“Not Ready”

Posted on April 20, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Today, my heart is heavy.  My chest feels a throbbing ache deep inside that is crushing.  All day long, I have spontaneously broken down in to wracking sobs that convulse my entire body.

Two weeks ago, when I met with my daughter on her 31st b-day, I guardedly allowed myself to feel a glimmer of hope. We hadn’t seen each other in over seven months, yet talked in a relaxed, uncensored way with humor and compassion. I was able to tell her some things I thought were important, and she shared some details of her life that were honest and informative.  All in all, I felt good about our meeting – and reconnected.  I think Hayley also felt that love and connection which, I had hoped, were reminders of the possibility of a more ‘normal’ life.

Last night, however, I heard from my ex-husband’s wife, Jill, who was in town for a few days to visit her family.  She told me that she and Hayley had been texting for a week or so prior to her visit, and that they were planning on getting together so Jill could deliver a belated birthday present.  Jill went on to say that late Sunday afternoon, Hayley called her asking where she was.  When Jill answered that she was at Safeway, Hayley responded with, “I’ll be there in 2 minutes.”  Jill was immediately caught off guard, not anticipating this spontaneous get together, and not knowing quite what to do.  And then, Hayley appeared.  She looked terrible – big bruise on her forehead, scabs on her head, dirty/torn clothing.  Two guys had driven her to Safeway and were waiting for her in their car. Hayley was obviously in bad shape.  She asked Jill for money – was dope sick – desperate.

Jill did not give Hayley any money, but gave her the birthday gift bag from her and Brad – a dress, sandals, earrings, books, a Walmart gift card. The entire encounter lasted about 10 minutes.  Jill did ask Hayley, “Why did you leave medical detox last August?”  And Hayley replied, “I just wasn’t ready.”  And when Jill asked Hayley about the bruise on her forehead, Hayley said that she and Paula, the other woman living in the crack house, had gotten in to a fight.  “What about?” asked Jill.  “We have the same boyfriend”, answered Hayley.

This boyfriend is Bill, the drug dealer, owner of the crack house, older (45-47 yo), a fat, disgusting guy in failing health who wears only his boxer shorts all day. I saw him on our local TV news about a month ago when the crack house was raided by federal agents and he was being led out of the house, in hand cuffs.  Bill was the one who got my daughter hooked on heroin and has porno running 24/7 on the crack house TV.  Get the picture? Depravity at its best (or worst, depending on which direction your scale runs).  This is what my daughter’s life has become. I can hardly fathom or process this reality.  Is there anything Hayley would not do for a fix? I am both repulsed and devastated by the entire scenario.

Today, Hayley texted Jill to thank her for all the great birthday gifts (“. . . the dress is adorable, and I was down to my last pair of earrings . . . “).  Is she fucking serious?  I’m sure that every thing in that birthday bag was sold for some kind of drug to get herself through the night. It’s just so pathetic. And after this birthday thank you text, Hayley proceeded to harass Jill throughout the day, asking to get together again.  She also asked Jill for a $100 loan – “ . . . just until I get my unemployment check tomorrow – and by the way, could you give me a ride to get my check cashed?  I promise I’ll pay you back tomorrow.”

This evening, Jill texted me that Hayley had called her 11 times within 30 minutes.  Jill didn’t respond. Her grandmother just happened to die while she’s been here in town, and Jill has her hands full with family matters.  However, Jill is very susceptible to Hayley’s manipulations . . . and Hayley knows it.

Jill has said  that her heart is breaking – and that she (Jill) feels so guilty about Hayley’s current situation. Yeah – I know about that. I feel it, too. I definitely feel that I failed my daughter in some way as a mother – and Jill’s ‘place’ in our family was the result of an affair with my ex-husband. Her role in my daughter’s life during some crucial developmental years, was – – – well, damaging, in my opinion – unintentional, yet still, inappropriate and confusing for Hayley.

For the first few years, beginning when Hayley was a senior in high school, Jill tried to be best friends with her (after all, she’s only 13 or 14 years older), subtly undermining my role as parent/mother. Whenever Hayley came home during college, if I tried to set some boundaries – or even asked Hayley to pick up after herself, she (Hayley) would storm out the door saying, “Fine – I’ll just move over to Dad’s.”  Hayley was masterful at  manipulating the three of us and triangulating all the adult/child relationships. We never quite knew the truth about anything since we, the adults, rarely spoke to each other to compare notes or corroborate stories.

Brad was essentially intimidated by Hayley, and also was adept at practicing his lifelong habit of avoiding conflict at all costs. Once again, guilt oozed in to and filled the space that should have been reserved for some critical, coordinated parenting.  Brad and Jill both felt very guilty about breaking up two entire families which then bled in to their relaxed parenting style.  Hayley, at age 17, was caught in the middle – not yet an adult, yet beyond the reach of any consistent parental guidance..  In fact, the major area of  conflict in Brad’s and my marriage was always our opposite parenting styles – he was excessively passive and could never say “no”, and consequently, I was probably too controlling.

So – I was feeling very blue all day – but had previously planned on going to our community hospital this afternoon, where Hayley has used the ER multiple times, and speak to their ER social worker – which I did.  I asked the hospital social worker if there was a way to “flag” my daughter’s chart – so that the next time she went to the ER, a social worker would be called to counsel her?.  Yes, there is such a system, the social worker advised me.  I gave him some background info on Hayley, which he entered in to her chart.  And, he is developing a social work plan for Hayley, to be initiated the next time she makes an ER visit.  Finally, I felt as if I was doing something.

Next, I visited the hospital’s business office, where  I asked for a private meeting..  I told “Melissa”, the hospital’s account representative, that my daughter was a heroin addict, essentially homeless, and not willing to get help for herself for fear of being arrested and sent to prison.  We then proceeded to discuss the barriers to getting help and some strategies for overcoming them.

I had intended on paying Hayley’s $320 ER bill from funds that I was holding for her from the sale of her beater car last summer.  As I summarized Hayley’s situation in “Melissa’s” office, I burst in to tears. Melissa tenderly grabbed both my hands and said, “I understand”, she said.  “Not that long ago, I was where your daughter is today. There’s hope.  I’m a living example of that.”

Melissa went on to say, “I think your daughter qualifies for the hospital’s charity program.  I’m going to forgive all her bills from the last few years”.  I was shocked at this sudden, unexpected elimination of my daughter’s hospital bills – and yet, there it was – a gift to “start over”.

I know that Hayley will most likely be nudged towards recovery by some random stranger versus a family member. “Melissa”, at our community hospital’s business office, offered to speak to Hayley and could be “the one”. Or, could it be the social worker that will be called the next time Hayley goes to the ER? I don’t know – but right now, and maybe forever, Hayley’s “not ready”.         

ADDENDUM: Although Jill’s and my relationship started out very rocky due to the circumstances of my ex-husband’s affair with her, over the years I became less threatened by her and began to realize that she was actually an ally in regards to my daughter. She never intentionally tried to come between Hayley and me – and often, in fact, could get through to Hayley in a way that neither Brad or I could.  And, last June, I experienced a complete transformation in how I felt about Jill.  When we first learned that Hayley was living in the crack house and had been evicted from her apartment, Brad and I “bought” some time (one month’s rent) so I could clear out and salvage what I could. (Brad and Jill live in California.) It was so traumatizing for me to sort through the chaos and filth  of my daughter’s apartment, that after a few days, I just couldn’t deal with it any more. I took out mostly personal things: sentimental family artifacts, art work, five years of unopened mail, photos, school mementos,  hand knit sweaters (from me and my mom), etc – Hayley’s personal history and anything that I thought she could use to start her life over.   There was still a ton of junk left and Jill, who happened to be in town visiting family that weekend, offered to finish it up- and she did.  She and her oldest daughter emptied the entire apartment, sending truckloads to the dump and Goodwill.  No one else in the family showed up to help with this, except for Jill and for that, I am eternally grateful. (see Unlikely Friends and Neighbors)


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18 Responses to ““Not Ready””

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Peg, I’m glad to know you and Jill are pulling together…as well as your fortunate encounters as the hospital…keep positive when you can. love, Nan

Peggy- I can’t stop thinking about this post of yours for a number of reasons. First, I feel your helplessness, frustration and anger and know how much it hurts. I cannot tell you how much I want to go rescue Hayley, even though I know it doesn’t work that way. I spend a lot of time wishing adult addicts could be locked up involuntarily and kept in full-time inpatient programs for a year, long enough for their brains to fully filter out all the drug toxins. I feel like Hayley’s in a terrible cult and needs kidnapping and brainwash reversal. I don’t know, maybe a really effective interventionist could reach her. I’m just so worried to hear how drug desperate she is…and that she is in a volatile relationship triangle. I’m know I’m not helping you to say any of this, but worrying is what I do best, unfortunately.

On another note, I was very glad to read your addendum. Your words are healing, particularly for you. Believe me, I know. After my first husband left, I was a single parent for many years. I was angry, sad and lonely for way too long. Like your relationship with Jill, I haven’t always gotten along with his wives (he’s now on #3), but I remain grateful to both of these women for loving my children and being better parents to them than my ex.
Years ago I read “The Celestine Prophecy,” which is a rather far out, new age-type book. But it focuses on the effects of negative and positive energy. When you wrote your addendum, I think you created some life-renewing positive energy. And maybe Hayley will feel it.

OK, I just reread what I just wrote and know you think I’m crazy weird now! (Heck, I think I’m crazy weird now!) That’s what I get for staying up so late. Hang in there, Peggy. And yes, I’m sending positive energy your way.

Peggy, I’m thankful for your comment on my blog. I had to visit you in return to tell you how your applause made me feel. It made me feel great!
You talked about balance and writing. I’m a writer by trade but I do only stuff for a local magazine now. So I spend the early mornings blogging. The rest of the day, until after dinner, is full of AA meetings (for my soul food) and chores. Last thing at night, I post for the following day. When I feel a poem coming on, I have the gift of time to sit down and let it happen. Sobriety has given me great gifts like that.
What I don’t do is focus all my attention on my problems. I let my poems speak for me, and occasionally I’ll post about a problem. But the program has taught me not to spend long periods of time adrift in my head, focusing on problems, because then problems grow.
Your daughter has to reach her own bottom. Addiction takes us to the gates of insanity or death. Only my Higher Power saved me from both of those ends. She has a Higher Power too. If she reaches her bottom in time, and the spiritual awakening starts to happen, there is so much hope for her.
Thank God we have hope.

After reading your post, Peg, and everyone’s loving comments, I am at a loss for words. So, I will quote the author of THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES. Her words are better than anything I could say:
“Bee Yard Etiquette”
The world is really one big bee yard, and the same rules work fine both places:
1. Don’t be afraid. (No life-loving bee wants to sting you.)
2.Still, don’t be an idiot; wear long sleeves and long pants.
3. Don’t swat.
4. Don’t even think about swatting.
5. If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates, while whistling melts a temper.
6. Act like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.
7. Above all, send love. Every little thing wants to be loved.

With all my love,

Donna – you are one of my most cherished friends. Your generosity and wisdom never cease to amaze me. And because you are so well-read, intelligent, compassionate, and a fellow traveler on this road, I catch, keep and deposit every word you send my way into my karma bank. These deposits sustain my frequent withdrawals. Thank you, dear friend. Peggy

I like what you did at the hospital. Would you torture yourself with the why did this happen if she had heart disease?

Probably. It’s not particularly healthy, I know.

When I started reading this it broke my heart but as I read on the light shining through broke up my sadness. How great that you were able to take your sadness and be proactive. The next time your daughter may visit the ER she will now have two exceptional women providing her with maybe just the assistance she needs. I could feel your spirit lifting at the end of this post and I am so proud of you for taking what steps you can without getting in her way. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and Hayley. Great share, thank you so much.

You are sooo right. I felt extremely down all day until I went to the hospital and had those 2 encounters with wonderful, compassionate people. Each of them restored a sliver of hope for me. I was so grateful to “Melissa” who confided to me that she had been where my daughter is now. She took a risk in telling me that – and her reaching out to me meant a lot. The whole day was a lesson for me – – – that sunshine can come out of darkness. And Bob D.’s comments that ‘behind-the-scenes’ work, such as setting up some treatment guidelines in the ER and flagging Hayley’s chart, is probably more helpful and effective than a multitude of texts with my daughter. Thanks for your support and comments. It helps. Peggy

Oh Peggy, its hard to type with tears in our eyes isn’t it? My heart breaks just like all the others who commented above me. I’ve been thinking about you all day. No matter what, it is not your fault and you played no role in her becoming an addict, but I know its hard to believe that since most of us blame ourselves in some way. I am glad you met Melissa today and I am glad to see the comment from Bob D. Both are reminders …. there IS hope. Never give up hope. I can’t think of a single thing to add except that I care so much about you and am hurting along with you. Please keep sharing.

I am so sorry that Hayley is where she is at, but admire you for your strength and ability to take positive actions even in the face of all this. As a full-fledged sufferer of the mom guilt, I can relate to your post. I was the enabler in our family and my husband and I having very different parenting styles was manipulated. I truly think that no matter what your family situation is or parenting style, addiction will rip right through it. My daughter knew that because my mother was severely mentally ill, she could disguise her drug use as that, and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. None of us were perfect parents, even those of us who used to think we were–a huge eye opener for me and alanon–I know longer have to be perfect. You love your daughter, that’s clear and you are doing very well, I think, taking actions that help your daughter now. Take care and keep hoping, I am praying and hoping for you too.

Yes – the guilt, the disillusionment regarding my parenting skills, the random nature of addiction and who is at risk, the inability to control an outcome – all if this is a huge reality check for me. I thought I was being so careful as a parent and mother. I read, studied, took parenting classes, determined to create the best environment I could for my children. So how is it that my daughter became a heroin addict? For some reason, I still need to know. It’s probably the scientist in me – Peggy

Peggy, my heart goes out to you. Everything you write about, I have been through. Eventually, my daughter’s husband entered the picture and he was mad that I was such a “doer” and “stuck my nose where it did not belong” that he turned my daughter away from her family. Everything I have done to help my daughter was interpreted by him the wrong way. He did not want any interference from me and he shut the door to my daughter’s family. Now, I sit here and wonder what is going on. It does not consume me anymore like it did, but now there are two little innocent children involved who I fear for even though I don’t even know them. Just pray that Heather won’t get pregnant. This is when things can get really complicated. To me it sounds like Hayley is close to hitting rock bottom. Maybe it will drive her to seek help. Sending you hugs.

You’re right, Helga. It’s so fortunate that there are no babies/children involved. Hayley has already lost 3 darling dogs – just couldn’t properly take care of them. She now has a new puppy -a stray. I know these dogs bring her some joy, but it seems so selfish of her to take on the responsibility of a dog – which she doesn’t really do. Hayley’s ‘family’ now are her crack house roommates. They, of course, all enable each other. Do you know where your daughter lives? Would you ever consider dropping in for a visit to try to see the kids? Is that something that is a big ‘no-no’? I would probably try to drive by anonymously just to get a glimpse of the kids. OK – now this sounds crazy – probably not a good idea. It would most likely be torture – and, even, harmful if your daughter got wind of it and reacted negatively. Oh my – the things addiction can do to a family. Thinking of you. I admire you for getting on with your life and finding joy and happiness, regardless of your daughter’s situation. Hang in there.

I sit here Peg on a heart filled with emotion and empathy. You see I have the misfortune of seeing it from both sides of the coin. I understand the twisted reality that Hayley is living in, and I understand your heartache because I can now see what I put others through. I wish I had the easy answers but I don’t. I do not believe however that all is lost. I believe there will be a day that comes when Hayley becomes desperate enough for something different and that moment she will feel something that triggers change.
It’s not important what she has done in the past, it’s really about today. I would advise Jill to not speak with her anymore until she gets clean. I am starting to feel that your behind the scenes work will pay more dividends than text messages or 10 minute encounters will do. Perhaps it is time for that intervention at the hospital if the social worker there will help you. I think that Hayley needs to understand that love is always available but she has drained everyone around her emotionaly and spiritualy to the point that contact with her is contingent on her getting clean. I know that my wife almost enabled me to death because she didn’t know what else to do, you are becoming armed with information, and that is powerful in itself.
I am here if you need me.
Bob D.

Thanks for this, Bob. I really need and want your perspective. It’s very helpful. I know that Hayley is really manipulating Jill – the texts and phone calls are flying like crazy. Hayley would never try that kind of harassment with me. I feel sorry for Jill. As I mentioned, her guilty feelings make her very vulnerable. I realize that the more contact I/we have with Hayley, the more enabling it is. But how to stay connected, in a reasonable way, so that Hayley knows she is loved and is reminded of the possibility of a more normal life?

I think just by simply letting her know that your ability to help her is limited now by her actions, that you do not have time for the endless back and forth of her addiction. I would set a firm rule of contact. I would suggest something like, “Hayley, I love you, but I don’t love the drugs. As long as you are using, even though you are my daughter, you are not the daughter I know when using. Drugs have turned you into something I can no longer allow myself to be trapped by. I love you but the time has come for you to make a decision, either get help, or don’t bother calling. Everyone in our family knows you are a drug addict and will not be giving you anything that you can use to support your habit with. It will have to come from someone else other than us, we will not enable you to death. If you are going to do that, it will be by your choice, not by anything we have done. If you need to talk, need something to eat, or want to get help I am available 24 hours a day. If you are just calling to get $20 for a rock, don’t bother calling. I love you and always will, but I can’t waste anymore time watching you kill yourself with drugs when you know there is something better waiting for you than this existence you call life”.

I know this sounds harsh but in reality from your posts this is what I read between the lines. It will take courage, strength, and determination. You do not nor will not stand alone in this Peg. There is an entire support system built around you. My thoughts are with you and your family.

My heart goes out to you. I understand your pain even though I have my daughter in my life, there are many days I just break down. Had a bad day myself yesterday and just went to church last night and felt better after praying. ((Hugs))

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