Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Every Life Matters

The disease of addiction creates a subculture of people, a group that is judged and deemed unworthy of care. We see this message in the media, in emergency rooms, in our neighborhoods, in politics, within our legal system, sometimes within our own families. No one wants "the druggies" "the losers" "the tweakers" "the junkies" around. Their words are not trusted....and sometimes rightfully so, but many many times, they believe every word they are saying at that moment. They have the best of intentions to carry out their promises of change.

I remember being at a big AA conference and a woman shared her story. She gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, who she loved with everything inside of her. She didn't know she could ever feel such love. Her heart told her that he was the best thing she had ever done. However her disease was alive and well and soon got her into some trouble. She had to serve some time in prison and her mom took care of the beautiful child for her. When she got out, the boy was 3 and she couldn't wait to get on the bus and head home to see him. She had every intention of making it home to her child....until she didn't. 

As she travelled toward that sweet little person and her family who was waiting for her to arrive, she had the idea that it had been a long time since she had been out and had any freedom to make her own choices. "Just one drink won't hurt anything. This is such a long trip." 

That one drink led to all sorts of events that I won't list here.... But she asked, "You know when I saw my son again? He was 11." She missed the majority of his childhood. This boy mattered to her, probably more than anything else in her life....but her disease was stronger, louder, than even her mother's heart could fight against. Every day she promised herself that it would be her last day drinking. That she would head home to that precious child of hers. It took her 8 years to finally make it home. 

This week I read through years of private message conversations on Facebook with my brother and the constant theme was "I'm really trying this time. I'm not giving up. This time will be it." Every time he told me that, he believed it. Until his demons began calling his name. He had every intention of building a life for himself, having a job, a family....until he got too tired of trying. 

I had a wonderful conversation with my girl today... The culmination of it was that I was able to tell her that when I see her slipping backwards, I know it's because she is being pulled, compelled....not because she doesn't care, or is just choosing today to pick up, not because she is saying, "F- them!" Not because she **doesn't want to be off of drugs.** Rather it is because she is so stuck. Addiction is not fun at this point, It is not about partying and friends. At all. It is about surviving until you can find the way and the strength to get well. It is part of the spiritual malady of addiction, the compulsion to soothe and numb herself against what gnaws at her constantly, the sheer terror at letting go and walking through the uncomfortable feelings. I could tell her today, that by the grace of God, I'm not mad anymore when I see that playing out. That I can let her go to walk out whatever she has to but that I am always open to trying again. Each day is a new start. It's never too late. 

Recently I read an article talking about how Minnesota lawmakers approved nearly $300,000 to train and equip first responders with Narcan.....but the money hasn't been spent. While young people are dying of heroin overdoses, they are withholding the money that was delegated to provide the antidote to what is a modern day plague. Why? Because these kids got themselves into this?  They "chose" to pick up? Because as their disease progresses, they behave in sometimes awful and dangerous ways and they don't deserve to be saved? Because statistically the odds of recovery are so little, so why try? Tell their mother that. Because every single substance abusing human being is someone's son or daughter who was born surrounded by hopes and dreams that have been derailed in the most unexpected of ways...sometimes just for awhile, and sadly, sometimes forever. As a society we are obligated to extend a hand and be kind to the least of those among us. To let them know that they are seen beyond their disease.

For today, by God's grace, I choose to live in compassion for those who are suffering from the chains of this malady.


SoberMomWrites said...

With every post you touch my heart in places I didn't know were there. You make me see addiction from another side. You bring out the compassion I have buried very deep. Thank you for being that angel.


Groundhog Girl said...

Echoing Sobermumwrites, you bring out the compassion in me but also make me realise how easy it is for me to fall into judgement. That is ironic when I look at my own struggles and realise I am just not as far down the path as some people. I relate to what you said about your brother meaning it each time he said it, I have been doing the same thing myself for 3 years and yes, 100% I meant it and mean it today on only day 5. I also share a birthday with your brother so somehow it made it even more real to me.
I hope I never have to go through what you have with your girl because I don't think I could deal with it as much sensitively and kindness that you do. I hope that someday (soon) your girl will step by step come back to you free and clear of it all. With much love.

Anonymous said...

Annette I wish the rest of society felt like this. I am the mother of a son who has this disease. It is so very hard to live with this stigma that surrounds it. I'm so very tired as I watch my beloved son die slowly everyday. I do believe him when he says that he wants to stop, and he does, but he can't stay stopped. There is not much help or support out there. He doesn't have insurance or money right now, and even when he did it was it was like fighting a losing battle. Our sons and daughters are sick and dying and society shuns them, even most in the medical field shun them.Keep doing what you are doing, your blog brings me comfort and hope.
Prayers for you and your family,

Grace-WorkinProgress said...

I know this is about addiction but I think that we should feel this way about everyone. We all are doing our best or at least the best we can with what we have. We never know what another person has experienced to get to the place they are today. Just be loving and not take anything too personal. It is sad that so many people just want to feel better the first time they do drugs not knowing that it could ruin their live. Emotional turns into chemical and what was an act of freedom ends up a prison.

Having compassion and knowing it is only by grace we are not living the lives of others.

Mark Goodson said...

Annette. It is the emotional intelligence of incredible people like you that saves lives. I love hearing you post about your relationship with your daughter, just knowing that she is a part of your life right now. I was absent for so long. And to come back to my family was the single greatest gift I could ever give myself. Have a great weekend!

bugerlugs63 said...

I have scrolled down a few of the posts i have missed and found this;
The compulsion to sooth and numb against that which gnaws constantly. about being pulled and compelled.. about the sheer terror of letting go and feeling...
I asked my mum years ago to read your blog, she wouldn't
This post makes me weep, and i dont often shed a tear let alone weep... I wish there were more of you. Even the many drugs workers I have had dont get it. I am stuck. I remember writing a post called I am stuck.
You are amazing Annette. Your girl is lucky to have you, I'm sure she knows that. Love x