Yes . . . She’s Still In There

Posted on April 7, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , |

First of all, I want to thank all of you for your sweet words of support, empathy, and encouragement.  Each of your comments was helpful and carefully considered.  Even though many responses were coming from completely opposite perspectives, they all made sense and were comforting. They gave me the strength to do what I wanted and needed to do.  I am eternally grateful for your loyalty and concern.

Today, on Hayley’s 31st birthday, we were supposed to meet at 4:00 pm, across the street from the crack house where she is living. I was very nervous.  I hadn’t seen her since last August, and I was afraid to see what she looked like after using heroin for nine months.  And in addition to these inherent fears, a good family friend, Lilly, called me last night to report that an acquaintance of hers, Dan, had some news of Hayley. Dan lived across the street from the crack house and had recognized Hayley there and her comings and goings.  He called our mutual friend, Lilly, to ask if I knew that Hayley was living at the crack house – and to report that Hayley had been over to his house a few times.  The most recent visit she made was just a couple of days ago.  She did not look good – was dope sick, and had asked Dan if he had any money or drugs he could give her.  When he said no, she asked to borrow his phone to call her drug dealer.  I was confused by this information – I thought Hayley’s drug dealer, Bill, lived with her at the crack house.  As you may recall, Bill and 2 of the other crack house residents, were arrested in a drug bust/house raid by federal agents, about 3 weeks ago.  “I hate calling you, dear friend”, said Lilly.  But I wanted you to know. Hayley is not in very good shape – and doesn’t look good.”  This “Hayley-sighting” sounded so pitiful and desperate, I was shaken, yet grateful for the “heads up”.

So – this was the information I carried around with me all day, fueling my fears and anxieties as I tried to prepare myself to see my daughter. Seeing Hayley was going to be as bad, or even worse, than I had imagined.

I was determined today, however, to focus on who my daughter truly is, deep inside – the beautiful, talented, intelligent young woman she was and hopefully still is, not the heroin addict.

I had put together a bag of birthday gifts for Hayley: new underwear, some glacier blue sweat pants and hoody, t-shirt and turquoise fleece (Costco), toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, tampons, 2 CDs of songs that I had selected and burned for her (SongsForMyDaughter), new mascara, lip gloss, blush, lotion, etc.  I also bought some groceries – 2 bags of fresh fruits and her favorite foods.

And then, all day, the lurking question of:  “Do I give Hayley her money that she had asked for?”  There were good arguments on both sides of this question.  My therapist, and a majority of blog viewers advised that I not give her the cash. (see the previous posts’ comments) Again, I so appreciated all your input.  Recovering addicts’ words and opinions were especially helpful.  I ultimately forged a compromise and decided to give Hayley ½ of her money: $130, and will use the other ½ to pay on her most recent ER bill. I fully acknowledge the fact that this money, Hayley’s money, would buy me some time with her.  Most likely just another 5 minutes or so – but worth it to me. And, I didn’t want to get in to a reactive exchange with her regarding the perception of my trying to control her access to her money.

The tension-filled countdown to my daughter’s and my meeting began around 1:00 pm.  I was so ambivalent about seeing her.  I desperately wanted to, but was also deathly afraid to.  I had a busy schedule today, and didn’t arrive back home until around 2:00 pm. I got the birthday gifts and food bags together, the birthday card written with carefully chosen, yet heartfelt words, printed out my last blog post for her about who she was, and hopefully still is deep inside, and loaded everything in to the car.

And then, at 3:30 pm, the phone call came. Not a text, but my daughter’s actual voice on the other end. It was from a phone # I didn’t recognize.  “Hi, Mom.  Can we meet a little later?”  This is her usual pattern and something I’ve come to anticipate. I was certain that this would escalate in to more meeting time delays and eventual cancellation of our get-together.  “Sure,” I said.  “Just call me when you’re ready”.  I intentionally tried to sound nonchalant versus annoyed.  The next phone call, from the crack house, was  at ~4:30 pm:  “How about 5:00 pm?”, she said.  And, “Mom – can you do me a big favor and bring cigarettes?”

For an instant, I hardened and felt manipulated – and used.  However, I dug way down and tried to focus exclusively on my goal – to see my daughter and make some kind of meaningful connection with her.  And so, I got into the car, and headed to the grocery store to buy cigarettes.

This is getting long – I’m sorry.  But the upshot of it all is – that I picked up my daughter at the crack house and we went to a nearby park to talk.  It was if we had never been apart – in time, and space, and worlds. We talked, and laughed, and cried.  My carefully thought out script evaporated, and I was able to ask her important questions and tell her things I wanted her to know. I couldn’t believe how effortless, genuine, and intimate it was.  Hayley willingly offered information and details of her life that were both revealing and touching. She made fun of herself and her absurd life, world, and circumstances. She told me that she was still receiving unemployment checks – and they would continue for another nine months – and that this money was used for group living expenses and, of course, her drugs.  She said that five people lived in the crack house, including herself, and they were, essentially, like a family.  They all shared what they received/had, and checked on one another.  No one was allowed to stay in bed all day – that no matter how you felt, you had to get up and do your chores and contribute in some way to the “well-being” of the group.  Hayley even wryly added that she had learned some things – like, you make yourself get up and do what you need to do. This news was surreal-ly hopeful to me.  I told Hayley about my blog and one of my posts about how hard it must be to be a heroin addict – and that if you can successfully navigate in the drug world and  be a heroin addict, live the lifestyle and stay alive, you’re capable of doing anything.  We laughed and cried at that revelation.

I was taken aback by Hayley’s appearance.  She was very thin and her hair was dark brown.  She’s always been “blondish” before – due to regular highlighting sessions.  I told her that she looked old.  “Really”?, she said.  “I’m not surprised”, she added.  She looked at least 40 years old.  She was pale, and her face very angular.  Her teeth were yellow, but at least none had been knocked out like I had imagined. And, I noticed some gray hairs in her head. When I mentioned that, she was shocked.  Her hands were reflective of her lifestyle:  dirty fingernails, torn, bleeding cuticles.  And when I hugged her, her shoulder blades felt so sharp – with hardly any flesh or fat on them.

I felt better about giving Hayley her money after learning that she was still receiving unemployment.  I dunno – – – this news about her unemployment money meant, to me, that maybe she hadn’t had to prostitute  herself to buy drugs.  And even though I’m embarrassed and ashamed by the fact that my daughter is a parasite on society and using our tax dollars to feed her drug habit, I’m also relieved.  She’s getting government money to live on and buy her drugs which means that possibly, she hasn’t had to totally compromise her core moral/ethical values as a person.  Odd dichotomy, isn’t it?  I let myself believe that the $130 I gave her would be used for food and “rent”.

Hayley smoked a cigarette that she “desperately” needed while we were together.  I made an analogy between breastfeeding an infant and using heroin – – – that both require careful planning and scheduling. She agreed, and we both laughed.  During our visit, the absurdity of her life just seemed to strike both of our funny bones.  Was this a manifestation of stress?  I don’t think so. For me, it was acceptance, reality, and intimacy with my daughter. When Hayley plowed through her gift bag and discovered the make-up, she immediately applied mascara, eye shadow, and blush, casually commenting that she didn’t spend too much time on her appearance these days.  This seemed so crazy and funny to me, I just burst out in to giggling, infectious laughter.  Both of us did.

I had been in contact with my youngest son, Brian, all day.  (see Cast of Characters tab) He is such comfort and support to me – and is the embodiment of love and light.  He tried to send me a text with a video of his birthday wishes and greetings to Hayley, but it didn’t come through on my cell phone.  So, while Hayley and I were together today, I called Brian, and he was able to directly speak to her.  It was a beautiful, touching few minutes of exchange between baby brother and big sister.

A few miscellaneous tidbits:

•Hayley said that when the federal agents/SWAT team surrounded and raided the crack house a couple of weeks ago, they were not very thorough in their search.  They didn’t find any drugs – just 2 scales, that are considered “drug paraphernalia”.

•Bill, the crack house owner and head honcho, was bailed out of jail by his parents.  He faces some charges, not sure what.

•Hayley said she was ‘gonna’ apply for food stamps and the Dept of Social and Health Services (DSHS) DATSA program, which could ultimately  pay for drug rehab.  She’s been reluctant to register with DSHS, the state welfare system, for fear of being arrested (there’s a warrant out for her arrest for violating probation).  The fact that she was even thinking about going to DSHS was encouraging to me.

I don’t know if the stars and planets were in alignment today – – – or if god, jesus, buddha, mohammed all converged to hold my hand.  Whatever it was, I am grateful for the opportunity to see my darling baby girl on her birthday. My meeting with Hayley today, broke the ice of our 7 month separation. I was able to tell her how much I loved her and connect with her in a meaningful way.  I know that she is OK – – – and most importantly, I saw real evidence of the Hayley I once knew.

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30 Responses to “Yes . . . She’s Still In There”

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LORD I’m inept-anyway he never has 2get dope sick.I’m so insane around this, I pieced the past4 wks 2gether(frm gf’s sober frantic call2me)2whenI know shes backin2

Chris – – – how helpless you must feel. There’s probably not much you can do, regardless of whether he’s 6,000 or 6 miles away. Do you have any contacts where he is living? Al-Anon is what keeps me from going insane. At Al-Anon meetings, there is a room full of people who know exactly what you’re dealing with, and who offer their experience, strength, and hope. Addiction is such a devastating disease – it wipes out any one in its path, including the addict’s family members. I’m in “recovery” myself, from my daughter’s addiction. Take care of YOURSELF – it’s the one thing you can control right now. Hang in there. Peggy

sorry, should have emailed you — anyway, & yesterday during the TWO min “chat” no lighter but could tell he was goin’ on the nod.) Money CURRENTLY is no-issue 4 him,w/ tolerance so fast,OD is VERY poss.

Hi Peggy, Just now have had enough courage to start in on your blog. Reading THAT days entry,my thoughts were, yes, and imagine her 6,000 mi away, having (conservatively) $200,000,& hearing his lighter all the time IF you ever HAPPEN 2 connect for an under 1 min conversation)

[…] her daughter’s sobriety… having earlier this year rescued her from a derelict drug-house and seen her daughter’s body in the worst of conditions. Peg’s daughter’s body has recovered… and now she’s witnessing the recovery of her […]

I am so glad you were able to have this visit and connect with your daughter. You are one of the brave and your ability to keep your focus on what was most important in the midst of the chaos of drug use…well you are an amazing woman. I can feel your love for your daughter and I know she has to feel it to. Stay hopeful.

“Staying hopeful” seems to be my focus these days. It sounds so simple – to “just” stay hopeful. But, it’s not. I can get down and discouraged so easily. This blog helps, with encouragement and support from people like you. Thank you for your words of comfort and HOPE!

So happy your visit went so well.

I am new to your blog and also the mother of a daughter who is a heroin addict. Your post really touched me and brought tears to my eyes. How nice you were able to reconnect with your daughter! Will be following your blog and keeping you and your daughter in my prayers.

Greetings, Diana. This is not a fun club, but I’m glad to have you as a viewer. Hope we can help each other find some peace and our own serenity in the midst of such a terrible tragedy. Peggy

I cried as I read your post. As another mother
of an addict daughter I cannot imagine how you’ve
survived so long without seeing her. I send my
prayers & wishes that you are soon reunited
fully with her & that she reaches out for
recovery.

Thanks for your sweet words, Susan. I’m sorry for your pain, as well, and hope to be hearing more from you. Peggy

Oh so happy for you!!!!!!!!!!! I read this on the edge of my seat, wanting to get every detail!!! I am so happy for you 🙂 Praise God! I know what it means to finally get to see her and have the meeting go well. The door is open!

I’m sorry it took me so long to get to comment here, had a crazy schedule all day. I loved every word of this. I am so glad you went and that it was such a good visit! I feel very encouraged by a lot of the things she said. You, my friend, are an incredibly loving, insightful mother. I have a feeling this visit touched her deeply and has her thinking a lot. It must have been painful to feel her thin body in your arms, but I bet to her, it felt great being in yours. Thanks for sharing in detail, I feel like I know, and love, Hayley (and you!)

Peggy-
I was holding my breath all night until I read your post this morning. I was most worried for you, wondering if your heart had been broken even more. But, I am encouraged and touched by how things went. As parents of addicts, we learn to embrace those rare and beautiful moments of connection, when the drug temporarily stands aside and allows us in. I pray she absorbed some of your strength and will use it to take those first steps out of Hell. I know I speak for everyone when I say we are all pulling for her-and you.
-Gal

Thanks for your support, encouragement, and loving thoughts, Gal. Yes – she did seem to let me in. I just went with the flow – and it did flow. I was able to ask her questions and she seemed to feel comfortable answering in an open way. She didn’t appear to be high at all – and I was looking hard. She offered lots of information and really seemed to want to tell me things. She’s desperate for some kind of normalcy, I think. She just texted me that she got her phone turned back on – after months of not having her phone. I think that’s hopeful – and that now, we can be in more frequent communication. Her brother, Brian, said that he’s going to work on trying to help her lessen her shame. We all think that that’s a huge barrier to her “coming out”. Stay tuned. Peggy

you are a brave and amazing mother and woman. i had no idea about what was going on. i will keep you both in my thoughts and prayers, there is always hope.

Very happy to hear things went so well. I hope this gives you both a little more peace. Some hopeful signs there too.

Yes, a little more peace and some precious time together. For now, that is wonderful and all you can ask for. My heart goes out to both you and Hayley, Peggy. Hold onto your hope. You did the right thing.

I am so happy! It is such good news to hear that your beautiful Hayley really is in there! ~Monica

How very touching indeed! Acceptance that you cannot change things for her, and freedom from expectations, will definitely encourage a loving relationship.

I am so glad that you were comfortable with the all of the terms of seeing her and that you got to have some wonderful engaging moments. ((HUGS))

I’m ecstatic that you could re-connect with Haley, and that Brian could communicate, too. A wonderful birthday celebration!! The family connection can be so powerful. Thinking of you!

I think that this meeting must have created a tug towards normalcy for your Haley. A tug in the right direction.

My daughter is much more afraid of having bad teeth than death so maybe the comment about her looking old will be something she wants to change!

Anna

Perfect description, Anna – “a tug toward normalcy”. I think Hayley felt and was reminded of the possibility of a more normal life. She said that she sometimes takes her dog to the nearby park, and during that time, feels somewhat “normal”. And – you’re so right. My daughter’s vanity is still prominent enough, that my remark about her looking old and finding a few gray hairs on her head, could have more impact than the threat of death or prison. Thanks for this input, Anna.

What a touching post. How wonderful a gift you gave to each other during your visit, total acceptance and love. I am so happy for you today that you were able to enjoy your daughter’s birthday with her. My prayers continue for her healing and your peace.

Peggy, I don’t know who got the bigger birthday gift, you or her! This is so awesome that you had a chance to sit down and enjoy her company. I was worried she might decline the meeting in the last minute. I am glad that you are both reaching out to each other. I am very thrilled for you!

Your post brought a lump to my throat – it sounded like an ‘moment’ that enriched you both. How wonderful that you could be with her without judgement, anger or resentment and simply show her the love you have always felt. I loved the giggles of the make-up.
I picture myself sitting on a park bench with Hannah one day and hope I can reconnect with her too. Today I have no idea where she is or what she is doing. My heart sinks every time I think of her. The ups and downs continue for me but yesterday’s high for you both give me faith that they are always there save for when the madness of the drugs overtake them.

Thanks for this. Only a mother knows what it feels like to “lose” a child and feel completely helpless and hopeless and then, miraculously, be able to reconnect for a few moments.
I’m so sorry for your pain in not knowing more about your daughter, Hannah. Sometimes, it’s best not to know. I always imagine the worst, and I’m often wrong. You have no control, which is a horrible feeling. However, there is always hope that she will eventually come to the realization that you, and family, are there waiting to embrace her – that “friends” fall away, but family is always still there. Hang in there – thinking of you. Peggy

I am so happy that the meeting went well and you could show her your love. Maybe this is the crack in the ice you have been waiting for. She will at least have the words to take back with her and think about. I am praying for you both.

I’m so happy that the two of you were able to reconnect. I’m sure she sensed your acceptance of her and your immense love. Continue to have faith that she will some day break free from this addiction!


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