The Circle Game

Posted on August 19, 2011. Filed under: 12 Step Recovery Program, AlAnon, Parent of an Addict, Recovery | Tags: , , , , |

And the seasons, they go ‘round and ‘round,

And the painted ponies go up and down. 

We’re captive on the carousel of time. 

We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came,

And go round and round and round in the circle game.

This Joanie Mitchell song, “The Circle Game” is a favorite of mine. I’ve listened to it since the early 70s.  My daughter, Hayley, sang it for talent shows and various stage performances throughout high school.  I wrote a poem about her beautiful, lilting voice and its eventual deafening silence called “Laryngitis”.  You see – – – she lost her voice to drug addiction. 

 I live in a rich agricultural valley known as the “fruit bowl of the nation”.  On both sides of my road are apple, pear, peach, and cherry orchards.  From spring through fall, something is always in bloom, pollinating, growing, ripening, and/or being picked.  Even winter’s hush and muffled silence are noticeable, as the bare trees rest and replenish themselves before warmer days invite them to begin again. The seasons come and go and shape my days.  The cycle of life, so relentless and visible around me, continues on – with or without me.

I walk or run with my dog past this rich tapestry of change every day.  It never fails to amaze and humble me – and today was no different.  I was awestruck at how much the young green apples had grown and changed in color in just 24 hours. And, it occurred to me that this is the third crop of apples since my daughter became a heroin addict.

I quickly flashed back to August 2009, two years ago at this very time – on this same walk and route.  Then, I was numb with the recent news that my beautiful, talented, well-educated thirty-year old daughter was injecting heroin in to her veins and living in a crack house.  How was this possible?  I felt desperate, and nauseous, and guilty.  Why hadn’t I seen this coming?  What could I have done to prevent such a horrific existence?  What should I do?  How could I rescue her?  She was trapped, right – there against her will? She didn’t want to be a drug addict, did she?  I could hardly feel my legs moving.

I started this blog in September of 2009, “helplessly hoping” to connect with other parents of heroin addicts.  I needed some place/way to vent my deepest fears and anguish, share information, and get some emotional support – some experience, strength, and hope, in order to function – maybe even to survive this nightmare of my child’s addiction.

Those early posts are so raw and frightening, I have trouble reading them now.

Last year at this time, as I passed those very same apple trees, I felt a little lighter.  I wasn’t holding myself so tightly.  My breath came a little easier.  The sky seemed bluer and the orchard scents slightly sweeter. My daughter was in recovery and had been drug free for a little over two months.  The events leading up to May 9th, 2010 had been harrowing and had taken a huge toll on my family, my body, and my psyche.  And yet,  a year ago August, I allowed myself to feel a tiny shred of hope.  I knew it was too soon to skip, and jump, and relax.  But there was something to hang on to.

And now, just this morning, I ran past those very same trees.  The apples look the same as in years past, but are different, of course.  They aren’t the same apples as last year, or the year before.  They will never be the same, and never will I.  I have seen, and felt, and imagined things I never thought possible in the last two+ years.

Hayley was just home for 4 ½  days.  She’s been clean and sober now for 15 months.  We spent a long weekend at our summer lake cabin – a nostalgic gathering place for four generations of family members.  My 94 year old mother was with us, as well as Hayley’s brother, Jake, and his family.  Hayley hadn’t been there for many years.  She was relaxed and engaged – and after three days, decided she needed a meeting.  And on Sunday morning, she took herself to the closest AA meeting she could find.  “You know how when you need a meeting”, she said, after returning home, “and you go and hear exactly what you needed to hear?”   Well, yes, I do know about that.  That has also been my experience with Al-Anon meetings.

I still hold my breath.  I’ll never fully relax and feel confident about Hayley’s sobriety.  But running past those orchards today,  I felt some acceptance – and a healthier detachment from my daughter’s addiction and recovery.

And the seasons, they go ’round and ’round. 

If you are a parent of a heroin addict, feeling helpless and hopeless, visit some of my earlier posts, particularly those leading up to my daughter walking away from the crack house and her desperate, dangerous drug addict lifestyle. As long as your ‘child’ is alive, there is hope:

She Is So Alone . . .


Things I Would Like To Say To My Heroin Addict Daughter

It’s Not Easy Being A Heroin Addict

Perverse Relief

Tips For 2010: Things I’ve Learned That I’d Rather Not Know

“Impt Stuff”

“Getting Well”

Ready . . . Set . . . . . . Go!

And She’s Off . . . And Running

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7 Responses to “The Circle Game”

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“I still hold my breath. I’ll never fully relax and feel confident about Hayley’s sobriety. But running past those orchards today, I felt some acceptance – and a healthier detachment” … well done, my friend. … The way I see HP’s work in my life is to look backwards. In my Al-Anon sponsor’s words, to “compare myself with myself.” I can see how many potholes (or canyons) I’ve skirted.

When I know I’m really healthy as someone who has lived with addiction are the times when I’m saying it’s the potholes I HAVE SKIRTED, not the potholes my loved one has.

Keep breathing. love g

Oh Peg, what a great post. You are what al-anon and genuine friendship are about. You are sharing your experience, strength and hope. This is the most precious gift we can give each other and, also, the only one. None of us can tell another that “everything will be all right”. When I hear someone say that, it makes me angry, because no one has any way of knowing if that is true. And, after all the lies and deceptions and dissappointments, most of us are starving for truth. In your blog you honestly tell us what you witness, what you do, what you think, and how you feel. It is a huge gift. Thank you for sharing yourself with us and thanks to Hayley for her strength and inspiration.

Thanks for this, dear friend. Your comments mean so much, because I know that you ‘know’. And, you’re so right about that phrase “Everything will be alright . . . “. Most people who say that to me are clueless, insensitive, and not very educated about drug addiction. I know they mean well, but . . .

I am the other Parent Barbara was talking about and yes she was telling me about you and your daughter and then sent me an email with your new post!

My son is in jail. I am fine with that but a bit stressed about when he gets out. I am going to go back through your old posts later but I alread read a few. Regardless of my son staying clean or not, I really needed to read a post with hope today because for some reason I am not feeling much.

Thank you for posting.

Tori – I’m glad that my post helped in some way today. I, too, go up and down with my doubts, fears, anxieties regarding my daughter’s life. I’m really trying to focus on my own recovery, and seek out the best support for myself that I can. I am constantly reading about addiction, talking to people about it, going to Al-Anon meetings – it all helps. I encourage you to visit some of the Recovery Blogs I’ve listed. It’s interesting to get a perspective on things from the addict’s viewpoint. Al-Anon does provide me with tools to build healthy relationships and a happier life, regardless of what my addict is doing or not doing, as well as being a safe place for me to vent and share my story. You will definitely need some kind of support when your son gets out of jail. Good luck.

I can’t believe you posted this today – were you reading my mind? I was just telling another parent this morning about Hayley;s story and using it as an example of hope. So thank you for your perfect timing 🙂

Yes, I was reading your mind, Barb! Readers’ support on my blog has gotten me through some very tough times. I hope to repay the favor and give some hope to other parents who are struggling with their child’s addiction. I will never fully recover from my daughter’s drug addictions – and will be ‘in recovery’ myself for the rest of my life. It’s a process – and every day, I learn more. However, I often take one step forward, two steps (or more!) backwards. Yes – I ‘relapse’ frequently – but for me, working ‘a program’ is the only help I have to get on with my life. Thanks for your encouragement.

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