The little girl with the shy smile, came over to me, as I was leaning against the counter in the kitchen. Her sticky fingers grabbed my hands and led me to the dining room table where the family was singing Happy Birthday to her new little sister.
She placed herself in the tall wooden chair and put my hands on top of it, then told me to stay there behind her. She Grandma for support. My heart melted.
The birthday girl’s Mom brought the My Little Pony cake in, as the familiar song rang out with happy smiles all around. 🎶🎵🎶🎵🎶
As I watched the plume of smoke rise up from the candles, I felt the tears stinging my eyes.
This was my little 6 year old granddaughter; who I managed to see a few times a year, despite living only a couple hours away.
The people in attendance were mostly her new family, my youngest son’s tribe as he forged into a new relationship and new life.
The previous life had held my eldest son, the family business, and all my other happy kids and grandkids.
As the grey smoke disappeared into the abyss, my eyes clouded in tears as I thought of the irony of that smoke.
The sweetness of life swirled up in the yummy pink fluffy frosting. The colored candles of adventure dripping with melted wax. The lightness of the flame flickering, taunting. The flame is what separates the light from the darkness. When the flame extinguishes, the smoke does its dance….
And oh, did our smoke dance. Our family had now joined one of millions ripped apart with addiction, specifically opiods which not so quickly, dominoed into heroin.
We can argue all day long about who’s fault that was, but it’s clear that anyone who was remotely vulnerable to addiction had some intense marketing help.
Over 200,000 thousand Americans have been lost to the opiod epidemic crisis. The recent Sackler family lawsuit has brought to light some factors of this.
But this isn’t what this story is about. This story is about a little girl and her grandma.
This Grandma, who tries to go to work, be a wife and a Grandma. Who tries to not let others see her pain. She plans Christmas parties and goes on outings with her other kids without mentioning him.
A grandma who spends her days trying to maintain some normalcy, not knowing if she’ll get “the call” that day. The dreaded call is known amoung mothers of addicts groups on Facebook. Hundreds, thousands of them. Almost daily, the scene repeats itself: wake up, click on Facebook, see a post saying “I got the call today”.
You feel your body freeze in horror. Maybe this day, no facebook groups. Too depressing.
But today she didn’t.
Today she made the mistake of mentioning him.
It was to the younger son- and he didn’t like it.
She mentioned that “He”, would probably be going to jail soon and she wondered if the younger son had any old work trucks that wasn’t being used just so he could get around until then. He said no, he got rid of them all.
Then in saying our goodbyes, this Grandma mentioned to not say anything about the ‘jail thing’ to anyone. (Ya know, we have to keep the secrecy and shame of addiction rampant).
He proceeded to tell his mom, me. His mom that he once revered as a young teen, that she needs to quit coming around and always talking about “him”.
He went on to say that he doesn’t want to hear anything about how I’m helping the addict, because “HE” doesn’t want to be helped.
As I started to explain, that’s the nature of the disease, it tells them they don’t need help; he rejected any explanation. He was not to be ‘educated’, not this day or any day.
My therapist would be so disappointed. I crossed so many boundaries. Boundaries of not letting people feel however they want to feel. Educating people who didn’t ask to be educated. Telling people what they should do.
At that moment though, I didn’t care what my therapist thought. I had already fired him anyway, for not understanding and agreeing with harm reduction in addiction.
All I cared about in that moment, was that I had now lost another son to this monster.
I immediately felt my emotions elevating to freak out proportions. I was already jet lagged with fatigue due to a previous day and night full of anxiety and stress of a different subject and nature, so I was primed for a major meltdown.
And I obliged.
As my husband pulled away from my son’s house, I screamed in a fit of rage. I screamed at him to LET ME DIE!!! That I’m not doing this anymore! I’m not losing another child and going through another 2 or more years of not seeing this grandchild like I already had done with the addict’s children.
My husband had to pull over and fight me in the snow for 2 hours as I let out the tears and pain and frustrations of trying to maintain normalcy the last few months. Of trying to find a reason to live, as I screamed:
“I can’t watch this play out anymore!!!! I can’t bear to see my family fall apart, my son go to prison, and me left with the strict instructions to NOT CARE or DO ANYTHING about it all”.
If this is screaming of unstableness, co-dependancy, and enmeshment; all are probly correct.
The anguish, the disappointment, the sheer agony of the ripple effect of addiction, is not something that you can describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it anyway.
So, here we are. The dead of winter. The dark, coldness enveloping my shoes and my heart as I stood in the middle of a dirt road in rural America, begging my husband to just let me die.
I mean, he had a gun.
Concealed carry gun owner.
Perfect. I thought. It’s not as if I hadn’t thought about it before.
Suicide is a darkness that’s hard to explain. It also doesn’t just happen (usually) as a knee jerk coping skill to a bad fight such as this. But this moment might be an exception.
The person in a full fledged emotional turbine such as this, just wants the pain to end. And in that tunnel of darkness, the distraught brain can’t see another way out.
But my husband wasn’t in agreement.
He took me home. Worn out. Defeated. Hopeless.
My son later sent texts that solidified that I “needed mental help” & he didn’t want “negative people around his daughters” and “when I decided to quit helping the ‘tweaker’ I could be in his life”.
So there’s that……
Love, with strict conditions attached, from my very own flesh and blood.
Oh…. the ripple effects of addiction.
When everyone has their answer to a problem- that in and of itself – is actually an unhealthy solution to a bigger problem.
The problem is, there is no perfect solution. And if left untreated in family recovery- the ripple effects of addiction will go on and on.
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