Chemo, surgery and staph. These are the things I didn’t see coming. When my beautiful girl finally agreed to go to rehab on April 19th, 2014 I was tricked into thinking I could finally relax and a lifetime of rainbows and butterfly’s was just around the corner. After YEARS of praying for her to want help and be willing to receive help, she’s finally going.
Thank God, right? Not so quick.Typically, when presented with good news, hope and or a blessing, I am pretty darn skilled at finding all the things that can go wrong. However, when it came to my daughter’s addiction and impending rehab stint, I somehow turned into someone else. Someone who saw what they wanted to see because I needed to believe it as much as I needed to breathe. I saw only the hope.
I quickly realized rehab wasn’t the end all. Once she was there, she needed to go ALL fucking IN. She had to want this and be willing to do the hard work it was going to take to get and stay clean. I saw bits and pieces of that. I saw strength that I never knew was in there…briefly. Mostly, I saw the fact that I had had been kidding myself that rehab was the answer. Don’t get me wrong, it was part of the answer. Suddenly, I had to worry about her coming home, who she was talking to, if she was serious about staying clean, if she was willing to do anything and everything it took to stay clean and lastly how to protect myself, our family and her son from that feeling of devastation that comes when she fucks everything up. I was once again riding the roller coaster.
So she’s coming home and here are a few of the red flags.
- “I’m not like a real addict. My therapist says that yeah, I was addicted physically but I don’t really have an addict’s brain” – I’m about 100% positive your therapist didn’t say that but whatever floats your boat.
- Going to AA or NA just makes me feel worse. I don’t want my entire life to be about addiction. It’s the only time I want to use, when I’m around addicts, talking about using” Sure thing, makes complete sense…NOT.
- “I can be around people who are using and I have no desire to use. “ Pardon me miss, but your pants are on fire.
- “I will NOT abandon my friends/boyfriend. I will help them. It’s a good thing you didn’t turn your back on me otherwise I’d still be using” You are not trained to help them. It is IMPOSSIBLE for you to bring them up. The ONLY thing that can happen is they will pull you down.
I was blind-sided by the fact that ok, you’re sober but you’re still you. If you have spent years lying, sneaking around, avoiding responsibilty of any kind and using drugs to escape reality, these things can’t just disappear after 60 days.
To the parent’s and others in the addicts support system, I say this to you. They will automatically revert to all of these behaviors and if you’re anything like me, you WILL try to control it. I spent months pushing and prodding her into meetings and counseling only to be lied to. It all comes down to this.
This is the biggest fight your child will likely ever fight in their life. This is going to be hard. They will have to fight this addiction with EVERYTHING they’ve got. If you don’t use every tool in your arsenal and want it more than anything you’ve ever wanted…consistently…all day, every day…you’re done. I finally understand why rehab won’t work unless they want to go. They have to want it, BAD.
So what now. The relapse. “Mom, relapsing is part of recovery and it was only once”. FUCK, okay. I mean, it doesn’t seem like using is part of getting better but ok, I realize I’m not an addiction specialist. She’s working and living on her own. I don’t hear from her as much as I would like, especially since her son lives with us but hey, I’m happy she’s alive and working. You can’t use and hold down a job, right? Once again, I am lulled into a false sense of security.
She calls and has pain in her underarm. I tell her to go to the doctor. She doesn’t. The pain moves to her include her chin. Go to the doctor. Finally, days later she goes. Staph infection in underarm and on chin. Admitted to hospital. Two days later, surgery to remove abscesses. Hey, while we’re in here, let’s do a blood test. Meth, check. Hepatitis C, check.
Right now, my daughter is in the hospital and faced with a choice. Stop using and fight this with every ounce of your being or continue on this path and die.
The treatment for Hep C, given that it was caught so early (tested negative in May) is chemotherapy. She will lose her hair. If any 21 year old girl has loved her hair more, I have not met her. If she chooses to continue her drug use, she is not going to live through chemo. This is it. The fork in the road.
I sat in the hospital room last night and I had the same conversation I had with her several months prior, before she made the decision to go to rehab. A speech every parent has had with their addict child.
“I love you more than anything in this world. I want you to be well, feel love, take pride in your life and to be happy. I want these things for you more than anything. I would gladly give my own life if it would make it so. The problem is, as I participate in this daily battle with you, I am giving my life. Slowly, the stress and the sadness is killing me. I cannot raise your son and participate in this madness with you. I cannot coexist on both of those planes. If you cut the boyfriend out TODAY, not some long drawn out fight and tearful talks on the phone but really cut him out. Do not talk to anyone he knows, change your number, literally do not engage with him in any way from this point forward. If you do that and you fight for your sobriety with every ounce of your being, we will lock arms with you and hold you up when you cannot hold yourself up. We will help you kick Meth and Heroin’s ass. You will need to do these things in order to endure chemotherapy and stay alive. If you choose to not do any one of those things, you are choosing death. I cannot and will not ride in the passenger seat next to you. I can’t bear the things I will feel and see. If you choose death and drugs, you are going it alone. If you choose to fight, I will fight right along with you.”
Her reply, “why do you feel like you can run my life? Butt out of my business” Heart broken.
I know I cannot help her. I cannot do anything for her and my presence is truly only enabling her. I must do the same thing I encouraged her to do. I have to let go, do not engage with her while she is using. I am not trained to help her, it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to lift her up. The ONLY thing that can happen is that she will pull me down.