The Little Casualties of Addiction
The little girl with the shy smile, came over to me, standing in the kitchen. Her sticky fingers grabbed my hands and led me to the dining room table where the family was singing Happy Birthday to her soon to be little sister.
She sat in the tall wooden chair and put my hands on top of it and said to stay there, behind her.
The birthday girl’s Mom brought the My Little Pony cake in, as the familiar song rang out with happy smiles all around. 🎶🎵🎶🎵🎶
As I watched the plume of smoke rise up from the candles, I felt the tears stinging my eyes.
This was my little 6 year old granddaughter; who I managed to see a few times a year, despite living hours away.
These people were mostly her new family, of my youngest son as he forged into a new relationship and new life.
The previous life held my eldest son, the family business, and all my other happy kids and grandkids.
As the grey smoke disappeared into the abyss, my eyes clouded in tears as I thought of the irony of that smoke.
The sweetness of life swirled up in the yummy pink fluffy frosting. The colored candles of adventure dripping with melted wax. The lightness of the flame flickering, taunting. The flame is what seperates the light from the darkness. When the flame extinguishes, the smoke does its dance….
And oh, did our smoke dance. Our family had now joined one of millions ripped apart with addiction, specifically opiods which not so quickly, dominoed into heroin.
We can argue all day long about who’s fault that was, but it’s clear that anyone who was remotely vulnerable to addiction had some intense marketing help.
Over 200,000 thousand Americans have been lost to the opiod epidemic crisis. The recent Sackler family lawsuit has brought to light some factors of this.
- A well-intentioned effort among some physician groups to better manage chronic pain.
- False marketing claims about addiction to new, longer-acting opioids.
- Lack of physician education on the use of drugs with high abuse potentials.
- Direct-to-physician marketing.
- Provider-run pill mills.
- Culture of drug use and abuse.
- Multitude of cheap, widely available drugs of abuse including black tar heroin.
- Over-prescription of narcotics.
- Expansion of Mexican drug cartels.
- Corporate greed
(This is from a 2014 study)
Picture Courtesy of Rod Long - unsplash
But this isn’t what this story is about. This story is about a little girl and her grandma.
A grandma who spends her days trying to maintain some normalcy, not knowing if she’ll get “the call" that day. The dreaded call is known amoung mothers of addicts groups on Facebook. Hundreds, thousands of them. Almost daily, the scene repeats itself: Wake up, click on Facebook, see a post saying “I got the call today".
Feel your body freeze in horror. Maybe this day, no facebook groups. Too depressing.
This Grandma, who tries every day to maintain. To go to work, be a wife and a Grandma. Who tries to not let others see her pain. She does Christmas parties and plans outings with her other kids without mentioning him.
But today she didn’t.
Today she mentioned him.
To the younger son. And he didn’t like it.
She mentioned that He, would probably be going to jail soon and she wondered if the younger son had any old work trucks that wasn’t being used. He said no, he got rid of them all.
So, Case closed.
Then in saying our goodbyes, this Grandma mentioned to not say anything about the 'jail thing' to anyone. (Ya know, we have to keep the secrecy and shame of addiction rampant).
He proceeded to tell his mom, his mom that he once revered, even as a young 14 year old teen, saying:
“How much he loved his mama"
that she needs to quit coming around and always, always talking about him.
He doesn’t want to hear anything about how I’m helping an addict, because the addict doesn’t want to be helped.
As I started to explain, that it’s the nature of the disease, that it tells them they don’t need help; he rejected any explanation. He was not to be 'educated’, not this day or any day.
My therapist would be so disappointed. I had crossed so many boundaries. Boundaries of letting people feel however they want to feel. Educating people who didn’t ask to be educated. Telling people what they should do.
In that moment though, I didn’t care what my therapist thought. I had already fired him for not understanding harm reduction in addiction.
All I cared about in that moment was that I had now lost another son to this monster.
I immediately freaked out. Due to a previous day and night full of complete anxiety and stress of a different subject and nature, I was primed for a major meltdown.
And I had it.
As my husband pulled away from my son’s house, I screamed in a fit of rage. I screamed at him to LET ME DIE!!! That I’m not doing this anymore! I’m not losing another child and going through another 2 or more years of not seeing this grandchild like I already had done with the addict’s children.
My husband had to pull over and fight me in the snow for 2 hours as I let out the tears and pain and frustrations of trying to maintain normalcy the last few months. Of trying to find a reason to live, as I screamed:
“I can’t watch this play out anymore!!!! I can’t bear to see my family fall apart, my son go to prison, and me left with the strict instructions to NOT CARE or DO ANYTHING about it all".
If this is screaming of unstableness, co-dependancy, and enmeshment; all are probly correct.
The anguish, the disappointment, the sheer agony of the ripple effect of addiction, is not something that you can describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it anyway.
So, here we are. The dead of winter. The dark, coldness enveloping my shoes and my heart as I stood in the middle of a dirt road in rural America, begging my husband to let me die.
I mean, he had a gun.
Yup that’s right.
Perfect. I thought. It’s not as if I hadn’t thought about it before.
Even though…… my brother did it when I was 12 and yes, even though it took me a solid decade to even face it. Yes, even though.
You just want the pain to end. In that tunnel of darkness, the distraught brain can’t see the “bright side".
It can’t see all the years of possible recovery, or the lives of the other grandkids who would miss their Gramma.
All it sees is pain.
Luckily my husband wasn’t in agreement that I should die.
My son sent texts later that solidified that I “needed mental help" & he didn’t want “negative people around his daughters" and “when I decided to quit helping the 'tweaker' I could be in his life”.
So there’s that.
Love, with strict conditions attached, from my very own flesh and blood.
And he wasn’t even 'technically’ “the problem child".
Oh…. the ripple effects of addiction.
Courtesy of upsplash