Compassion When The Shoe Drops

Posted on February 20, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Parent of an Addict, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

compassionearthBelow is an email that was forwarded to me.  It’s important enough to share here, because after going to the site referenced, I realized that this message is one I need to remember right now.  Even though I seem to have no trouble feeling compassion for many people in my life and in the world, I often have trouble feeling compassion for my own daughter, the heroin addict.  Again, I get tripped up by the “She’s brought this misery on to herself” voice.  Here’s the email – be sure to go to the website for the entire message.

Karen Armstrong is an amazing woman/scholar, who has written extensively on the 3 monotheistic religions (Islam, Judaism and Christianity). Her latest book is “The Case For God”, which is not really what this email is about.

In 2008, Karen was one of the recipients of the TED Prize which along with the $100,000 check includes a wish. Her wish was to form an international group of religious leaders from all different faiths to write a “Charter for Compassion”. It is based on the “Golden Rule”. She says, “The core of every single one of the world religions is the virtue of compassion, which does not mean pity. Its Latin root means to feel with the other. Each one of the world religions has developed its own version of the Golden Rule…”  I encourage you to go to http://charterforcompassion.org and watch the short video, and read what the world is saying.

Back to home. Once again, I’m waiting for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop.  I’ve been here before.

Now that Hayley is back at the crack house, I’m anticipating a phone call from her asking for help.  She only lasted at this same crack house a couple of months last summer.  It’s a miserable place, with lots of drug user traffic in and out.  Porno is constantly on the TV; the woman in charge is a tough ‘bitch’, who has physically threatened and assaulted Hayley before and, I think, feels threatened herself by Hayley’s intelligence, education, attractiveness, and manipulation skills.

When Hayley made that call-for-help to me from the crack house last August, she asked me to arrange for a bed at a medical detox facility for her. For almost 72 hours, I called, researched, harangued, and pleaded to try to reserve a bed for Hayley at a medical detox facility ( there are none in our own community) 150 miles away in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Since Hayley was going through withdrawal, I even ‘scored’ some hydrocodone for her from a friend who had just had shoulder surgery, with the hope that Hayley could keep herself from using heroin.  Her dad, from California, prescribed antibiotics for her abscesses and sleeping pills until I could get her in to the detox facility, and then in to treatment.  None of it worked.  I later learned that Hayley had used twice during that long weekend of hell.   And when I finally delivered her at midnight to the medical detox unit of the inner city hospital 175 miles away, the admitting nurse looked at Hayley’s chart and said, “Oh, this is private pay?”  When I said yes, he responded with, “That’s too bad.  Is usually doesn’t work.”  Hours later, after arriving back home, bleary eyed and numb, I discovered an empty beer bottle in the cargo area of the car and an unopened bottle, stashed under the seat.  Apparently Hayley had downed one bottle on the trip, and was hoping to drink the other.  This was on top of sleeping pills, hydrocodone, and heroin.  Desperate.  As some of you may remember, Hayley walked out of that medical detox hospital after 4 days, AMA (against medical advice), and talked a cab driver in to driving her the 175 miles back ‘home’.  ‘Home’ was the crack house – who wouldn’t take her back, a tragic commentary on so many levels.

So now, I am writing a short script of what I will say to my daughter when she calls me from the crack house, wanting help.  I’ll speak to her with compassion, and tell her I love her and want what’s best for her – that she’s amazingly resourceful, and I know she knows what it is she needs to do to begin the journey towards recovery.  I’ll remind her that she can always contact her probation officer and/or Dependency Health Services for confidential evaluation and assistance.  That’s it, I guess – what I’ll say to her  – we’ll see.

And blog friend, Madyson, asked the million dollar question:  How do we get our son/daughter to care enough about themselves to change their life? I know that this is not necessarily our job, or within our “hula hoop”.  I now know that probably I can’t make my daughter care enough about herself to change her life.  But, what do we do in the mean time? Do we just have to leave it to chance and/or time that our addict will have an epiphany or seize an opportunity to get help?  I’m not sure Hayley will survive long enough to experience either of these two options.

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15 Responses to “Compassion When The Shoe Drops”

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My daughter asked for help on 1/1 of this year and we got her into a rehab unit after 4 days of detoxing at home under close supervision. She has been clean for 54 days. I pray that all our children realize they need help as that is a big part of the battle. She asked for help so we are very optimistic but I know that she has a chemical imbalance and they did not diagnose her with any type of depression, etc. I have always thought she was bipolar. Where do we get help for that. She is going to IOP 3 times a week and is seeing a doctor for the first time tomorrow. I am hoping that he will see the depression she has. Since she has been home she is confused about what her future should be. I am assuming this is normal but I dont want her depression/mood swings to be the turning point to make her use again. She is also going to church once again which she hasnt done for years. If anyone has any advice please! This is the hardest road I have ever been down. I will continue to pray for all of you.

Renee – if you live in a community that has a “Comprehensive Mental Health” center, or some kind of “Dependency Health Services” (I believe these are both state sponsored/sanctioned), then your daughter can be assessed and evaluated for free. This isn’t necessarily the only route to go, since I have found that the diagnostic process is very subjective – – – both from the professional’s perspective, and also, how the addict is feeling that day. In other words, how honest the addict is and how self-aware she is. I encourage you to advocate, on behalf of your daughter, for some kind of mental health DX. I’m not sure they can do this for themselves.

I actually spoke to her about this yesterday. Since she is 20 almost 21 she has to ask however, she doesnt want to because she feels they will put her on meds for it and she wants to be drug/alcohol free. She knows she will be come dependent. I am giving her alot of credit for being honest. She is 58 days clean and is getting very involved in N/A here. If things dont improve with her mental health, I will push for this. Thanks for your response.

Oh, Peggy, my hearts hurts for you and all of us. I feel certain your daughter suffers from some chemical imbalance at the very least. My daughter has long-term clinical depression. Whether it is bipolar disorder depends on which psychiatrist you ask. Right now, she is upstairs in deep depression, though clean for the time being. She has barely moved from her bed for days. This is how she is without heroin. It feels so hopeless, because she won’t get help. (God knows we’ve seen most of the psychiatrists in the area, so I understand her frustration.) If I can keep her clean a few more days, perhaps her cymbalta will work better. Hard to find hope, but I so want to spread some to you. -Gal

Gal – thank you for your thoughts. I wish there was more we could hang on to. The bitter irony of getting clean is that the addict is then facing once again the issues that caused her to use in the first place. Is there no way to break this cycle? I’m sorry, but it does feel hopeless. Please know that I’m thinking of you and your daughter – and hope, pray for some random miracle. Best, Peggy

I am praying that she comes to the realization soon. Keep praying.

I am doing the same dress rehearsals in my head. I have one suggestion for my daughter when I pick her up from detox on Thursday, and it does not involve coming home. If she doesn’t avail herself of that solution, she may find one of her own. I need for my answers to come quickly to the verbal barrage I know will come.

Also, I agree they may not need to WANT to start the journey. Even my addict has said, time spent hearing the message is not wasted, as the message is getting in there, settling in the mind, and later things will be “remembered” when recovery is truly sought. (Example: court ordered AA or NA meetings, court ordered programs that the addict didn’t want to go to, etc) What is learned at any point can benefit them later. I hope that made sense… sorry!

I will continue to pray for you and Hayley. Hugs!

Peggy –

I woke this morning thinking of “compassion” so when I read your post today – it resonated with me! Although I’ve never had a problem feeling compassion for my son, I am struggling to feel it for my brother (the story’s on my post today). As someone that is recovering from co-dependency, I have to monitor my feelings and realize that I can have compassion for someone but not act on it, even with my own son.

There is no one answer to any of these questions and it is terrifying at times! My thoughts and prayers are with you and Hayley!

I love Karen Armstrong!!! I have never seen this site before, thanks for sharing it.

Your script for Hayley sounds good. I don’t know what that turning point, or breaking point is, it seems different for every addict. I hope she chooses to get out of that crack house SOON. I think she knows how much you love her. Why do our children not love themselves? Why can’t we just infuse our love for them into them instead of the horrible drugs that make them dislike themselves more and more.

I remember when my I paid for my son to go to rehab and most of the professional advice I received was to send him whether it was his idea or not. I had one friend (who is also a psychologist and knows my son personally) tell me she didn’t think I should blow my dime yet, that he wasn’t ready. I sent him and he made it 30 days (he went in high as a kite and I had to pay for the additional 4 days of med detox). I have been told that any amount of clean time is a positive step towards recovery. As much as we want to make it o.k. to step in and rescue by telling ourselves their situation is impossible or they may not make it to see recovery, there is no getting around that it, they have to want it and seek it out for themselves. We didn’t cause it, can’t control it and can’t cure it. Many prayers for you and your daughter. Renee

Thanks so much for your comment, Renee. I feel so helpless, just waiting for my daughter to come to her senses. I’m not sure she ever will, and in the meantime, I feel like I need to be doing something to facilitate the process. This blog helps me, but I still would like to have more direct impact on my daughter’s decision to get out of her high risk lifestyle. She must have such deep emotional pain – – – and now, using heroin, she probably doesn’t really know what she feels or why. Peggy

I don’t know if they need to care about their life to start the journey. My son agreed to go to an out of the area, 4-6 month inpatient program, after ODing. I later asked him why he went and he said, “I didn’t have anywhere else to go.” I don’t think that is caring, but it started his journey and I have cautious optimism that he cares about his life now, 4 months later.

All you can do is pray for her and continue to love her. She has to do everything else. Prayers and hugs to you, for you.

Thanks for this, Lisa. It gives me hope.

Thank you for this post! Any update? Sweet Blessings…

Thanks for stopping by, Pamela. This post is over two years old. I’m thrilled and grateful to report that my daughter, Hayley, has been clean and sober and in recovery since May 9, 2010. The time period between this post in February and May 9th, 2010, were harrowing. I didn’t know if any of us would survive. If you feel like reading about how Hayley got into a treatment program and true recovery, and the chaos leading up to it, read my posts from Feb – June, 2010. I hope they give you and/or a friend or loved one hope.


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