After being gone for a few days, I had some time to think about this whole blog. Ashley and I have gone back and forth about it, wondering if we will share too much, if we are being helpful, and will those who have not known all that has happened understand. We are encouraged so much by your comments, private messages, and I admittedly liked talking with some family members and friends about it these past few days. Their love and support continue to give me strength.
When talking with Ash today, she asked me what I was going to write about next and then she would respond. I told her I might write about the time she went MIA after she left one of her sober living homes in California. (Living on a separate coast can be a curse in some ways, a relief in others). Turns out it had not been a sober living home but a homeless shelter. Really? I had felt so much better about it when I thought it was a sober living home. And now I am finding it was a homeless shelter and not her first but one of three! I am kind of chuckling to myself, yes, really, I am. Sometimes I have to chuckle a little to keep the sanity. Just know that there will be many more times like this. After all, as Ashley pointed out, that is what it is like loving an addict.
This episode unraveled one night when I was at a watercolor class with some friends. As I sat there, desperately trying to create something worth saving, it hit me that I had not spoken or heard from Ash in 2 or 3 days. My old pal, that nauseous feeling, began gnawing at me. I just knew something was not right.
I started calling and texting. No answers. Nothing. Silence. No matter how much I could tell myself all is okay, that I am overreacting, there is never that guarantee when there is an addict in the family. In the past, when I let myself become confident she would be okay, there would be a relapse.
So there I was. I was not hearing from her, continued packing to take a planned trip to Colorado, and thought of cancelling it to fly to California. But where would I go? I did not know the name of the place she was staying. Was she even there? Was she safe? And this is what we who love addicts think about. Is she even alive? Could my daughter have overdosed somewhere and is lying there with no one to save her? Then my thoughts went to the time she and a young man she had been dating went to the beach. Ash had gone down to the beach ahead of him. When he did not join her, she went to the parking lot looking for him. She found him. In his truck. Blue. Barely breathing.
Ash screamed for help but no one helped her. No one helped him. She called 911 and was talked through giving him artificial respiration and did so till the paramedics arrived. He was taken to the hospital and Ash was the one to call his mom. The call no mom wants to get. Her beautiful boy had overdosed and if Ash had not shown up, he would not be here today. As far as I know, he is doing well in recovery now and I am so thankful for his success. Much as she may have helped save his life that day, I also thought they almost killed each other with their using. These two beautiful young people. Selfishly, I think about what would have happened to Ashley then? She lost her previous life. Lost Brett. The broken engagement. Now this. How much can one life take? At her young age, she has experienced more than many of us in a lifetime.
So, this is what was going through my head as I packed. I thought, “I am still going to Colorado. That way when I get a call that she is in a morgue, I will be halfway there.”
That sounds so fatalistic. How could a mother even think that? Honestly, I wish I didn’t. Many of us have been through so many relapses with our loved ones that we literally start planning their funerals in our heads. What music would she want? Who should speak? Pictures for a slide show? I have some great videos. One could never look at those pictures and videos and see a future addict in them. Cremated? Oh, where to scatter the ashes? It is difficult to admit these thoughts. I thought it was just me. It is not. I have heard this is not uncommon for those with addicts in their families who have multiple relapses. It is just heartbreaking.
Before I boarded the plane, I realized I still had her former counselor’s number and phoned him. He actually did know the sober/homeless shelter she was in. The minute I arrived in Colorado, I called the home. I told the gal who answered that I had not heard from my daughter in days and was she there? I was told she could not answer that question due to privacy. That is when I almost start begging, as a mom, I need to know if she is there. Yes, I understand the privacy rules but I did not know if my Ash was dead or alive.
Thank goodness she understood. I was told that if I wanted to find Ashley, it would be best to look elsewhere. I knew she was gone. I just had no idea where or how to find her. I began thinking of the homeless people we feed at the shelters. Is someone feeding her? Honestly, I am not going to go back to all I know I was thinking then. It was total despair.
I was able to get to my friend’s while hoping and praying for the best. There was not much more I could do. It had been almost five days. An eternity for me. I knew I was keeping a lot bottled up inside because I had to stay as calm as I could. And wait.
Then my cell rang with a number I did not recognize. The man on the other end asked for me. I froze. I didn’t have any idea of what I was going to hear. I didn’t know if I wanted to hear anything.
He had Ashley. She was okay and detoxing. She had left the home and called her former rehab in Lake Arrowhead. There was someone in the area from Lake Arrowhead who picked her up and took her to the recovery center that was now calling me to tell me my daughter was alive. She was pretty sick but she was alive.
I cried. And cried. And cried.
Relief. I did not realize how hard I was trying to keep myself together.
It would be a couple of weeks before I would even be able to talk to her. She would go through the detoxing and then they would be working with her on recovery. I could call and get updates any time. When this process is underway, I cannot see her.
Ashley will be reading and responding to this. She can tell you where she went after leaving the shelter. I wonder what else I will learn?
Love my recovering addict and thank God she has made it through another day.