One Day At A Time

Posted on October 23, 2009. Filed under: AlAnon, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , |

I had a horrible, very realistic dream last night about my daughter that has stuck with me all day.  The visuals of the “nightmare” and emotions it elicited are disturbing and familiar. Many of the scenes and details in this dream parallel real life with Hayley in recent years. Here’s the “dreamplay”:

Hayley and I are meeting, somewhere, on a trip – at a hotel for a family gathering, perhaps.  We all know she has been using heroin, and that just getting herself to this event will be a miracle. And true to form, Hayley arrives – in chaos and with drama – accompanied by an entourage of suitcases and a variety of smaller bags, rumpled clothing and assorted paraphernalia spilling out of broken zippers and stuffed pockets. As usual, no one comments on the bedlam of Hayley’s arrival or the energy she sucks out of the room.

She always carries a large, deep purse, whose contents seem mysterious and threatening.  She carefully guards its gaping mouth from our view. Although I’m glad to see her, I quickly slide in to my usual mode of interaction with her, heavy on suspicion sprinkled with careful tiptoeing around her manic behavior.  At some point, I think Hayley alludes to the fact that she is prostituting – – – and I think I detect a bit of a smirk.

A youngish, good looking gay man and family friend, Brent, works at the hotel and spends time with Hayley in her hotel room.  After a couple of days, I notice how terrible Hayley looks.  She was always a beautiful young girl and woman, with peaches-and-cream complexion, sparkling turquoise eyes, and full luscious lips.  Now, her gray, blotchy skin, yellowing, goopy eyes, mouth surrounded by sores, and thin, matted hair, are frightening – even sickening.  Now here’s an even more disturbing part of the dream. I whisper into Hayley’s ear, “Why don’t you just let me help you kill yourself right now instead of dragging it out, one day at a time? I’m here for you”.

When it was time to go home, we all said our goodbyes.  No one really knew where Hayley was going, or if she was capable of getting herself there.  After she left, I discovered Brent frantically sniffing a nasal spray bottle that Hayley had left behind.  “What’s in it”, I ask.  “Heroin”, he says.  “Don’t tell”, he adds.  “You know she has AIDS, don’t you?”  This statement slams into me as if I’ve been struck by a bullet.  I feel dizzy and short of breath.  I gasp for air.  Then, I am reeling with anger and disgust that my worst fear has been realized. I’m not only concerned about Hayley’s life expectancy and deteriorating quality of life, but also selfishly wondering if I’ll be expected to take care of her.  After all, I am her mother.

Yesterday, there were lots of real life cues that prompted this disturbing dream: on Oprah, women my age recently diagnosed with HIV after having unprotected sex while dating; a phone call from a friend whose son is gay, a drug addict, and HIV+, now showing signs of full blown AIDS; guilt about not trying to contact Hayley for the past several weeks; using nasal spray after my recent surgery for a deviated septum.

The most troubling aspect of this bad dream, however, is how real it seemed and felt – and plausible.  I harbor a lot of anger and resentment towards Hayley, coupled with a huge dose of guilt.  I know I failed her in some way.  After all, the evidence is incriminating:  my beautiful, smart, well- educated daughter, from a ‘privileged’ family, is a drug addict.  What did we give too much or not enough of?  And then, of course – there is my sinister-sounding offer to help her end her life.  Would this be an act of mercy, or more tragically, my narcissistic attempt to simply expunge a huge “problem” from my life?

One Day At a Time . . . Hayley is getting through life with heroin, killing her self a little bit each day – a sardonic twist to this AA slogan that emphasizes,  “We can only choose how we will respond today.”


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One Response to “One Day At A Time”

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Oh my dear! What a terrfying nightmare. I want to help, but I don’t know how. Please know that you can call on me anytime.
Here are some words from His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
“May the frightened cease to be afraid,
And those bound be free.
May the weak find power,
And may all their haearts join in friendship.”

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