The following piece was written by my beautiful friend Tracy. I have been lucky enough to know her for 19 years. She is the mother of three amazing children. She is the most compassionate, loving, nurturing and gentle mom I know. My youngest daughter once said “I wish Tracy was my mom.” Not because she was mad at me or being mean to me, but because she was being genuine. Tracy is so incredibly soft and gentle. If you could pick a mom, I promise you’d pick her.
She is hurting. She is proud. She is strong. She needs the world to be gentle with her. And, she needs other moms to hear her. I share this here for her with love and pride and support. Please leave comments for her to read.-Heidi xo
INDUCTED MEMBER written by my friend, Tracy Faye
I have had this echo of a song inside me for all of my lifetime. As if I can feel it in every fiber of each hair on my head. It is written on my bones, the stories that would become mine are so familiar. Shaded, slightly murky and always waiting.
My daughter placed me into a club that I never wanted to be part of. Without my consent, forced by the breath she breathes, I have found myself in the “Mom of an Addict” club. Never crossing my mind even for a moment during my time spent wiping her nose, teaching her the alphabet, answering all of her “why” questions from the back seat as we drove.
I taught her our phone number, address, my name and birthdate so if she was ever lost she would be able to find me. I warned of strangers. I showed her pictures in magazines of smiling grandmothers and told her they were even strangers if you don’t know them. However,it escaped me to teach her about the worst type of predator that would appear in her life as her dealer and take her from me as they wrapped their heroin arms around her like a snake.
I held her, consoled her, fed her, clothed her…Watched TV with her, read to her, made mud pies, rode bikes, colored in coloring books, gave her music and dance. Dreamed of my fantasy life: her and I against the world as we grew together.
My heart, My whole entire heart existed outside of me.
I cried the first time she slept over her Dad’s house when she was two. I couldn’t imagine me not tucking her in or brushing her thin wispy baby hairs out of her eyes as she chewed her pacifier on the side of her mouth, “goodnight momma” whispers in her sweet raspy tired toddler voice. She would ask for her blanket, tell me she loved me “bigger than the sky”. The Lion King song “Circle of Life” was translated by her into “Circle of Love”, her and I were the circle. Sometimes she would include other people but mostly it was her and I, as she grabbed my hands initiating the circle. Sometimes she insisted on wearing a hat to bed. Often she choose to wear her tutu out into the world and I let her.
I talked to other parents before she went to her friends homes. I secretly followed her through the mall the first time she thought she was there alone, checked up on her, paid attention to her grades and her friends. She expressed herself, different clothes for the different people that she tried on. Each time encouraging words to her were spoken: to be herself, whatever self she felt at the time, knowing someday the clothes would fit just right and be a second skin, but she had to try on every color first to see what one felt best and most like her own uniqueness.
I am left without knowledge of the first time I stepped through the door to this club. No recollection of a first impression or what it looked like or the people there, just empty echoes, cold gray memories. I have resented, contorted, anguished, and died in my head throughout the course of one day inside the metal, stuck, swollen walls of drugs. I have told people to fuck off that I care about. At times the heartache swells; consumes me in its entirety. Yet I still nod and empathize with someone sharing their bad news or bad day with me. The car didn’t start or they spilled coffee on their shirt in a morning rush or they are upset about the weather and the price of groceries. I have to remain part of society, blend in, so I cannot scream, hiss and run like the animal that is inside me. I never want to compare tragedies. I sometimes cannot have another paint brush stroke of sadness on top or the weight will shift and cyclone me into another reality.
I keep this rock that I carry with me all day to myself, I protect it, I do not show other people my rock or ask them to hold it for a minute. The fear of judgement pokes at me with an icy sting.
Being a Mother is something I have always given my all to and excelled at. I love being a Mom. For someone to think I didn’t do all of the Mom things right or out of order is terrifying, as if some magical cocktail of parenting exists where one is guaranteed to not set an addict free into society.
Some members of my club have meetings to support each other & others have social media groups. Nights have turned tirelessly into birds chirping while searching for the answers alone in my bed, light shining from the glow of the phone that connects me anonymously to the world of addict moms.
Some people write truthfully on these pages. I read them, gaining awareness of others that are in my club makes me feel less alone. However, it magnifies my sadness to be aware of all of the other people walking around with half hearts, pieces missing from every place. Taping on their shoes, filling them with rocks to keep their feet heavy and grounded. They are gluing together their body parts because they feel like they may fall right off. In rare moments when the fear was bigger than me I did share things with the world or an individual just so someone somewhere would know I am not whole.
I am not what you think I am.
I am broken with jagged shards protecting my skin. Armored more than I ever have been and looking for something solid and unbreakable at every angle.
Shuffle one two, shuffle one two, through the days.
You cannot stop.
Do not stop or you will stay there.
Don’t forget to sign the boy up for camp. Don’t forget we don’t have his favorite breakfast item. Don’t forget to tuck him in and hold him tight and breathe all of him into you so he sticks right there in the place he can never leave.
Remember the other girl needs you too and she asked you for that thing. What was that thing she wanted? What did she say? Remember to console her too because her heart is just as broken as yours. We are both mourning a person who is still breathing. I have lost my daughter and she has lost her sister. She is growing, too quick, don’t forget to teach her that people’s opinions do not matter because she shines. She glows and shines and you can feel it in her presence ever since day one. She leaves a trail, a path to find her always. Her glow softens me.
Keep working. Pay bills, in slow motion. Does it matter if we have electricity?
You need light, sunlight and air. Maybe you need yoga. Maybe you need to try to become a runner again? Lose weight, Have a drink, remember how much fun you had when you consumed all of the alcohol everyday… Maybe a good book? No it is ice cream..a whole tub of ice cream. On second thought it isn’t, it is a good walk in the woods with the dog…laughter you need to laugh, where are those friends? Find them, you have them, remember, can you remember anything before this, before the smoky glaze that covers your eyes appeared.
Unsure if the cloudiness is from too many tears or not enough. Forget this, if only for one minute, I want to forget.
God please do not let them ask me how she is doing, I will need to cry and look for an exit or feel as though I have a mouth full of salt and have to talk at the same time.
Shuffle one two, shuffle one two, skip, hop.
A glimpse of the exit shines through the haze. My body believes that I am somehow carrying out a sentence, doing time, that will come to an end point and return to life before the drugs, when all of the freckles on her face showed all of the time. When she knew her way home.
There is no end. There is a circle, rough, unevenly textured, differently colored circle. There is no choice to be caged within the circle. No soft spot to break through, no comfortable place to rest.
I love Free Will. I hate stuck. I hate not controlling my own mind or ways that I spend my time. Too many nights furiously searching for anything that will give me a glimpse of her viability left my eyes crazed and my heart on the floor out of my body. In my life I have been many people, had many roles, many jobs, many styles, many friends, many favorite things, many pet peeves, many happy hours and much laughter. This person in this club was never a thought.
Trying to explain to someone not here in this room of grief with me is impossible. If you are not in the club you do not comprehend the rules, no instructions are given nor would they teach you this game or how to do the dance of the shuffle shuffle step, two, five, one…
I have become someone I once judged and thought I knew all about.
My daughter has become someone I once judged.
The NEVER has happened.
The NOT my child IS my child.
“Opioid Epidemic”, “Heroin epidemic” or now just “THE epidemic” will do.
… has swallowed me, whole, my brain, my beliefs, my heart, my whole body at times as it is crumples into bed, atrophied.
Tough love, Rehab, Section, Detox, Sober House, Meetings, Commitments, NA, Convention, Narcan, Vivitrol, Clean time, Home drug test..I only had vague relationships with these words in the past. All words I thought I understood the definition of.
Two, three, eight, shuffle, fall, clap….this is all wrong…..
Compassion is MISSING from THE epidemic, for the addict & for those who love the addict. COMPASSION IS MISSING FROM THE DEPLETING, EXHAUSTING, SEVERITY OF THIS DAILY LIFE I LEAD. Compassion only comes from weary eyes who know your battle. Compassion seldom comes from the institution of the moment.
The Choice VS. Disease debate has rotted and hollowed out my heart.
Onlookers spew their filth to those whose hearts are already slowly beating and weak. Does it matter to you if it is a choice or a disease… MY BABY IS STILL DYING EVERYDAY.
You will still judge her and me.
There are no casseroles for this. Food is reserved for births and deaths and I am somewhere awkwardly in between.
In my paranoia that exists within me, at least once a day my baby is dead, somewhere. Versions create themselves in my non stop brain, sometimes she is found by me, sometimes found by people who only like her for her ability to survive, Or only like her for her beauty. Or her ability to find a way to obtain anything she wants, including drugs and they do not help her. They walk over her.
Sometimes she is in a coma and privacy policies prevent me from receiving a call or no one knows who to call because even though she knows her name, address, mom’s name and phone number you can’t tell anyone when you are half dead.
There is no medical alert bracelet for heroin addicts.
Sometimes she is never found, just alive and part of the sky that just vanished under a cloud. How something so concrete has turned into an oily slick on water leaves me glaring off at the sun to sting my eyes so that I know I can still feel. You can see that shiny slickness, twinkling on the water, colorful, try to grab it or shake it or hug it, you can’t, you end up sinking under the darkness of water holding your breath searching for the beauty that was just at your fingertips.
Detox..rehab..program..sober house..my baby is the one who will beat this, see she is already doing it, shuffle step, step, skip, 3, 4,8…beg..this dance is making my insides raw…plead, cry, …
What parent would not do all they can to save their child’s life? Who? I want advice, I hate advice, I want love and support, I hate love and support. It feels better alone. No judgement, no questions. No talk to remind me of how far the wind can carry something away that you once believed to be anchored to you.
Time doesn’t mean anything. 3 am..shh… 4am..Squeeze eyes tight..Clocks hands do not care, they keep moving. The boy wakes at 6 and will know I forgot the breakfast I promised and he will cry. The girl needs to go to school, with her self-prepared lunch, reminding her mother of the day ahead. Work comes at 8, school after that. Somewhere else laundry and food shopping in zombie like fashion dark eyed. Are you sick, what’s the matter, are you sad, you’ve lost weight, are you ok? How are you? Good, I am good, Just don’t look me in the eyes and ask because you will see the crack in my soul.
Draw on your smile girl because you have to face the world.
END THE STIGMA
We are all humans we all crave love, belonging and compassion when we are defeated.
I am the parent of an addict who suffered long, who was lost, who did not know the way out of her own rabbit hole. My hand was there always at the top of the hole quivering, fading, aging, she just needed to choose to grab it.
I will hold the rusty chain of the anchor tighter, I will not let you go as quickly next time. I will hold you, sit on you, drive into you and sew your arms to your sides to SAVE YOUR LIFE.
Counting days has a new meaning..14 days, 30 days, 45 days..60 days!
The longest club free, cage free time we have seen is here right now .. the light has returned to her eyes, her freckles re-appear as specks of glitter that I want to touch to remember the time they first graced her soft face. I always have wondered if I witnessed any of those freckles landing in their spots as she slept. Her hand holds mine and she remembers me, she really remembers me…and magically she remembers herself.
Right now there is no road map on her face to read that says I am broken, so broken that I am willing to take the chance of death just to feel better momentarily.
This is my life. My name is Tracy, I am the Mother of an addict.
Today was the first day I was glad to be in this club.
It gave me a chance to give compassion.
I had a conversation with a stranger. She told me her daughter was a recovering addict. Flatly. And paused. Waiting for it, I know, waiting for someone to find the words or the gesture that is supposed to come after hearing someone announce that. I met her eye and said “mine too”. Her face relaxed and we knew each other, heart mind and soul with just those few words exchanged, knew the broken sleeplessness of a shadowy life.
If everyone can reach the point to say my child is an addict or my child is a recovering addict and have a real conversation about it, my face wouldn’t twist up so hard and the knot in my belly would not feel so heavy when I say it out loud.
I am proud of my daughter. I want everyone to know my daughter is a recovering addict. I am completely 100 percent happy that she is my child. I will never disown her or judge her, or shut her out of my life. This is her life to live, with her path to make. I did teach her to take the one less traveled. Everyone has demons, everyone has made bad choices, not one person leaves this earth without some amount of suffering, struggling or internal conflict. This is OUR struggle. I do not need to explain if you do not understand that this is my child and that I am proud to tell you of the things that she has endured and rebounded from.
I am proud to stand next to her at a meeting and be introduced as her mother.
Through it all-she does fall and stagger, catch her balance, then forcefully rises again, she continues to sway and splash ferociously against the tide. She has been knocked out, dragged through, walked on, left for dead and has walked this earth in ghost form. Yet she reemerges with the gust of a hurricane with lists of contacts, Doctors and therapy appointments, with clear eyes.
How hard are you fighting today just to breathe? Clinging and swaying every single day just to be alive? Some are fighting to get ahead or to get more things, more money, more titles, more of what they think they should have. The timeline laid out by society, stay on the path, stay on the path.
She fights her own mind everyday for her life.
I am fighting every single day to not make a nest in my bed and stay there.
Every day is a question of if we will get to count it and stack it on top of the day before that. Every day I take time to remember her pure heart, her softness that exists underneath her coating of makeup, polish, hair or attitude. I revel in the days she strips her coating away, with glasses and messy buns when I can see her. That is my favorite version of her. I want to put the tutu on her and go for a walk and pretend she is a ballerina.
The courage of my child to say to the world “I am an addict”, this is me and I am trying is beautiful and courageous. There is not one other soul in this universe that I would trade her for. She is mine, next to her I am whole, my body finally relaxes, the spaces she carved out inside me as she grew fill up the hollowness and the world makes sense again for a minute.
Every Single Day my daughter is a mother fucking boxer in the ring. She wakes up knowing she will fight all day.
Sometimes she sleeps, sometimes she doesn’t. I think those sleepless nights are the days that she just wants blended into one another to feel a rhythm of consistency, to not have to start the fight from the beginning because it is still the same day if she never fell asleep. Eyes wide on the lookout to keep the demon at bay. She is thrown and tossed about in her own sea of emotions, in the memories that are imprinted inside her of the lives she has had, the people she has been, the masks she has worn. And of all the people she has known that have lost the fight and no longer have the choice to lace up the gloves. She knows more people who have passed on than I do. Yet she stands in her stillness, braces herself, waits for the storm, the flurry and rage to pass all around her right on through to the calm.
She still remembers that her momma likes her freckles.
She remembers to let me know she is OK.
She knows I hold my breath easily.
The people I have been in my lifetime fade in the shadow of how tall she has become to fight this beast.
She is my daughter and I love her for who she is. I am the mother of an addict who is now in recovery.
Please share with love and compassion.