Archive for November, 2009
. . . but it seems to be something at which my daughter is succeeding. She’s ‘making it’ in the drug world. You have to cut yourself off from family and friends and any ‘help’ or support; you have to learn how to use needles, find veins, inject yourself; and, of course, you have to constantly be on the make for your next fix which is, most likely, always a challenge; you have to lie, cheat, steal, conceal, be ever vigilant, protect yourself from bodily harm and not trust anyone; you have to compromise your values and adopt a whole new standard of living; you become adept at scheming, scamming, and learning a whole new culture; you have to avoid going out in public in case you run in to someone you know; you have to avoid the police at all costs, for fear of being arrested; your physical health is in constant jeopardy from abscesses, infection, constipation, over-dose; you’re totally dependent on acquiring another fix in order to avoid getting sick. It’s basic survival mode, every few hours. I’m not sure I could do it. Could you?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 7 so far )
I was deliberate and intentional in raising Hayley – wanting her to have every opportunity in life. I had an all natural childbirth with Hayley weighing in at 8 ½ pounds. She took to the breast immediately, and was a vigorous nurser. And although she was ‘colicky’ the first three months of her life with lots of gastric distress and refusing a pacifier or artificial nipple of any kind, she gained weight well and eventually outgrew her fussiness. I nursed her for ~ 18 months and she didn’t sleep through the night until she was weaned. She was a beautiful, delightful baby, who idolized her older brother, Brian.
What better start can you give a child? I thought I had protected her health and future with breast milk, homemade baby food, no sugar or artificial preservatives/additives until she was almost 4. She was loved, and held, and read to.
Hayley later blamed her so-called ‘oral fixation’ on me – biting her nails and cuticles, smoking, maybe even her eating disorder, who knows? A mother is always to blame, isn’t she?
So when and where did it go so wrong? I thought I was being a good mother, but there was obviously some thing Hayley needed that she wasn’t getting. Who knew?
I had a tortured dream last night that I was kidnapped by heroin addicts and was forced to watch them inject themselves. Strangely, Hayley was not amongst the group – and, as revolting as they were, I was drawn to ‘these people’. They showed me a certain level of kindness and compassion – as if I were ‘family’ – yet also seemed to find some perverse pleasure in shocking me. I was terrified that they would make me shoot heroin myself, and my life would instantly change. I also was afraid that I would stick myself with one of their carelessly tossed needles and become infected with hepatitis or HIV. I eventually escaped in the night, barefoot, and had to find my way home – miles away, and in an unfamiliar setting.
Babies – their innocence, potential, future . . . nothing is for certain, although I thought I could stack the odds.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
My daughter won’t let us know where she’s living in town. She’s afraid I’ll call the police and have her arrested. There is a warrant out for her arrest for violating probation, and at times, I’ve thought that jail could be an effective treatment program. It’s free, and Hayley couldn’t walk out of it. I know she doesn’t go out and is a ‘prisoner’ in her current living situation, worried that she’ll run in to someone she knows. She’s ashamed and embarrassed. She told our mutual friend, Erik, that she wants to see me, but is afraid to have me see her. I’m sure that must mean she doesn’t look very good.
Last June, when I learned that Hayley was living in a crack house, I decided to ratchet up the security level at my house. I disengaged the manual ‘open’ button on my driveway gate, re-located the emergency front door house key, put giant padlocks on the side yard and deck gates. When I left town, I pulled down all the window shades, kept the radio on, hid my jewelry and computer, put strategic lights on timers. I didn’t really think that Hayley would try to break in to my house, but I worried about her ‘junkie’ friends. I’ve since relaxed a bit – at least when I’m at home. But I still worry when I go out of town.
The Stigma – yes – I am beginning to feel the stigma of my daughter’s drug life and poor choices. My paranoia is that friends I meet on the street probably think: “What must have gone on in that family to cause that beautiful girl to become a drug addict?” Or, I’ll smile, and say hello, or be out and about, trying desperately to go on living my life – and acquaintances/friends might think I’m calloused, don’t care, am skimming the surface of emotional life. However, I guess that one of the many good things about small towns: the small talk – chitchat outside the post office or grocery store, never stumbles into inquiries like, And how are your kids doing? Everybody already knows.
After almost six months, I am just now able to go a couple of hours without thinking of Hayley and her sordid life. I can catch myself feeling guilty for laughing, or having a good time with friends. And every time I hear a siren, I wonder if my daughter is being arrested somewhere.
Paranoia – hers, mine – it’s driving us both crazy.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Hayley had abandoned her battered car at her friend’s, Erik, parent’s house after leaving medical de-tox AMA (against medical advice) in August. It had a flat tire, a dead battery, and the electrical system was screwed up after the radio and CD player had been ripped out/stolen five months previously. The car was full of Hayley’s clothes, unopened mail, and miscellaneous paraphernalia. Hayley had essentially been living out of her car for months, using it as a closet and storage unit.
I went to Erik’s parents’ house to clean out the car and make arrangements for it to be towed. I threw a lot of things into the garbage and the rest into a black plastic trash bag to take home, clean, and store. I thought I had finished salvaging her belongings when I cleaned out her apartment from which she had been evicted, in June. But no – – – here was more evidence of her damaged life to sort through and make decisions about.
When I opened the car trunk, I saw a dented, ragged, frayed cardboard moving box labeled, “Impt Stuff”. Its contents were heart-breakingly sentimental and surprising: her 4th grade planet report on Saturn; a typed pesonal letter from my dad, her grandfather, dated 1994; a framed photo of the 1987 Nutcracker cast in which she was one of the “party children”, a coveted role for little girls in our community; high school and middle school year books; a Certificate of Commendation for Outstanding Academic Accomplishment from the 6th grade; a ski racing bib; her high school varsity tennis team captain plaque; her high school athletic letter; a framed needlepoint teddy bear from my mom, her grandmother; a small musical jewelry box with her ballerina necklace in it; the polar bear sweater I knit for her in high school; and more.
Hayley is the most sentimental of my three children – she saves everything and, I think, cherishes family keepsakes. She’s the one that wanted my grandmother’s china; she wore vintage gowns from an elderly friend’s closet to Homecoming and Prom. She has always been interested in and appreciated the family history, stories, artifacts, heirlooms. The irony is, that she will most likely never have a physical place for these things in her life.
This trait of keeping everything is very much entrenched in my own family. My parents and grandparents kept everything to the point of obsession, without a lot of priority – from a receipt in 1952 for a 25 cent flashlight battery to my great grandfather’s discharge papers from the Civil War. The chore of going through and sorting endless drawers and files of junk, has been offset by discovering old letters, photos, documents and personal notes which are a priceless paper trail of my ancestors’ lives. I’m a member of this club, also. I seem to need a 3200 square foot house to store all my ‘stuff’. Hayley had kept almost five years of unopened mail, thrown in to bureau drawers – all of it bad news – which I brought home and opened when I chose to retrieve some of her things from her abandoned apartment. These envelopes contained a different kind of paper trail that still haunts me. Opening each one was a stab to my heart and tangible evidence of my daughter’s out-of-control life.
Hayley still has her blankie from when she was a baby – and sleeps with it every night. However, last April, she was not allowed to take it with her when she spent four days in jail for a shoplifting offense. She had privately lived with and carried around this impending jail sentence for nine months, and I believe the shame and anxiety of it all contributed to her ‘flip’ into hard drug use. After I picked her up from serving her four days in jail, I wrote this:
I know she’s thirty . . . but
she needs her blankie.
Can she have it . . .
in the Wapato City Jail?
She’s never slept
Oh, the comfort of
that tattered, yellow rag . . .
A silky, thin veil
of relief from
The secrets and lies,
shame and worry.
She needs her blankie.
Can she have it . . . please?
I just finished a wonderful first novel by Ginnah Howard, Night Navigation. The characters, language, personal dilemmas, the emotional roller-coaster of addicts and their families, all were hauntingly familiar. It’s obvious that Howard has had personal experience navigating the landscape of addiction and mental illness.
The book opens with Del giving her 37 year-old bipolar son, Mark, a ride to a medical de-tox facility for heroin addiction. “Through the four seasons, Night Navigation takes us into the deranged, darkly humorous world of the addict – from break-your-arm dealers to boot-camp rehabs to Rumi-quoting NA Sponsors. Al-Anon tells Del to “let go”; NAMI tells her to “hang on”. Mark cannot find a way to live in this world; Del cannot stop trying to rescue him. And yet, during this long year’s night, through relapse and despair, there are flare-ups of hope as Mark and Del fitfully, painfully try to steer toward the light.”
Told in the alternating voices of an addict and his mother, this riveting novel adds new depth to our compassion for and understanding of addiction, parents and their troubled children. I identified with Del’s desperate attempts to save her sons: “She always gave them warm clothing: long underwear, mittens, hats – this jacket – hoping somehow to shelter them from their chaotic lives”. P.155 And this: “She puts her feet up on the stool and rocks a little. Even when he came toward her, looking so not like himself, she saw in his eyes the child who sat in his yellow sleepers on the edge of his bed, reading his Richard Scarry book by the light from the hall, circling with a blue crayon all the words he knew. Year later he said to her, Sometimes I circled a few I didn’t know. She still has dreams where she picks up the phone and he says, Mom, it’s Aaron”. p. 157
This book is not only beautifully written; but the revealing glimpses it gives us into the world and psyche of a struggling addict, mental illness, and depression, contributed to my growing knowledge base and a better understanding of what my daughter must be experiencing.
Here’s a little prayer that I’m told, is a favorite of the Dalai Lama’s and is a favorite of my Buddhist friend, Donna:
And now, as long as space endures.
As long as there are beings to be found.
May I also endure
To wipe away the sorrows of the world.
This book helped ease my sorrow, a bit. Thanks, Ginnah.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
My dear friend, Donna, sent me these poems a few months ago. Their timeless words continue to comfort me and help find some perspective.
The peace of wild things
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Look Down Fair Moon
Look down fair moon and
bathe this scene,
Pour softly down night’s
nimbus floods on
On the dead on their
backs with arms
Pour down your unstinted
nimbus sacred moon.
Mind Without Fear
Rabindranath Tagore <http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r=48664710&msgid=700185&act=Z39Y&c=327629&admin=0&destination=http%3A%2F%2Fnobelprize.org%2Fnobel_prizes%2Fliterature%2Flaureates%2F1913%2Ftagore-bio.html>
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up
into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening
thought and action˜
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
From Gitanjali <http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r=48664710&msgid=700185&act=Z39Y&c=327629&admin=0&destination=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.calcuttaweb.com%2Ftagore%2Fgitanjali.htm> , <http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r=48664710&msgid=700185&act=Z39Y&c=327629&admin=0&destination=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.calcuttaweb.com%2Ftagore%2Fgitanjali.htm> Verse 35
Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me
Mary Oliver <http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r=48664710&msgid=700185&act=Z39Y&c=327629&admin=0&destination=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.poetryfoundation.org%2Farchive%2Fpoet.html%3Fid%3D5130>
spoke to me
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,
smelling of iron,
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches
and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,
and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment,
at which moment
my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rain˜
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.
Morning Has Broken
As sung by Cat Stevens
Eleanor Farjeon <http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r=48664710&msgid=700185&act=Z39Y&c=327629&admin=0&destination=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.yusufislam.com%2Fsongs-a-z%2F9a6dfc96d687b2903416fea94492253c>
Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the world
Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day