  When I write about a one on one session we had at Betty Ford, it will make even more sense.  Maybe you can get an idea of what kind of person Ash is that so many cared about her and loved her.  How much she loved her friends and family.  She is not perfect at all.  None of us are.  She is a human being with many who love and support her as she struggles with addiction.  The addicted in this world deserve a chance for a fulfilling life as much as any of us.  To dismiss them seems cruel.  To say they want this is wrong.  Addicts will take the responsibility of their recovery.  Just know that if we have never experienced addiction, we have no right to judge or withhold treatment.  My wish to all struggling with addiction is that you can find your way to recovery.  You are worth saving.

 

Love my recovering addict.

 

 

Drug addicts…. The scum of the Earth!!!

I saw that this blogger began following our blog. So, of course, I had to investigate. Now I want to share it with you. All he is asking for is to be treated like a human being.

The Recovery Republic

Having been through rehab twice now for addiction to cocaine, I have learnt that as an addict you need to change the way we think.
But how can the addict be expected to change the way they think when society won’t change the way they think about addicts?

einstein

Albert Einstein knew a thing or two about stuff, and it was him that said “The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

When I think about how society still perceives and treats addiction of any sort its still massively taboo, extremely judgmental and almost prehistoric. Over the past 100 years nothing has changed and the results haven’t improved.
The number of users are increasing, the types of drugs and stimulants are becoming more readily available and cheaper so we cant expect things to change from a sociological standpoint so surely the way…

View original post 1,466 more words

This is What She Told Me

“I had really only been missing for one night.”  Oddly, that offered me some comfort and now I find that it wasn’t actually true.

Ash is one hundred per cent correct when she writes that this is all hard to think about.  It’s hard to go back and bring it up again only to find out that what I had thought to be true is not.  Ash and I talked about this after she posted and she actually did not remember what she had told me.  None of this makes me angry or frustrated, but it is heartbreaking to again realize just how brutal this addiction beast can be.

I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to see my daughter stick a needle in her arm let alone her foot or neck because she had permanent damage to her veins.  Unless you are smacked in the face with it, could you even fathom knowing this was what your child was doing?

Then I read the , “Oh, shit Smash!”  I knew the next part was not going to be any comfort.

An entire scalp picked at until it is raw??  I won’t go any further.  Ashley tries so hard to protect me from the nightmares of this addiction and I have to protect and take care of myself so that I can be here for her.  Raw??  I cannot even watch the detox shows.  I know detoxing is hell. I also know that I would see the addict in those shows as my daughter.  It is clear to me that if I were in a situation with Ash and she was detoxing, I would be able to stay with her if that was what was best for her.  I just can’t watch someone else and imagine it being her.  For some reason that is worse. I find that a bit of a paradox.  As Glennon Doyle Melton states, “We can do hard things”.  I can do hard things, very hard things, when faced with them.

Her sneaking in drugs to the women’s shelter, which I thought was a rehab and to me there is a bit of a difference, did not surprise me.  To know she was in a shelter means she was homeless.  No friends or family to turn to out there.  When my friends and I do FACETS, preparing and delivering food to homeless people, I see my daughter in that line.  Imagining her, skeletal (and yes, I have seen her like this), looking as if she will fall over any second and let go as she stands at the door of a shelter house looking to be let in…sad does not begin to describe it.

Mighty Mouse.  She is that!

I thought Ashley had spent one night on the street by the gay bar.  When she told me that, I again found some comfort because I knew the guys would have taken care of her.  At least she had someone.  Five days?  I did not know.  All I know is that for whatever hell she went through, she is alive today.

I read postings on Facebook and on the blog site written by others who are in this with Ashley.  They admire her honesty and telling it like it is from her eyes so that others may learn and be helped.  I am humbled by these as what they do each day to stay clean is more than I can imagine.

As I have said before, sometimes we begin writing these and find that a break is necessary.  To gather some thoughts.  To plant our feet in the present and not the past.  The most important thing to do if there is an addict in your family is to take care of yourself.  Keep living.  Laughing.  Believing.  It is not a sign of weakness or not caring if one takes a break.  I see it as strength.  Knowing your limits in order to take care of yourself, physically, spiritually, mentally.  In doing that, I am more able to be there for Ash, my family, and my friends.  I would not give up on my daughter for anything.

Most likely, I will be out of internet reach for a few days.  Ashley may post.  Maybe she will tell you about some of the success stories she has seen.  I love those.

One day at a time.

Love my recovering addict.228251_10100113858064399_2319697_n

Here I am

I have been procrastinating on writing this next part. My mother is wondering where her daughter was. Where I was. It’s hard to think about. I suppose I should start with actually how I got to that place. The Missing Place.

Fall of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 were…rough.  I do not know exactly when I relapsed or what it was on. All I know is by the beginning of March I got to the point where I picked up a needle again. I hadn’t shot anything into my veins for a few years so, I was excited and nervous and scared.

On the third day of using a needle, I got high with a fellow addict. Now, it was his dope so he insisted on making my shot for me. I have done permanent damage to my veins so, the only place I could inject it was my foot or my neck.

After my friend (yes, I call him a friend) cooked up my shot and “hit” my foot for me, my throat felt so strange. Like I had just inhaled smoke. I had the warm fuzzies of the heroin but, there was something new.

“Oh, shit Smash!”

He looked at me with fear in his eyes. Turns out my buddy had accidentally given me one of HIS shots. So, I had just been injected with methamphetamines in my heroin.

I was horrified. I didn’t sleep for two days. I ended up picking at my scalp until it was completely raw.  My WHOLE scalp.

I hated it and yet, I did it again. And again.  I was, consequently, out of money and incapable of functioning.

In my desperation I reached out for help and was graciously accepted to a shelter for women.

Now, keep in mind how awful I told you detox was. Well, at this particular shelter you’re not allowed to take anything. Not even a Tylenol. There is also a requirement that you participate in all groups and activities. I had, however, snuck in some drugs with me to help me detox. Unfortunately, those did not work.  Eventually I ended up telling on myself after I took all the pills I smuggled in.  My Confession was fueled by the hopes I would get sent to a different program, perhaps one with the detox. Alas, they were proud of me for being honest and kept me right there. So, two days later  I packed all my stuff up and I walked out. Once again, I was so skinny and frail. Yet, I found the power of Mighty Mouse to leave that place- knowing very well I could get high in a matter of minutes.

I trudged over to the local Shopping Center. I was dead wrong about my calculations. Nobody would come and get me. I was stranded. And sick. I had to rest so I decided to set up camp behind a gay bar. My logic was because they’re gay I’d be safer than I would have been around a bunch of drunk straight men. They would buy me drinks and give me money, offer me Uber rides. They took care of me. The only thing I didn’t do was eat or bathe. I had forgotten about those two basics. I was down to a twisted survival regime.

I used to make jokes with an old friend about a dirt path we saw between our house and the bus stop. Our joke was if we ever relapse would go sleep on that path. Well, turns out I relapsed and I slept on that path. For five days I stayed between the gay bar and the dirt path. High on methamphetamines and heroin, completely insane. Alone.  I was able to get high, though.  Nothing else mattered. I wouldn’t let it. My heart was screaming to call my mom while my brain told me it would hurt her more to hear me like this.

I finally was able to get that same friend that I got high with to come get me. Once again, I did his drugs with him. This person whom I have looked at as a little brother. We got clean together years ago and had held each others hearts while we wept; going through early recovery with someone cements your hearts together. I would have done anything for this kid. And now- here I was. Getting high with him!  Again!!

Luckily, I had a moment of clarity. My entire being knew that I would not survive the night. I decided if I didn’t get into treatment I was going to take a shot that would be too big. One that would stop my heart. I started frantically calling my old treatment center for a bed. I finally was able to get a hold of an old friend who worked there.  I was told that there was a treatment center in Riverside and I was then offered a thirty day scholarship.

I broke right then and there.  I had no way to get to Riverside (an hour car ride away), no money, no strength, no friends. No hope. I was wailing on the phone and praying to God. A God that I was so angry with. Please, I begged. Please, kill me or save me. With the utmost sincerity in my heart-set me free or rescue me.

Five hours later, by divine intervention, I walked through the doors of another rehab.

I was filthy. My scalp was one big scab. I had an abscess on my foot. I weighed ninety pounds…maybe?  I hadn’t eaten in at least five days. All of this and all my head was yelling at me was, “Wait!!  One more shot!!  Just. One. More.”  Luckily, for the first time in what seemed like a decade, I ignored that voice. The demon that dwells inside my brain. The monsters inside my head.

 

I checked in to that treatment center on a thirty day scholarship. I ended up leaving over a year later.

 

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Random Thoughts

 

Screenshot 2017-08-05 12.08.54Today is Saturday.  The last time Ashley and I talked and texted was Tuesday.  This is unusual for us but it happens.

Ashley is in California which means there are times when she can talk and I am asleep.  There are also times when I can talk and she is asleep.  Her work schedule at the recovery center, where she is doing very good things, leaves her unavailable often at night and other times during the day.

I am using the word “mom” because that is who I am to my addict, yet it can most likely apply to any who love an addict.  After one day of no contact, I am fine although the voices in my head start chattering.  (For the record, I consider the voice in my head to be that of Eleanor Roosevelt.  The others are simply monkeys.)  By the second day, I keep living life with the voices getting a teensy bit louder.  This is usually when I send a cute little bitmoji or a simple “I love you”.

Then the third day arrives and I check her Facebook page to see if she has been active.  At some point, that is followed by leaving a voicemail.  It does not help matters when my cell registers a call from Santa Clarita, California or anywhere in California when it is a number I do not recognize.  The voices grow louder and I have to repeat to myself, “She is okay”.

That brings me to today when the text I send is a tabby cat rolling over and covering its eyes with its paws because he doesn’t want to get up yet.  Beneath I write,  “Is all good there?”

Within minutes the call comes from Ash.  She is fine and can tell I have started worrying.  It probably did not help that after doing some readings and watching  some discussions on how we can best help our addicts to recovery, I asked her in a text  if she had ever overdosed and not tell me.  Probably not the best way to ask that question but one in which she could choose to answer or not knowing that if I asked, I was now ready to hear.

Ashley is losing her voice but otherwise feels fine.  There had been some issues with her phone.  She is also concerned about a friend  she had spent some time with and had told him to text her when arriving home.  It could be due to her phone issues but she has not heard from the friend and is worrying.  Ash has tried contacting this person and said she did not want to keep bugging him. (Those weren’t her exact words but you can get the idea.)  I told her she had a bit of the mother in her, needing to know that someone she cared about is okay.  My daughter has experienced too many of her friends die from this disease.  She knows more people who have passed away from addiction than I have experienced in my 65 years.  Believe me, no addict wants this.

Ashley doesn’t like it when I worry but I have learned how to manage my concerns and still get on with my life and be able to enjoy it.  She will do whatever she can to have me not be overly concerned but understands it 100%.  I never question that my daughter loves me when she is sober.  She loved me when she was using, too. Yet an addict getting high is a very different person.

Just wanted you to know if you are living this life with a recovering, or using addict, these daily thoughts are not abnormal.  You are not alone in all this.  I was speaking to a friend yesterday and we were talking about how everyone has a story.  I find the more I speak out, the more people I encounter who are going through this and trying to hide it.  They are ashamed.   There is no shame.  I have never once been ashamed of my daughter.  I know a stigma persists about addicts.  Isn’t that what we are trying to break through?  Education.  Finding ways to help those in recovery and find a life they feel worth living.  So much to say but have to quit now as the plumber is arriving to figure out why we have no hot water.

No hot water doesn’t really get on my trouble list.  Think of all who have no water at all.  For me, this is a champagne problem.

And I am proud of and love my recovering addict.