addicts humansAshley is thinking about writing of having a predisposition to addiction.  This is something I have thought quite a bit about over the years.  I think like many parents of addicts I spent many nights and days consumed with wondering if I could have prevented any of this.  I questioned my parenting, decisions I made, and what signs did I miss.  It is not unusual for a parent to begin blaming themselves for a child’s addiction.

My first thoughts were going back to when I remarried and moved my children to Virginia from Colorado.  Their dad was in Colorado and at the time was having his own struggles.  While I knew the move away from friends who had become family, their dad, and the life we had created there, I had never expected it to be as difficult as it was.  I will just say it was a very rough ride.  Through those years I wondered if I had made the right decision and if the difficulty of those years contributed in any way to her addiction. Ashley acted out in ways I had never seen before and did things I could not believe, some of which I found out much later.

Ash will write more about how she feels she has a predisposition to addiction and it has taken me some time to come to understand it.  My time at Family Week at the Betty Ford Clinic (now  Hazelden Betty Ford) was where my education really began. Before that, I was experiencing a lot of guilt, shame, and felt lost. My son and I were there about three weeks into Ashley’s first stint at rehab.  The message was that we did not cause this and we could not control it.  We had to learn the difference between enabling and disabling.  Out of that whole week, there is one moment I remember the best.  I wish I had written the exact exchange down but I was so stunned and shocked by what had happened, I don’t think I remembered it that well at the time.  But I do know the main gist of it.

A little background is necessary.  When Ashley was in the ICU after the fire, it was a few days before we knew she would live.  We were never asked if she should be taken off any of the life support she was on.  After months in the hospital and rehabilitation, there were so many issues with which we had to deal.  There was not only the pain management and physical rehab, there was the loss of Brett.

I had moved to Charlottesville for over a year to help Ash get back on her feet, literally.  There was one night in particular when she had been out with friends and had too much to drink on top of her medication.  She was still in a wheelchair at this point.  During the evening there had been a very unpleasant encounter with a guy she had known in Northern Virginia which set her off.  I was woken by her friend, who had brought her home, and rushed outside to find her splayed on the ground crying and screaming to let her go…she wanted to be with Brett.  It was awful.  I never would have thought to see my child in so much pain and to this day, it is so distressing to remember the horror and pain in her screams and on her face.  Somehow we got her into the apartment, her friends left, and she ranted and screamed throughout the apartment for three hours starting at around 1:00AM.  I followed her around as she threw things, including herself,   on the floor. Repeatedly.  This was especially scary because she still could barely walk and I cannot even find the words to describe the vision of her throwing herself down, or into a wall, and the attempts to get back on her feet.   All she wanted was to be with Brett.  Finally, I told her she had to stop or I would have to call 911.  After all that time and all that pain just spilling out of her, she stopped, looked at me, and said, “Can we do wound care now?”

Fast forward to being in a one on one meeting with our addict at Betty Ford.  There was a small group of us sitting in a circle comprised of family member and addict.  Each of us was to sit in the middle of the circle facing our addict and express our feelings.  No one outside the circle was to talk.  Ashley proceeded to tell me how angry she was with me for allowing her to live.  She was so angry that I felt as though she hated me.  Why didn’t I allow them to let her die?  My daughter did not want to be here.

This was not the daughter I knew.  Ashley had rarely ever raised her voice to me.  The night before she, her brother, and I had been out to dinner and had a fun evening.  I never expected to see and hear the things she was saying.  Absolutely shocked.  I was sobbing.  I heard someone in the group say, “Poor Kathy.”

All I remember after that is my crying, telling Ashley how much I loved her and that letting her go had never even come up as an option.  I was so sick.  When everyone left the room, the counselor asked me to stay.  He knew how difficult (that is actually an understatement) that had been. He also reminded me that every day she was here, there was hope.  I have clung to his statement since that day.

I know I have gone off track here but that’s how it is when trying to write from the heart and just let the thoughts come.

I would encourage any parent of an addict to attend a Family Week if your loved one is in rehab.  This is just one of the events that week that changed my life, led me to taking better care of myself physically and mentally, which made me better able to support Ashley.  Yes, there were times when I enabled.  Yes, there were instances where I made excuses for her because of my ignorance. And yes, I became depressed and at a loss as to where to find answers.

I am learning so much and have a long way to go.  Two nights ago, I attended a talk by Sam Quinones who authored the book, Dreamland, about the beginnings of the opiate epidemic in America.  It was quite interesting how pharmaceutical companies marketed opiate painkillers as nonaddictive and how a Nayarit, a small town in Mexico, developed a system of retailing heroin like a pizza delivery service.

There is a class I am taking about the science of addiction and what happens in the addict’s brains as well as an article in National Geographic on the science of addiction.  These are such a small portion of the materials out there available to us to become more educated and I have read many others.  Memoirs.  Biographies.  Autobiographies.  Studies.  News reports.

This all makes for some interesting discussions with Ash.  She just sent me an article from the LA Times on over the counter painkillers treating painful injuries just as well as opioids.  I am sure there will be those who disagree but the more we discover, the more we educate ourselves, the better we can help our loved ones.

I apologize for going off track.  Hopefully, I have written something that helps someone.

This mom loves her recovering addict.

An Open Letter to My Daughter

Visit with Ashley

Love this picture! So her.

Dear Ashley,

When I read your posts, I am always struck by your honesty and willingness to put out in the world what your struggles, and that of many suffering addiction, have been through.  Your last posting on “Heroin” was particularly poignant and you know this because I texted you immediately upon reading it.

It was your opening sentence.  “The first time I ever did heroin I was nineteen years old.”  I was at rehearsal for the radio show and wandered away so I could be alone and read what you had written.  All I could hear in my head was, “She was nineteen.  Nineteen.  How did I not know??”

No matter how many times we talk, no matter how many times we discuss how much you were able to hide from me, and no matter how grounded I can feel most of the time, the question never completely stops haunting me.  I texted you immediately.

ME:  “19 huh?  I remember you telling me not long before I learned you did heroin, (which was in your late 20’s to my knowledge), how proud you were you had never done it. And you had.  Ha!  Next blog by momma.  Love you.”

  ASH: “I think I was referring to never having shot heroin.  Honestly, I don’t think it was an intentional lie.”

  ME: “May not have been.  Interestingly, I took it as you had never done it and felt relief.  Oh, the things we learn!”

I felt relief because at that point, was it four or five years now, I thought if she had not done heroin there was hope in a way I had not yet felt.  For some reason, if you had not done heroin, maybe things were bad but not so bad there was no chance of a full recovery.  You see, I was, and still am, learning about addiction.

Often we talk before posting.  Not to change the substance of our posts but to make sure we have grammar and thoughts completed.  We had not had the opportunity to do that on this one so my reactions were raw and I don’t think that was a bad thing.  It was just a bit different.

It made me think again about recovery centers and sober living homes… how I thought you were safe when there but I suppose you were only as safe as you allowed yourself to be.  I also thought you were safe when you went to meetings.  I thought you were safe in high school when I took you to mandated drug counseling and was part of those sessions.  My naivete is so glaring now.  Those have turned out to be some of the “best” places for people to find the drugs they crave.

The time at the beach when you found your boyfriend unresponsive still can haunt me.  I liked him.  Still do and am extremely happy for him and his family as to how well he is doing in recovery now.  Yet when I think of how you were screaming for help and people were standing by watching, not helping, it still turns my stomach.  Your being met at the hospital with hostility and cruelty is not one I fault anyone for but it makes me wonder about the manner in which the ER dealt with this particular crisis.  I know addicts are people who break our hearts over and over and I also know the addict is not the child I raised.  My child is a very different creature when on drugs.

I have known for awhile about your stealing from work.  That phone conversation was another heart stopper.  We were talking about your making amends and about the meeting you were having with your former employers.  I was stunned at how much money you had stolen.  Absolutely stunned.  I am the person who remembers, at about 4 or 5 years of age,  taking a piece of bubblegum from a store.  The guilt was so awful, even at that age, that I remember sneaking it back into the store.  I could not fathom stealing so much for any reason.  You see, I was still learning about the difference between you, my daughter, and you, the addict.

Terrifying to know that when you told them about the theft, you could have been arrested and sent to jail.  Terrified but also proud you were doing what was necessary for your recovery and being ready to take responsibility for your actions.  But still terrified at the thought of you in jail.  Or should I be saying prison?  That was a boatload of money.  To this day, I am aware of how fortunate you were that your act was met with forgiveness.

Over the years, I have learned that to be a supportive parent to you, I have to take care of myself. I still have a husband, son, daughter-in-law, family, friends and interests which I need in my life.  If I don’t work at remaining whole, I can’t be here for you.

Now with the attention on the opioid crisis, I feel we are a team.  Our goal is to tell our story as honestly as we can.  To help others in their struggles as individuals with an addiction and those of us who love those people. We are trying to find our place, to make our voices heard somewhere so that the stigma of addiction can be eradicated.  We are together in wanting our loved ones to walk out into the light of day not ashamed that this is happening in our families and to our friends. It is nothing of which to be ashamed.

I am so very proud of you.  You have an inner strength that I always knew you possessed but you never seemed aware of it.  You are now.  You are always willing to share your personal struggles with others who may be detoxing, recovering, and relapsing as well as people I have asked you to contact.  You have been willing to write or talk to parents who need to see through the eyes of a recovering addict what their sons and daughters may be experiencing.

We may be just a very tiny piece of this but at least we are present.  As Glennon Melton Doyle always says, we are showing up.

I love you.

Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through the Eyes of a Recovering Addict to a Mom on a Roller Coaster

Recently, Ash and I were asked for guidance from a mom whose son had her on an emotional roller coaster.  Since the mom reached out to us privately, I responded privately.

The other half of it is Ashley’s response as this whole blog is a team effort to help from both perspectives.  I thought Ashley’s words would be particularly helpful to any of you struggling with enabling and supporting.

 I have been gone and out-of-state, also two thousand miles away, for nearly my whole addiction. I will try and keep this very simple. If you want to help him you will leave him alone. If he reaches out to you be loving but be firm with him. Once I knew my parents would no longer catch me when I was falling I was forced to try and catch myself. Once that failed I was forced to ask for real help. Make sense? Things might get worse before they get better. They may never get better. But, like my mom said, that is a hard reality of this. It is so possible I could get loaded and never come back. And I mean that in a mental capacity or physical capacity, any capacity. I do know for a fact I have not seen one addict recover that hasn’t been desperate. I can also pretty much guarantee you that anytime you call him a name he’s already call himself that and much worse. So, as infuriating as addicts may be, try to quell your anger with him. It is definitely not helping. There has been one time in my addiction where I thought my mom thought as little of me is I did and it…well…it was not good. If you are giving him money, cut it off. Most likely it is not going for what he says it is for. If he calls you when drunk, says mean or inappropriate things, tell him how much you love him and hang up. I can’t imagine how hard that would be. I don’t know how my mother did it. But it saved our family. And it saved me. And I’ve seen it save a bunch of other addicts. Let him know you’re not giving up on him. Mom likes to say, “I’ll do anything to support you and your recovery, nothing for your addiction but, I’ll always be here for you.” Going to jail or prison might be the best thing for him. Unfortunately, it tends to be sometimes the only thing that will wake people up. Sometimes it makes them worse. EVERYTHING DEPENDS OM HIM AND HIS DESIRE AND WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE. He needs to handle his consequences on his own. If you are always there to help him, he will never learn how to help himself.

Parenting and Loving An Adult Addict

 

I was asked what advice I might have for the parents of an addict from the addict’s sister.There have been books written about this and I will try to put some general thoughts together here.  I thought about this quite a bit for the ten days I was on vacation as I don’t take any of this lightly and can only give my views as to what I feel I have learned through others and our experiences.

My first thought is that this adult addict is definitely taking advantage of the parents and is being enabled.  I believe that loving our children does not include enabling, it means keeping them accountable.  Understand that this can be a very difficult assessment to make.  Am I enabling or am I supporting?

To me, enabling is giving the addict money when asked for it.  Have I fallen for that one?  I sure have and in my ignorance of how bad this disease is, I gave money when I probably should not have.  I wonder how many times did I give money thinking it was for food, rent, or other necessities when it was actually used to buy drugs.  These are some of the instances where I would now caution a parent against giving money.

This includes paying for a car, car insurance, and gas.  Remember that an addict may use a car to get drugs.  We may think we are helping our child get to a job or to meetings.   As far as the job goes, Ashley found that when all else failed, public transportation took her anywhere she needed to go as did her feet.  It may not always be the most desirable means for getting from one place to another and sometimes it took her hours to get somewhere which, by car, would have been much quicker.

We want our addicts to have a cell phone so they can communicate with us.  I believe we fell into that trap too.  When our kids are using, it does not matter if they have a phone or not.  Most likely, they will be avoiding our calls but will use that phone to contact someone for drugs.

Money for rent, utilities or a hotel.  I don’t want my daughter on the street.  I remember watching a woman pushing a grocery cart full of all her belongings along a sidewalk in California.  I thought that if things did not change, that could be Ash.  There was a time when she and the young man she was with stayed at a very run down hotel.  She did not realize that they were homeless.  After all, they had a place to stay.  I think of her every single time we are feeding the homeless through the FACETS program.  I can see her face on each woman lined up to receive a decent meal, knowing that could be her.

While I have never been asked to bail Ashley out of jail, I would not do it.  In the past, when I knew what was going on, I made her take the consequences.  When she was in eighth grade, she came home from school and said some kid had lit a cigarette on the bus.  I am sure I told her that was a stupid thing to do.  The kid had a lighter, a cigarette, and was brazen enough to light it up on the bus???  So imagine the phone conversation the next morning.  The principal from the middle school called and told me what had happened.  I replied I knew as Ashley had told me about it.  Then she hit me with it.  The student who lit the cigarette on the bus was Ashley.  I was shocked.  I was angry.  I had been duped.  Ashley was suspended from school for a couple days.  She thought it would be mornings to sleep in, watch tv, and read books.  Not.  Even. Close.  I took time from my teaching job to be home, had her up and following the very same routine she would follow at school, complete with work.

When Ash did try and come home to live, I told her she would have to have a job,  pay rent and submit to random drug testing as well as attend meetings. My thought was, and still is, if she was not going to be responsible I may very well come home and find she had overdosed or was dead.  I would not trust that an addict would live rent free in their parents’ home without bringing drugs in and getting high.  I realize there may be exceptions if the addict is in recovery, but then part of that recovery would be to get a job and pay rent.  She did find work but every single job ended with some excuse.  Not enough hours.  The manager was disparaging a worker and Ashley stood up for the worker and was fired.  She could not find anything.  Then was when I found the empty bottle of wine, what I thought was black heroin on a mirror and the positive on the drug test I had sent in.  It was at that point I told her she had to leave.

If you have read previous blogs, that was when Ash said I saved her life.  I did my best to support and love her without enabling her.  Her recovery is up to her.  Sometimes we have to let go to get our children back.  None of it is easy.  It is heartbreaking and often terrifying.

So, I would encourage the parents of this addict to reach out for help from others.  There are groups online that have been helpful, like The Addicts Mom and The Addicts Dad.  The Chris Atwood Foundation.  Are there any friends or family members they would listen to who could let them know that their addict is most likely heading for an overdose or worse? Would they ever consider a family support group or has there been one offered from the treatment centers he has been in? There is nothing more important to an addict than the drug.  He will lie, cheat, and steal to support his habit.  I have read too many memoirs now from parents of addicts and addicts themselves to believe it to be otherwise.

I am sure Ashley will respond to this.  Maybe parents need to hear it directly from another addict.

For today, my recovering addict just arrived at work.  She is still here.  Still helping.  Love her.

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.

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.

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