Fresh into the new year, my oldest child moved out again… for the third time. And like her previous rookie attempts, I wasn’t home to witness it.
Instead of the loading and unloading of boxes involved in typical moves, this last time she left with nothing but a light jacket.
It’s hard to carry anything when you’re taken away in handcuffs.
Any mother can recognize that her home life has become unmanageable with or without the presence of the police. But mothers of addicts have a hard time sticking their heads out of the trenches long enough to realize that their version of reality has gradually become skewed.
Over the past several months, I’ve struggled with an identity I don’t want to embrace.
I’ve collected the most random of thoughts, and have sifted through each wondering how to grasp from a place of fear, something indisputable enough to pull me through. I didn’t choose this life any more than she did, but addiction, even by association, lends to its own unique conversion.
My child, the one who adored macaroni and cheese from the blue box, bedtime stories and the Spice Girls, grew up to be an addict. While we may not know how her addiction will play out, we do know she will always be an addict, whether or not she ever chooses to shoot up again.
As her mother, I feel I failed her. And as penance, I continue to love her but hate her disease.
The lexicon is cliché, yet each experience is singular.
From Greenwich Village to a small town in Ohio, addicts die alone. Their identities surprise us. Their deaths do not. And the people they leave behind, we are all the same.
Today my family, though fractured, is in some way oddly reinforced.
We are ashamed, yet we are also proud.
We are doubtful, yet somehow certain.
We are sad, yet ever hopeful. For as long as she continues to live, we continue to hope.
And every day we fear because her next overdose could be her last.
I still live in the trenches. But for now, I’m coming up for air. What has happened may have impacted us, but it doesn’t have to define us.