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.

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.

 

 

Ashley, Addict

Recently , I’ve been invited to share on this blog by my mother.  The catalyst, perhaps, is that she doesn’t know the truth about a lot of what happened. Unfortunately, that is a huge part of this thing. The lies and the darkness and the loneliness and the deceit. So, we are going to collaborate and I’m going to tell my side of the story, as well.

I suppose what’s most fresh on my mind is a response to her last few posts . It’s so hard to know where to start; mom and I have gone back-and-forth on just that issue. Do we start with my childhood? Do we start with my first time in jail?  Where does it all begin?

I moved back to Virginia in April 2012. I packed all my things up into my SUV , rented a U-Haul , attached it to the back and had the plan to drive from California to Virginia in five days.  Tops. I had bought enough heroin to last me a full week and a half. I even color-coded my syringes. Yellow for morning, red for afternoon, blue for evening, black for night. By my third day into the trip, when arriving to Flagstaff, Arizona I was already completely out. At this point I had no veins left and I was covered in track marks. I started to get very sick. I had to stay in the same hotel room for three days,incapable of moving.  I was detoxing. Hard. I fainted every time I sat up. I was dry heaving constantly. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t move without puking. Detoxing also comes along with excruciating body aches and uncontrollable diarrhea. Imagine the worst flu you’ve ever had and multiply it by probably fifteen.  You might have a vague idea of what it’s like. But, probably not. I decided to tell my family that I had swine flu. Yes, swine flu.

 

I was far too ashamed to tell the truth. The truth that I had been shooting heroin into my veins for well over nine months.  The truth that my 135 pounds was now a dismal 87.  I was quite literally dying physically. Spiritually, I had been dead for years.

The whole trip consisted of me googling places where people had been arrested or had overdosed to see if I could find some more heroin. I was never successful. That just goes to show though, how sick I was. How sick I am. It took me twelve days to get back to Virginia. Twelve days of stealing drugs along the way from family members , including my father. Twelve days of standing up and passing out and hitting my head every single day. Twelve days being on the edge of taking my own life to end the suffering. I was so  incredibly alone.  I like to call it the twelve days of death.

 

It is a miracle I didn’t die in a hotel room. Or kill someone while trying to drive. It’s a miracle I’m alive just based on that trip alone.

 

When I got back I was constantly in a state of detox. I would have things mailed to me (predominately heroin) but between packages I was super sick. I would drink or smoke pot in order to barely function.   I couldn’t hold down a job because I kept on getting sick . I was going to twelve step meetings every day with an underlying motive that somebody would hopefully relapse and get me high with them.

 

When my mom eventually found the bottle of wine the jig was up. Funny thing is , the stuff on the mirror was dust. The irony is, it will never be dust. Anytime anything pops up in my life from here on out-if I’m late, if I forget to call, if my room is too messy, if I’m acting funny or tired or get sick. It will always not be dust. I will always be a suspect. And I’ve earned that title. I’ve done that damage.  I’ve led my love ones to see dust and think drugs. How sick is that? The other funny part is, I really was licking the furniture. But it’s not funny. I was so desperate to not feel sick anymore. I would go to my storage unit with Q-tips and try and scrape off heroin to put into a shot. I scoured my car every day for FOUR MONTHS after I knew there was nothing left. I was licking my furniture! For God sake, how sick is that? But those are the things addicts do. Those are just some of the lengths I will go to in order to feel better.

The worst thing I’ve ever heard come out of anybody’s mouth was when she told me I had to leave and that I wasn’t her daughter anymore. And she didn’t mean it in a disowning sense. She meant it in the sense that she didn’t know who was standing in front of her anymore. The daughter she loved and cherished and raised had vanished. I was but a ghost. Swinging in and out of life, shifting from task to task, floating amongst the living but much closer to the dead.

 

When my mom asked me to leave I did go to my friends house. I stayed there for a night and then at another friends house for a night and then slept in my truck for a night. There was one night I knew my parents were out of town and I snuck into my backyard and crawled into the screened in porch of my childhood and slept there. I wept like a baby the entire night; asking myself, how is this my life?  So many beautiful memories in the backyard now tainted. Now stained by my addiction.

 

 

 

I, too, must stop now. It is not easy to recall those empty days. It will be even harder to tell you of even emptier days. I do this so you can see. I am you in your nightmares. I am an addict. I am also someone’s child.  We all are.