Old Faithfuls: My Mom, My Addiction

couple of young people chained together over whiteMy mom called me last night from the hospital.  I always recognize this number as I have seen it so many times. Of course, I answered immediately.  This was different from the Thanksgiving phone call I received from my mom which I recently wrote about, (A cry wolf situation, nothing out of the ordinary for her,) so maybe something was really wrong.  So while I was thinking, “Thank God she is in the hospital,”  I am simultaneously thinking, “What the hell could she have possibly done to herself now?”  She usually would rather suffer at home than call 911.

In “She Put You In a Blender? a few posts back, I disclosed my feelings regarding my mother. I don’t know what the typical or ‘normal’ feelings most people have toward their mothers would be. I have never had a ‘normal’ relationship with my mother. I know some kids/adults who roll their eyes in response to a conversation with their mom.  I also know some people who have such a great relationship with their parents, they wouldn’t even consider a roll of the eyes, only the utmost respect….if they are healthy parents and the child is a healthy person as well.  But most are just somewhere in between.  I picture a spectrum I often refer to, it looks like a ruler a child takes to school for math class.  One emotion is at the 1 centimeter line and the other is at the end… the 12 inch mark.  There are a wide range of emotions from one end to the other. My life though, feels more like a yard stick. Same idea, just more mileposts.

My mom strikes chords in me that do not make the prettiest of sounds.  Hearing my mom’s voice on the phone last night, and then again today, created a rise of emotion in me that I didn’t want or need.  Hearing her voice reminds me of her substance abuse issues.  I cannot help but picture her falling (the reason she is in the hospital) as a result of her prescription drug problem.  I wasn’t there.  I could be wrong.  But I know my mom well enough, and have been around her long enough to recognize the cues in her voice.  I am beyond feeling sorry for her.  It is what it is.  My sanity and sobriety are more important to me than hers.

So this just leads me to where I am emotionally right at this moment.  Addiction has been a huge part of my life.  I don’t use drugs anymore.  Street drugs anyway.  I have no access to prescription pain medication anymore, the primary reason I choose to no longer see my mother or go to her house.  Her house is like a huge pharmacy and she is one of the most clever dealers I have ever known.  And I have known my share.  I have always hated the term “pusher.”  It’s one of those terms the DARE (To Keep Kids Off Drugs) volunteers use when they come to your elementary school, or a word Nancy Reagan used in her “Just Say No” campaign.  But my mom, full knowing I can be nowhere near pain meds, will call me from the other room…”Melisa, can you bring me a couple of my oxycodone please,  they are right there on the counter.”  And then seconds later as I am drooling like a dog in front of bacon… “Ooooh, I am so sorry, I forgot.  Never mind. I’ll crawl on all fours and come and get them myself as painful and time consuming as it may be.  Now don’t take any of them.”  For all of you who think I am a selfish bitch for basically abandoning my mother…this is why.  Who does this?  She wants to keep me as sick as her.  So I’ll always be there.  On her Vicodin leash.

Little does she know that my addiction is running full speed right now.  Food and alcohol.  I finally gave into the food part.  Fuck it.  My emotional well being cannot afford to drown over a fucking piece of cake.  So I am trying to live in the present, enjoy each moment, and taste my food.  What a concept.  It feels great.  So now, my addiction is wanting me to drink to stop the rush of feelings from coming up and spewing out of me like “Old Faithful.”  I am not sure the longest amount of time I have ever gone without a drink.  Oh wait. Yes I do.  I had about 80 days clean and sober when my mom called me and asked me ‘since I was already out running errands, could I stop and pick up her prescription?’  And then after an awkward pause, she said “Oh my God, I am so sorry, I should never have asked you.  I am so sorry, never mind.  I’ll figure out how to get to get the pharmacy myself.”  I had always in the past picked up my mother’s meds, so I felt guilty.  So much that I neglected my own sobriety.  I picked up her prescription.  I drove around finishing up what I needed to do.  And then the valium was calling my name.  I couldn’t resist the temptation anymore. It no longer becomes an expression when the paper bag literally screams out your name.  I opened the bag, unscrewed the cap and poured 4,10 mg. valium into my hand.  Maybe she wouldn’t notice.  I intended to take a couple and save a couple.  But why?  I took all 4.  In 20 minutes I was feeling amazing, like I was floating on a cloud. Why in the hell would someone intentionally deprive themselves of this amazing bliss?  So there went my temporary sobriety.  I took the meds to my mom’s house.  She was so remorseful, but there was also a devilish sparkle in her eye because she had me back.  It was okay for her to stay sick as long as I stayed sick too.  Misery loves company.  So fuck it, we shared a bottle of wine or vodka, I can’t remember, and there I was back in my addiction. It doesn’t take long.  It’s as easy as walking into the corner store and buying a snickers, you just don’t even think about it.  It doesn’t matter if it’s cocaine, heroin, alcohol, pills…it feels so good, and once I start I can’t stop. Same as any addict.  There is a point where it no longer becomes an option regardless of what some judgmental people think.

People who do not understand addiction should just not even try.  If you don’t get it, you probably never will.  And you are most likely bound to say “Well, she should just be able to stop, it’s just will power.”  The same ignorant people who think a woman can just walk away from an abusive man. “Why doesn’t she just leave?”  If you are one of these people, maybe you should open a new tab and do some research.  A textbook or a degree is not going to enlighten you with all the intricacies of addiction or help you understand what happens in the addict’s mind..  Medical students spend the equivalent of one day focusing on addiction. Ridiculous if you plan on devoting your life to the medical profession. Unless, of course, that is your planned area of focus. And even then, it really helps if you’ve been there.  And most people who have the time and money to attend that much schooling are probably not recovering addicts. Just as unfortunate, I believe, is having a criminal record or any street wise experience for that matter, and you are automatically disqualified from entering law enforcement. Unless you become so strung out and desperate, you have the wonderful opportunity to become a police informant, AKA snitch or rat. Which just leads you right back into the arms of the drug dealers and unable to resist the temptation which got you here in the first place.  So after your dealer is busted, because of your help, you want to get high again, imagine that, and now there is one less guy to choose from. But wait!  He’ll be out of jail in 3 days, if that.  Welcome to our muddled Criminal Justice system and our oblivious Mental Health and Substance Abuse network.

I am so tired of addiction.  I am so emotionally drained, tired of explaining what a nightmare it is to live inside a deteriorating brain. No one gets it.  Addiction is a lonely place because it becomes so severe that the shame of how badly you want to drink or use can no longer compete with the physical and/or emotional pain.  People commit suicide because of the pain and shame of relapse.  People die alone on their bathroom floor.  ALONE.  I have felt my share of guilt and shame in struggling with my addiction.  I have been on the bathroom floor.  I have been hooked up to a breathing machine on life support in the ICU. I have been through treatment facilities and therapy as a result of suicide attempts.  I didn’t plan any of those occasions. I came out on the other side alive, but ashamed.  And I will keep talking about it and writing about it until the shame is gone.  When I want to use or drink today, when there is an outside trigger I cannot control such as my mother, It feels like I am sitting in a vice.  Every part of me is in that vice’s grip.  My mind is tormented the worst.  I would give anything to make it go away, but I would also give anything to numb that pain.  The most frustrating predicament I have ever experienced.  Sometimes I sit here and squirm in discomfort during one of those moments. This has been happening a lot lately as I have described in certain posts.

Addiction is a slow and painful disease of which there is no cure, more often than not accompanied by relapse.  It has become an epidemic. I believe more people struggle with addiction than do not. It can be kept a secret.  It can be prescribed medication, therefore one thinks it’s not a problem, so an addict would say (like my mother).  One of the worst side effects of trying to get clean and sober is grieving your drug of choice.  It literally feels like someone you love is leaving and not coming back. Ever. In fact, that’s exactly what is happening. Addiction is a comfort.  It is like a friend.  It is always there when you need it. Just like your feelings come rushing up like Old Faithful, faithful is your medication to push them back down.   Learning how to deal with raw emotion is hard work.  It’s a work in progress.  I hope that in getting well, my kids will learn how to deal with emotion.  They will have coping skills, something I never had.  I am still learning how to cope without self medicating.  And it’s fucking hard.  But I don’t have a choice. Because I want to live.

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