Sunday, September 4, 2011

An open letter....

I received an email from yet another producer regarding an upcoming show that will deal with the subject of "losing a child to addiction." My oldest has assured me that this particular show is light-years ahead of the previous requests I've received, as far as responsible journalism. My response remains the same, as I just don't think this would be healthy for me right now, for a multitude of reasons.

This may be a truly worthwhile endeavor. If some of you get the same email and decide to be involved, my prayers will definitely include blessings on your efforts to raise awareness of the disease of addiction. Here is what I wrote back when I declined involvement in this particular project:

"Dear Producer,

Thank you for writing regarding the upcoming television show.

A few thoughts… These are my thoughts, my opinions, and mine only… "Take what you need and leave the rest."

I have not "lost" my daughter to addiction, thank God. As long as she is still alive, there is hope. Some parents in our blogging community have lost their children. This fear haunts us all.

I have no expectations. Zero. Not one. But I have hope!

My daughter is a heroin addict, and she will always be a heroin addict. Right now, she is actively seeking sobriety and recovery, and she has 17 months of clean time. Today, she is sober. Today is ALL I will focus on.

Many times I have mentioned the following to fellow travelers of this road of being the parent of an addict: I had 18 fantastic years before the disease of addiction entered her life. Many parents do not get that much time with their children!

In the last decade-plus that she has struggled with heroin, I have had both brief and extended further quantities of time with my beautiful girl. In between, I have known true anguish as I have watched her slide further and further into her diseases (bipolar disorder and addiction).

I have learned that this is not my fault: I did not cause it, I cannot cure it, and I cannot control it.

I have learned that I can love her with every ounce of my being, and yet not get in the way of the natural consequences of any relapses. As long as she is seeking recovery and sobriety, she has my support in many ways. She has my verbal encouragement, my prayers, my tangible support of a place to live for a while, clothing, food and rides to meetings, jobs, etc. If she relapses, she still has my love, prayers and encouragement, but until she chooses to seek sobriety again, she cannot live with me, or be in my home. These have been hard lessons to learn.

I have learned more than I can write here, certainly!

I have learned that there is a huge army of walking, wounded parents who trudge this same road daily. Whenever I am honest with anyone about my daughter, it never fails that I find out they have a child, a friend with a child, a coworker with a child, who is an addict also. The numbers are staggering. We have indeed lost too many of our nation's bright and intelligent, beautiful children to death from their addiction. This something I hope your program will be able to convey to all who watch it.

The war on drugs has failed. Treating our addicts with jail/prison terms has failed. Our children need desperately for us to come up with a better way for them to get long-term treatment and support. In the overwhelming majority of cases, this needs to include mental health treatment.

While I applaud any efforts to get the message out to our citizens, you sound as if you are trying to do this under a fair amount of pressure due to time constraints, etc. Might I suggest that you try to somehow find the time to delve into the subject deeply and carefully?

At this time, I am hesitant to speak personally with you or the other producers. I have been at this for over ten years, and it takes everything I've got to be there for my family in a healthy way, and to try to take care of myself. Right now, participation in activities that would increase awareness would be stressful for me. I am glad there are others who are doing this at this time. Maybe someday, when she's got way more clean time under her belt….

I do encourage you to search among our blogs. Read blogs of addicts and alcoholics ("Sobriety is Exhausting" and "Being Sober"), as well as those of parents ("Lou", "Annette", "Mom and Dad", "Barbara", "Fractal Mom", and many more), siblings, and spouses (Syd, from "I'm Just F.I.N.E. -- Recovery in Alanon").

There are many more than I can list here and each of us is in a different place in this nightmare. Many of us have found a way to live full, or content (and some say "happy") lives while dealing with it. Each of us has something to offer those who really truly wish to understand what living with a loved one with addiction is like. Just plow through the names on the sidebars of the blogs. You will find us!

Some of us have a child who is "out there on a good one" right now, and we are trying to find the strength to carry on with our responsibilities to the rest of our family while agonizing over the choices our addict is making. These parents are praying for an arrest, and most of us have been there! That sounds so normal to wish for, to us, and yet the world would think we were nuts.

Others like myself have just welcomed a child home from jail or prison and are trying to enable recovery, and yet tempering our involvement with efforts to not do for them what they can do for themselves, and allowing them to realize that they can do something, and allowing them the satisfaction of having accomplished it (Annette's words, very paraphrased, from a long-ago post or comment, I believe.)

Please, do not rush your "story" on this subject. Our children's lives are at stake with the disease of addiction, and you could do so much to spread awareness.

Just for today, I have my beautiful, stubborn, compassionate, feisty, tender-hearted, hard-working, risk-taking, ambitious, impulsive, bipolar butterfly-fairy girl in my life. I am grateful!'

And just an update: All is well here. DD2 is deeply involved in her history class at the college, working two jobs, and trying to keep her little beater car on the road. It needs $1200 worth of work right now, so she/we are basically praying it lasts until she can save enough $$ to get it fixed. If not, I'm 100% willing to resume chauffeur duties in the interim. LeBoyfriend got back his driving job and will be transporting unhealthy hazardous materials for a very healthy salary. LeBrother's back is healing and hopefully, in about six months, he can go back to work. I'm taking off for my yearly visit to my parents' little ranch next week and I will be gone for about 9 days. Y'all be good, and I'll check in when I can!

Prayers for our children continue, as always!