Heroin. Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth. Start the Conversation.

 

Marc Alberts: Our little brother

5/11/1989❤ 6/2/2015

A boy from my old neighborhood died this week. He was no longer a ‘boy’, he was 26, but to me he was still one of the kids. They ran around in the summer as a pack. You could tell where they were by looking for their pile of bikes. Scenes from those days of innocence keep flashing through my head – when they went from one house to another, rode their bikes to the playground or to the store- images of boyhood youth. Now he’s gone. Heroin stole him. My heart is breaking for his mother and siblings. They have already been through so much, having lost their husband and father to cancer four years ago. I’m sure Addiction has also stolen years of this family’s life. I know how Addiction takes over a home, because Addiction has been an unwelcome member of our family for the last ten years.

Addiction is stealthy. It hides in basements and bathrooms and bedrooms. It steals children and decimates families under a cloak of silence. The addicts themselves are embarrassed and guilty and are afraid to ask for help. Parents feel inadequate, trying to figure out where they went wrong, what could they have done better. I was a stay at home Mom for God’s sake, and my firstborn is a heroin addict. What does that say about me? Guilt, silence, embarrassment – these are Addiction’s wingmen, giving it the wind needed to kill our kids, gaining strength in whispers at book clubs and coffee shops, ‘he’s an addict you know’.

Continue reading “Heroin. Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth. Start the Conversation.”

Featured Image -- 39760

(Guest Post) Inducted Member

This is THE most powerful description of what it is like to be the parent of an addict that I have ever read.
I was breathless as I read it. Thank you Tracy Faye for writing this.

Caged Moments

The following piece was written by my beautiful friend Tracy. I have been lucky enough to know her for 19 years. She is the mother of three amazing children. She is the most compassionate, loving, nurturing and gentle mom I know. My youngest daughter once said “I wash Tracy was my mom.” Not because she was mad at me, but because she is so incredibly soft and gentle. She is hurting. She is proud. She is strong. She needs the world to be gentle with her. And, she needs other moms to hear her. I share this here for her with love and pride and support. Please leave comments for her to read.-Heidi xo

To Join Tracy’s Closed Facebook Group visit Mothers of Addiction-A support Club for Moms Who Love their Addicted Child

INDUCTED MEMBER by Tracy Faye

I have had this echo of a song inside me for all…

View original post 3,351 more words

A Message from Elizabeth Anne Grundy, ‘The Junkie’s Wife’

dear-judgy-lady

You can take the situation out of the codie ( and I do not mean that in a good way) but you can not take the codie out of the girl. I wish so much that I could reply to every one of you, but I have severe ADD and I already drank 3 diet cokes today😊

Here is what I want to say to each and every person who has messaged me about someone they love with all their heart and can not live with out. Someone they are worried sick about. Someone who is so integral to their very existence, simply, I understand.

Each and every story, while different in their own way all have the same bare bones.

I would never ever think that I have the audacity to channel the voice of a mother,a father ,a sibling , a child; My experience is that of a lover and a partner and that is the point of view that I can speak on, but I do know the gamut of emotions that most of you have run through while dealing with active addiction.

I know your fear, your sadness, your anger. I know your disappointment, your dashed and renewed hopes. I know the messes you have tried to clean up, the money you have spent, the oscar winning speeches you have given, the tantrums you have pulled. I know the gps trackers you have installed, the sleepless nights, the 3 am searches in the worst neighborhoods. I know the bargaining, the pleading, the manipulations and the monumental screaming matches. I know you have threatened drug dealers and knocked down doors in a pair of size 5 flimsy converses. I know when it comes to trying to protect the person you love you are 5ft 2 inches of pure terror( ok, lets face it, I am talking about me on this one😊) ( I am also not suggesting this is a good idea)

I know the birthdays that have been ruined. I know the holidays that have been even more ruined. I know that verizon probably wants to institutionalize you for the 96 phone calls and texts you sent in an hour. I know that you sometimes wish you really were institutionalized. I know the endless support you have given and how you wish for just one day that it could be about you. I know you have panic attacks. I know you look like shit and feel like shit. I know you are trying like Hell to fake like everything is fine. I know you have said things you regret. I know that there were things you wanted to say that you never got a last chance to.

I know that you have turned into someone you don’t recognize; someone bitter and oozing pain from every pore. I know that you feel alone. I know the plans you are afraid to make , because you don’t know where your loved one will be in sobriety on that day. I know you have lost friends. I know people are sick of hearing it. I know you have finally begun to suffer in silence because said people are sick of hearing it. I know you are embarrassed. I know you have lost your shit so epically, many times, that you made Britney 2007 look like an amateur.

I know you have deleted phone numbers, hidden keys, locked up valuables and slept with money on your person. I know you watch breathing patterns. I know you are tired. I know sometimes you wish you would die. I know you have no spoons. I know you do not feel like you can face another day.

More importantly; I know your unconditional love. I know you are doing the best you can do because of that love. I know you don’t know what the fuck to do anymore. I know that watching the person you love turn into the person both you and they hate is tearing your heart out.

I know you have tried every single thing you can possibly do. EVERYTHING except help yourself.

I would not change a single thing about my life
with Ed, I loved him, I adored him and I liked being with him more than any other adult on this planet, but If I could do it all over again, I would have found better ways to take care of ME while leaving the rest up to a higher power( who knew there was one higher than me😊) I could fight beside him, but it wasn’t my battle, it was his. Believe me, I know that is the most frustrating part. We want to do anything humanly possible to keep the people we love safe. If love could have saved my guy he surely would have been immortal.

I would have lectured less, prayed more and just simply loved. Even if at times I had to do that from a distance.

I wish with all my heart, I had answers and soloutions for many of you, I don’t. I can just empathazie, support , pray for and love each and every single one of you who has reached out to me.

I had hope until Ed’s last breath. Where there is life there is hope and I sincerely wish for each and every one of you that hope becomes a reality.

Lots of love and big cyber hugs

 

~Elizabeth Ann Grundy

 

Dear judgy lady on Facebook- I hope you never learn about addiction the way I have.

14287545_1231708970194128_607082155_n-1

Dear judgy lady on Facebook,

I read the article you shared on narcan. Your opinion and commentary made my pulse pound and my face flush. I was angry, but after a few minutes passed I didn’t want to punch you in the face anymore. My heart softened towards you, because I know you just don’t get it. You are so lucky and I am envious of that. I wish more than anything else that I didn’t get it either. I never wanted to and As much as I think you suck for saying what you did,I hope you never have to.

You see, I know something you don’t know. I have lived it, walked it and most importantly survived it, while you sit on the other end of a computer content in your ignorance. I hear that it is bliss.

I made a decision early on in life not to use drugs or alcohol. It wasn’t because I was a saint, it was because I was scared of it. Not having my wits about me at all times terrified me, so I abstained. I left parties early, I just said no. That old Dare pledge may have been one of the only things I have ever truly followed through with in my life. Well, the second…

I have always wanted the same thing we all want ” True love” The heart racing, soul fucking stuff that roll of the eye inducing movies are made out of.
Lucky for me, I found it and I cherished it, I protected it, I stood by it through thick and thin. It was mine and I was never letting go no matter the cost. Unlucky for me, I lost the human form of the person it was attatched to. It went defunct in a run down apartment five minutes from my house,surrounded by people who did not give a shit about that love. I lost the most precious person to me other than my children without a”goodbye” or a last “I love you”. I lost the keeper of my secrets, my duet partner, the finisher of my sentences and the other half of my heart. I lost my financial stability, my security blanket, my hope, my sanity, my will to live, my plus one and my emergency contact… I lost my home with narcan a truck door open away.

I get it, you think it was his”choice”. You think he didn’t love me or anyone else enough. You think he was selfish ,stupid and weak. You think he didn’t deserve your tax dollars even though he worked harder than anyone I have ever known in my life. If I told you how wrong you are, you probably will not be convinced. He is the face of a million “junkies “to you. You might not care that he poured ketchup all over his fries and ate them with a fork or that he always gave money to the homeless. That he smelled like wood chips, soap and just the tiniest hint of a hotel swimming pool or that he could draw a blue print with his eyes closed. You won’t be moved to hear that he loved my feet, put my coat on me on our first date and ended every text with ” I love you more than all the stars in the sky”, but all of these things mattered to ME. You are basing his worth on an image you have in your head. It just feels so important to me that you know this; there are good and bad drug addicts, just like there are good and bad NON drug addicts. He would never judge you for being such an asshole. If I had gone to him all fired up and read to him what you wrote, he would chuckle and tell me to calm down. He was a better person than you or I combined.

My question to you is simply, what about me? Do I deserve your sympathy and your compassion? Is my pain any less because the person I loved was a heroin addict? Do I deserve to suffer for loving someone you don’t deem worthy? Did he for making one poor choice that led him down the road to hell? Do the obese deserve insulin or a defibrilator? Do smokers deserve chemotherapy? Where does it stop when we start making these kind of calls ?

Still, I know I probably haven’t changed your mind. It seems pretty set , all I can ask is that you honor my pain, just like I would honor yours if your husband dropped dead because he ate a good too many cheeseburgers. I ask that you do because we are all human and we are all in this together.

Sincerely,
The junkies wife.

~Elizabeth Ann Grundy

 

My Dear Child, I Forgive You…

14194472_10153843107604117_1024418572_n (1)

My Dear Child,
 I forgive you.

There is something you need to know that perhaps I haven’t said. I forgive you; and you need to forgive yourself.

 

In the beginning, I think we both felt the incredible weight of this disease, and the more angry and frustrated I got, the sicker you became. It took me a long time to understand the truth of why this was happening. I thought perhaps my yelling and screaming and fighting would cure you. I was battling for your life. I knew no other way.Even my sobbing couldn’t move you. Please, know that whatever I did, I did because I thought it might help.

 

Child, I did blame you at first. I did believe the hype that addiction is a choice, until I was educated and saw the videos and the articles on how the brain is hijacked and taken over by the drug. And even then, I still blamed you. I wondered why you chose to try the drug in the first place? Why you stole and rampaged? Why you hurt everyone in your path?  I didn’t want to accept that you- my intelligent, sports-minded, creative child- could be an addict. I didn’t want to hear the truth of the disease. I needed a scapegoat, and you, my child, were it. Did you make mistakes? Yes…as has every other human being on earth. I forgive your mistakes. None of us are sinless.

 

I need you to understand that I KNOW you struggled with self esteem issues as a teen. I know that in order to cope you hung with the wrong friends, the ones who made you feel like you were a part of something. Then one small choice to use ended your childhood and started my hell.  I was furious, beside myself! Why would you do such a thing? I thought I had raised you not to abuse drugs.  I not only cursed you, but I blamed myself.

 

My sweet child, I forgave those teenage errors a long time ago. Haven’t we all done something we regret as a teen? I have, but I was lucky that there wasn’t heroin on every street corner when I grew up. Unfortunately, it was all too easy for you. You were an easy target with a young, vulnerable mind. And a young, immature, impressionable, not yet developed mind is perfectly normal at that age.

 

I am saying “I forgive you,” not because you need forgiveness, but because I know you hold guilt and shame. I forgive your pubescent mind; I forgive your immature choices; I forgive your low self esteem; I forgive the choices that brought us to this horrible place. I forgive you because I love you, and I want you to forgive and love yourself. Only then will you feel the weight of this monster lift. Once I was able to admit my anger and excuse the normal adolescent things that unfortunately led to you becoming the sacrificial lamb of unseasoned free will, I started to heal.  I started to understand it wasn’t all your fault. You didn’t choose this. I know that now.

 

You must heal now too. And most of all you must hear my other necessary words. Listen closely. I AM SORRY.

 

I am sorry for my anger and my tears and my words that would sometimes spear you. I am sorry I was naïve to this disease and to what you were truly going through. I thought you wanted to be an addict; you acted that way. Again, that was the disease talking. I know now that you hated your addicted life and still feel imprisoned by its hold. I am sorry most of all for the terrible pain you are still in and that you are being strangled by the hands of drugs.

 

Please, go look in the mirror and let the weight of guilt and shame lift up. Release it to the clouds; give it to God, or the wind, or a summer zephyr.  Forgive yourself. I have, a long time ago; I just never said it. I want you to heal. I want you to free yourself of the blame and the remorse. One less burden will allow you to focus on the weight of the addiction and removing it. One less burden will allow you a chance to recover; for I only began to heal when I also forgave myself.

 

I forgive you. I am sorry. I love you.  Go now and conquer. You can do it. You deserve it.

 

Love,

Mom

 

482566_501832883270530_1593152632_n I am a mom and a believer in hope.

All proceeds of my first book, Beyond Horizon Fall, an emotional journey of poetry and prose written while parenting my addicted child, go to addiction support services.

Visit souljargon.com for more information.

To order the book and help save a life go to this link at Amazon.

~Maureen Fitzpatrick

 

Lost in Plain Sight

image

The need, the compulsion that overcame any self respect, principles, and morals; that could never be me. I have too much to lose, I am only doing this for him, I am not addicted – I don’t even like the feeling. At 16 years old I believed I was the greatest power in the world. Nothing could ever gain control of my entire life. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how wrong I was. If only I were born with a warning for my parents, that I came with this mental disease called addiction. Not that anyone in the world could have saved me from what I had to go through to be where I am today.

I’m not even sure why I drank the first time, I wasn’t really sure what alcohol was at that age. I was 12 years old and found a bottle of gin at my grandparents. My friend and I thought it would be cool, after all – adults drink! Well, a half a bottle of gin and two shots of orange juice later; my friend didn’t like the taste. So without any warning I felt the need to not waste any of it and drank both glasses. I only remember the very beginning of that night. I woke up in the middle of the living room floor with my father sitting next to me crying. I had alcohol poisoning. My parents were afraid to get me in trouble for drinking, so my Dad sat up all night taking care of me and saved my life. I had no control over how much I consumed, I couldn’t stop. I waited years before I picked up my next drink sometime in early high school. Everyone was drinking, I didn’t think I was any different from all of my friends. I was an honor roll student, started working in a daycare and I was in control.

Who knew that one instant messenger conversation would be able to change my life forever. During my senior year I met this Super cute and fun kid a few years older than I was. I lied to my mother and went to his house to meet him for the first time. I was so drunk, and so in love. Not too many months later, he started to bring drugs around. I knew nothing about this world but wanted to fit in.

The first drug I tried was Cocaine it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Drugs were okay; I could handle it.

Then I was introduced to Heroin. I hated it, I spent so much time throwing up. I couldn’t even go out to party and have fun.

Finally, when I went off to live at college in Providence, RI I was able to make my own choices and get away from the drugs. I would be able to go back to drinking socially and be like all the other college freshmen.

Sadly, I was never able to live that normal college experience. During my first weekend at school my boyfriend came down to visit me. He showed up hours after he said he would. I knew something was wrong, I could see it in his eyes. He told me to ask around and find him crack; he was fiending. I had never seen someone like that, it scared me. I wanted a fresh start and thought he would just sleep it off, so I refused; I did not want to be “THAT” girl. The way his demeanor changed so quickly was a complete shock. Before I knew it, he had me thrown against the wall choking me. When he let go, I fell to the ground and he grabbed my car keys and ran out to steal my car. I chased after him, when I caught up with him the fear sank in. I was not going to make it away from him alive. I ended up with broken bones and bruises all over. Finally, in a last attempt to save my life I ran to the campus police. An ambulance was there within minutes to bring me to the hospital. I remember to this day, begging him to forgive me for going to the police. The officer look me in the eyes and said, ‘He is not sorry for what he did to you!’ My mom received the first of many calls in the middle of the night hysterically crying.  I was finally able to break away from him many months later when I met my future husband. I stayed clean and chose to not even drink mostly.

I suffered from PTSD. In order to leave my house for a task as simple as buying cigarettes my husband had to drive me. That lasted for just under 2 years. The only way I was able to find any safety from my thoughts and feelings was when I picked up that first pain killer at age 19. The obsession and need began right away. In that sense my life was unmanageable the second I put a mind altering substance into my body. On the outside my life seemed better than ever. I gained a false sense of security and power. I continued to maintain the facade for quite a few years. Work, school, and pain killers. Right before I was to begin my semester of student teaching, my addiction took over completely. I was not even able to show up at school, either I was too sick or too high. Opiates began showing their true colors. There was only one logical solution I could see. My husband and I had to move away from Massachusetts. Two weeks later we packed up the car and drove 3,000 miles to our new home in Reno, Nevada.  I tried to hold it together, and put on the same good front. It became harder and harder to come across money, although I was making more than ever before. All I could do was to begin to lie, cheat, and steal. The great idea I had to move to Reno soon became my worst nightmare. Painkillers became too expensive so quickly. Heroin became the only answer to any of my problems. At this point the police were involved in my life for the first time. I couldn’t believe this is what my life had become! I was supposed to be teaching, I should be a mother, now I am checking into my first rehab to avoid arrest!!

I felt good, I had a month clean, I fell in love, I had this. Nothing was ever going to stop me! I cleaned up and it seemed logical that I could use once in a while. As long as I don’t get sick I’ll be fine. I got a new place to live with my boyfriend I met in rehab; we were just going to control ourselves.!

This run was the game changer. I picked up a needle a few months after rehab. On everything, that was the last time I was ever going to touch heroin. The tie came off, all I could say was, “That was the greatest feeling EVER!” By the time I had finished that sentence my life was completely out of control. We lost our apartment because we spent every dime to fill that obsession of more. Sleeping at whichever friend’s house would let us in that night. Arrest after arrest, as hard as I tried I couldn’t control it. I was hopeless.

 I knew for a fact I was going to die a ‘junkie’ and at that time it didn’t even scare me. My boyfriend and I ran for another year. Back and forth across the country, running from warrants. We ran out of friends to stay with. There were two options; sleep in a park or playground, or smoke meth so we don’t need to sleep. All I knew or cared about in this world was my boyfriend, heroin, meth, and how we would get more. Guys would stop on the road, ask me if I was working, how much? That option seemed like a good idea many times. My boyfriend always talked me out of it, and came up with a way for us to get well. Never yet have I had to sleep with anyone for money.

One morning after countless sleepless nights; we were awoken in a park by a Reno police officer. He gave us one more chance and said he would arrest us if he ever saw us again. I honestly had given up, I had no care in the world what happened to me. My boyfriend called my mother and begged for her to bring me home to Massachusetts. I was so mad, I would not leave him alone on the streets. My mom got us train tickets again to try it one more time. This three day train ride was the worst! We decided to detox on the train so when we made it to Massachusetts we could stay clean. Still sick and trying with the absolute last bit of hope I had within me, I called detox’s around my area. No one would even give me the time of day without the proper state insurance. I
couldn’t be sick anymore, I only knew one way to feel better. We went and picked up. In my cloudy, sick, addicted mind the only person that cared about us was our dealer. We bought ten bags, by doing this we lost the last bit of support we had left in this world. Although we carried Narcan, with those ten bags, we ran out. We continued to do the heroin we had. I never thought, “Oh, this shit is good, I need to get more.” I just knew there was nothing else in this world for me. After waking up from an overdose, finding my boyfriend face down on the ground, I was able to bring him back that time. We had one bag left and nothing to bring us back if we went out again. All I knew was I wanted this pain to end. I was poison; I didn’t have the strength within me to believe in myself. I ruined everything, my family would be better off without me. There was no version of up from where we were, and there was no more room to dig a deeper bottom. It wasn’t a choice we made, this was it, this feeling was rock bottom. I could finally stop running, fighting, dying inside. All we had to do was walk a half mile to a park where we could just be alone. ! During this short walk came our final arrest in August of 2015

When the cop pulled over and put cuffs on him, I set my purse down and took that first breath of fresh air in years. We were walking to a park to do the rest of our heroin and take a handful of Xanax. We tried to fight it, no detox would accept us without the proper state insurance. I didn’t know how to stop hurting everyone I loved. I was poison, they had everything to live for, I would only continue to bring them down. From an overdose I had just the day before, I knew it wouldn’t hurt, the pain would just slip away. My family would be able to move on and stop worrying about me. I couldn’t see any version of up from where we were, and there was no more room to dig a deeper bottom. This was it, I could finally stop running,fighting, and dying inside. We were on our way to go die together.

A letter from my boyfriend while in jail read, ‘We were so close to the edge, I didn’t want to die but I didn’t know how to stop.’ We spent just under three months in jail. I got out into a program, with a two year probation. He told me I can do it, and that I was meant for better things. He got probation, but was sent back to Nevada. I cried my eyes out. The first thing I said through my tears, “He’s going to die!”

He promised he would never leave me and he would always be just one phone call away.  On March 2, 2016 he broke that promise. I sent a text to him that will never receive a response. I will never hear his voice again. After 6 months clean, he picked up one more time. He left me alone and scared. He thought he could control the heroin, when really heroin controlled him. By the grace of God, I was able to go say goodbye at his funeral. I couldn’t do this without him, I didn’t know how to even live without him.

I had a choice in front of me, either give up and tell him he was wrong about me, or continue to fight the one thing to which I lost everything.

I chose to fight!

I chose to refuse heroin any more pieces of my precious life!

Today I am able to make the choice to not pick up a drink or a drug.  I use my experience and his memory to help others struggling with addiction.

The world lost an amazing man, but I gained a guardian angel. He will be forever 25, with a smile that brightens the stars. I couldn’t have done this without him, I will be forever grateful for the two years we spent together and everything he taught me during that time.

As an addict, I have been judged and talked down to by many, but no one is able to hurt me as much as I have been able to hurt myself. My self-respect and love for myself are finally beginning to grow.

Treat every person with respect, you have no idea what battles and demons they are fighting at that moment. Look at the person behind the addiction! Otherwise you will miss out on some of the worlds greatest people. !!!

IF LOVE COULD’VE SAVED YOU…!!!!

YOU WOULD’VE LIVED FOREVER. !!!!!

R.I.P. Andrew Torres

 1990 – 2016

Lost in Plain Sight

imageRobin Lamontagne is 27 years old and now lives in Bellingham, Massachusetts. Although she spent most of her adult life moving around the country she is now back home with her mother and kitten. Growing up Robin loved to dance and work with young children. Her dream was always to become a math teacher. She will soon be returning to school to complete her degree and other certifications. By using her experience, strength, and hope she tries to help others struggling with addiction, as well as their loved ones. She has worked with her sponsor to become a woman in recovery carrying herself with dignity and grace. With the love and support of her recovery network, Robin was just able to celebrate 1 year in recovery with family and friends!

 

Forward March: Recovery, Change and Faith

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last month my husband, daughter and I loaded our three dogs and a few months’ necessities into two cars. We left Colorado behind with a ‘for sale’ sign on our lawn and headed to St. Petersburg, Florida with no clue where we would be living. We had rented an Airbnb little cottage in Gulfport for the rest of the summer and hoped that would be enough time to figure out where we wanted to live.

Leaving Colorado behind was hard. We had made friends there. We fell in love with the Rocky Mountains, the park, Vail, Pagosa Hot Springs, Hanging Lake…. All of it……..

More difficult was leaving our son Kurt behind. He had gotten a job as an electrical apprentice and it was going well. For the past six months he was handing most of his paycheck over to his landlady to pay off back rent from when he had been out of work. He was SO close to caught up when he lost his job. His story involves another, it is not mine to tell so I’ll simply say that he told me he learned you cannot save people – they have to save themselves – and you cannot forgo a paycheck even if you want to be there for others, sometimes you have to think of yourself first and go to work no matter what is happening. Addicts in recovery can be co-dependents too……

He lost his job just as his father accepted a position in St. Petersburg. Now, I know all about not allowing myself to get swept into the ups and downs of his life, but I’m his mother and I’m human – what can I say? I worried. I worried that he would get too depressed about this new turn of events. He had liked his job; he was on track. Now, almost two and a half years into his recovery, he was out of work and broke again. How could he not feel frustrated? How could he get through this without getting depressed? I have faith in his stubbornness and strength – and a LOT of faith in his Village- but still…. getting the house ready to show, packing our things, heading to Florida AND having Kurt in this situation had me tangled in stress.

Back to the three dogs loaded into the car for a three day, thirty-hour journey. No sweat, right?!?!

A funny thing happened as the wheels chewed up the miles driving east through Kansas and Missouri. As I drove away from my son, mile by mile, hour by hour I realized that this distance meant nothing. Nothing at all. In reality my kid is 30 years old. He visited with us maybe once every six weeks or so. We shared a state, but he has his own life. Looking in the rearview mirror as the ribbon of highway lengthened the space between us, I realized that was only physical distance. It meant nothing. That drive was symbolic for me. All of the things I have learned about Kurt and myself over the past few years coalesced in my brain to drive out the fear and stress. We may have been living near each other, and that gave me an illusion of control that I hadn’t realized I’d been holding onto. He is my son. I will always worry about all of my children – that’s a given. BUT, as the miles grew between us it cemented in me a new-found certainty that all my son needs from me is love, support and confidence that he knows how to take care of himself- because he really truly does know, and I really truly understand that he is a capable and intelligent man who has been through hell and come out the other side. He can handle a few blips in the road! He has been working his recovery now for two and a half years. He knows what to do. He knows who to call. By the time I drove through Nashville I knew that he would be OK and I would be OK. My being in Florida rather than Colorado would not change a thing.

 That’s not to say that Nashville was smooth sailing. We hit a torrential downpour complete with wild thunder and lightning as well as fireworks going off everywhere as it was July 4th.  I ended up navigating the city with a terrified dog in my lap as I watched my husband’s car in front of me drive into a sudden curtain of rain with the convertible top down. Life is an adventure – even as we find peace in one corner of our world the sky will open and remind us that we are never ever in control.

As I was telling Kurt about my driving epiphany, he told me he could hear in my voice that something had changed. I had finally let go for real. It took that drive to get me to see the light.

Today I am sitting in the Tampa airport waiting for our flight to Boston. We are having a family reunion on the Cape (sadly without my husband because he just started a new job..). Kurt is sitting in the Denver airport waiting for his flight. It will be his first time home since he found recovery. Sort of a prodigal son returns moment. He will be seeing his brother and many other family members and friends for the first time in a long time as the real Kurt – the one they remember from ‘before’ – but a new and wiser version. I can’t wait! I know this is a true pilgrimage for him and I am really hoping he’ll write about it for the blog.

The best part about this vacation? On the other side, Kurt will start his new job and we will be selling our home in Colorado and buying one in Florida.

 Forward March.

 

 

What I Wish I Had Known

 
 Only a littel glad your home MaureenSo there I was hiding in the corner as my addicted daughter slammed glass candles into the wall because I refused to allow her to go to a concert on a school night. For months her behavior had become increasingly brazen, even jumping out of our moving car when we refused to give her money for something. She’d broken down doors, slammed her body through windows, and threatened us with terrible bodily harm if she didn’t get her way. She’d stalk me like a cougar, hours upon hours, her voice bellowing for all to hear, “Give me money now!” I hated the drug that was inside her, hated it more than anything I’ve ever hated in my life, even hated her at times, until I once again reminded myself that this was a disease, a horrible, crisis creating disease that would show it’s evil face every day until she either got better or died. When dealing with an addicted child, every single day can bring about a crisis. My daughter’s rage was so bad the cops became accustomed- and dare I say- tired-of coming to our home to tackle my daughter and bring about submission.

“I’m crouching like the girl in the crazy movies,
                                 in a corner, head down, shaking, crying, screaming,
                                            scared I might stay here forever.
                                         It’s the only place I feel safe today.”

I was your typical parent, thought my child would never touch drugs, even judged families where “druggies” were present. I’d been raised to stay away from all illegal substances, and I had raised my kids to do the same. What I hadn’t factored into the equation was the undeveloped brain of a young teen. They don’t think like adults, don’t expect negative consequences for risky behaviors; in fact, many teens just don’t think, period. Why would my straight A , softball pitching daughter do drugs? She had a good life, was even named one of the top young dog handlers in the entire country. There was greatness down her path, if she had just followed it. Enter the all- too- familiar self esteem issues. Somewhere in middle school she started feeling not “good enough” and she sought ways to figure it all out. Some seedy character loved by another mom introduced her to pot. I had no idea, can’t even remember any outward signs that she might have been using. After all, she got straight As! I was clueless.
I don’t want you to be clueless. My aim is to help you navigate this disease starting with clues you might not even recognize. And be prepared , because of privacy (HIPAA laws) your best bet is to err on the side of caution, because these laws DO NOT favor parents trying to get help. When my child’s behavior started to become erratic, we took her to mental health counseling and various doctors. She confessed to the doctors about her drug use and doctor administered drug tests also revealed she was using drugs, but because in our state the privacy laws for addiction and mental health start at age 14, we were not given access to that information because she didn’t want us to know. Thus we started on a path of trying to figure out what mental condition she might have, when it was actually drug use that was causing her behavior.
There are so many things I wish I had known, could have done differently. And there are so many laws that I believe need changing to allow parents to get help. I’ll start with the laws. In my state of NJ, a child as young as 14 with addiction or mental health issues may withhold parental consent to have access to their drug tests, information regarding drug use, or mental health issues. My child decided in her addicted, undeveloped mind, to withhold all information. We had no idea what drugs she was using, how often, where, how, or why she was using, and we also had no right to put her into a rehab center without her permission. Yet it was me, the parent, who was paying the bills, me, the parent, who was not allowed to leave her in the emergency room to grab a few hours sleep, me, the parent, dealing with her disruptive behaviors, and me, the parent, who had I known, would have done everything in my power right then to get her the proper help. These laws are in place to protect the child’s need for privacy with such sensitive issues as addiction and mental health, however, to me it is like the medical world’s version of political correctness; we are afraid of offending or hurting the minority, while the majority is overlooked. One argument for the laws reflects on a young person being afraid to tell a parent he needs help due to fear of a beating or getting kicked out of the home. Could that happen? Of course, but meanwhile, thousand of parents are losing their children, burying them in record numbers. I truly believe that if we had access to our children’s medical records and had the right to put them in a rehab against their will, many of these kids would be alive today. A parent must think for a child that is not in his or her right mind. Not only is the brain undeveloped, but it is also clouded with substances that will make them do anything for the drug, including keeping parents away. The other law that cost me precious time in helping my daughter was the 42CFR, the federal statute that outlines confidentiality in substance abuse treatment. When my teen daughter ran away from a rehab facility several states away, I was not informed. They did not tell me my child had run, stating her rights and confidentiality. By the time I found her, two months had gone by and she was living in a crack house, prostituting in Miami. Imagine the head start I would have had, had I known right away, not days after the fact. If she had died during that time, I would have been furious. While there might be reasons for such laws, I can’t help but think they don’t trump the laws of parental love for our children. Please, know the laws and how they affect you. Each state is different. Get to know your state laws. Also, if you do call rehab centers, they will most certainly quote you “$5,000, $10,000, $20,000.” I have never paid that. Tell them, “No, I can’t afford that, please work with me.” Many will come down dramatically and many will offer scholarship status. Twice I paid nothing . But don’t ask me about insurance, each is different, but understand the Parity Act please. There’s too much to get into here, but basically it says your health insurer must treat mental health and addiction as they would any other disease or surgical procedure.

  “ I thought you’d be smarter with hiding it.
                        I guess you’re now at the point you just don’t care
                     There are tinfoil pieces and burnt spoons everywhere
                                   There are little baggies all over the house
                  With all this evidence and your rolled back eyes and needle marks,
                                       I still can’t get you into rehab
                                             BECAUSE YOU REFUSE.
                                          Where are my parental rights?”

As a parent who prided myself on my beautiful, well groomed, intelligent children, I also missed early signs of substance abuse. When my daughter’s eyes were red she blamed allergies, when she locked herself in the bathroom, she blamed stomach issues, when she raged, she blamed unfair parenting. In the beginning, I did believe her, after all, my child would never do drugs. But as time went on and I observed more and read more, I realized how naïve I had been. Pay attention to the following clues. I have included minor clues and major clues. Take them seriously, please.

Behaviorally, if he or she starts:
Talking back
Cursing and calling you names
Sleeping all day
Missing school
Acting over excited
Eating and slamming cabinets shut late at night
Pacing
Acting “backed into a corner”
Acting lethargic
Locking themselves in the bed or bathroom
Being secretive on the phone

Physically, if he or she starts:
Picking skin
Developing acne or skin rashes
Losing weight
Gaining weight
Drooling
Rolling eyes back
Nodding the head and sleeping at tables
Slurring words
Sporting red eyes
Going days without bathing or brushing teeth
Smelling funny
Looking withdrawn and sallow
Sniffing

If you see these signs at home:
Eye drop containers
Lots of gum
Perfume everywhere
Additional mouthwash
Toilet paper rolls stuffed with cotton
Shoelaces missing
Elastic bands scattered around
Burnt tinfoil
Missing spoons
Burnt spoons
Unexplained seeds on a surface
Missing or watered down alcohol
Bloodied tissues
Small baggies about 1 inch by 1 inch
Matches and lighters
Rearranged medicine cabinets and missing pills

If you see the above signs, you’ve a right to put Sherlock Holmes to shame. Be the best detective ever to grace the earth. Your child needs you.

Of course, there are other reasons for the signs and symptoms listed above, but the earlier you know what you’re looking for, the better. If you see any of the following, please keep an eye on your child and seek help as soon as possible. Encourage your child to allow you the information you need to help him. Love your child and support him, but be prepared for roadblocks and possibly a long and agonizing ride. This disease doesn’t discriminate. A perfectly healthy child only needs one teenage mistake for him to “catch” this disease. Once the brain is hijacked by the drug, the child is under its control. And so are you!

 “ I have been swindled by the drug too. Not in the way you have.
                           You see, I never took him, never would think about taking him,
                                               but he still fooled me.
                           He made me believe your lies so many times I can’t count.
                                 He led me into naivety when I should have known better.
                           He shook me down for fear of his violence so much,
                                   that I retreated rather than stood.
                            He held me hostage when I should have been strong.
                          He almost killed me and my family, and I almost let him.
                                         I always thought I was strong.
                                               Apparently I am not.”

If and when you succeed in getting your child into a rehab, allow yourself to breathe. I suffer still from symptoms of PTSD though my daughter has two years clean. If I could go back, I would have given myself permission to go out and enjoy a day without thoughts of her and her issues, I would have booked a massage, I would have closed off thoughts to her and watched a movie instead. I know it is easier said than done, but I would have given myself permission to try, without guilt. Perhaps then, the disease would have hurt one less victim, perhaps then, the awful panic attacks would leave me alone more often.

 “I beseech thee, oh heart, to allow me a moment’s peace,
              to banter with my restless brain, to implore it to forget love’s dying hold.
                   Allow me a restful slumber curled up with my grandma’s quilt,
                                            fluffy socks and humming rain,
                      To rock my aching soul gently away from incessant thoughts
                                       of her dying grace, her joyless song.”

Finally, find it in your heart to forgive your child. Through all the suffering and pain it is hard to remember that this is a disease, the drug has taken your child hostage. We must be the gatekeepers of the child within, guarding our love for them during the turbulent times. But you will be angry, you might even feel hate. Yes, hate. But it’s hate for the disease, hate for the drug. Forgive your child for the disease, and I will guarantee you will feel a weight lift off your shoulders. And remember there is hope. With each new sunrise, a new day begins. This could be the day the light is turned on and the healing begins.

 “Today is better, a sunny day blossoming after my heart
                                        had been a tilt a whirl, spinning out of control,
                                             threatening to spill me onto the filthy pavement,
                                        leaving open wounds, inviting more infected thoughts
                                                      to invade my fragile being.
                                                       I asked God to stop the ride.
                                                                       He did.
                                                            And today is beautiful.”

 

 482566_501832883270530_1593152632_n

Maureen Fitzpatrick is a married mother of five who lived through 6 years of hell when her oldest child became addicted to heroin. Her goal is to use her debut book, Beyond Horizon Fall, as a tool to let other parents in similar situations know they are not alone.

All proceeds from the sale of her book will benefit organizations that encourage positive living and assist in the teaching against/prevention/assistance of families affected by substance abuse. Kids Caring Foundation and Stand Up to Addiction are the nonprofits for this quarter.

Writing poetry began as a coping mechanism for the storm that brewed around her and blossomed into a love and a need to let others know that confusing feelings during turbulent times are human. She invites you to read her real and raw journey as told through poetry and prose.

A former teacher of all grades 2-6, Maureen’s love of writing became a salve during the turbulent years of her drug addicted daughter’s fight to survive. Though help was hard to come by, through determination, love, and a fierce will to live, her child is now drug free and Maureen’ s life is peaceful. She offers her hope and support and a generous hug.

Her book can be purchased online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.