Taking a Left Turn

Last Friday was an adventurous day for my husband and me! We headed out to look for an old gold mine in the mountains on an impromptu trip, which was 4 hours from our home. 

First, we parked the truck, unloaded the ATV, and took a ride to a place called “The Birthing Caves”.

There were supposed to be old petroglyphs on the cave floor. After a beautiful dusty ride with views of red rock sandstone and 10 foot fall cacti in the hot desert sand;  we  “had arrived” according to the nice google lady. It was then, that my husband realized he had left his gun sitting on the back of his truck 7 miles away. He had to get back to retrieve it; not wanting to lose it and go through the process of having to report it stolen.

We headed back on the 7-mile dusty road and found the gun safe and sound, right where he left it. We decided to load up the ATV and go in the truck to look for the GOLD. We (or I should say- him) did just that. Then we (or I should say- I) reloaded google maps and off we went. Google maps told us to turn left, then left again. And this is where the story starts.

“A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there.” 

- H. Stanely Judd

Needless to say, neither of us had been on that mountain before so we followed google’s prompts, thinking all was well.

For some reason, google kept giving us the benefit of the doubt and rerouting without saying it out loud or in print (or else I missed the ques).

The benefit of the doubt, oh how many times I’ve done that- regrettably. Mostly, in the context of money. Money to a less responsible person- but that’s a different story, sort of.

It’s human nature, I suppose. Except google maps isn’t a human. But, with its computer-programmed “brain”, it still wanted to think that we knew what we were doing and would figure it out with what information was provided.

As we wound up the steep mountain cliffs, pulling a 19 ft trailer, on a road that kept getting skinnier and skinnier; we kept thinking that possibly something was wrong. We seemed to be going west instead of south, but google assured us that we were “on track”. As some of you may know, in the backcountry, it’s always wise to download the maps for that area before losing service.

Well, we (or I should say-I) didn’t. In that case, it’s imperative that you don’t refresh or back out of maps because then you have nothing to go on.

After driving in silence, enjoying the varied scenery, I started wondering if this was the road my son took back in October 2018, when our nightmare was just beginning.

It was a Monday morning. I had called him to see how his legs were because he had had an episode of cramping the weekend before. In the past this led to a hospital trip with a Rhabdomyolysis, a life-threatening condition; so my daughter had driven over 50 miles, in the middle of the night to help him with it. She ended up staying with him all night with his cute white, fluffy Labradoodle.

So, on Monday, when he “should have” been to work; imagine my surprise when he was on a dusty road almost to Nevada, “hunting”.

He was a hunter, but, this was odd. It would be the first of many years of a downhill slide to losing his business and everything else.

Did he take a wrong turn, like us, on this very road? 

Chances are, the seeds of addiction were planted long before that. Chances are, his cousin dying that week of an abrupt freak accident sent him spiraling. Chances are, the month before, one of the very few times I heard my brawny tough, grown son cry; when he called to tell me he couldn’t save his marriage – was a huge realization & shock leading to increased use of the only coping skill he had honed in on- numbing.

As we were going down the steep dirt one-lane road, we knew that we were stuck in a forward-moving state, even if our direction and destination were wrong.

There was no turning back. We had no choice in this moment. To do so would surely be death.

Even a ‘100-point- turn- around’ was not possible for miles and miles.

Those who are on an addiction merry go round, who are using just to stay “well”, as my son calls it; also feel this way.

It's- get dope or die- survival. 

They see one path and one path only. The path which leads to their next high. Which isn’t even a high anymore. It’s maintenance. Anything that gets in that path, just like our steep windy road, is just collateral.

Thankfully we arrived safe and sound, at our wrong destination and took a paved road back. But how many don’t arrive safe? How many are berated, and shamed and told they’re doing it wrong yet can’t defend themselves in a logical manner other than lashing out?

Even if a helicopter had came down to rescue one of us, I might have chosen to stay with my husband and our vehicles, rather than leave them blocking others’ path.

As I investigated where we went aray, my husband and I disagreed about which left turn we took wrong. Imagine! Big lesson there too. It’s probably counterproductive to point out exactly where someone may have taken the wrong turn. That’s for them to figure out, just like I spent time after our trip to zoom in on every fork in the road that we missed. It didn’t matter how many people would have told me where I erred (or F’d up), I still needed to figure it out for myself.

Since we can’t get in the mind of an addict, or anyone else really; we sometimes HAVE to give them the benefit of the doubt, like google did us; and have faith that they will somehow “arrive” safe and sound, where we can help them find the road back.

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A unique perspective on the world from a small town girl turned big city nurse. Now a grandmother to 6 gregarious, resplendent boys and 5 endearing, magical girls, she strives the make the world a more understanding, pleasant place to experience this intense thing called life.

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