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The Cupboards Were Bare

Memoir Excerpt: “When I called Angie in Richmond, she said they were in the middle of moving to a better apartment and not to come down right away. I guess that bought her a couple of weeks. Short of being in China, she knew she’d have to face me sooner or later.I drove down to see them when school was out: hardly any furniture in this new place. Moving toward a closed door across the room, Angie warned me, “Don’t go in the bedroom!” OK, I thought to myself, what’s she hiding now? So I changed the subject. “I’m starving, Angie, what’s to eat?” I asked. There was nothing to eat in the whole house. I drove two hours to see her, and after twenty minutes of being polite, she went to vomit in the bathroom and asked me to leave because she was feeling really sick. Uh-huh. Now I was remembering like a bad dream that lost half hour when Angie disappeared in Miami six months earlier. Now I could see with my own eyes what was eating her alive like a nasty virus. Heroin addicts don’t always die from overdoses. Many die from starvation. I said goodbye, I love you, take care of yourselves. I’d gotten very good at bravely moving forward with my life, doing the next right thing for myself, leaving her to manage by herself, even though I knew she was on a suicide mission. Five years in the Program were starting to sink in. But not fast enough. I would have to grow a lot more hair on my chest before I would...

Carpe Diem

Don’t Worry “There are two days in every week about which we should not worry. One is yesterday, with its mistakes and cares, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. The other day is tomorrow, with its possible adversities and blunders. Until its sun rises we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn. That leaves only one day—today. Anyone can fight the battle of just one day. It is only when we add the burden of those two awful eternities—yesterday and tomorrow—that contentment will escape...

Expectations

Memoir Excerpt: “In recovery, we learn to profoundly adjust our expectations, hard as it is. We raised one child, and now we have another. We are all too aware of the change that drugs have produced in our children. A parent wrote in Sharing Experience, Strength and Hope a very revealing statement, something I could have written myself. It is a key to understanding my story, my mother and father’s stories, and my daughter’s painful struggle: ‘I expected my children to be perfect, to always do the right thing. I tried to control them by giving them direction and making them do things in a way that I felt was correct! When they didn’t, I could not handle it. I could not accept their drug use and I felt that their behavior was a reflection on me. I was embarrassed for myself and scared to death for them. I became so distrusting of my children that I showed them no respect. I would meddle and invade their privacy looking for any excuse to challenge and confront them. When I came to Nar-Anon, I learned that my interference and my attempts at controlling them were actually standing in the way of their recovery. I learned to let go of the control I never had in the first place....

Drug Den

Memoir Excerpt: “Well, the drug-free honeymoon didn’t last. The trouble with NA meetings is there are often lots of using junkies there just looking for contacts—and new drug buddies. So she made a new friend named Hope, with a house, a car, and lots of heroin. If you were Angie, with enough remorse to sink a ship and equal amounts of shame, this would be just what the doctor ordered. Hope’s house, I soon discovered, was a small, two-room dump right next to the beltway in Takoma Park, Maryland. I went to visit them before Gene and I left for a backpacking trip in California. I don’t know what it is about drug addicts. Do they need to be surrounded by chaos or are they just hopelessly oblivious? Angie grew up in a tidy home that was cleaned regularly. She never went to bed without a shower. Who was this person? Two guard dogs, sentinels of this strange domicile, scared me half to death until my daughter pulled them away. There was no path to walk so I climbed over furniture and strewn clothes to find a place to squat. “Where’s Hope, Angie? I’d like to meet your friend.” “Oh, she doesn’t feel well, Mom. She needed to sleep this morning.” This morning, this afternoon, probably all day, I thought to myself. I knew as I sat there in my daughter’s presence exactly where I was and what was going on: Angie and Hope were living in a drug den and they were using drugs. Such clarity—such utter powerlessness. I had a choice right then and there: drag her...