Mother’s Day Gift

Posted on May 4, 2011. Filed under: 12 Step Recovery Program, addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Intervention, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Next Sunday, on Mother’s Day, I will fly to southern California to be with my 32 year old daughter, Hayley, and celebrate her one year clean and sober ‘birthday/anniversary’.  I can hardly believe this milestone.  It is truly a miracle. A year ago at this time, my daughter was very close to death, in my opinion.  She was an active heroin addict, living a very abusive, risky, dangerous lifestyle in a crack house.  Her likely life outcomes had boiled down to an untimely death by overdose, violence, infection or, going to jail.

I’ve always reveled in the first week of May with all its warmth, new growth, beauty and fragrance.  EVERYTHING  is in bloom – from forsythia to tulips to lilacs to all the thousands of fruit trees in our valley – apple, pear, apricot, peach, cherry, plum.  (After all, we are the “Fruit Bowl of the Nation”.)  However, when I think back to this time a year ago, I can still viscerally feel the fear, panic, desperation, and helplessness that filled my days as we counted down to our ‘rescue’ attempt, on Saturday, May 8th, and getting my daughter out of the crack house and in to treatment.  We didn’t know if it work, or if it would be in time. And so, this time of year has now taken on a different kind of feeling and pallor.  Despite the loveliness and allure of the season, it will also forever be a grim reminder of what could have been.

Here are a few excerpts from my blog posts during that week a year ago, leading up to Hayley’s ‘escape’ from the crack house and her desperate/dangerous life of addiction.  Click on the post name to read the full post:

May 2, 2010 “Getting Well:

Over this past week, Hayley announced she was ready for treatment. She said she is tired of being ‘sick’ – as in ‘dope sick’, which translates to: “I can’t easily get my drugs any more and don’t want to go through withdrawal every day.”

Friday, Hayley called me and asked if I would take her to DSHS (state welfare office), to apply for food stamps and the state-funded drug treatment program.  (I hadn’t seen or talked to her since her birthday, on April 6th.  And, as you may recall, I hadn’t seen her, prior to that meeting, since last August.)  I told her I would, fixed a peanut butter sandwich for her, and picked her up at the crack house.  She looked terrible –thin and pale with over-sized men’s slippers on her swollen, abscessed feet, dirty clothes, and a hat pulled down over ½ her face.  An overall gray pallor had washed over her – every part of her was faded.  It was difficult to just look at her, let alone, be with her. 

“I should be a phlebotemist”, she quipped, as we drove. “I’m really good at finding veins, especially on other people,” she proudly announced, and then showed me her red, throbbing foot where she had not had any luck that morning. And the irony here is, that professionally, I was well known for my phlebotomy skills.  She added, “Yeah, I’ve often said that I wish my mom were here.”  Some type of weird chortle/sound bubbled up and out of my throat.

(click here to read more)

May 6, 2010:  Ready, Set, . . . Go!

My daughter says she is “ready” to go to treatment. And so, after a very intense and frenzied 10 days or so, we are “set”.  Now, we just have to “go”.

Waiting for the “go” is the hard part.  There’s way too much time from now until Saturday morning at 9:00 am when I’m scheduled to pick Hayley up at the crack house, drive 3 hours to the airport, and send her off.  Will she truly be ready?

We have definitely reached a major milestone.  A couple of weeks ago, after virtually no contact with Hayley for ~ eight months, I decided that she might never get herself to treatment, and needed a “hand up”. If the heroin and other drugs didn’t kill her, the dangerous lifestyle would.  She has never been to a drug treatment program, and I felt she deserved a chance – – – to change her life, to get clean and sober. I know how her brain works – and understand her anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed.  Since seeing her on her birthday, April 6th, she has been saying to friends and some family members that she wants to go to treatment. In reality, I suspected that her shift in attitude was due to her drug supply being seriously interrupted.  After the crack house was raided a couple of months ago, she no longer had easy access to her drugs.  Whatever . . . in order to be able to live with myself and know that I had done everything possible to help my daughter, I decided to take this “ball” of opportunity, and run with it. (click here to read more)

May 8th finally arrived – and after weeks of planning, and with much drama and harrowing, unpredictable events leading up to our actual departure, Hayley did get on the plane to California, with her brother as chaperone, to detox and treatment.  This next post could have been named, “Mission Accomplished“. There were so many factors outside of our control that could have derailed the intricate rescue plan .  In fact, many things did go wrong – but many went right. Moments before getting in to the car to drive to the airport three hours away, Hayley was “arrested” by a bail bondsman’s scary-looking  ‘strong man’ and marched across the street to jail.  I considered all sorts of desperate measures in those few panicked minutes – – – you can read all about it in the full post.  Here’s an excerpt:

May 10, 2010:  AND . . . She’s Off And Running

The “rescue”/departure plan was intricate and tightly scheduled.  We needed to be on the road by 9:00 am Saturday morning in order to connect with her brothers,  Brian and Jake, and then make the plane flight at 2:30 pm.  I was a nervous wreck.  So much could go wrong.

There was just a bit too much time between Thursday and Saturday, in my opinion, to be able to successfully pull this mission off – too much time for Hayley to change her mind, to OD, to have the plan sabotaged in some way by her drug addict ‘family’.  On Friday afternoon, I tried to call Hayley to just check in, and got a message from Paula’s phone that it could no longer receive messages.  I went ballistic – – – my mind catapulted to the worst-case scenario in a millisecond.

Finally, after many phone calls, Paula did pick up – and handed her phone over to Hayley.  “I’m fine, Mom”, Hayley chirped.  I burst in to tears.  “When I couldn’t reach you, Hayley, I thought the worst.  I’ll pick you up at 8:45 am.  Be ready. And if you need or want me to pick you up anytime earlier, just call.”

Friday afternoon and evening flew by, with all my packing and organizing for Hayley.  There were lots of details – and, I was in my highest level of obsessive-compulsive mode.  It was getting closer – – – a chance for Hayley.

I went to bed and was amazed to actually fall asleep.  And then, at 5:30 am on Saturday morning, the phone rang.  I bolted upright in a daze, my heart pounding out of my chest.  “Can you come get me”, Hayley sobbed.  I didn’t know what was wrong – or what I’d find when I arrived, but I quickly dressed and flew out the door. (read the rest of the scary details here)


For about an hour on Saturday, I was with my three children – all of us together at the same time, on the same team, to get Hayley help and out of the risky lifestyle she had been living in for over a year. It was a miracle – – – and the best Mother’s Day present imaginable.  However, now comes the waiting.  Will she stick it out? Can she schmooze her way through a team of professionals like she did in 2002 at the eating disorder treatment center? Who and what has she become?  Can you “undo” ways of thinking and behaving?

P.S.  I drove back home from delivering Hayley to my sons, yesterday, and this morning got back in my car and drove two hours to spend Mother’s Day with my 92 yo mother.  At around 1:00 pm at brunch, my phone rang.  It was the detox center, and my heart sank.  “Hi – – – this is Megan at First House Detox”, she said.  “Normally, phone calls aren’t allowed, but I have your daughter here and she wants to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.”  I was thrilled to hear Hayley’s voice. She sounded good.  Her message to me was sweet and sincere.  She seemed pleased that she had slept so long that now, it was time for her first suboxone dose.  Hmmmmmm.  That phone call was testimony to Hayley’s incredible persuasion skills.  I just hope that the treatment center staff is up to dealing with them. 

 Now, here I am, getting myself ready to visit Hayley and her new life in southern California. Almost a year ago, she spent 12 days in medical detox, 120 days in a small, all-women’s long term treatment center, has totally embraced and is working a 12 step recovery program, lived in a sober living house for 5 months, bought a used car, moved to an apartment with two other young women in recovery, and is working full time at the treatment center from which she ‘graduated’.  Now she picks up clients at the airport and supervises/counsels addicts in recovery. Hayley has become a trusted staff member at the treatment center. Still, it’s “one day at a time”.

On Sunday evening, May 8th, Hayley, with a few good friends and myself, will participate in the “Watch”, a ritualized party, of sorts, held during the last couple of hours leading up to the recovering addict’s one year ‘birthday’.  We will gather to celebrate and support Hayley’s sobriety as the clock ticks toward midnight and May 9th – her actual anniversary date.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Mother’s Day.

On Mother’s Day, one year ago, my daughter began her journey to recovery.  It was the first day in probably 15 years that she didn’t chew, swallow, inhale, snort, drink, smoke, or inject a chemical substance that altered her consciousness in some way.  What a gift – not only to ME, but to herself, as well.



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11 Responses to “Mother’s Day Gift”

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I am so happy to hear of Hayley’s recovery.

Peggy – what a treat to visit and to read this post. I will always remember the run up to 9th May 2010 and your story continues to inspire me and my family as we continue to battle with my sister Hannah’s active addiction. There is hope. Hard to believe at times but there really is. Nx

Hang in there, Nora. There is always hope for an addict’s recovery, as long as they’re alive. I can’t help but think that Hannah learns more about herself and her disease with each recovery effort/attempt. In my daughter’s case, random events all converged in to the ‘perfect storm’ for her recovery. It was not very predictable or expected. However, doing some leg work to get things in place, ‘just in case’ Hayley wanted/needed to make a move towards treatment and escaping from her sordid world of drug addiction, facilitated the process and her decision. Hannah and your family are always in my thoughts and prayers. Peggy

What a wonderful Mother’s Day! And what an awesome success story. Hayley gets all the credit for her hard work, but I’m so happy you get to baske in the success. Happy Mother’s Day! Hayley’s story provides hope for everyone.

Congratulations to both you and Haley!Enjoy your celebration!

We will also have our son Toren here with us on Mother’s Day. He is 7-1/2 years sober. It is glorious to see his robust health, his positive outlook, and the deepening respect he has not only for himself, but for his family members and all life. A wise person in recovery told me over seven years ago that within five years of sobriety, Toren would regain a whole new persona and feel better than he ever has in his lifetime. At that point, I didn’t understand what this person was talking about. It seemed too distant and scary to imagine. But that prediction has come true. Last month Toren came home and cleaned out his closet. Looking at old pictures taken during his abusive past, he commented, “I see those photos and recognize that I am inside them. But it’s not me. I am a whole new person now.” He threw the photos away.

I am thankful for this gift of new life, however I know that it has been earned by Toren’s hard work. And I, his mother standing by, am blessed and astounded by the whole experience, one day at a time. As painful as it often was, I know that it has been the best thing ever for me and our family.

Mother’s Day brings me humility and compassion. It causes me to reflect on the power of love and the overwhelming instinctive drive to nurture my children. Thank you, Peg, for helping me to think about these important milestones in our journey. It is such a crazy balancing act.

Wow, Chris. Has it been 7 1/2 years? That’s amazing. I’m so proud of and humbled by Toren’s hard work to become the person he is today. Thanks for all your encouragement and support. What a journey it has been – is – and will be, I’m sure. Like you, I am a better, more informed, compassionate, humbled person as a result of my daughter’s addiction. I have learned soooo much about myself as a result of her addiction and now, recovery. I realize now that I never could have experienced such personal growth any other way. For this, and your friendship, I am forever grateful. xxoo

P.S. My daughter’s and my own recovery will always be just “one day at a time”. It’s all anyone can ever manage/cope with and has been one of the best life lessons I’ve ever ‘learned’.

My son has 15 months sober from the same kind of hard core heroin life Haley was living. I’m glad a few of us are blogging about the success stories. It took some determination on our part to go against the “rock bottom” crowd. I have always believed in educating myself about addiction, but allowing my faith and my intuition to have the last word.

Recovery is absolutely possible, no matter what the substance of abuse. When someone is that far gone however, they need help, not tough love.

Oh well, everyone must decide for themselves. But like you, I will be celebrating Mothers Day with my sober son for the first time in 12 years.

Have a great time! I love southern Cali.

This is so great to read about your daughter. I know that your visit will be a blessed time. What a long road you have had. This will truly be a special Mother’s Day for you.
My son has sought recovery several times.
I don’t think he really works a program. He had 11 1/2 months clean and went on a 3 day binge. I think he has about a month clean right now. I’ve stopped counting the days. I KNOW that I began MY RECOVERY almost 2 years ago !

Lou – thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I will be in recovery from my daughter’s addiction for the rest of my life. I recently got an Al-Anon sponsor, and am struggling through the 12 steps myself. I have found Al-Anon to be of great comfort and support, even though I don’t necessarily endorse absolutely everything I hear there. I take what I like, and leave the rest. The thing is – – – every person in that room has experienced a version of the pain I’m feeling, and totally understands and accepts my rantings and ravings. The experience, strength, and hope there keeps me going. I am also learning that I am powerless over my daughter and her addictions – – – and that I didn’t cause them, can’t control or cure them. It’s a struggle to fully integrate this in to my psyche – and relieve myself of the enormous guilt I have felt. I’m just taking it one day at a time, as is my daughter.

Thanks so much for these wonderful words of affirmation and support for my family – as well as words of hope and encouragement for others. You said it so well – that in the end, a parent’s instinct, intuition, and faith are what’s most important. Tom, at Recovery Help Desk says that “enabling recovery requires action.” My daughter was incapable of helping herself. She could only see an hour or two in to the future – towards her next fix. Yes, she was always resourceful – but was also trapped in the cycle and power of addiction, which I don’t think any of us can understand unless we’ve been there ourselves. I’m looking forward to reading about your story on your blog. Thanks so much for stopping by. Peggy

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