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

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.

You Tube video from town hall meeting

If any are interested, I am finding this video from the town hall meeting interesting.  It is moderated by Elizabeth Cohen, CNN medical correspondent.  The panel includes an EMS responder, Lucas County social worker, and an overdose survivor.  The panel discusses what law enforcement and medical personnel can do to help addicts.  Letting them die is not an option.

Where is My Daughter??

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.